Atlanta Opens 311 Informational Call Center

While the call center world can be one that centers around big business, there are plenty of centers around the United States that are geared specifically towards making sure people have the right information at the right time. These centers are generally based on the emergency 911-centers with one digit changed in order to show they are in fact, not emergency numbers. Atlanta has become the latest city to implement this kind of informational call center with theirs being a 311 call center.

This particular call center is one that will act as a one-stop shop for all city related, nonemergency questions the citizens can come up with. While Atlanta is just now highlighting the call center, it actually launched back in March, according to the local NPR (News - Alert) station. The soft launch, has seen more than 2,000 calls per day and that number is likely to grow now that the center is officially launching.

The 311 call center’s director, JoAnne Butler says she thinks the launch is going to be a big change in how the city handles people’s problems from here on out. "We had disparate call center operations with different operating procedures and standards so we’ve consolidated all of that," Butler told NPR. The director says about 80 percent of calls have been about water and sewer issues inside Atlanta. Those calls have been a range of disputing a charge to getting new service set up.

Quite a few of the other calls have had to do with trash pickup being missed or portholes or downed trees showing up. In the past, these calls would have all gone to different numbers at different departments. The 311 call center has managed to make it quite a bit easier for Atlanta citizens to know who they are supposed to call and when. Other areas around the country such as Marion County, Ohio have made similar moves, though their center is actually a 211 call center. The point of the center remains the same, to answer citizen calls as quickly as possible and make it simpler for those calls to get through.

Edited by Alisen Downey

TantaComm and Teleopti Combine on New Workforce Optimization Solution

TantaComm and Teleopti Combine on New Workforce Optimization Solution

November 06, 2014

As any contact center administrator knows, one of the biggest challenges—aside from meeting resolution metrics—is managing the workforce. The objectives are to somehow make sure the right people are available at the right time with the right tools to hit those resolution metrics and create compelling customer experiences.

The problem has been matching workforces with work flows in the context of those performance metrics has become so much more than just using pencil and paper to assign time slots. It is complicated, and that complexity is one of the reasons so much attention is being paid to solutions that can ease or eliminate the pain points.

Global workforce optimization solutions provider TantaComm (News - Alert) and workforce management (WFM) software provider Telopti announced a new partnership for contact centers.

The solution, TantaComm Manage, combines interaction recording from TantaComm with Telopti’s WFM solution of Teleopti which the companies note is designed to improve contact center customer service, employee satisfaction and profitability.

"Tantacomm Manage is a flexible and reliable solution, providing everything needed to manage a high-performing contact center," said Charley Eaton (News - Alert), chief executive officer of TantaComm. "By applying our modular platform and flexible delivery model to Teleopti's robust functionality, TantaComm Manage makes workforce optimization attainable for operations of any size."

Tantacomm Manage is a versatile package of capabilities that:

  • Offers sophisticated forecasting and scheduling capabilities that allow users to balance staff efficiency with world-class customer support - from anywhere in the world.
  • Improves sales-per-hour ratios and customer retention while achieving 20-40 percent savings through back-office productivity.
  • Enables agents to remotely check work schedules and messages, make shift trades, request vacation, and more to increase work flexibility and help reduce attrition.

"Our advanced, automated forecasting and scheduling tools have helped contact centers increase productivity, improve customer service and boost agent satisfaction significantly," said David Pahlman, President of Teleopti Inc.

"We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with Tantacomm. Our joint solution and our respective experience in the large enterprise and BPO segment will offer a solution that has matured with the most demanding customers in the industry, and with its scalability it will offer top of the line WFO solutions to both enterprise and SMB organizations," said Pahlman.

In this age of giving customers options as to how they wish to deploy, TantaComm Manage can be delivered either on-premise or via the cloud, and can be financed with flexible perpetual (CapEx), subscription (OpEx), OEM, or blended payments.

Marrying workflows to workers has been a complicated and time-consuming task with problematic outcomes. Having an automated solution that can save time, money and help avoid conflicts while improving the customer experience is why contact center administrators are looking to these types of solutions to obtain optimal efficiency and effectiveness. 

Edited by Alisen Downey

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Hosted Contact Center Creates More Home-based Jobs for Veterans, Disabled

November 06, 2014

The ability to work from home and earn a living is a positive direction that technology has afforded many. Not only for businesses who can expand the possible talent pool, but also for those who have returned from war, work from home capabilities can be very rewarding.

In the call center space, this kind of work is already happening. Virtual agents are located all over the globe and work from hosted solutions and the cloud to take phone calls and provide customer support services for companies.

One provider of call center services, Direct Interactions, recently announced its been able to create home-based opportunities for employment for disabled veterans and military families by making use of 8X8’s cloud contact center solution to route calls to agents and offer access to online tools needed to manage customer interactions.

The Seattle-based outsourced call center provider now has more than 200 agents in 25 states in the U.S. who work from home to provide customer support for tech companies and city governments.

 “One of the biggest challenges of the home agent model is finding ways to help the supervisors monitor customer interactions,” said CEO Jonas Nicholson. “8x8 (News - Alert) provides tools that let them listen to calls, record calls, and run reports so they can tell when agents need more training.”

In the coming years, the company also noted it plans to expand to 1000 agents nationwide.

 “Working from home is a winning trend, and so is hiring people with disabilities,” said Nicholson. “We would like to see more companies copy us, and are happy to advise anyone interested in using 8x8 technology to build a more inclusive workforce. 8x8’s reliability and superior voice quality make them a great technology partner.”

This news comes just on the heels of Nov. 11, Veterans Day, as we get ready to honor the brave men and women who have dedicate their time and have put their lives at risk to make it possible for us to remain free.

“I wanted to prove that with the right technology and opportunities, I could compete as a knowledge worker in today’s economy,” said Tom Gonzalez, seven year veteran of the Navy SEALs. “With Direct Interactions, I am part of team solving problems for customers and setting an example that just because a person had a disability, it doesn’t mean we can’t excel in the modern workforce.”

Edited by Alisen Downey

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Wheelings & Dealings: Customer Feedback Company Allegiance Combines with Maritz Research to Form New Customer Experience Giant

November 05, 2014

Executive Editor, TMC

The new focus on customer experience already has led to numerous mergers and acquisitions in this arena. To date, much of that M&A activity has involved CRM and other database giants snapping up specialists in such areas as marketing automation. But today a new company called MaritzCX – which is a combination of voice of the customer/customer survey outfit Allegiance and customer experience research firm Maritz Research – makes its debut.

MaritzCX is now the largest pure play customer experience provider by far, with nearly $200 million in annual revenue, 500 clients in 100 countries, and significant venture capital funds, Chris Cottle, executive vice president of marketing at the former Allegiance, told Network Packet Broker in a briefing yesterday. Medallia, with annual revenues of about $70 million, ranks second, Cottle said, adding that MaritzCX is larger than the market’s second and third players combined.

The creation of MaritzCX involved the acquisition of Allegiance (for an unclosed sum) by Maritz Research parent company Maritz Holdings Inc., which combined its research business unit with the acquired company and spun it off into its own entity. The resulting company, MaritzCX, is headquartered in Utah and headed up by Carine Clark, who until yesterday was president and CEO of Allegiance.

Allegiance and Maritz Research have been partners for a couple years and decided to take their relationship to the next level after Allegiance noticed that the requests for proposals it was responding to consistently were asking for an integrated customer experience partner that deliver managed services, research, and technology, and that had expertise in key verticals, Cottle said. Allegiance, he continued, noticed that no one in the CRM, EFM, marketing platform, or market research space was positioned to deliver on that.

MaritzCX brings together the software-as-a-service voice of the customer platform and engineering talent of Allegiance – a venture backed company that also brought to the table 130 employees, two offices in the U.S., and some well-known clients – along with the research know-how, significant engineering resources, and vertical industry expertise of Maritz Research, Cottle said.

The former Maritz Research was, of course, well know as a research company, he added, but the business also had (and now under MaritzCX has) a strong group of engineers that have been delivering customer software for a long time, he said. One goal of MaritzCX is to move customers away from custom software and on to the Allegiance platform, which relies on a single code base. (This SaaS-based platform, by the way, will retain the Allegiance name.)

Many of the world’s largest companies already use solutions from both parts of the new company. That list includes Activision, Bank of America, Dell, Ford, Pfizer, Redbox, and T-Mobile. Speaking of Ford, Cottle adds that Maritz Research has been particularly successful with the automotive vertical.

The market target for MaritzCX is mid-sized to large enterprises both in the U.S. and abroad.

In fact, the new company is pushing further global expansion. As part of the effort, MaritzCX expects to hire new engineering personnel in the Asia Pacific, Europe, and the U.S. MaritzCX is also looking at potential future acquisitions, although Cottle wouldn’t specify what geographic or product portfolio gaps it aims to fill.

However, the goal is to move clients away from a scenario in which they have to choose from an array of disconnected point solutions and toward more unified solutions offered through a single partner.

CRM companies like appear to be taking a similar tact. But building off CRM to create a broader customer experience solution doesn’t make a lot of sense, Cottle opined, because CRM is basically a sales tool and database for emailing things, and when it comes to really understanding customers, CRM systems “come up incredibly short.”

That’s why specialized customer experience platforms like the one Allegiance has built have been garnering a lot of money, he said. Indeed, Allegiance itself was VC backed, and in August Medallia announced it had received a $50 million investment from Sequoia Capital. 

Wearable and Flyable Wrist Camera Maker, Nixie, Wins Intel’s $500K Prize

Intel (News - Alert) is a multibillion-dollar global enterprise with access to the brightest minds on the planet. It has an annual R&D budget totaling 20 or more percent of its semiconductor sales. In 2013, the company’s R&D jumped to 22 percent, for a record high of $10.6 billion. Even though it spends billions of dollars annually to come up with the next great idea, it understands the value of innovation, no matter where it comes from. And more often than not, real innovations are introduced to the world from tinkerers in their garages - à la the founders of HP.

The Intel Make It Wearable Challenge was created to give these tinkerers a venue in which they could showcase their inventions and provide them with the capital and know how to launch their product in the wearable market place.

The $500K winner for this round was Nixie, a small wearable camera that straps on the wrist. When you snap your wrist, it unfolds a quadcopter that flies, takes photos or video, then comes back to you. The device was designed to allow individuals performing different activities alone to have the option of capturing the moment.

Nixie has different modes so it can capture images, which include the boomerang mode so it can return to the wrist, or follow me mode for a continual image capturing session. When it is finished, it returns back to the wrist and automatically syncs with a mobile device to upload its content.

The company was founded by Christoph Kohstall, PhD in experimental physics and postdoctoral research at Stanford. As a matter of fact the company’s team has an impressive list of individuals with PhDs in computer science, applied/science engineering, experimental physics, as well as other experts in software engineers, robotics, mechanical engineering and industrial design.

The second place winner, with a $200K prize was Open Bionics. The company is looking to revolutionize how prosthetic limbs are designed and manufactured by lowering the price point using 3-D scanning and 3-D printing.

The third place winner was awarded to ProGlove with $100K, a smart glove that monitors the movement of employees working on a production line to help improve overall quality. The glove triggers an alert when a mistake is made in real-time, which can prove to be very valuable for manufacturers fabricating thousands of products every day.

According to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, the company will be holding the competition again next year; here is to hoping it becomes an annual event. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Outbound Dialers Serve Small Companies Equally as Well as Large

Outbound Dialers Serve Small Companies Equally as Well as Large

November 05, 2014

When we think about predictive dialers, we think of telemarketing done from giant contact centers. But predictive dialers make sense for more than just the contact center.

While it certainly is true that predictive dialers are useful in the contact center, saving agents time by automating the calling process, such dialers also can benefit most businesses.

That’s because predictive dialers not only make agents more efficient, they also can help a business with automated calling; it is possible to pass a list of contacts to a dialer such as that offered by Spitfire and have the predictive dialer not only dial the calls, but also serve an automated message when a person picks up on the other end.

These messages can be set to vary depending on contact, and through the use of interactive voice response they can serve up individual messages that leverage information about the contact such as their last appointment.

Dialers also can be configured to serve up a different message depending on if they reach the contact or connect with voicemail. This can allow the dialer to serve the appropriate information depending on the situation, something that both is more efficient for a business and also appreciated by those being called by the dialer.

Businesses of all types can take advantage of this functionality. The uses for automated calling mixed with interactive voice response are only limited by the imagination.

For instance, businesses that schedule appointments, such as repair shops, medical offices and consultants, can send appointment reminders a few hours before an appointment to make sure the appointment is kept and not forgotten.

Predictive dialers also can be used to serve up alerts when market information changes, such as letting customers know that an item they’ve been considering is on sale, or that an item is in stock.

Political campaigns and non-profits can use predictive dialers to communicate their latest campaign, or to give information about a candidate coming up for election or wanting to highlight recent legislative action.

Predictive dialers also can be used to follow up on service and products, gauging customer satisfaction and giving customers an opportunity to easily provide feedback.

There are many uses for predictive dialers, far more than just the uses in the typical contact center.

5G Value is Fuzzy, That’s Okay, for Now

Nobody knows, yet, what “fifth generation” mobile networks will be. Some even doubt 5G will fundamentally be based on “faster speeds,” as has been the case for most prior generations.

5G will offer "sufficient rate to give the user the impression of infinite capacity"; it will allow the Internet of Things to thrive; and it will deliver very low latency of one millisecond or less, according to the 5G Innovation Centre.

So look at each of the principles. “Infinite capacity” likely is more a matter of seamless integration of all access networks and resources, combining access to all fixed resources, in addition to mobile networks.

Support for the Internet of Things is a focus on applications the network supports, not the air interface, modulation techniques or bandwidth.

Latency performance obviously does not even concern “network speed” or “bandwidth.”

So at least so far, “5G” is less about speed or bandwidth, and more about applications or “intended purposes” than any prior generations.

But it might be reasonable to suggest that when thinking is so conditioned by an emphasis on apps, latency and integration, that 5G could develop in ways we do not foresee.

In fact, some visions of what 5G will be seem to be just that: visions. But 5G will be eminently practical and well-defined. It has to be, at the physical level.

So, in the end, we might find that 5G winds up being both more practical and simple than we now hear talked about.

Recall the predictions for 3G and 4G. Both were supposed to be platforms for unknown “new applications.” And that did happen. But not in the way backers predicted and supposed.  

In the end, the actual “physical” standards for 5G will matter, not the broader “vision,” even if most observers keep emphasizing the vision.

Our vision has been cloudy in the past. At least so far, there seems little reason to believe we have gotten so much better at the “vision thing.”

If we don’t yet know how business models, apps and consumer adoption will change with 5G that is okay. We never got it completely right before.

For the moment, there is a lot of maneuvering going on, for competitive advantage in 5G that seems to require such sweeping visions. That seems unnecessary. Creating seamless connectivity with very low latency (again with the objective of eliminating the difference between locally-resident apps and remote apps) seems a worthy enough objective, even if some new spectrum likely will be added. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Cisco Connected World Technology Report Looks at the Future of Work

Cisco likes to do research and make some calculated guesses as to what it all means. Their annual update of looking at workers and the future of the workplace, Cisco Connected World Technology (CCWTR), provides interesting insights about the changing nature of work as Gen Y and Gen X become the predominant members of the workforce globally. 

As Cisco notes, “As in previous years, the CCWTR shows the mindset, expectations, and behavior of the world's next generation of workers, this year with added insights into Gen X and Human Resources workers, and how they value their connectivity (over physical needs), view their availability for work communications (24/7) and how these quirks shape enterprise IT and security policy, product development and design, and the ability of businesses to compete.”

Spoiler alert, there are some surprises and some humorous observations worth thinking about.  

The report breaks down into a look at six key trends which are categorized as follows:

(click to enlarge)

The CCWTR is the result of a survey of more than 2,000 people across 15 countries. As noted, its focus is on Gen Y, Gen X along with HR white-collar employees. It sought to find answers to the impact on the future of work from this digitally adept group regarding how the ubiquitous use of mobile devices and communications tools is resulting in expectations from workers to be able to transition these technologies into the workplace.

The goal was straight forward, i.e., answer the question, “How will this technology influence the future workplace and how we work?”

Without embellishment, and referencing some of that whimsy cited above, below are the key findings from this latest iteration with some of the supporting graphics:

 Technology Use in the Office: Devices

  • Similar to the CCWR in 2012, the 2014 data shows that Gen Y is still very connected to their technology: 

(click to enlarge)

  • 76 percent choose a smartphone over TV
  • They are nearly split on taking sense of smell (58 percent) over Internet access (42 percent)
  • 54 percent look at their smartphone first before anything else in the morning
  • 45 percent would give carrier access to all personal information for a free smartphone with free data
  • 22 percent of Gen Y and 17 percent of Gen X professionals would be most concerned about losing their smartphone during a robbery
  • If a brain implant made the World Wide Web instantly accessible, 26 percent of Gen Y and 21 percent of Gen X professionals would have the surgery
  • 48 percent would sacrifice sex for one month rather than sacrifice their smartphone
  • Cisco sees these Gen Y values carrying over into the workplace.
  • Attachment to personal, especially mobile, technology is carrying into the workplace more and more:
    • The majority of Gen X and Gen Y professionals use 2-3 devices per day
    • 53 percent of both Gen X and Gen Y workers prefer smartphones to desk phones
    • 40 percent of Gen Y and 34 percent of Gen X workers believe that by 2020 the smartphone will be the most important device
  • The death of the laptop? Has this been a huge exaggeration?
    • 7 in 10 HR professionals think Gen Y employees are able to perform tasks faster if they are allowed to use their mobile devices and apps instead of desktop, laptop or notebook PC’s.
    • But, 40 percent of respondents would still choose a laptop over another device for work
    • The smartphone is overwhelmingly the second-rated choice (34 percent Gen Y; 27 percent Gen X)
  • Is Gen Y really the virtual, app generation?
    • 63 percent use a pen and paper to take notes during a meeting vs. 13 percent using a smartphone
    • The largest proportion (39 percent) of Gen Y professionals who use a technology-driven device to take notes indicate doing so using Microsoft Word, distantly followed by Google Docs (13 percent). Only 8 percent use Evernote.
  • What is the reality of application use at work?
    • About half of those surveyed have 20 or more personal applications, while the vast majority (92 percent) indicate having less than 20 work related apps. Further, nearly 7 in 10 use less than 10 apps (work & personal) regularly each day.
    • Key differences come out in the Gen Y to Gen X comparison: the number of Gen X workers with 60-99 apps on their smartphones is more than double the number of Gen Y workers who have downloaded that many apps.

Technology: Changing the Way We Work?

  • Top 5 Ways Technology is Changing the Way You Work: 

(click to enlarge)

  • Eliminating Boundaries: the influx of smart, mobile devices into the workplace seems to have reset expectations on where and how work should happen
  • Supporting stat (see below): 27 percent of Gen Y workers surveyed would relocate to Mars if their company opened a branch.
  • Enabling New Interview Techniques: with workers more willing to explore opportunity wherever it arises – even in a galaxy far, far away – those in charge of hiring feel the same way and want talent wherever it comes from.
  • 58 percent of HR workers surveyed would hire a candidate without ever meeting face-to-face and relying solely on video interaction
  • Creating the “Supertasker:” access to multiple smart devices (on average, 2-3 per person) has enabled workers to work anytime, anywhere and be available 24/7.
  • About half of Gen X and Gen Y professionals believe Supertasking would make an individual more productive. Similarly, HR professionals (62 percent) predominantly believe Supertaskers increase their organization’s productivity.
  • HR professionals feel that Supertaskers increase the expectations of a “high performer” at their organization and as such, most feel Supertaskers are best suited for a job.
  • Stretching the Workday: the greater flexibility allowed by technology has also changed the 9-to-5 workday, with many workers and HR professionals moving toward flexible scheduling, remote working capabilities and always-on work communication.
  • More than half of professionals consider themselves accessible for work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including 3 in 10 who are accessible by both email and phone.
  • While salary is the most important factor for most in their decision to accept a position, the flexibility to set their own schedule or the ability to work remotely is most important to roughly 1 in 5 Gen X and Gen Y professionals, as well as one third of HR professionals.
  • Making us Dream of What’s Next: in the few years that smartphones went from a bring-your-own-device hot topic to an everyday norm, we are optimistic about the future technology offers for our work lives.
  • Roughly 8 in 10 professionals believe middle income workers will have robots that can assist them with various work related activities – although most do not expect such robots to be available by the year 2020.
  • Assuming a company invented a brain implant that made the World Wide Web instantly accessible, roughly one quarter would move forward with the operation – Gen Y professionals (26 percent) slightly more so than Gen X (21 percent).

Location, Location: The Future of Work is Not an Office 

(click to enlarge)

  • About 45 percent of workers want the freedom to work and play from anywhere, at anytime, with no restrictions (vs. 9 –5 workday).
  • Most Gen X professionals believe Gen Y employees would prefer a flexible work schedule, though Gen Y professionals are split. 25 percent of Gen Y workers currently work for an organization that allows flexible working. Roughly one third (34 percent) enjoy working from home because it saves time on the commute.
  • The largest proportion of Gen Y professionals (44 percent) indicate being more focused and productive when working in the office, while Gen X professionals (38 percent) cite being equally focused and productive both at home and in the office.

Supertasking: The New Normal? 

(click to enlarge)

  • Gen X (42 percent) and Gen Y (44 percent) professionals, as well as nearly 6 in 10 (58 percent) HR professionals consider themselves Supertaskers.
  • Among Supertaskers, the largest proportion cite Supertasking best on a smartphone (43 percent Gen Y and 37 percent Gen X)
  • When Supertasking, the majority typically mix work and personal activities, particularly Gen X professionals (70 percent).
  • HR professionals (62 percent) predominantly believe Supertaskers increase their organization’s productivity. Most feel Supertaskers are best suited for a managerial, an individual contributor or an executive role.
  • Additionally, nearly two thirds of HR (62 percent) believe in the year 2020, Supertasking will be most coveted by their organization.

HR: How companies View Workplace Technology 

(click to enlarge)

  • Most professionals believe that middle income workers will have robots to assist them (i.e. scheduling, coordination, project management, technical support, etc.) sometime in the future; among them, 7 in 10 believe it may not happen in 2020 but maybe by 2030.
  • 58 percent of HR professionals would be willing to hire someone without meeting the candidate in person and by holding interviews remotely via a video conference.
  • Interestingly, while those in India, Australia and Brazil are very open to the idea of hiring someone without meeting them in person, those in Japan are far less willing (only 16 percent).

The bottom line of all of this is most apparent in the final graphic above. The digitally adept who will be populating the workplace understand that connectivity and the rapid introduction of innovation will be constants in their lives. As a result, the workplace will become more dispersed/virtual and the nature of work will change—including the addition of new tools like robots—and employer expectations about availability will continue to make work/life balancing a challenge.

The flip side of the last point is that a fickle workforce in terms of loyalty will expect employer flexibility as to who, what, where, why, how and when work will be done. What it means, which is not in the report, is that the metrics for performance are going to have to change along with the increased virtualization of work. It also means that HR people are going to have a really interesting time in finding the right/best people for a world in constant change. Finding those Supertaskers who can not only supertask but can deal with increased ambiguity on a host of fronts will not be easy. Indeed, that flexibility challenge may be the biggest since the one constant that is reflected in looking back at previous CCWTR’s is that not only is change a fact of life but so is the acceleration of it. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Virtual Call Centers: An Ideal Solution for Busy Holiday Season

For many companies the holiday season is by far the busiest time of the year, necessitating a substantial seasonal workforce for expanding capacity in retail, customer service and many other areas. A study performed by CareerBuilder found that 43 percent of retail companies hire additional employees for the holidays, and of those jobs 40 percent are customer service positions.

According to a recent article in Business 2 Community, companies can handle the immense increase in customer service traffic with a virtual call center solution. Virtual call centers are a direct product of the bring your own device (BYOD) movement, allowing employees to assist customers in the most efficient and helpful manner possible.

One of the main advantages of virtual call centers is that they are fully scalable. Employees can be added and subtracted at will without the need for additional infrastructure such as hardware, software, implementation services or maintenance crews. Furthermore, agents can work wherever they (or the company) want, since they are using their own device. Location flexibility is a huge bonus especially for smaller companies hoping to avoid renting or purchasing extra workspace. Agents can perform all job-related duties and management can still effectively monitor employee activities, often with the help of Web-based reporting tools, while costs are minimized and customer service is optimal.

Virtual call centers are even more efficient when combined with Integrated Voice Response (IVR) technology to collect data and route calls better. IVRs greet incoming calls with an automated menu that gathers basic information about the customer and directs them to the proper department without impacting agents’ limited time. This ensures that customers are given the most streamlined experience possible by sending them directly to someone who can help, ideally without being put on hold.

Integration with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is the last piece of the puzzle for optimizing virtual call center operations. A CRM system generates a support ticket for each incoming call and provides agents with relevant information for the associated customer. Call routing is improved even further by taking into account factors such as time of the call, caller’s location, the marketing source driving the call, and agent skill set.

A virtual call center -- when implemented correctly and integrated with other essential technologies -- enables businesses to handle the massive increase in call volume during the holiday season efficiently and professionally, with little or no negative impact on the customer. These solutions are indispensible for companies lacking the physical space, hardware or budget to support large call centers.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson