GUIDE TO PURCHASING A PHONE SYSTEM FOR YOUR CALL CENTER

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1 GUIDE TO PURCHASING A PHONE SYSTEM FOR YOUR CALL CENTER A STEP-BY-STEP PRIMER TO HELP YOU SELECT THE RIGHT SOLUTION FOR YOUR SMALL TO MIDSIZE BUSINESS

2 GUIDE TO PURCHASING THE RIGHT PHONE SYSTEM FOR YOUR CUSTOMER CONTACT CENTER For years, call centers have been the primary method for customers to interface with a company. All of us have used call centers, whether for ordering shoes, disputing a cable bill or pleading with a credit card company for a lower interest rate. And while the types of requests haven t changed much in the past several years, contact centers themselves have. Today, the presence of contact centers in the marketplace is vast and horizontal in nature. Products and services are more complex and customer expectations are greater than ever before. Contact centers exist in all shapes and sizes, from small and informal, to large, multisite, sophisticated enterprises. They span numerous industries, including hospitality, education, government, financial, manufacturing, retail and healthcare. As a result, the ability to manage operational efficiencies while ensuring high-quality customer service has become a tremendous challenge. But do you need specialized contact center software? Will it be worth the money? In short, yes. Every company has something to gain by enhancing customer interactions through the use of contact center software. Once seen as cost centers, contact centers are now viewed as revenue centers where superior customer service can greatly influence buying decisions, maintain customer loyalty and directly affect a company s bottom line. Consider the perils of not having the right system in place. With today s prevalence of social media, one bad experience with your contact center could yield detrimental results in a matter of hours. But customers who have positive experiences with your call center are much more likely to choose your company again and again. Regardless of size, any contact center can benefit from the proper call-handling solution with: Enhanced customer satisfaction. By delivering higher-caliber service through the medium of their choice, you bolster customer relationships and mitigate dissatisfaction. Improved retention. The cost of agent turnover is staggering; the average cost to recruit and train an agent ranges between $8,000 and $12,000, depending on the industry. Most studies report annual turnover of 25 to 40 percent. Increased agent productivity. By allowing representatives to have relevant customer data at their fingertips, call times are reduced and sales opportunities can be maximized. If your contact center communications platform doesn t have sophisticated call handling features or offer the ability for customers to contact you in the method of their choosing, you should consider upgrading in order to maximize your business potential. This primer will help you navigate the products on the market so you can select the one that will best suit your needs. STEP 1: UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RIGHT CONTACT CENTER SOLUTION Choosing the right contact center solution is critical to your firm s profitability because it lets you strengthen customer relationships and boost operational efficiency while protecting the bottom line. Your contact center doesn t have to be huge to have sophisticated requirements. Many contact centers are relatively small, yet still handle a high number of calls. They need comprehensive tools that facilitate customer relationships beyond call-handling times and abandon rates. No matter your size or industry, it s important that your contact center solution help you: Spot call trends by cataloguing what is happening during calls and reporting it in such a way that you can maximize operations. Build an effective team by equipping employees with the tools they need to deliver efficient and effective customer service. Empower your customers by serving them through the communication method of their choice, managing their expectations and delivering on promises. Optimize contact center productivity by 2 MITEL WHITEPAPER

3 enabling agents to handle calls quickly and efficiently, and enabling supervisors to monitor, maintain and continually improve processes. Create flexibility by integrating seamlessly with existing infrastructure and deploying reliably within a single site or across multiple sites. STEP 2: IDENTIFY WHICH TYPE OF CONTACT CENTER YOU HAVE Before you can select a solution, you need to identify the type of contact center your organization has. What was once a small team of agents handling simple inbound phone calls has now evolved into several different types of operations: CALL CENTER Departments that primarily focus on inbound phone calls, though the role of the agents has changed dramatically to include order taking, upselling and cross-selling. Additionally, some call centers today are tasked with outbound phone calls, such as telemarketing and lead qualification. CONTACT CENTER Today, many customers prefer to communicate with the companies they do business with through alternate, more convenient channels. Multichannel contact centers, also referred to as customer interaction centers, provide selfserve mechanisms for customers via the Web, and make agents available through multiple channels such as , Web chat, SMS texting and social media. VIRTUAL CONTACT CENTER Unlike traditional contact centers where a large team of agents reside in the same location and are managed by an on-site supervisor, virtual contact centers may consist of smaller teams of geographically dispersed agents working from headquarters, branch offices, remote offices or from their homes. This type of contact center is typically highly resilient, and has the advantage of being centrally administered despite the distributed agent architecture. STEP 3: ASSESS YOUR NEEDS A contact center solution is a critical investment that you, your employees and your customers will rely upon every day for years to come. Before you sign a contract, take the necessary time to review your needs to ensure you make an informed decision that will serve you now and in the future. Here s a checklist to guide you in assessing your needs when it comes to a contact center solution: Ask yourself how your customers want to interact with you. Your customers, especially the tech-savvy ones, don t necessarily want to talk to you by phone. They would prefer to , text or Web chat you. Even if your current contact center only conducts business by phone, make sure you choose a system with these capabilities so you can evolve with the market. Choose a unified solution. In order to be most effective, contact center software applications must seamlessly link to existing telephony systems and to one another. Go for virtual support. Virtual contact centers are becoming increasingly popular because they have the capability to support agents anywhere. If your call center consists of agents who work in dispersed locations, or if you plan to move to a virtual call center model in the future, you ll need contact center software that fully supports your operations. Leverage workforce optimization. Does your organization need to score agents after you have recorded their phone calls? Would you like the option to GUIDE TO CHOOSING THE RIGHT PHONE SYSTEM FOR YOUR CUSTOMER CONTACT CENTER 3

4 GUIDE TO PURCHASING THE RIGHT PHONE SYSTEM FOR YOUR CUSTOMER CONTACT CENTER coach agents in real time during calls? Do you want the ability to record calls and as well as what s displaying on agents screens during the calls? Then you ll want software that offers such functionality. Plan for growth. According to Forrester Research Inc. s Forrsights Q Networks and Telecommunication Survey, more than 51 percent of businesses with 50 current contact center seats plan to grow within the next 12 months. And 45 percent of firms are planning for upgrades. You should, too. Gain comprehensive reporting. Organizations want access to flexible, real-time and historical reporting that provides contact center supervisors with the information they need, when they need it, to manage more effectively. STEP 4: FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH AVAILABLE FEATURES AND FUNCTIONALITY There are a wide variety of applications on the market today that enhance the myriad aspects of contact center management. Some of the most common are: INTERACTIVE VOICE RESPONSE (IVR) With an IVR system, companies can automate routine inquiries, such as requests for account balances or questions about the status of orders, so agents are free to address more complex problems. Customers use touch-tone phones to make a request such as entering an account or order number, which is then sent directly to a database where information is pulled and spoken back to the customer using prerecorded phrases or text-to-speech technology. Many IVR systems also offer speech recognition capabilities for additional convenience, as well as survey functionality to gather feedback from customers after an interaction has been completed. COMPUTER TELEPHONY INTEGRATION (CTI) CTI bridges the gap between IVR systems and contact center agents. For example, let s say a customer exits your IVR system halfway through a transaction. As the call is transferred to the appropriate live representative, all the information previously provided travels with and dynamically appears on the agent s screen when he or she picks up the phone. This accelerates handling and resolution time and saves customers the frustration of having to repeat themselves. OUTBOUND TECHNOLOGY Old school telemarketing was traditionally used for cold calling and debt collection. But outbound technology has been repurposed. Now it s being used for proactive alerts and notifications such as informing customers of a change in airline flight status or irregular spending patterns on their credit card. Companies leverage outbound technology as a competitive advantage, a way to differentiate themselves through superior customer service all in the interest of customer retention and loyalty. WORKFORCE OPTIMIZATION This technology category includes a variety of capabilities aimed at improving operational efficiencies and agent productivity. These capabilities include: Call recording: Your call is being monitored for quality assurance. Anyone who has heard that line has experienced call-monitoring software in action. Calls are recorded and can be played back at a later date for a variety of purposes such as evaluating an agent s performance or settling a customer dispute. PC screen capture: Screen capture refers to the ability to transfer current on-screen images to a clipboard or a graphics file. Some applications, such as screen grabber, offer capabilities such as extracting just the text from a window or capturing the content in a scrolling window. 4 MITEL WHITEPAPER

5 Quality monitoring: An essential tool for any call center, quality monitoring provides insight into how agents are performing and what customers are experiencing. A good monitoring tool allows you to spot problems and deal with them proactively and effectively. Agent scorecarding: This feature provides a visual dashboard of each agent s performance so you can monitor success at a glance. agent s tone of voice and the amount of speech versus silence on a call. Workforce/agent management: The availability and effectiveness of agents is what makes or breaks a contact center. These solutions fully automate critical workforce management-related processes such as scheduling, performance assessments and training. Speech analytics: Going beyond mere speech recognition, this feature flags topics being discussed, the STEP 5: CONSIDER WHERE TO STORE YOUR CONTACT CENTER DATA As with any other voice application, you ll need to decide where to host your contact center software solution on premises on your own servers, in an off-site data center (cloud) or a combination of the two. If you already have server space on-premises and the staff resources to manage the data and maintain the servers, you might be interested in hosting your contact center software on-site. The cloud offers more flexibility than on-premises hosting, providing you access to all of the features outlined in Step 4. The cost of a cloud deployment is typically lower than a premises-based deployment, since you only need to rent as much server space as you ll use rather than having to purchase servers that you may not fill on your own on-site. Some companies insist on housing all of their data onpremises for fear of security concerns. But cloud models are quite secure. Plus, there are three options to choose from, based on your comfort level, budget and needs: Public clouds are owned and operated by third-party service providers. Because infrastructure costs are shared across all users, they are lower cost than private clouds. In a public cloud model, your data will share server space with other companies. But public does not mean viewable by everyone. Your information will still be partitioned and secure. Private clouds are custom built for individual enterprises. Your data will be the only information housed on your individual server. Private clouds essentially have all the same properties as premises-based setups, but they re located offsite and managed and maintained by third-party network administrators. Hybrid clouds leverage the best of both models and store the data of your choosing in a public cloud and other data in a private cloud. Cloud deployments, whether public, private or hybrid, offer many benefits, including: Reduced capital investment and startup costs Improved ability to communicate and collaborate Functionality in a single virtual enterprise Enhanced capabilities, including CRM and automated outbound options Pay-as-you-go scalability Customized applications GUIDE TO CHOOSING THE RIGHT PHONE SYSTEM FOR YOUR CUSTOMER CONTACT CENTER 5

6 GUIDE TO PURCHASING THE RIGHT PHONE SYSTEM FOR YOUR CUSTOMER CONTACT CENTER STEP 6: CHOOSE A VENDOR Once you ve carefully weighed your contact center system requirements and ranked your priorities, you are now ready to select a vendor. Here are the things to look for in your partner: Relevant experience. Look for a vendor who understands your industry and business processes. Range of technology services. In addition to their technical expertise, it s wise to explore additional capabilities such as forecasting call center volumes and delivering integrated CRM. Scalability. It s important that your vendor be able to provide additional capacity and new services as your business grows. References. Ask to speak to current customers to get different perspectives. And if you can locate and speak with customers who aren t on your vendor s approved list of references, all the better! To find a vendor who can help you choose the right contact center solution for your business, use the Mitel partner locator. Responsiveness. Can the vendor adapt to changing needs and market conditions? GLOBAL HEADQUARTERS U.S. EMEA CALA ASIA PACIFIC Tel: +1(613) Fax: +1(613) Tel: +1(480) Fax: +1(480) Tel: +44(0) Fax: +44(0) Tel: +1(613) Fax: +1(613) Tel: +61(0) Fax: +61(0) mitel.com FOR MORE INFORMATION ON OUR WORLDWIDE OFFICE LOCATIONS, VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT MITEL.COM/OFFICES THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED TO YOU FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. The information furnished in this document, believed by Mitel to be accurate as of the date of its publication, is subject to change without notice. Mitel assumes no responsibility for any errors or omissions in this document and shall have no obligation to you as a result of having made this document available to you or based upon the information it contains. M MITEL (design) is a registered trademark of Mitel Networks Corporation. All other products and services are the registered trademarks of their respective holders. Copyright 2013, Mitel Networks Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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