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IVR - Unified Communications and Call Centers: Are They Obsolete?
October 27, 2011

Unified Communications and Call Centers: Are They Obsolete?

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

It’s a legitimate question: Is unified communications short-circuiting call centers?

Industry observer Art Rosenberg (News - Alert) takes a crack at the question, observing that recently, his wife complained about the fact that one of the home shopping shows she was watching “kept announcing that a product on sale was all sold out even before they showed it on the program. Buyers (customers) were seeing the announcements on line and placing their orders on line without getting into any phone line connection queues for IVR applications or live call center agents.”

Hold on, we’re going somewhere with this.

As Rosenberg says, now that more and more consumers are using smartphones and tablets to access web information and initiate business contacts, “they will become less dependent on traditional customer call center agents.”

When will they need the live agents? When they have a problem. A real problem. One that can’t be solved by even good IVR systems. A problem somebody has to think about. Expensive problems.

Now of course, the standard technology for a call center has always included self-service applications based upon Interactive Voice Response (IVR) applications, which are limited by the complexity of menu choices for specific applications, Rosenberg notes, “as well as the amount and type of output from the application.”

Today phones are frequently multi-media devices, and can handle multi-modal, self-service applications instead of expensive live agent assistance. And with UC capabilities a caller can click for live assistance whenever.

Yes, as Rosenberg’s wife discovered, going through a telephone connection and an IVR application interface, well, you might find that what you want is sold out. And why are you doing that, exactly? You don’t have the Internet? Sorry for you.

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Juliana Kenny

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