New Contact Center Management Solution Enables Social CRM, Streamlines Processes, and Ensures Cost-Effective Flexibility | Article

CRM - customer relationship management - call centerToday’s call centers and contact centers are at the core of a business, driving revenue and building customer relationships. Those objectives are easier and less costly to achieve with VContactCenter, a new, public and private cloud-based contact center management solution. This cutting-edge solution, recently launched beyond beta, provides necessary transformation to meet the way contact center processes are evolving due to trends in social media CRM (sCRM) functions and globalization.

The solution’s benefits create significant competitive advantages for outsourcing service providers and their contact center clients, hybrid centers, and for companies that use the solution in their internal contact center. Addressing a bleeding-edge trend, the solution also has cross-over capabilities for non-contact center use in capturing CRM data within ecosystems (such as OEMs, healthcare groups, and third-party administrators).

VContactCenter gives managers drag-and-drop functionality for implementing or updating business processes and workflows across all channels (phone, e-mail, Web-based support) and between internal and external outsourced centers quickly and easily with no IT intervention or costly customization. It automatically segments data in an outsourced or hybrid center by client or by product, enables managing social CRM (sCRM) data, integrates quickly with multiple systems, enables sharing knowledge among ecosystems, and provides multi-language capabilities.

Vertical Solutions Inc. (VSI) created VContactCenter in response to the pain points of internal contact centers as well as outsourced and hybrid centers. For internal contact centers, the solution speeds time to market and reduces costs. “These centers must integrate with multiple systems (for contact tracking, order entry, etc.), and the integrations make call centers a complicated environment,” says Kris Brannock, Vice President of Corporate Development at VSI. The complexity drags out the implementation time and increases costs.

Outsourced contact centers and hybrid centers have an additional problem that VContact Center addresses: the ability to segment data among the provider’s various clients or product groups. Instead of having to go into the database and segment the data or creating another version of an application to accommodate segmentation, VContactCenter quickly and easily creates a data segment at the application level and automates segmentation. A user logging in sees only the data affiliated with a particular client or product.

“This solution is a competitive advantage for an outsourcer to move quickly and nimbly for its clients. It reduces its customers’ downtime in crossing over to it initially or when adding scope,” says Brannock. Data segmentation also eases reporting processes since it eliminates the need to filter through melded data.

Social CRM

Many companies today are looking at how they can integrate their CRM data with comments made on social networking sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and forums. Brannock explains how VContactCenter accommodates this activity. “Right out of the box, the system hones in on social media feeds and streamlines how the company will manage the information. The manager can configure the system, for example, to automatically direct all negative requests to a certain executive or group to review them. Or based on particular words in the comment, it could automatically direct a contact center agent to respond by e-mail or send a text message to the commenter.

Creating even greater value, the manager can “subscribe” to collect certain social media data. For example, one might subscribe to receive feeds associated with the company’s product XYZ (or a competitor’s product), Executive ABC, and severity levels of 1. The user logging into the system would then see action pages (like RSS feeds) on all the data about that product or executive instead of going out to the Internet to search for such information.

Globalization

VSI’s contact center solution also facilitates globalization. Using the data segmentation feature, the system can accommodate multiple languages and even unique corporate terminology.

As an example, a large company is currently working with VSI to standardize its data in 20 countries. The company has a separate contact center in China with 50 agents. VContactCenter has the ability to display multiple screens segmented by multiple languages. Thus, a group in Holland may view their screen in Dutch, a group in China may view their screen in Chinese, etc. and can capture data in their specific language.

“Typically, when using a single instance of our system, global organizations standardize on a single language (often English) to input into the system to facilitate global reporting. Although the system does not automatically translate the data into multiple languages, users can localize each segment’s data for a particular country.

Collaborative knowledge

Outsourcing providers and their clients or in-house contact centers also benefit from the solution’s collaborative, Wiki-based knowledge management functionalities. It reduces time and costs in training new contact center agents or cross-training them. This may also allow an outsource provider to lower costs for its clients.

Experienced agents can, for instance, update information with comments like “the product really handles things this way.” The system not only ensures agents have access to the experts’ knowledge but it also creates a social, community environment that is increasingly an enticement for attracting and retaining contact center agents.

How the solution facilitates healthcare groups, OEMs, and other ecosystems

One of the most significant benefits of VSI’s technology is that it enables entities in an ecosystem to benefit from each other’s information. Health Chain Solutions Ltd. (HCS), based in Cincinnati, Ohio, provides services in case, disease, and claims management processes to a variety of healthcare purchasing groups. For the past nine months, it has used VSI’s solution to integrate various health management functions and data.

HCS President/CEO, Dave Swart, says “managing wellness and chronic disease is an incredibly dynamic process that requires large volumes of data and the ability to manage the interactions required to influence patient behavior.” The HCS processes are similar to a call center. In managing patient cases, patients call in, nurses call patients to check on their health, nurses send information back to the doctors and keep a history of the patients’ health.

VSI’s technology gives HCS the ability to aggregate data from HCS’s ecosystem of doctors, nurses, patients, and other healthcare entities and quickly disseminate information based on best outcomes for patients. It improves the company’s ability to share findings core to providing the best patient care and controlling healthcare costs.

“We can’t afford the cost or the time associated with custom programming every time we discover a better way to manage diabetes or high blood pressure – lives are at stake,” explains Swart. VSI’s solution gives HCS the ability to change and disseminate a medical protocol quickly and easily rather than focusing on writing new lines of code.

Similar to HCS’s use of the VSI technology, Brannock says it’s also ideal for an OEM environment or any ecosystem “for a specific CRM niche where they want to be able to create their own community with their vendors and their partners.”

She explains that the VContactCenter application sits on top of a CRM layer in the platform. Ecosystems of OEMs or third-party administrators that don’t deal with products but have customers and contracts could use the same CRM layer and a different application for workflows and extend them to customers and contacts for managing an ecosystem’s data. “This is really strategic in nature,” states Brannock.

Cloud-based, streamlined processes

In developing the solution, Brannock says VSI focused on minimizing implementation time, changing the ratio from the technical IT staff and putting it at the business level instead. They accomplished that through creating a layered approach to the solution.

VContactCenter is an application that resides on a platform that customers can access through the public cloud or can place into their internal private cloud environment. On top of the platform is a business process management (BPM) layer for creating processes. As an example, a process can obtain a caller’s name from an ERP system or get inventory information from a system. Using the solution, the contact manager simply creates that action as a block in a business process, then drags and drops the block into the workflow on the computer screen to automate those activities when the contact center takes a call or e-mail.

The platform’s drag-and-drop functionality also enables quick integration of workflows among outsourced and hybrid call centers. Consider, for example, an outsourcer’s contact center is responsible for first- and second-level support and the client handles level-three calls. In this hybrid environment, the system creates a library of workflows that the employees at the outsource provider company and the employees at the client company can share.

“Besides the contact center application, these workflows can also include customer IDs in the client company’s ERP system, for example,” say Brannock. Making a workflow or process change at one support level that impacts the other levels is as simple as dragging and dropping that information in the workflow on the computer screen.

VContactCenter’s architecture is 100 percent cloud based. Companies can access the solution through the public cloud or license it and place it in their private cloud. Brannock says the private cloud solution has the same infrastructure as the public version — multitenancy, elasticity, flexibility, automatic rollover capability, data-independent capabilities, etc.

Brannock explains that most large, traditional outsourcing providers prefer placing the solution in their private clouds as it makes it easier to deal with their clients’ varying security issues. But she says that newer outsourcing providers and smaller niche providers prefer the public cloud solution. They are eager to include sCRM capabilities in their offerings but don’t want to deal with the associated infrastructure issues.

What about companies that already have outsourced call center processes but are interested in moving to the VContactCenter solution? Brannock says the motivations for switching would include:

  • The current solution is too cumbersome in terms of using client-server technology and moving things back and forth takes too long
  • A need to communicate more quickly
  • A need for better data cross-functioning with the outsourcer

The client first needs to make sure it can get its data from the existing solution. The solution is also flexible for accommodating companies that start in a private cloud but decide to move to the public cloud later.

Lessons from the Outsourcing Journal:

  • Technology now solves major business problems of call centers or contact centers including:
    • Reducing implementation time, cost, and complexity in integrating a CRM solution with multiple systems
    • Providing the ability to easily segment data among an outsourcing provider’s various clients, or among a hybrid contact center (such as level one and two support handled by an outsourcer and level three handled in-house by the client)
    • Providing drag-and-drop functionality for implementing or updating business processes and workflows across all channels and between internal and external outsourced centers quickly and easily with no IT intervention or costly customization
  • Many companies today are looking at how they can integrate their CRM data with comments made on social networking sites. Outsourced technology solutions enable them to quickly and cost-efficiently direct negative comments to executives for review and enable companies to subscribe to automated feeds of comments on particular products, companies, or executive names.
  • Many newer outsourcing providers and smaller niche providers are eager to include social CRM ( sCRM) capabilities in their offerings but don’t want to deal with the associated infrastructure issues. Cloud-based sCRM services are ideal for ensuring they have cost-efficient offerings as more and more clients have a need for sCRM capabilities.


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