Magazine article CRM Magazine

VoIP Driving Benefits for Customer Care Providers

Magazine article CRM Magazine

VoIP Driving Benefits for Customer Care Providers

Article excerpt

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is gaining traction in the customer care industry. Reasons for this include the increased levels of control over calls VoIP makes possible, as well as the substantial cost savings opportunities. Contact centers are finding that VoIP enables them to conduct business better, faster, and cheaper.

Among customer care providers transitioning to IP Voice, Level 3 is a leading choice. Network reach, quality, and experience help explain this decision.

Traditional Voice: Limited, Costly, and Cumbersome

For contact centers, the benefits of the IP Voice revolution can be dramatic. The technology helps tip the balance of power from carriers and equipment vendors towards the contact center.

Traditional ("TDM"--time division multiplexing) voice technology leaves contact centers at the mercy of carriers and purveyors of expensive hardware. Functionality like transfer and release are available from many carriers, but can be costly. Per-minute rates are typically just the beginning. Extra charges can add up to more than the cost of the basic transport itself.

In many cases, another option is buying equipment to accomplish some of these same tasks. Purchasing complex TDM voice gear can easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more. Even then, call handling options are limited to what a carrier or equipment vendor can support. New applications, if they are possible, can be time consuming and costly to develop and deploy.

VoIP Drives Savings

Substantial savings are achievable with VoIP. Deploying generally less-expensive IP Voice equipment, such as a softswitch, and configuring this hardware to meet their specific needs, contact centers can recognize increased levels of profitability.

Capital savings alone play a major role in many decisions to go IP. VoIP equipment typically costs up to 50% less than comparable TDM gear. This equipment can also provide an opportunity to consolidate voice and data applications, reducing the cost of operating multiple networks. Lower equipment costs and reduced network operating expenses can be significant.

For customer care providers deploying VoIP services, PSTN-originated calls (calls from the traditional public telephone network) to local or toll-free numbers are usually handed off to the contact center's IP end point at a flat per-minute rate. Because routing functionality is customer controlled, costly charges for features like transfer and release and conference calling don't exist. The per-minute rate is the only transport charge.

The savings can be significant. With VoIP technology, the contact center's "Total Cost of Ownership" can be 20-35% less than with TDM solutions.

Call Control and Feature Development Benefits

Cost savings are an important motivator for the drive to IP Voice. However, customer care providers making the strategic decision to go "packet-voice" are often driven more by a desire to leverage the benefits of the technology itself. Deploying new services can enable them to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and develop new revenue streams.

True integration between computing and telephony systems becomes much more feasible with VoIP. The ability to deliver a "screen pop" containing a caller's account history to a customer service agent provides an enhanced customer experience. If the caller needs to be transferred to another department, this account information can be delivered with the call to the next agent. …

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