Beyond Connecting the Call: Empowering Corporate Strategy With Hosted IP-Based Contact Routing

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1 WHITE PAPER Contact Center Solutions Beyond Connecting the Call: Empowering Corporate Strategy With Hosted IP-Based Contact Routing Executive Summary...2 In a Holding Pattern The Limits of Aging Technology...2 IP/SIP-Based Contact Routing Empowers Everyone....2 The Benefits of Virtualization Hosted Solutions Create a More Flexible Enterprise...4 Freeing Up IT Resources Long-Term Cost Advantages Leverage Hosted Technology to Align IT and Business Goals of 6

2 Executive Summary Progressive c-level executives recognize that technology is a key enabler for corporate strategy. Whether the strategy demands superior customer service, lower operating costs, extending the reach and value of the brand or consolidating operations, to a great extent, innovative use of technology is central to achieving corporate goals. Yet in many circumstances, IT has been unable to effectively align itself with changing business requirements. IT is challenged by the increasing scope and expense required to maintain the current legacy infrastructure and often lacks the resources to deliver game-changing innovation. In fact, some IT organizations struggle to deliver the basic capabilities needed to fulfill their business needs. Case in point: many organizations are missing out on significant benefits afforded by IP/SIP-based (Internet Protocol/Session Initiation Protocol) contact center solutions due to budget and resource constraints. SIP-based contact routing solutions enable contact centers to drive greater business value and meet objectives by helping to improve agent productivity, virtualizing resources through consolidation of agents across multiple call centers into one central agent pool, reducing infrastructure costs, and improving the customer experience. This white paper is intended for business executives striving to understand the opportunity that SIPbased contact routing presents and how a hosted solution aligns this strategic organizational change with the requirements of both the business and IT. In a Holding Pattern The Limits of Aging Technology Legacy technology often presents barriers to change, hindering areas within the organization from fully participating in and delivering upon corporate strategy. Nowhere is this truer than in the contact center, where in many cases the typical infrastructure has remained largely unchanged over the last two decades. Many contact centers still rely upon traditional phone switching technology such as TDM (time-division multiplexing). This is despite the fact that IP-based telephony has been proven to be an effective and reliable solution and is the foundation for enabling intelligent call/contact routing. Compared to modern IP-based technology, TDM has many drawbacks that prevent the organization from adapting to changing business conditions. It forces companies to deploy a distributed system, which precludes a more virtualized, consolidated environment. For instance, TDM makes it difficult and costly for a bank to automatically route a high-value client perhaps calling to invest a large sum of money directly to a financial advisor based on business rules. With IP-based technology, centralized management is enabled across all sites to balance the call load as well as enable callers to be routed to the best qualified internal resource for their needs regardless of where that resource is located, inside the contact center, in the back office, in a home office, or a remote branch location. From the IT department s perspective, an enormous amount of time, cost, and effort are expended to maintain and manage customer-owned, on premises hardware and software, especially when it s distributed across different company sites. Bogged down with day-to-day mundane maintenance and support tasks, IT has precious few resources remaining to dedicate toward activities such as migrating from TDM to IP/SIP-based routing solutions and designing business processes for competitive advantage that drive business value and strategic change for the company. Designed to reconcile the problem of legacy equipment draining IT resources, hosted solutions are a compelling alternative to customer-owned equipment. A hosted IP/SIP-based contact routing solution helps align IT with strategic business goals by offering comprehensive routing capabilities with less effort and better TCO than in-house solutions. IP/SIP-Based Contact Routing Empowers Everyone IP telephony has ushered in a new era for contact centers, providing previously unattainable levels of flexibility, responsiveness, and cost-effectiveness to the entire enterprise. With the emergence of SIP, the shift to open, standards-based solutions and away from closed, proprietary infrastructures is finally a reality. 2 of 6

3 A key entry point into the exciting and innovative capabilities that IP/SIP-based solutions offer is through a hosted SIP-based contact routing solution. With SIP-based contact routing, enterprises gain a competitive edge with improved multi-channel services, contact center virtualization, and routing to the best-qualified resource to handle the contact. Customer satisfaction can receive a tremendous boost while organizational costs can be controlled. With hosted SIP-based routing, the entire organization gains new functionality that better meets business imperatives, including the ability to: Raise Customer Service Levels The cost efficiencies gained with an IP/SIP-based hosted solution enable companies to improve customer satisfaction with intelligent, customer value-based routing and new services. Offer Game-Changing New Services By enabling not only voice routing, but other methods of customer interaction management such as web and instant messaging, SIP-based routing enables organizations to enhance the customer s experience in innovative ways, serve new markets, and capture additional revenue streams. Control Operating Costs In addition to controlling telecommunications costs, hosted IP/SIP solutions enable centralization of the contact center infrastructure. The net result is fewer mundane maintenance tasks for IT and more opportunity for strategic alignment with the business needs of the company. Virtualize Resources With one centralized view of all resources, contacts can be routed more effectively and call loads balanced more efficiently to enable the enterprise to better execute a customer-centric strategy while improving staffing efficiency. Improve Disaster Recovery Hosted IP/SIP solutions enable more flexible and cost-effective business continuity approaches to help maintain uninterrupted service to customers. The Benefits of Virtualization One of the core advantages of a Hosted IP/SIP-based contact routing solution is the ability to virtualize and consolidate the contact center. This enables organizations to break down geographical barriers and view multiple sites as one virtual pool of resources. With virtualization and consolidation, enterprises gain better resource utilization as well as improved customer service. Companies then have the freedom to hire agents around the world, leverage remote branches at peak times for high-value customers, and make changes to agents or agent groups with real-time responsiveness to changing business requirements. With hosted contact routing based on SIP, companies with a virtual contact center can enable nearly any interaction (voice, , chat, and more) to be routed to agents or functional experts within the enterprise based on business rules. Using a single network queue, companies can now better balance call loads across separate physical sites, which improves customer satisfaction while reducing agent staffing requirements. Figures 1 and 2 illustrate the traditional approach to contact centers compared to the virtualization concept. Figure 1. Traditional TDM-Based Call Routing 3 of 6

4 In Figure 1, customers contacting Contact Center 1 are waiting in a queue for an agent to be available while agents are available in Contact Center 2 to assist them. In this traditional configuration, call load balancing is not dynamic and customers face wait times despite the availability of agents in other locations. Figure 2 shows how this problem is eliminated with hosted IP/SIP-based technology that enables a virtual agent resource pool to be created regardless of the agent s location. Call loads are balanced, agent resources are better utilized, and customer service improves as wait times are reduced. Figure 2. The Virtual Agent Resource Pool Enabled by SIP-Based Contact Reading Hosted Solutions Create a More Flexible Enterprise Host solutions deliver the best of both worlds: business decision-makers gain the ability to solve corporate challenges and implement new competitive strategies with greater speed, while IT is relieved of the low-value-add burden of maintaining and supporting additional technology. This paradigm is driving the success of hosted solutions. Beyond the advanced capabilities of customer-centric contact routing, IP/SIP technology delivers additional benefits and cost savings opportunities to the organization. SIP-based solutions enable the enterprise to reduce difficult-to-manage, distributed call center infrastructure and control associated maintenance, support, and IT overhead costs. Deploying a hosted solution takes these savings a step further to reduce the need for centralized maintenance and support. With the hosted solution model, the enterprise gains the latest technology without major capital investment. And the company is not responsible for equipment obsolescence the hosted solution provider manages on-going upgrades and bears the cost and effort of doing so. Figure 3. A Decentralizd Infrastructure Figure 3 depicts a contact center with three locations and the corresponding hardware required for a traditional TDM approach. Each PBX and Gateway represents a significant cost point for the company, as well as requiring resources from IT to maintain and support. Figure 4 shows the hosted, centralized approach. 4 of 6

5 Figure 4. A Centralized, Hosted Infrastructure Freeing Up IT Resources Hosted solutions free IT to focus on developing new strategies that more precisely align efforts with the evolving business needs of the enterprise. Without the additional burden of installing, maintaining, and upgrading on-premises equipment, IT can focus more on innovation instead of simple infrastructure management. Using a hosted solution can also reduce the number of vendors IT must manage, providing one vendor to hold accountable and reducing the problem of fingerpointing between solution suppliers. Long-Term Cost Advantages Contrary to common perceptions, the total cost of ownership (TCO) associated with hosted solutions can be lower in the long-run than customer premises equipment (CPE). Companies need to consider the true costs of ownership: purchasing a solution; refreshing hardware every four years on average; and internal IT resources for support, maintenance, and upgrades. When all these costs are evaluated, the total cost of ownership for customer-owned, on-premises equipment typically starts out higher than a hosted solution, and remains more expensive over the lifecycle of the solution. Figure 5 illustrates a long-term comparison of hosted versus on-premises solutions. Figure 5. Estimated Annual Cost of On-Premises and Hosted/Managed Solutions This example is based on the following assumptions. 600,000 calls per month peak volume, 40% of the time 60% of the time, the volume is below 600K/month 500 full-time agents. Professional services cost to implement the software is 60% of the original software cost Software upgrades every two years Hardware refresh in year four 5 of 6

6 About Verizon Business Verizon Business, a unit of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ), is a leading provider of advanced communications and information technology (IT) solutions to large-business and government customers worldwide. Combining unsurpassed global network reach with advanced communications, security, and other professional service capabilities, Verizon Business delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world. Figure 6. Long-Term TCO Comparison between On-Premises and Hosted Solutions The example highlighted in Figure 6 clearly demonstrates that the annual and cumulative costs for a hosted/managed service typically are less than a premises-based deployment. An additional, but significant, cost component that is often forgotten in a TCO analysis is the opportunity cost of maintaining and supporting on-premises equipment. With customer-owned, on-premises equipment, IT resources are spent performing low value activities. Companies should consider the cost of the lost opportunity when IT is not delivering significant innovation that drives additional business value, such as functionality that would enable a competitive differentiator for the company maybe a revenue generating, web-based self-service tool....hosted contact center solutions continue to offer an attractive and cost-effective alternative to premise-based solutions. The hosted Model: Why It s Revolutionizing the Contact Center Industry, Frost & Sullivan Leverage Hosted Technology to Align IT and Business Goals With hosted SIP-based contact routing, organizations no longer need to miss out on the technological and business innovations IP telephony affords. Now, enterprises can leverage IP/SIP-based technology to empower corporate strategy without creating an additional burden on the IT department. With hosted SIP-based contact routing, enterprises can leverage integrated multi-channel services, contact center virtualization and consolidation, and intelligent routing to elevate the contact center to a more strategic role within the organization. Companies that take steps to align IT with the business needs of the company through solutions such as hosted customer-centric routing are best positioned to rapidly adapt to shifting business requirements and strategic organizational change. About Verizon Business Hosted Intelligent Contact Routing Powered by Genesys With SIP Server Verizon Business Contact Center Solutions help companies expand their capabilities, while controlling costs associated with inbound and outbound customer communications. Hosted Intelligent Contact Routing (Hosted ICR) is a fully managed and hosted solution based on Genesys Labs dynamic contact center software that is powered by Verizon Business s robust and extensive network. Hosted ICR offers intelligent network-level routing and queuing, with current and historical reporting in a redundant and highly available architecture with 24x7 customer support. Verizon Business is the 2007 recipient of the Frost & Sullivan North American Market Leadership Award for Hosted Contact Center services. Frost & Sullivan, a leading global growth consulting company, recognized Verizon Business for its strong contact center portfolio, extensive customer installed base, ability to leverage its core strengths, and its leadership in the hosted contact center marketplace. verizonbusiness.com 2008 Verizon. All Rights Reserved. WP /08 The Verizon and Verizon Business names and logos and all other names, logos, and slogans identifying Verizon s products and services are trademarks and service marks or registered trademarks and service marks of Verizon Trademark Services LLC or its affiliates in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners. 6 of 6

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