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Unified Communications Requires Unifying More Than Just Communications

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June 05, 2012

Unified Communications Requires Unifying More Than Just Communications

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

It’s obvious that unified communications has revolutionized the customer service industry. Now an entire organization – from its contact center to its management, administration, marketing and warehouse – can all be on the same “communications” page, and additionally can handle customer issues with multimedia skill that would confound the old “boiler room” call centers of a few decades ago.

Chances are, however, it's not only integrated unified communications keeping the various departments of an enterprise together. There are most likely corporate culture issues, physical distances, interpersonal relationships, software solutions and equipment and management styles that keep departments “siloed” apart from one another as well. As a result, any unified communications project brought online by an organization needs to break down more than just communications barriers. The very methods by which departments deal with customers must be unified, as well.

Writes Mike Sheridan (News - Alert) of Destination CRM, “There is a growing demand for companies to establish a deeper knowledge about consumers' habits and histories in order to better engage them at an individual level at specific interaction points. This requires recording of preferences, habits, complaints, and problems across multiple platforms and consolidating that data into a comprehensive customer profile. To successfully attain and utilize this profile that customers have come to expect, businesses must implement a next-generation customer contact solution.”

“Multiple platforms” is the key term here. The customer information must be the same, regardless of whether it resides on CRM databases, in billing and accounting systems, in sales records, in social media management, or in call center databases. Keeping a patchwork of solutions that hold different “versions of a customer” will not only benefit no one, but will make the job of the call center – the entity most likely to be engaging with customers – far, far, more difficult.

“When information is released on a unified platform, it provides multiple benefits, such as reducing problem-solving cycle time, decreasing operational costs, and improving overall agent productivity and efficiency,” writes Sheridan.

And when it doesn't reside on a unified platform, those exponentially greater benefits turn into exponentially greater nightmares.

Edited by Allison Boccamazzo

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