Digital transformation: how can your business’ contact centre remain profitable & competitive?

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For many businesses, the call centre is a critical operation. Whether your activity is inbound or outbound or a mixture of both, the success of your business can often depend on this one department, which means it needs to be running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

There are a number of ways you could improve the efficiency of your business’ call centre operations, but you need a plan of action to understand how to best approach this and where to start.

That’s where digital transformation comes in. For the uninitiated, digital transformation is the use of technology to improve business processes, boost efficiency and ultimately increase profitability. The contact centre has undergone a number of transformations since its inception thanks to technology, from the invention of switchboards that paved the way for the call centre to exist, to ACD technology that allowed for automatic call routing and the outbound dialler which brought about sales call centres.

Most call centres now run smoothly with a combination of these technologies, no longer requiring a call handler to route all inbound calls. But that doesn’t mean businesses with contact centres should rest on their laurels; to remain competitive and profitable, you should always be looking forward. One key event that will affect many businesses with call centres is the forthcoming ISDN end of life in 2025.

BT has announced the end of the technology that powers the majority of UK businesses, with or without contact centres. BT is retiring ISDN for a number of reasons including a lack of flexibility and scalability, no disaster recovery options and increasing costs around using and supporting ISDN.

With this in mind, the vast majority of businesses need to move away from this ageing technology to a futureproof system; it’s better to move sooner rather than later to avoid the increased costs associated with operating on outdated technology.

One solution that an increasing number of organisations are turning to is hosted telephony, which utilises Voice over IP (VoIP) technology. Currently, only 18% of businesses are utilising the cloud in their contact centre operations, but this number is set to sharply increase by 20% year-on-year thanks to the move away from ISDN. One concern businesses have is that cloud-based telephony will affect call quality; however, competent providers will prioritise your voice traffic to ensure quality of service (QoS).

For many large organisations, their contact centre is their lifeblood, and should something severely affect its operation, it would have a measurable impact on their bottom line. A hosted solution like Gamma telephony would solve this issue, with disaster recovery built into the platform.

Let’s say the weather means a good portion of your contact centre staff can’t get into the office; and let’s face it, in the UK this is a reality every winter (or even any other time of the year, with unpredictable British weather!).

Thanks to hosted telephony, your workforce can use their mobile phones to do everything they’d be able to do in the office. A comprehensive VoIP solution will come with a mobile app that will allow employees to place and receive calls to and from the usual business number.

This is obviously essential for inbound call activity, but it’s also important to contact centres that primarily deal with outbound numbers. Think about it; if you’re expecting a call from a business, would you answer a random mobile number, or even a withheld number? Probably not.

A concern many businesses have with cloud-based solutions is what happens if your connectivity goes down. Perhaps your internet provider is experiencing an issue, or that pesky bad weather has damaged the cables that supply your internet. The solution is similar; you can get your office staff to make and receive calls on their mobile in the office or even at home, if you expect the problem to last a while.

So, moving to a hosted telephony solution will prevent you from ever losing your call centre functions. Is that all? Of course not.

A key tenant of digital transformation, contrary to popular opinion, is transforming business processes and operations to ultimately cut costs – whether its reduced time spent on manual tasks or moving away from legacy software, investing in the right technology will undoubtedly save your business money in the long run.

A subscription-based hosted solution eliminates CapEx, saving thousands at the point of entry. What’s more, you’ll no longer have to pay increasingly costly line rental; BT itself has estimated that businesses will save 78% by moving to VoIP solutions solely from eliminating line rental. Your finance team would surely love to see a solution that keeps some money in the bank!

In addition to offering a robust disaster recovery solution, the ability to take and place calls to and from your business number on a mobile phone offers your staff a level of flexibility that was previously never available to them.

A number of studies have shown that employees are frequently more productive when working from home – O2’s 2012 study is particularly pertinent, as it involved its large contact centre workforce. Thanks to no commuting time, an additional 1000 hours were spent working, and 36% of employees said they felt a lot more productive. Additionally, a similar trial conducted by a Chinese travel centrefound its contact centre employees placed 13.5% more calls.

For all the talk about robots taking jobs (which, FYI, isn’t the case), there’s no doubt that your business would suffer without your call centre staff. Whether your activity is inbound or outbound, they’re on the frontline of your business. They can be your customers’ first contact with your business, or their point of contact for all things related to your business. Your company couldn’t operate if they weren’t around tomorrow, so you need a solution that means they’ll always be available. The additional benefit of mobility means your employees could work from home and not only be more productive, but be happier and less likely to leave, according to multiple studies.

With all of that in mind, why wouldn’t you consider the switch to hosted telephony?

Natasha Bougourd is TSG’s Lead Applications Writer,specialising in IT support, Office 365, Dynamics Nav modules, hosted telephony solutions and business intelligence.
TSG is an IT support company that has expertise across a wide range of technologies. From Office 365 to Sage and Pegasus ERP solutions to IT support, infrastructure and cyber-security solutions, TSG has a highly-skilled workforce working across all areas of business tech. Holding 8 Microsoft Gold competencies, TSG places focus on a highly-skilled and qualified workforce with over 1000 recognised accreditations between its team of experts, including MSCE Certifications, Prince2 and ITIL qualifications.