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Monday, March 8, 2010

Three Steps to IP Contact Centre Implementation

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), or more specifically IP-based telephony, is quickly becoming the technology of choice in contact centers as companies replace their aging time-division multiplexing (TDM)-based systems with IP-based systems. Your organization may be wondering how to go about implementing its own IP-based contact center, whether as a new implementation or as a replacement for a TDM system.

Dividing the process into three major steps: business planning, implementation planning, and implementation/support are a good approach to success.

Business Planning

A comprehensive business plan is the single most important step in a contact center implementation. It is critical that the project clearly link the technology initiative with the needs of the business. The plan must specify what they wish to accomplish and how the contact center will help them achieve their goals.

Naturally, the contents of the business plan vary from organization to organization. Some considerations for your company include:

*The industry you're in, which helps determine the contact center features you'll need *If your contact center will be volume-oriented or value-oriented *Is your contact center primarily for internal or external customers? *Will you expect to use your contact center only for customer support or also to help generate additional sales and revenue? *If you'll provide service through diverse media (voice, e-mail, Web).

With a business plan in hand, you can link your goals to the features of your system.

Implementation Planning

Once the business plan is complete, we can now focus on its implementation plan. This step details the best way to build out the contact center so that objectives are met in terms of functionality, cost, and features. Do consider the following:

*What's the best design for the network? *How will it interface with other network components, such as voice mail or an existing customer relationship management (CRM) system? *Will the system be centralized in one location or decentralized across many sites? *Will customer service include a Web-based component, or only voice? *How will the system be managed? *How will you account for additional users, locations, or features in the future?

As in the previous stage, you must consider your organization's reporting requirements. An IP-based contact center can generate a wealth of data--far more than a TDM system--that can be of tremendous value, allowing your company to measure your customers' concerns, preferences and plans. These requirements, though, must be taken into consideration when designing and configuring the system. The types of data you wish to capture and how you want it represented must be thoroughly considered before implementation.

Implementation and Support

Now that we have completed our planning we are ready to implement the solution. Ensure your implementation partner/vendor is certified in the appropriate technologies, has a list of references and can demonstrate a critical path process. Engage your partner early in the process so they can assist in building your plan. They would bring a wealth of experience that can help you build your business case if need be and outline any contingency planning. It is also assumed that your partner will provide support for the system after implementation. This is a key factor to ensure any software updates are maintained and that any tweaking be done.

Nonetheless, it's important to remember that, like most IT projects, the greatest benefits accrue to those who thoughtfully prepare. Organizations benefit most when they engage in detailed business planning, thorough implementation planning, and knowledgeable implementation and support.

John Leonardelli

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