Microsoft's partnership with Aspect sparks interest in converged contact centres

Early promoters of converged contact centres claim the efficiencies lead to improved sales and happier customers, but the research results are less clear.

When Microsoft announced at VoiceCon 2008 a partnership with Aspect Software to push unified communications (UC) into the call centre, a lot of enterprises began re-evaluating their own strategies.

Can measurable gains really be made by letting contact agents connect with customers by phone, email, chat and more? The jury is still out, but the promise of more efficient contact centres and higher customer satisfaction is hard to ignore.

Mike Jude, an analyst with Nemertes, is in the process of gathering data for a forthcoming UC study. The data is still preliminary, but he said that so far about a quarter of enterprises have begun re-evaluating their call centre strategies as a result of the Microsoft announcement.

"Companies are still trying to understand the return on investment on it," Jude said. "Is a person sitting there, doing chats, emails, with calls and faxes coming in, more productive in terms of generating sales than a dedicated centre with separate people taking calls and emails?"

So far, few companies have been able to provide Nemertes with hard evidence either way, though the firm said a lack of data has not stopped a few companies jumping headfirst into a converged call centre.

Currently, Nemertes hasn't developed enough information either way to conclude a net positive or negative impact on having employees manage multiple streams of communication, Jude said. But that particular study should be finished in a month.


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