Magazine article CRM Magazine

Presence Is Accounted For: Is Unified Communications the Next Disruptive Technology for Customer Service?

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Presence Is Accounted For: Is Unified Communications the Next Disruptive Technology for Customer Service?

Article excerpt

EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE a technology or application emerges that has the potential to disrupt the status quo. The Internet is an example. On the other hand, CRM has been a disappointment for many organizations, often generating more problems than value. While the Internet has significantly improved communications for everyone, CRM suites are geared only to benefit enterprises and their customers.

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The technology now being heralded as the next disruptive force--unified communications (UC)--has actually been around for more than 15 years. UC, as its Wikipedia entry states, "is not a single product, but a set of products that provides a consistent unified user interface and user experience across multiple devices and media types." The entry goes on to define UC as "the integration of real-time communication services such as instant messaging (chat), presence information, IP telephony, video conferencing, call control and speech control with non-real-time communication services such as unified messaging (integrated voicemail, email, SMS and fax)."

Currently, the primary UC deliverable is a technology called presence. Presence is a feature of session initiation protocol (SIP) that allows an organization to know the "state" of its employees, regardless of their locations; the state provides information about someone's availability and willingness to communicate. Once the employee's state is known, other people in the enterprise--including contact center agents--can see if that person is available for a collaboration session or to take a phone call.

The primary benefit of UC/presence is that it can speed up many business processes. Instead of playing "phone tag," you can look up a person's presence status and, if available, reach out to her via instant message. This can eliminate delays in resolving business issues. (If the person isn't available, the individual needing help can wait until she is, or find someone else who is ready and willing to help, avoiding the need for additional messages.)

Presence technology empowers a contact center agent to locate experts who can resolve customer inquiries that are beyond the agent's knowledge. …

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