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Technology has brought lot of changes in our lives, and most of them are positive.

For example in the contact center space, advancements in technology have helped in bringing VoIP to our desktops and ultimately laptops. You must be wondering “How technology is related to a call center?” and “How call center is different from a contact center?” 

Now, a call center is just not limited to inbound & outbound calls, it has diversified into various other offerings like Multi Channel Support (voice, text chat, e-mail, SMS), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and business applications. Hence, these new technologies enable the transition of call centers to contact centers.

A contact center promises bottom and top-line competitive advantage, driving organizations to take advantage of these innovations. Only few established service providers are able to compete in this new environment. The contact center architecture is restructured on the basis of technology innovation and multiple service offerings.

A Contact Center houses and implements myriad technologies; call routing engines, databases, dialers, phone systems, analytics and reporting tools – just to name a few. Usually, these tools are interconnected using various protocols that provide integration under the form of CTI (Computer/Telephone Integration).  This integration has enabled contact centers to provide services of transactional nature, by merging customer databases into outbound dialing campaigns; enabling “screen pops” for agents handling incoming customer calls; capturing sales trends and close ratios for agents while mapping this to customer detail. 

A multi-functional contact center is designed to offer advantages across key areas:

• Customer interactions

• Advanced routing

Multi-channel services

• Agent productivity

• Scalability

• Extensibility

• Protection of traditional methods

To remain competitive, organizations should migrate effectively from traditional call center to the advanced, multi channel contact center.

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vCustomer has just been ranked as one of the Top 25 Best Employers in Asia and India by Hewitt. Also, for the past two years, we have been ranked as the Best BPO Employer in India by Dataquest-IDC.

Lot of people question us, what do we do to keep our employees satisfied?
Our answer is simple. Make the employees feel wanted. There is nothing better you can do to ensure that your employees feel encouraged and motivated at all times. And it isn’t difficult to achieve this! Most companies these days are cutting headcount to reduce costs. This not only breeds insecurity among existing employees, but also impacts overall credibility of the brand in the market. During these times, the employees need to be told that their jobs are safe and their work is valued. That they need not worry and should continue striving for excellence. What could also motivate them is a work culture where they are encouraged to take up new roles, empowered to take decisions on their own and motivated to learn more and make others grow with them. At vCustomer, we have termed it as ‘Employee First’ culture. There is a dedicated Employee Relations cell which creates opportunities for employees to pursue their areas of interest, while at work.

Due to irregular and long working hours, the key concern for employees is their health. You can take responsibility of ensuring that your employees keep a healthy work-life balance. We have quarterly health check ups and yoga classes to keep a check on our employees’ health and stress levels. A 24×7 concierge service desk provides personal secretarial services to employees with their busy lifestyles.

These are just few of the many ideas that companies can implement to retain talent. It’s all about making sure that your employees feel more engaged and empowered than ever. Ways and means for every company might be different, but end objective remains the same.

To read what vCustomer is doing under the ‘Employee First’ initiative, Click here

Margins and volumes play a key role in determining future of any business. The first organized attempt to achieve higher volumes through automation was done by none other than Henry Ford. He helped many consumers realize their dream of switching from raw horse power to brake horse power. As a visionary, he knew what mass production could do to consumerism & consumerism to the overall business. Ironically, it’s this same logic which BPOs have now embraced to significantly make a difference with their consumers – the buyers.

Assembly lines in the manufacturing industry have been converted to today’s workforce management tools in BPOs, which ensures maximum productivity translating into higher volumes at a reduced cost. The numbers geeks have given way to highly mature business intelligence tools. Hosted applications like On Demand Call Centers allow you to run your business without having to re-invent the wheel, while work from home applications take your business right to the employee’s door-step. Evolution of business seems to have no limits and those pushing the limits are the ones defining the new business landscape. Buyers no longer want to be associated with vendors having a non-existent rigor for innovation. Vendors who continue to stick their head in the sand will be reduced to non-entities in the long run.

Indian service providers fortunately have risen up to this challenge and are fast adopting and developing new tools and techniques to further automate their client’s processes. No wonder – many of their global counterparts are feeling the heat

According to NASSCOM, the Indian ITeS-BPO industry has entered into Phase II of Evolution (i.e. moving from potential to performance). BPO companies today are continuously posed with various challenges as well as stiff competition in their markets – be it international or domestic. The clients demand an ever-increasing array of technology products and services, while expecting highest levels of quality and service delivery. Vendors have now started looking beyond contract fulfillment to identify opportunities for delivering high quality support to end-customers, hence focusing on long term growth. They are investing in technology to ensure high output resulting in increased customer satisfaction.

While there is so much that a BPO vendor manages, here is what I feel is most important for them as a company-Customer Interaction Management..

If not less, these companies manage close to millions of customer contacts every month. Hence, they need to monitor every single interaction with the customers and maintain a centralized database simultaneously. Earlier, for outsourced projects, traditional BPO service providers used a CRM solution or related application provided by the client to handle customer interactions. Today on the contrary, they use a CIM solution featuring multiple channels of communication. This provides a 360 degree interaction capability irrespective of the channel being used. Cross-trained agents work seamlessly to resolve customer queries and handle customer interactions not only by phone but also by email, chat and SMS on 24/7 basis.

Since the cost of acquiring a new customer is always higher than the cost of retaining an old one, so implementing such a solution is indispensible

The 21st century professional is always on the move – breakfast with a prospect, lunch at a seminar and a de-brief with boss at the office – all in a day’s work for the new age go-getter. Does he have time to pay attention to ergonomics? Most of us would shrug at this question – who has time to think about ergonomics in this race for professional superiority, but all of us would welcome the idea of replicating the office desktop environment on a PDA or mobile phone – anything to do away with the company’s laptop!

Things are already looking up with the new genie of technology called portable personality work environment – a boon for workers on the move. Gartner predicts that by 2012, 50% of traveling workers will do away with their laptops in favor of more handy mobile devices. Going by this prediction, there is a genuine need for a solution that can seamlessly deliver a user’s preferred work environment, independent of location and specific hardware devices. The portable personality work environment does just that – it is a set of solutions that de-couples workers on the move from the dependency of a specific workstation or PC and allows them to recreate their preferred work environment (personality) across a gamut of devices and locations. It allows the user to put all the elements of their preferred work environment into a virtual basket and carry it with them or store it on a remote server or the Web. And, when the user needs his work environment, the portable personality can be used on a separate PC, notebook, PDA or cell phone.

The biggest advantage of this technology is that the user is not required to learn any “webified” applications and there are no programs that need to be installed on the remote device. Even the employers can smile – they do not have to invest in VPN hardware or integrate with servers to use this service. All in all, this technology solution augurs well for the employee on the move as well as his/ her employer. This technology is still in its infancy and once security risk road-bumps have been taken care of, it’s going to be a smooth ride for the pro on the move.

Today outsourcing landscape is going through a massive transition. There are number of factors contributing to this transition, which include political and business environmental changes.

Many companies are now identifying outsourcing as a strategic initiative to increase sales and reduce operational costs. To accomplish their strategic goals, companies are opting for vendors who can provide them various delivery models- onshore, offshore and remote agent. Further more, vendors need to be innovative technology providers, such that they can aid in increasing revenues.

To meet client expectations, service providers should focus on providing innovative solutions that will help them in optimizing cost and increase bottom line growth. Many vendors are adopting global delivery model to meet client expectations, however only companies with a strong technology teams are able to automate internal processes to increase efficiency. In addition to this, vendors are also deploying IVR, SMS and CRM solutions.

Swine flu – a threat for most service providers

First came the Bird flu, and now the Swine flu – currently the hottest topic of discussion both online and offline across the world. Thanks to the medical fraternity’s simplistic approach in naming these diseases, they are spoken about and written about world over – one had its genesis in Asia while the other in Mexico; one got the birds while the other targeted the four-legged swines – people who work in poultries presumably run the risk of getting infected first – literally. Both are highly contagious diseases and travelers once again are the easiest carriers. Economies world over, are on a red alert to restrict the spread of these outbreaks and governments are busy issuing travel notices to their citizens advising them to avoid any sort of travel to these affected regions.

It is during such blips in our day-to-day lives that businesses realize the susceptibility of their business models. Business minds go ticking fearing their workforce getting affected by these diseases, leading to a lot of speculative number crunching – and why not – for fears might just become realities. To put things into perspective, imagine the loss of face a service provider might have to live up with, if its delivery location in Mexico shuts down. Employees there, very rightly, might not want to travel to their work places due to the contagious nature of these diseases and might not show up for work.

As an alternative to this dilemma, service providers who have the wherewithal to provide employees with an option to work at home, thus eliminating the risk of catching this nuisance while commuting, are not only better equipped to counter this threat but also consolidate their relationship with the client. In this regard, a handful of service providers are busy professing why a home sourced delivery model is the next most ideal phenomenon after globalization. Their stand is simple – Home sourcing effectively minimizes external risks and maximizes productivity.

Traditional service providers will need to burn their tyres on the road to include home based working model as a part of their overall service delivery framework. Buyers need to be assured of business continuity at all times and vendors with flexible delivery models will most effectively drive home this point…after all a test of fire makes best steel!

With the entire world collectively formulating strategies to counter this threat, businesses could also do their bit by being proactive and not just reactive.