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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Getting Payoff From "Customer UC"

August 30, 2008

Where’s The UC Beef? – “Customer UC”

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

Although everyone is talking about moving traditional business telephony to “unified communications,” there are many fundamental questions that have to be answered about implementation. Usually the first questions have been ”What is it?” and “Why should an enterprise do it?”

The justification for the payoff from UC started with reducing costs, but that didn’t get end users and even business management too excited about introducing a lot of change and spending a lot of money. So, the market moved on to the next perspective of benefits from increasing individual “productivity” (“UC-U”), but even there, individual personal time-saving productivity of say, an hour a day, wasn’t too compelling, because who said the enterprise would actually gain from that benefit?

Next, the experts at UC Strategies came up with business process performance benefits, where “streamlining” business processes by reducing the delays of “human contact latency” would either generate revenues faster or minimize potential penalties or revenue losses by getting things fixed more quickly. And they called that kind of productivity “UC-B.”

But, guess where that kind of “productivity" benefit often takes place?

In customer-facing activities, better known as customer interactions, much of which will still take place through telephone call centers, now being called customer contact centers. This name change comes because of the increased use by customers of other forms of online information access and customer assistance, e.g., text messaging, chat. That is why I prefer to label such use of UC flexibility, including mobile contacts, presence management (availability), and CEBP for business process applications contacting people (both customers and customer-facing support personnel), as “Customer UC.”

So, if an enterprise is looking for the “beef of UC,” they will find an important part of it related to business processes that support customer interactions, inbound or outbound, and not just communications between people within their own organization.

Planning for “Customer UC” Implementation – Hard Questions!

However, involving customers over whom the enterprise has little control doesn’t make the task of migrating to “Customer UC” any easier. If anything, the fact that customers will demand that all forms of contact be available to them for business interactions, will be a driving function for having customer-facing staff and online self-service applications be able to communicate through all of the facilities of external UC services.

The challenge of migrating the traditional call center technologies and customer facing personnel to UC will be discussed objectively at the upcoming TMC IT WEST conference in Los Angeles. I will be moderating a panel discussion by some major players in next generation contact center technology that will address the following UC issues:

· How will the size of an organization affect Customer UC implementations?

· Who should be in charge of Customer UC migration planning?

· What should be the first step in Customer UC migration planning?

· What external expertise does Customer UC implementation planning need? Why?

· What call center processes will be impacted most by UC? Which won’t?

· What are key considerations for presence in a UC environment?

· Which customer contact end users should get “UC” capabilities first? Why?

· How will Customer self-service applications be affected by UC?

· How will outbound customer contacts be affected by consumer mobility?

· How will business process applications be affected by “CEBP?”

· How should new Customer UC capabilities be “piloted?”

· How should “agents” be trained to handle “multimodal” customers?

· How should “multimodal agents” be managed and evaluated?

· What Customer UC benefits are most important? How will they be measured?

· Top mistakes to avoid in planning to migrate to Customer UC?

The panelists have been alerted and are prepared to do battle about the best answers to these questions. So stay tuned because I will be writing about those answers after it is over.

What Do You Think?

If you want to add your own question for the panel, just send them to me ASAP. You can contact me at: or (310) 395-2360.