The Hidden Knowledge in the Unified Communications System

By Stephen Davis

A call center manager holds a critical – and often stressful – role within the organization. Responsibilities include handling call volumes with agents, shifting staffing levels, and coaching new call center employees. Unified communications (UC) systems can make these demanding tasks much easier so managers can focus on what really matters: improving service by coaching their staff. But that wasn’t always the case.

The Old Way: In the age of analog systems, getting a more complete solution that enabled some level of data retrieval required paying for expensive add-on features or services, such as call recordings, call queue, and call reporting. Not only would the add-on features have to be purchased separately, but integrating them with the analog system and managing them was often challenging for everyone involved. The integration process was cumbersome; it usually ended up with the company hiring an additional in-house team member (someone with specific experience) or paying consultant fees to outsource managing and extracting data from the systems.

On top of all this unexpected overhead, it could take days to receive the requested call logs from the company’s IT department. Even then, managers had to hope everything was provided as needed from the cobbled system with no gaps in the data. This delay and potential missing data could cause staffing decisions to be slow to meet business demands.

The New Way: Fast-forward a few years: There’s a big difference in the speed and accuracy of the data collected, not to mention the ease of management and the reduced cost. UC solutions now provide Web-based access with an access control list that puts the power in managers’ hands, allowing them to easily extract information such as queue logs and status, concurrent calls by agent, and call log details to track the number of calls received and placed by hour, day, and week.

Graphical Analysis: Data, even that from a business phone system, tells an important story that helps shape decisions. In fact, the level of detail and ease of access that advanced UC features provide to a company allows managers to make real-time or near real-time decisions, especially where staffing is concerned. Has the company launched a new product and needs to train teams? When is the best time of day to take agents offline without affecting the queue wait times?

Using a graph of calls per hour allows a manager to quickly see this data and know which times are good for pulling agents offline for training. The data also indicates times of extreme traffic, confirming when full staff is required to adequately manage that call volume.

Monitor Now or Record for Later: Call center managers cannot monitor all calls at the same time, but they can review calls later with call recordings. The UC-enabled system should make this easy by allowing the IT manager (or call center manager with the proper access control list) to schedule and record which queues or agents are required, along with what type of calls: inbound, outbound, or both. The system can even off-load the recording to an FTP server for easier access. This can be used for training, but if a manager has issues with customer expectations, he or she can listen to the call recording to find out what was promised.

Because the call center manager is often actively training agents and may not be able to watch the queue metrics in real-time, scheduling options can be utilized. The manager can receive an email hourly or daily with the details of the call queues, including average wait time, average entry position (into the queue), number of abandoned calls, or even maximum wait time. All of this data, delivered straight from the system, gives managers enhanced visibility into business operations and allows them to react to and change the staffing of the queue.

Empowerment: In an age of instant results, having a view into the data from a UC system is critical. The system, along with access to the right data from the system, can empower a company to better service their customers by helping call center managers quickly and proactively make staffing changes for call volumes.

Stephen Davis is a sales operations analyst for Digium (www.digium.com), a business communications company based in Huntsville, Alabama, that delivers enterprise-class unified communications. He has experience administrating and developing in Salesforce.com and Pentaho Business Analytics/Data Integration, and has a background in sales and customer service. Connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @SDavis1112.

[From Connection Magazine – November/December 2015]

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