1 Empowering Enterprise-Wide Customer Service with SIP Table of contents Customer Service in Evolution...1 SIP Enabling IP Customer Service Transformation...6 Unified Communications and Collaborations Improve the Customer Experience...6 Genesys SIP Supporting a Unified Customer Service Operation...7 Deploying Customer-Winning Services for Business Success...8 Conclusion...12 In order to win customer loyalty, organizations need to continually improve their customer service operations and be more cost effective. The bottom line is that customer retention, cost control, and business continuity are vital to business success, particularly in a competitive market. In the contact center, voice over IP (VoIP) as enabled by the SIP (Session Initial Protocol) standard unlocks the constraints of traditional solutions to fundamentally alter the way organizations across industries can deliver customer service, offer new and better ways of providing sales and service, and expand options for creating better customer relationships. With SIP-enabled VoIP solutions, contact centers are empowered to drive greater business value by providing the foundation for virtualized agent resources, improved agent productivity, reduced operations and infrastructure costs, and optimized customer experiences. In addition, companies are able to enhance their competitive advantage by offering customeroriented applications on top of SIP-enabled VoIP architecture. This white paper provides insights on the key attributes of SIP for customer service; how businesses can prosper with adoption of SIP; and flexible deployment strategies for migrating from TDM to VoIP. In addition, this paper will look at the available software, including relatively new arrivals such as unified communications, which can enhance a distributed customer sales and service strategy. Customer Service in Evolution The global economy has seen more and more products and services introduced into the marketplace. Demand for consumer attention is higher than ever, and yet consumers are already bombarded with all types of advertisements, promotions, and marketing campaigns. As a result, advertizing alone, no matter how revolutionary, isn t enough by itself to create a consistent and reliable revenue stream. In order to meet revenue goals, enterprises must use the power of customer loyalty to turn their first time customers into company advocates. Therefore, companies must address their customer service performance in order to generate brand recognition, competitive differentiation, customer acquisition, and customer retention. Due in part to the historical limitations of technology, many organizations approached customer service and sales by implementing a contact center. This specialized communications
2 Empowering Enterprise-Wide Customer Service with SIP / page 2 of 12 department began, in many cases, as a cost center with strong emphasis on cost control and little awareness of how the sales or service levels impact customer relationships and, ultimately, the bottom line. This method of customer communication, which began in earnest about 35 years ago with the creation of the ACD (automatic call distributor), is beginning to change dramatically as many companies recognize that customer service is a key strategic link for business growth. It doesn t hurt that technology and software advances have reached a point where more effective options are available and cost significantly less than traditional contact center solutions. While awareness of the importance of providing an excellent customer experience is now on the rise, companies must still provide that experience at a reasonable cost to the business. For a business to successfully meet this goal, it must provide quality service that is convenient, responsive, personalized, and effective. SIP technology can help deliver customer service with these attributes, resulting in higher customer satisfaction and increased customer retention, which directly leads to the generation of new revenue. The Role of SIP in Unlocking New Potential in Customer Service For the last eight years, enterprises and some contact centers have been replacing their legacy voice infrastructures and combining voice with other data traffic in other words, adopting Voice over IP (VoIP). This has resulted in cost savings for those organizations that have made that move while also implementing standards-based SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), which enables more effective customer service delivery. There are two major attributes of SIP-based VoIP that fundamentally change the ways that customer service can be delivered: Virtualization and Presence. Virtualization Unlike legacy call centers where traditional ACD and PBX hardware must be located near the agents who perform the customer service, the next generation IP contact center infrastructure can be aggregated and the infrastructure capacities virtualized. With software-driven IP technology, the contact center equipment, software, and applications can be located in a data center separated from agent locations, and it becomes feasible for organizations to virtually centralize multiple contact centers from main site, branch office, and even home agents to effectively manage all the resources. This dramatically streamlines the customer service operation and simplifies infrastructure requirements at agent locations, which greatly enhances an organization s flexibility to dynamically manage contact center operations including branch office expansion, expert contact in the enterprise, home agents, service hosting, outsourcing, and disaster recovery. With this virtual, centralized architecture, all the provisioning and maintenance tasks are performed at the data center, which is able to directly push applications and software upgrades to agent desktops in multiple remote locations. This brings significant cost saving opportunities to organizations, which no longer require a dedicated technical team to maintain the hardware-based legacy equipment at each contact center. Additionally, with VoIP adoption throughout the organization, companies realize big savings by combining voice and data traffic onto a single, converged IP network.
3 Empowering Enterprise-Wide Customer Service with SIP / page 3 of 12 Legacy Contact Center Data Center ACD IVR WFM VMail PBX CRM Database PBX ACD IVRs IP Based Architechture Call Recording Mail Call center IP/SIP Phone Outsourcer Digital Set Digital Set Remote Center Branch Office Home Expert Figure-1 Next Generation Customer Service Architecture Presence Presence tracks the availability of an employee across different communication channels, and notes whether they are available for a call, not available, in-a-meeting, out-of-office, etc. Presence can also offer additional information, such as the next time they will be available, their multi-channel availability status, and an indication of their preferred channel for communication. For example, presence can note when a person is busy on a call, yet is still available for an IM (instant message) chat at the same time. Presence can be displayed in a directory or a personalized buddy list with multi-channel status. It can also be embedded in applications such as , Web pages, and calendars. Here is an example: 1. John, a branch office employee, logs a trouble ticket for IT support and receives an response from Sue, a member of the IT support team. 2. After reading the , John still needs help and, using the presence status icon shown next to the header, he finds that Sue is available at that moment for an IM chat. 3. John right-clicks Sue s presence icon and launches an IM chat session with Sue. 4. After chatting for a minute, they decide to talk to each other via telephone to resolve the trouble ticket. Sue then right-clicks John s presence icon on her IM chat window to initiate a direct phone call to John. Further escalation is possible as well, including white board sharing, file sharing, or even video conferencing.
4 Empowering Enterprise-Wide Customer Service with SIP / page 4 of 12 In a SIP world, all a resource needs in order to play a role in customer service and sales is a computer, a desktop application with information about the customer, a broadband connection, and a telephone either a soft or hard SIP phone or a TDM-based phone. The presence capabilities are utilized by Unified Communications (UC) programs in order to increase worker productivity and collaboration. This paper will discuss UC a little later. The impact of presence on customer service In the contact center, the concept of presence has been utilized for some time, although it is usually referred to as agent readiness. The combination of virtualization and SIP-based presence together makes it feasible to interconnect agents from any physical location in the customer service operation. The virtualization minimizes the resources required to receive customer contact. In a SIP world, all a resource needs in order to play a role in customer service and sales is a computer, a desktop application with information about the customer, a broadband connection, and a telephone either a soft or hard SIP phone or a TDM-based phone. With presence, a company is able to track the availability of a resource (expert, etc.) even beyond the contact center without specialized software on that resource s desktop. This enables the organization to support its customer service operation with a large variable pool of resources that have a wide range of skills and capabilities. The Phases of IP Migration and Adoption Many large organizations adopt VoIP gradually, with the contact center being migrated to VoIP at a later stage. This gradual move results in a period of time during which the organization operates with a hybrid environment where both the legacy and IP infrastructure co-exist for multiple years until the legacy equipment is fully depreciated and replaced. Unlike the rip-and-replace approach, this not only prolongs the return on investment of the legacy equipment, but also makes the migration smooth and manageable. Such migration typically starts with an expansion beyond the existing contact center or with the replacement of legacy hardware-based infrastructure near the end of its life cycle. In this case, the challenge for the organization is to manage both legacy and IP customer service operations simultaneously on different networks. In contrast, green field, small, and medium-sized businesses usually switch to IP directly. As companies are migrating to VoIP at their own pace, the customer service SIP market is maturing, with the broad adoption of SIP standards by vendors for a variety of product offerings and services taking place through three common phases. The first phase is currently well underway and is marked by the rise of hybrid customer service operations. In this first phase, SIP-based VoIP solutions are deployed in specific areas of the customer service operation usually those that contained the aged technology, or in new areas that bring remote resources into the customer service operation. The legacy hardware equipment, such as ACDs and PBXs, is upgraded or replaced with software-based SIP applications. One common goal of organizations in this first phase is to lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) associated with consolidating contact center solutions and combining the voice and data onto a single consistent infrastructure. In this phase, many contact centers adopt a standards-based SIP environment for open and flexible operations. SIP is a widely recognized signaling protocol and is broadly supported for VoIP communications.
5 Empowering Enterprise-Wide Customer Service with SIP / page 5 of 12 The second phase of IP adoption is focused on extending customer service operations beyond the contact center. Due to the distributed and disaggregated nature of IP architecture, many contact centers virtualize the operations across the entire enterprise, including remote and home agents, back office experts, outsourced agents, and even SaaS/hosted services from the cloud. With such virtualization, contact centers become much more efficient and more flexible through centralized resource management and utilization. From the network perspective, SIP also enables direct IP traffic flow from carriers to contact centers through SIP trunking and SIP Connect (a SIP-based standard to support network traffic). This saves organizations the cost of the inter-connection charge through the PSTN network. Ultimately, in the third phase, contact centers roll out innovative services beyond voice-only interaction to deliver exceptional experiences to their customers. Through standards-based SIP interoperability, innovative services such as video, mobile, Skype, UC/presence, etc., provide convenient and delightful customer services and boost their competitive differentiation. In such an open IP environment, SIP, with standard extension supporting presence, also enables UC beyond contact centers throughout the organization. With UC, contact centers are able to improve customer service performance by providing multimedia customer interactions and seamlessly enabling the collaboration of experts and other resources in the rest of the organization. Unlike traditional, legacy hardware-based contact centers limited by constraints of proprietary technology, the standards-based, software-only SIP solution enables organizations to deploy the innovative services with shorter lead time and tight integration. In addition, the SIP-based open IP environment brings organizations the freedom to implement best-of-breed products with lower cost and better innovations without getting stuck with a particular supplier. Simplify Infrastructure Virtualize Service Innovate New Experience Replace ACD and PBX in the contact center to lower TCO with single software-only, open, and standards-based SIP platform Go beyond the contact center to enable enterprise-wide customer service with centralized management of remote/ home agents, back office experts, outsourced agents, and SaaS from the cloud Deliver exceptional customer experience to delight customers with innovative video, Skype, mobile and UC/presence services Figure-2 SIP Reference Model
6 Empowering Enterprise-Wide Customer Service with SIP / page 6 of 12 SIP Enabling IP Customer Service Transformation SIP is the Internet Engineering Task Force s (IETF s) standard for multimedia communications over IP. Over the years, SIP has gained significant market share and become the common protocol for IP communications. Several key factors contribute to wide SIP support. SIP is a lightweight peer-to-peer signaling protocol to establish and tear down communication sessions between parties. The beauty of SIP is its simplicity and flexibility. Its signaling transaction model, separated from the media traffic, not only manages the communication sessions efficiently, but also supports multichannel communications, including voice, video, instant messaging, and conferencing. In addition, SIP has proven reliable for large scale deployment. All these characteristics make SIP perfect for deployment in a future-proofed application environment. SIP also supports presence with SIMPLE (SIP for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions) standard. As discussed, real-time presence is the key element to enabling instant messaging and unified communications within and beyond contact centers. As broad support for SIP from communications equipment and applications vendors increases, SIP offers a common ground for seamless interoperability. With a SIP-enabled customer service operation, enterprises obtain several major benefits: Freedom to deploy the best-of-breed applications from multiple vendors Flexibility to support virtual, centralized customer service operations that are involved with branch offices, work-at-home agents, hosting providers, and outsourcers in distributed locations Ability to offer multimedia interactions beyond voice to enhance the customer experience Capacity to support unified communications beyond contact centers throughout the entire organization Cost savings from lower infrastructure maintenance and interconnection charges Unified Communications and Collaborations Improve the Customer Experience Unified Communications improves how individuals and groups communicate, increases employee productivity, and reduces human latency in business processes. UC commonly covers voice, video, , messaging, instant messaging (IM), conferencing, and mobility. It supports an environment where multimedia communications occur in orchestration with the presence status of each party. UC enables better customer service by increasing the ease of communication between front line customer service employees and back office experts. In addition to improving communication efficiency, UC enhances the customer experience by providing a common desktop from which employees outside the contact center can play a dynamic multi-modal role in customer sales and service. This presents a number of benefits, such as: 1. Experts in areas of high complexity are able to communicate directly with customers and manage customer situations effectively. This not only increases customer satisfaction because it solves customers issues faster, but also reduces training costs for front line agents because they will no longer be required to be experts on all aspects of the company s operations. 2. Workers in the enterprise can be organized to dynamically support customer service operations when extra high customer call volumes saturate its contact center capacity. These will be further detailed in the next section.
7 Empowering Enterprise-Wide Customer Service with SIP / page 7 of 12 Figure-3 Genesys Integrating Enterprise Expert Presence Genesys SIP Supporting a Unified Customer Service Operation With Genesys in a UC-enabled environment, enterprises are able to provide extremely dynamic customer service operations and leverage various skill sets from across the organization, thereby supporting customers in a more timely manner by rallying its employee community. By applying the Genesys core competencies of capacity modeling, abstraction of resources, and routing, enterprises are able to orchestrate the customer experience by blending contact center functions with the rest of the organization. Genesys technology further enhances the efficiency of Unified Communications by incorporating company-specific routing rules based on service type, availability, skill category, working schedule, resource capacity, and preferred communications channel. As Unified Communications is established throughout the enterprise, each agent is able to serve any customers, which enables the organization to handle extra customer calls even when the contact centers are saturated during volume spikes. In other cases, agents are able to escalate specific customer requests to enterprise experts. Multiple experts can even collaborate concurrently across different media channels. All of this not only improves customer service performance, but also increases the satisfaction for both customers and agents and enhances the organization s competitive differentiation. In addition to the interoperation of basic presence with leading UC platforms, Genesys SIP can provide rich status information on both IP and TDM telephony presence, skills, and the real-time multi-channel capacity of enterprise employees and contact center agents. GENESYS SIP Presence Subscriptions Integrate presence from leading UC platforms Enterprise Connection Deliver communication or work items across contact center and enterprise Routing Transactions Notification/transfer/ consult via multi-channels sessions Presence Enrichment Media Extension Universal Routing Telephony presence from IP, hybrid, and TDM PBXs Agent skill and capacity Multi-channel capabliities Skills-based routing Call and multimedia blending Capacity rules Figure-4 Genesys SIP Empowering UC Efficiency
8 Busin ess W hite Paper Empowering Enterprise-Wide Customer Service with SIP / page 8 of 12 Deploying Customer-Winning Services for Business Success As contact centers migrate from traditional TDM hardware-based infrastructure toward IP solutions, it is a challenge for many organizations to design and execute a proper IP adoption strategy that will have minimum impact on the customer service operation and contact center agent team. A suitable strategy should address the organization s various objectives, including enhancing customer satisfaction, increasing productivity, improving flexibility, and saving costs and it should occur without disruption to business continuity in order to make the IP migration appear seamless to customers. With market leadership of Computer Telephony Interface (CTI) and SIP in the customer service industry, Genesys solutions provide great flexibility for organizations seeking to adopt an IP-based customer service operation. With Genesys, contact centers are able to serve customers with resources in a mix of IP and TDM environments. Having a single blended routing strategy helps organizations migrate smoothly to IP, and by starting the migration before the end of the life cycle for the existing contact center hardware, enterprises are able to move agents over to the solution at a pace that allows for agent acclimatization. This approach maximizes the earlier investment and puts the contact center in control of the operation, helping to minimize disruptions to the customer service operation. With distributed IP technology, Genesys SIP supports a virtual contact center (or customer service operation) that can use resources from multiple locations as a single, logical agent pool. Control of the customer operation can be centralized in a corporate data center or hosted service provider. Many customers with Genesys SIP expand their customer service operations beyond the main contact center into branch offices, outsourcing sites, and/or work-at-home agents. This provides organizations great flexibility to better manage and balance such things as unexpected call volumes, agent workloads, and disaster recovery operations. Media Server PSTN SIP Server Contact Center SoHo SIP Contact Center Agents Branch Office Agents Figure-5 Genesys SIP Enables a Virtual Centralized Contact Center Home Agent
9 Empowering Enterprise-Wide Customer Service with SIP / page 9 of 12 There are several approaches to deploying Genesys SIP that will meet contact center specific situations and needs. For pure customer service operations, contact centers can deploy Genesys SIP as a stand-alone communications server. As shown in Figure-6, Genesys SIP has a direct SIP interface with the IP phone on the agent desktop, or the IP soft client on the agent computer. In this case, Genesys SIP provides call control and switching functions to and from the agent IP phone. The incoming customer call routing logistics are performed by a Universal Routing Server (URS) located in the main Genesys Customer Interaction Management (CIM) platform, with intelligent routing rules based on agent skills, customer categories, service types, and so on. Genesys SIP also includes call queuing and treatment capabilities to support agent-related media services such as music/media on hold, call recording, conferencing, and supervisory features. Carrier Network SIP/Public Network SIP Server SIP Media Server SIP Universal SDK Figure-6 Genesys SIP as Stand Alone Deployment
10 Empowering Enterprise-Wide Customer Service with SIP / page 10 of 12 Some other companies blend customer service operations within the enterprise organization s IP telephony infrastructure. Some customer service agents often assume additional job functions in the enterprise. These agents then may need advanced enterprise VoIP features, such as advanced enterprise call features. In this case, as shown in Figure-7, Genesys SIP can be deployed as an application server sitting behind a third-party softswitch, which has a direct interface with the agent IP phone. For incoming customer calls, the softswitch passes call signaling information to Genesys routing through Genesys SIP, and switches the call to specific agents according to the routing strategy. Like the standalone approach, Genesys SIP offers media on hold, conferencing, and call recording features. Carrier Network Media Server Softswitch SIP Server SIP SIP Universal SDK Figure-7 Genesys SIP as an Application Server
11 Empowering Enterprise-Wide Customer Service with SIP / page 11 of 12 In the contact center, Genesys SIP tracks the real-time availability status of each agent and routes the incoming customer calls to available agents. Genesys SIP is able to interoperate with enterprise presence servers and unified communications platforms, such as the Microsoft Office Communication Server (OCS), to expand customer service operations beyond the contact center agents to other employees or experts in the enterprise. With such unified presence information integrated, contact center agents are able to transfer and escalate specific customer service calls to available experts directly. In case of saturated contact center operations, the Genesys routing engine then routes the calls directly to pre-assigned enterprise employees based on their availability and skills. Depending on organizational and business rules, enterprise employees may voluntarily make themselves available via their preferred communication channel (IM, , voice, or video) for external customer service support during certain hours of the day to balance out their regular job functions. SIP/Public Network Carrier Network Media Server SIP GENESYS CIM/SIP Presence Presence SIP Universal SDK Presence Contact Center Agent Enterprise Expert Figure-8 Genesys SIP Integration with Unified Communications
12 Empowering Enterprise-Wide Customer Service with SIP / page 12 of 12 Conclusion As IP technology becomes ubiquitous for business communications due to its simplicity and seamless interoperability, SIP is playing an increasingly essential role in enabling an open, flexible, and unified communication environment throughout the organization. SIP has gained significant support from numerous equipment and solution vendors, giving organizations the freedom to pick the best-of-breed applications independently of the infrastructure and hardware. Genesys SIP provides contact centers with great flexibility for IP migration, allowing enterprises to maintain business continuity throughout the adoption of various strategies, including traditional ACD and PBX replacement, branch office expansion, work-at-home agent operations, service provider hosting, and customer service outsourcing. Genesys SIP integrates and enriches the enterprise unified communications environment with the seamless support for SIP presence and multimedia sessions. As a result, organizations are able to extend their customer service operations beyond the contact center with dynamic collaboration from experts and other resources in the enterprise. Ultimately, organizations are enabled to achieve excellent customer service performance, provide great satisfaction both for customers and agents, boost their business competitive differentiation, and enhance their bottom line. Corporate Headquarters Genesys 2001 Junipero Serra Blvd. Daly City, CA USA Worldwide Inquiries: Tel: Fax: Genesys is the world s leading provider of customer service and contact center software with a 100% focus on customer experience and mission to save the world from bad customer service. With more than 2,000 customers in 80 countries, Genesys is uniquely positioned to help companies bring their people, insights and customer channels together to drive today s new customer conversation. Genesys software directs more than 100 million interactions every day from the contact center to the back office, helping companies deliver fast, simple service and a highly personalized cross-channel customer experience. Genesys software also optimizes processes and the performance of customer-facing employees across the enterprise. For more information visit: or call GENESYS. Genesys and the Genesys logo are registered trademarks of Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc. All other company names and logos may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc. All rights reserved v1.1-02/09