USING CLOUD SERVICES TO INTEGRATE DIVERSE TECHNOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURE AND IMPROVE SERVICE QUALITY

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1 USING CLOUD SERVICES TO INTEGRATE DIVERSE TECHNOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURE AND IMPROVE SERVICE QUALITY AN ULTRA COMMUNICATIONS WHITE PAPER ULTRA COMMUNICATIONS CLOUD CONTACT CENTRE SOLUTIONS +44 (0)

2 INTRODUCTION As organisations develop and mature, they frequently collect a diverse range of technology through one-off projects and as a result of mergers, acquisitions and restructuring. These systems can deliver effective single point solutions. However, because they often use proprietary operating systems and have their own configuration and management requirements, they can make it very difficult to achieve optimum levels of productivity and performance at a corporate level. Configuring and managing diverse systems can lead, for example, to duplicated manpower requirements and increased costs. They can also make it more difficult to maintain consistent and effective business processes. Large customer contact operations, especially those spread across multiple sites, are a case in point. These organisations are often constrained by having to work with a variety of Private Branch Exchange (PBX), Automatic Call Distributor (ACD), Interactive Voice Response (IVR), Dialler, Voice Recording and associated systems from multiple vendors. In the past, integration of these diverse systems has typically been achieved through middleware platforms provided by legacy equipment vendors or third party specialists. Not only have these platforms been expensive but clients have also had to invest in additional integration consultancy and bespoke development. The use of middleware can also add another level of complexity to an already technically crowded environment. Now there is an alternative. Cloud services offer a simple and very cost-effective solution for organisations looking to integrate legacy infrastructure and add state-of-the-art functionality within complex multi-site contact centres. Cloud services can provide an effective overlay service, utilising all the elements of existing infrastructure and providing a single, centralised interface for the management of Inbound/Outbound Call Handling, IVR, Voice Recording, Computer Telephony Integration (CTI), Advisor Interfaces, Performance Monitoring, Management Information (MI) and other core customer contact functions. In this paper we look at how Cloud Services platforms such as the Ultra Call Management System (UCMS) enable complex and diverse technology environments to be simply and cost-effectively converted into a single, cohesive contact centre solution that delivers state-of-the-art functionality and improved service quality (0)

3 LIMITATIONS OF TRADITIONAL MULTI- SITE INTEGRATION MODELS The figure below illustrates a traditional multi-site configuration where calls are delivered from the network to individual switches and then queued until advisors become available. A Traditional Multi-Site Configuration with Legacy Switches An alternative integration approach is to link multiple PBX/ACDs using a private network that provides overflow calls between sites. However this isn t always straightforward, especially when different (and costly) switches use different routing methods and require individual sites to be updated separately whenever changes are made. Another approach is to employ a middleware platform to manage routing and overflow calls between sites. However, the success of this is dependent on the level of access and control available at each switch and can be both very expensive and complex. Regardless of what traditional system integration method is used, integration can be extremely difficult to manage when different switches produce Management Information in multiple formats and use different statistical analysis techniques. To make the right decisions regarding call routing and overflow, a single, consolidated view is required (0)

4 THE CLOUD CONTACT CENTRE OVERLAY MODEL The diagram below shows how, with no physical changes to existing infrastructure, a Cloud contact centre service can link all advisors within a unified, enterprise-wide contact centre and provide centralised configuration, management and performance monitoring. Multi-site configuration using a Cloud Overlay Model The Cloud approach can provide substantial benefits to an organisation by enabling any advisor, regardless of location, to be part of an advisor group or queue (including remote expert advisors and home workers). Using a Cloud solution such as Ultra, all advisors require to be connected is a phone and internet connection. The rest of the functionality is provided in the Cloud giving companies immense cost savings. Voice quality and reliability is maintained as calls are delivered via the public telephone network and as only information messages are transmitted over the Internet, there is very low impact on organisations data networks. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery options can also be in-built, avoiding the added complexity and cost of provisioning mirrored systems and additional sites (0)

5 WHAT ADVANCED FEATURES CAN CLOUD CONTACT CENTRE SERVICES OFFER? As well as providing centralised management and performance monitoring, leading Cloud services such as Ultra can also deliver a host of state-of-the-art contact centre applications to enhance customer communications. These include: Advisor Groups Advisor groups can be configured to include individuals at any location - including home workers and experts/specialists situated in the back office or in separate buildings. Centralised management provides a simple and rapid means of re-allocating advisors between groups, allowing additional personnel to be drafted in for busy periods or to handle specific campaigns. The flexible and centralised management of advisor groups can improve time to answer, increase first call resolution, enhance customer satisfaction and ensure the optimum use of resources. Call Blending Some advanced Cloud dialler platforms support inbound and outbound call blending as well as the ability to intelligently route and present calls to skilled advisors. Because ACD and dialler engine functionality is imbedded in network applications, there s generally no need to change advisor applications to take advantage of Cloud call blending services. Call Routing Calls can be routed to any advisor or advisor group across an organisation based on a wide variety of criteria including overflow and re-routing rules with call treatments configured to ensure callers receive an appropriate response regardless of prevailing conditions. This very high level of flexibility can help significantly reduce abandonment rates. Outbound Dialling Modern unified diallers can provide preview, power, progressive and predictive modes as well as centralised management of multiple campaigns and outbound advisor groups. This allows appropriately skilled advisors located anywhere across an organisation to be part of specific campaigns and means supervisors and managers only need training and knowledge on a single system. As well as saving costs, centralised control simplifies and speeds up processes. Cloud-based diallers also provide unlimited overcall capacity for improved performance. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) A flexible Cloud-based IVR can be used in conjunction with inbound call routing to create multi-tiered prerecorded menu prompts to direct inbound callers to specific groups of advisors, specific numbers, designated sub-flows, pre-recorded prompts/ messages and/or automated call termination. Again, all management and IVR configuration can be carried out via a centralised Cloud-based system. Voice Recording Inbuilt Voice Recording enables calls to be automatically recorded and stored in the Cloud for later review and download. With all functionality provided on a single Cloud platform, call records can also incorporate IVR events and call transfers, meaning calls can be tracked from beginning to end, regardless of the route they take (0)

6 WHAT ADVANCED FEATURES CAN CLOUD CONTACT CENTRE SERVICES OFFER? Management Information Advanced Cloud-based MI systems produce full real-time performance monitoring and a broad range of historical and statistical reports via central MI repositories. All displays and reports can be configured to show anything from advisor performance relating to a particular group or queue, to full enterprise wide statistics. Real-time monitoring displays can be accessed through standard web browsers from any location and information displayed for each supervisor/manager and controlled by permissions related to their login ID. This information can also be presented as a wallboard display, configured to show relevant information by department or centre. Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) IVR-based call routing and advisor-managed (and blind) call transfers with associated caller data screenpops are core to Cloud contact centre services such as Ultra. The open nature of many Cloud systems also makes it possible to integrate to popular CRM systems and customer databases to suit departmental and functional requirements. PCI DSS Compliance If your company takes card payment information over the phone, your contact centre needs to be PCI DSS compliant. This can be expensive and timeconsuming, which could explain why a 2011 survey found that over 95 per cent of contact centres are not completely PCI compliant. For contact centres, compliance can add a huge burden in terms of staff vetting, additional processes and management time. Cloud Services with in-built PCI compliance can take your contact centre out of scope of these requirements, resulting in significant savings in both time and financial expenditure. System Management and Configuration Authorised users can gain full access to centralised management systems to control call flows across multiple sites thereby allowing central control and real time changes to be made without the need to visit individual sites. Web management tools allow authorised users to easily manage call flows and advisors/groups. They also provide access to an extensive suite of real time and historic reporting tools. Flexible system management empowers managers to make both tactical and strategic changes to improve productivity. Advisor User Interface Leading Cloud contact centre services deliver a wide range of pre-prepared advisor desktops to meet different needs. Desktop interfaces are designed to be unobtrusive, light-touch and highly configurable to suit client requirements and integrate simply with client CRM or fulfilment systems. Should organisations have specific requirements, these can be accommodated using open APIs (such as the Ultra API set). Organisations running multiple campaigns or channels can use this flexibility to incorporate almost any requirement into their virtual contact centres. Client Requirements The best Cloud Services platforms will support any local telephony set-up from a traditional PSTN setup where contact centre advisors are using standard telephone handsets, to a local IP telephony set-up where calls are coming into the client building from an MPLS network and advisors using PC-based softphones (0)

7 ADVANTAGES OF THE CLOUD OVERLAY SERVICES MODEL When it comes to integrating legacy infrastructure and systems into a centrally managed system, the benefits of using Cloud services (rather than a traditional integration approach) include: Cloud-based Communications as a Service (CaaS) models enable organisations to implement overlay models without major capital expenditure with service typically paid for on a flexible pay-as-you-use basis. The model also allows for upscaling/downscaling user numbers to suit seasonal requirements and changing business needs. Generally, with good providers, no maintenance or upgrade charges are incurred by service users as all maintenance and general core upgrades are undertaken as part of the service. Costs associated with software upgrades to meet industry compliance (such as Ofcom upgrades) are sometimes borne by the Cloud provider. There s no requirement for inter-site private circuits. All calls are queued in the network and delivered directly to advisors, including transfers and overflows. Flexible licensing enables organisations to deploy advanced technology for short-term projects - and regardless of the location of advisors. Expert remote support reduces the need for organisations to invest in in-house specialists that have traditionally been required to support customer premise technology solutions. Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity options are often available at zero additional cost, saving on costly alternate DR plans Fewer phone lines are required. As all call queuing and outbound over-dial is managed at a network level, only one line per advisor is required regardless of call volumes. This can often mean a reduction in the number of lines needed at each location and substantial cost savings (0)

8 ULTRA TOP TIPS 10 considerations when building a virtual/multi-site contact centre Impact on existing infrastructure What are the cost implications and level of disruption associated with changing systems and technologies? Network Requirements Will I require new voice circuits and additional data capacity to link systems and sites? Integration Costs How much will it cost to integrate systems from multiple vendors - and will the resulting solution operate seamlessly between sites from both a user and customer perspective? Are these costs fixed or priced on a day rate basis? Support and Performance Monitoring Does my technology supplier provide a full support and real time performance monitoring service? If your provider is a Cloud vendor, are these services included in monthly service charges? Licence Model Can I share user licenses across sites and flex licence volume according to business demand? Are user licenses easily scalable up and down? Are licenses per concurrent user or per named user? 4. Timescales What is the project timescale to achieve operational availability and can this timescale be contractually committed and stay within budget? Business Continuity In the event of a major incident at one or more of my locations, is there a Disaster Recovery plan in place and are there additional costs for this? Internal Resources How much resource will be required to implement the change and what impact will that have on day-to-day operations? 10. System Management and Administration Can I manage all aspects of the enterprise-wide system via a single, unified management interface, for all elements of the solution including performance monitoring and reporting? Can you convince us you re a credible supplier? What added value services, such as PCI compliance, are included in your technology provider s solution. Will they be a supplier or a partner? Can your supplier demonstrate that their solution has been built for the Cloud as opposed to taking a legacy solution and putting it in the Cloud? Ultra Communications is an experienced supplier of payas-you-use Cloud contact centre services. Our networkbased technology platform is highly featured, flexible, scalable and resilient to provide secure, risk-free and location-independent operation. Ultra applications include outbound dialling, intelligent inbound call handling, IVR, voice recording, PCI compliant card payment handling and management reporting. Our standards-based platform integrates to a broad range of popular CRM, speech analytics and back office platforms. Ultra s technical and operational experts provide unmetered 24/7/365 client support plus a unique proactive real-time performance monitoring service. Working in partnership with our clients, Ultra solutions are fully OFCOM, DMA, PCI DSS, FSA and CSA compliant. For further information, or to arrange a Cloud contact centre service trial, please contact us today: Tel: +44 (0) Website: Ultra Communications Ltd, The Granary, Cams Hall Estate, Fareham, Hampshire PO16 8UT Registered in England, No: (0)

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