Managing Customer Interactions Using VoIP

For its ability to converge voice and data, VoIP has earned its rank as a technological breakthrough. Initially many businesses had inflated expectations or misperceptions of VoIP technologies. Looking back at 2006, some initially wary businesses invested the time to understand the benefit and varieties of VoIP solutions, delve into the nuances of using the technologies effectively, and actually begin proper implementation plans. In order to properly implement the technology service divisions must undergo a critical requirements examination and determine what infrastructure realignments are acceptable. The contact center must understand if it requires a full IP PBX infrastructure implementation or a simple Voice over Internet communication application. Organizations evaluating potential VoIP usages will become aware of several benefits, including the ability to:
  • Improve the online experience Online customers are only a few clicks away from browsing a competitor's Web site and switching products. Businesses have spent millions of dollars building self-service Web sites and integrating email and online chat solutions to improve the overall customer experience. The addition of a VoIP solution allows customers to interact using a desired communication channel while keeping the customer from having to use a toll-free number or sit on hold for the next available agent.
  • Expand global reach VoIP solutions provide businesses with the ability to truly expand global reach from both the consumer and remote agent perspective. Customers can access a sales or service agent over the Internet using dialup or broadband. All the consumer needs is a working microphone and headset or speakers for his computer.
  • Increase agent productivity and improve customer satisfaction Many VoIP technologies provide a separate soft phone that can be utilized by the agents in a contact center. However, there are also solutions where the VoIP interactions are handled from a single agent desktop. This allows agents to handle multiple interactions across unified communication channels while having access to the same productivity tools.
  • Improve customer understanding and maximize upsell and cross-sell opportunities When using VoIP combined with other channels like chat or Web collaboration in more complex service engagements, the customer experience is further elevated. Agents verbally walk the customer through solutions, but can also push information to the customer's desktop to view, collaborate on, or save for later review. Improve customer understanding and maximize upsell and cross-sell opportunities With an integrated VoIP customer service solution, the agent will have access to the customer's self-service search history. The agent will also have any history of previous interactions and can have access to other Web-based systems all in his workspace. Additionally, the agent could have real-time offers at his disposal to send to customers as he is assisting them with a sale or service question. For example, a prospect is purchasing a new printer. After he reviews the information on the Web site, he wants to talk to an agent about different printer types. The customer would select the VoIP service channel, and would then be connected with the most appropriate CSR based on predefined business rules. The agent would be able to see which printers the customer has already viewed, and any printers within the shopping cart would also be visible. As the agent and customer walk through the customer's questions, a real-time offer may be given to the agent for 20 percent off a bundle of ink cartridges. The agent would then notify the customer that if he purchases a particular model, a bundle of ink cartridges would also be available for 20 percent off. While in the voice and Web-collaboration session, the agent can talk the customer through selecting specific items for his shopping cart. This allows the agent to see the selections and help direct the customer to fill out the proper fields on the purchase form. For example, when a customer is purchasing a printer the agent is able to show him that when purchasing Printer X he can also purchase the ink at a 10 percent discount, but when purchasing Printer Y he will get a free one-year warranty on top of the purchase of a two-year warranty. As VoIP technology evolves and its applications extend, the advantages for the contact center will continue to grow. Customer service VoIP solutions have a bright future, and organizations must seriously consider implementing the technology to reduce costs and remain competitive. About the Author Teresa Gudger is senior director of product management at Talisma. Please visit
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