Chris Botting, Senior Director Product Development, Customer Collaboration, Cisco and Ross Daniels, Director of Marketing, Customer Collaboration, Cisco.
Cisco Directors, Chris Botting and Ross Daniels, stated that Cisco is globally the number two contact centre infrastructure provider with an estimated ACD market share of 18% globally, lagging number one provider Avaya who currently own an estimated share of over 35%. However, Cisco claims to be making inroads into Avaya's dominance. In the IVR market Cisco state they are ranked number one, and research from Gartner places Cisco in the 'Leaders' category within the Contact Centre Infrastructure Magic Quadrant.
Daniels highlighted Cisco's business performance within the ACD market. "Within the ACD business our share gains over the last couple of years have been impressive. We have jumped from number three or four to number two worldwide, and in certain markets, such as the US, we have closed the gap significantly on Avaya where Cisco has a market share of 29%."
Daniels continued, "Our projections have Cisco as number one in North America in the next 1-2 years. Our objective will then to be number one globally in the next 3-4 years."
When asked about Cisco's business focus Daniels confirmed that contact centres is now a key priority for Cisco. Daniels stated, "Cisco went through its own corporate struggles in 2011. Cisco came out of that having identified there had been too many priorities and too many things distracting us. There are now five priorities for the company, and the second of those priorities is Collaboration. There are four pillars under Collaboration, one of which is contact centre-or as we call it Customer Collaboration."
But Daniels admitted that the contact centres still struggle for attention across the broader Cisco business. He added, "For twenty years Cisco have been very successful selling and marketing 'boxes', talking to technical people about hardware solutions. Contact centre is about as opposite to that as you can get. First of all you do need people who can talk technology, but it is a bit more software oriented. Then you have to able to talk the Contact Centre Manager's and the Operations Manager's lingo."
In terms of Australia, Daniels and Botting highlighted that Australia is one market that has been recognised as one with significant opportunity for Cisco. Daniels stated, "We have lots of good things in place in this (Australian) market, a good solid product, good sales teams on the ground and a good set of partners. We have a lot things working on our side from a product, marketing, channel and sales point of view. With a little bit of extra investment we feel we can accelerate growth."
Along with greater support from Cisco's executive team and greater investment in the contact centre business, Daniels and Botting highlighted the role that product innovation has played in driving the positive contact centre business performance for Cisco. Daniels added, "We had a strong focus on innovation in 2010. We launched significant new products to the portfolio in November 2010 including our social solution, SocialMiner, a new agent desktop called Finesse and a new recording infrastructure called MediaSense. These were all big projects, and all wrapped around significant innovation. We hadn't been out to the Australian market with that much concentrated innovation in a long time." Daniels continued, "It was very well received."
Daniels went on to discuss how Cisco's focus has shifted. He stated, "As we have gone through 2011 our focus and message has shifted to innovation balanced with execution. This means focusing on the core products and developing solutions that are aimed at simplification to take advantage of the more 'mass market' opportunities."
Botting added, "There is more of a focus on operational simplification." Botting added, "Cisco Unified Contact Centre Express is a good example. For companies for whom contact centre is not their primary differentiator, Contact Centre Express is a nice turn-key all in one solution."
Botting continued, "What we have found is a section of the market that wants the attributes of our more powerful Cisco Unified Contact Centre Enterprise product but with the simplicity of Contact Centre Express. To target this need we have launched Packaged Contact Centre Enterprise in the last few months."
Botting concluded, "We think we have a really good opportunity, with Packaged Contact Centre Enterprise, in the Australian marketplace and the ability to deliver an easy sales cycle. Feedback from our Partner community has been very positive. We have turned what was traditionally a 12 month sales cycle into a four month cycle."
Cisco has identified the importance of simplification as a key message and has developed products and sales process to match. The contact centre world is becoming more complicated as the plethora of channels expands and customers demand better service. Therefore anything that makes life simpler for the contact centre should be welcome news.
Bank of Melbourne is set to beef up its mobile banking app with a feature that promises to reduce the time it takes customers to get their queries resolved.
The bank's "Connect" feature can reduce the average call resolution time, which Bank of Melbourne chief executive Scott Tanner said put the bank ahead of the local competition.
The secret sauce is the preexisting authentication channel baked into the app. Customers are already securely identified through fingerprint technology or a four-digit password, so there's no need for them to answer a series of security questions when they speak to a customer service specialist. The bank's chief information officer, Dhiren Kulkarni, said eliminating the need for customers to identify themselves could save up to two minutes a call. That may not seem like much, but in the contact centre environment every second counts.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is setting up strict quality parameters for state governments for running call centres under the Nationwide Emergency Response System and has come out with a detailed guideline. The proposed emergency number is likely to be operational next year and the government hopes that it would benefit women in distress.
At present, India has three emergency services 100 (Police), 102 (Fire) and 103 (Ambulance), which were designed at the time of a regulated telecom sector with only one telecom provider across India. As per the guidelines, the number of calls not attended by emergency vehicle should be less than five per cent of the total distress calls. MHA has said that it is expecting five hundred thousand calls per day in the first year of operation while it is expected to double in the next five years.
The ministry is expecting an increase in number of calls to the call centre by 10 per cent every six months, according to the guidelines. The average satisfaction score of citizens collected through feedback calls, text messages and other means should be more than 85 per cent while no caller should have to wait endlessly for response to their call.
New research from the UK's leading contact centre magazine Call Centre Helper, run in partnership with NewVoiceMedia, reveals that nearly half of industry professionals (44%) name 'IT issues' as a key barrier to running an effective contact centre.
The survey, which asked over 600 members of the contact centre industry ‘what barriers stop you from running your dream contact centre?' also found that budget (67%), the need for new technology (40%) and technology not being joined up (35%), are all responsible for restricting progress in the contact centre.
When asked what they would change, the majority of respondents commented on the need for basic working computer systems and demanded upgrades to the latest technologies. One participant commented, "New solutions are required to remove the need for legacy systems, processes and workarounds", while another remarked, "I'd like us to adopt better technology, so that advisers have one place to go for a complete customer view and can access all required data in one place".
Jonty Pearce, Editor of Call Centre Helper, comments, "Customer service has changed beyond recognition in recent years, putting an increasing amount of pressure on agents to handle more complex queries and master digital channels (such as webchat). It is unfair to expect agents to deal with slow computer systems as well. While contact centres are beginning to wake up to the benefits of maintaining good computer systems, there is still some way to go before this becomes industry standard".
Jonathan Gale, CEO of NewVoiceMedia, a global provider of cloud technology which helps businesses sell more, serve better and grow faster, adds, "It's surprising that IT issues are a barrier to so many businesses running a great contact centre. Cloud technology offers a cost-effective solution to businesses of all sizes, meaning they can make the most of their CRM investment and serve better to accelerate growth and stay ahead of the competition".
Sponsored by NewVoiceMedia, The Call Centre Helper Report offers a compelling view of the contact centre; from their fundamental framework, to widely used initiatives and the technologies that have made it on to every manager's wish list.