Priming Agents to Help Contact Centers “Get Smart”

I doubt you've gone a few days without hearing one of these terms: smart car, smart home, smart city, smart grid or smart phone.

Have you heard of the “smart contact center?” Most businesses with more than 100 call center representatives may already be there. The good news for agents is that most with less are perfect prospects for a fast-growing breed of cloud-based, contact management services that add brains to the brawn in the center.

A secondary sales opportunity exists for agents, once users of these services identify areas for improvement that can require changing or upgrading their telecom services, while evaluating additional communications offerings.

Getting Smart
These agent opportunities are thanks to the rise of contact management offerings that focus on brains-over-brawn and are available from the cloud as-a-service. They can help businesses more efficiently perform call “processing” while making optimal use of their human capital by using collected data.

The services replace the old-school practice of throwing bodies and hardware at call centers to better handle heavy inbound customer support calls and support outbound sales calls.

Caught up in the daily grind of inbound and outbound call handling, contact center operators likely believe they are operating their facilities and using their staff in the best way possible. But a closer look at data reported and analyzed using a management service often presents a different picture.

Partnering for Productivity
Savvy agents can capitalize on this ongoing shift by teaming with a series of contact management providers to pitch the service as a standalone (typically on a per-seat basis), or as part of a bundle with voice and network services, for centers with under 100 workers.

Agents need not search for contact management services, as established partners await in the form of Verizon, XO Communications, CenturyLink, 8x8, Masergy, Vonage, and InContact, to name but a few. And with customer service, support and satisfaction viewed by consumers as the three keys to keeping them from straying, businesses are focusing resources and money in this (fast expanding) burgeoning market.

But what is a contact management service/solution? Glad you asked!

Just the Facts (and Features)

Data Collection: Contact management solutions collect a vast amount of operational data from the center that focusing squarely on performance data of the workers. Basic data has long included, call volume, call distribution, calls handled per worker, average call duration, reason for call, wait times for callers, and more. They also cover businesses that use remote agents which are those located outside a contact center, such as home agents.Call Center Cubicles

These solutions also collect data on how inbound calls reach the contact center(s), using time-of-day routing for example. Facility managers can tweak or change call handling options to better handle processing and also to reduce costs.

Contact management offerings also capture much of that same information for outbound calls, which are usually powered by a predictive dialer, often for sales purposes.

Bird’s Eye View. Contact management services provider facility managers’ visuals via a web interface. Seeing is truly believing

Reporting. Contact management services allow users to generate a wide array of reports that can track one or many aspects of center operations. The results enable businesses to intelligently analyze their operation with the goal of optimizing their resources for maximum efficiency.

Decision Making. After reviewing one, many or all aspects of their contact center operation, businesses are armed with most all they need to enable productivity increases. Part of this comes from better use of workers while another part comes from better use of their technology tools.

Tech Factors
Agents need to be aware that when it comes to the contact center, a move is well under way from the older Time-Division Multiplexing (TDM) protocol for sending voice calls over copper connections, to Session Internet Protocol (SIP) which can send voice, video, chat and more over an IP connection.

This is crucial as the contact management solution needs to support the infrastructure type currently in use, with an eye in some cases to those looking to migrate from TDM to SIP trunking at the center(s). Although TDM is a legacy approach and SIP is proven, such a move represents infrastructure spending that companies may be reticent to embrace.

Adding Value for Customers
Just as the days of throwing bodies and hardware and contact centers are numbered, so too are the days in which contact centers stood separate from the rest of the enterprise.

With this reality in mind, agents have the opportunity to add value to contact management services by integrating them with the customer’s sales force system (as in Salesforce), expanding them to cover remote agents whether working from home or just afar.

Pitch Perfect
It has been my experience and not a huge surprise that the key for agents pitching contact management services to customers is a demo of the offering. Talk is fine. But again, seeing is believing. It would be optimal to have the demo show integrations with other enterprise systems that handle sales, customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise workforce management.

Agents must focus customers and other prospects on the fact that contact management services are cloud-based because most business may not be aware that these offering are available as-a-service which means savings when compared to equipment purchases and installations.

Not an Option
Agents would be well advised that taking no action in adding brains to their contact center operation (maintaining the status quo), is passing on an opportunity to boost productivity and save money while providing better service to their customers.

Failure to improve customer service and support by making these lifeblood functions more efficient is far beyond risky business in a marketplace where the consumer is beginning to believe her or she is very far short of royalty.

Agents: help your customers and prospects avoid risk. Act now.

To learn more about how TBI can help you get a handle on the complete needs of your customers’ and prospects’ contact centers, email me at

About the Author
As Vice President at TBI, Ken Mercer oversees all sales and operations within the organization. Ken is also active in leveraging his extensive network services expertise to consult with TBI channel agents on large enterprise opportunities and serves on the advisory boards for many of TBI’s service providers. You can contact Ken at or connect with him on LinkedIn.