For contact center operators, the only constant is change, and 2015 will be no exception. That’s the outlook from Cliff Rees, president of Voxox, which provides VoIP and cloud communications solutions for contact centers and other businesses. In a recent Q&A with Connections Magazine publisher Peter DeHaan, Rees outlined what contact center operators should expect for the coming year.
What’s the most important change you foresee in the contact center landscape in 2015?
Short message service (SMS) or texting will play a significantly larger role than it has in the past. Adding SMS as a way of reaching target audiences is growing. Younger audiences in particular are far more likely to respond to a text than they are to take a phone call.
What advice would you give to contact centers looking to overhaul their operations in 2015?
Definitely get rid of all PSTN circuits and equipment. VoIP connectivity and applications are much less expensive and far more flexible. With VoIP you can go from using fifty channels one day to using 1,000 the next, all without any delays for installing DS-3 circuits – and without any commitment to pay for unused channels for the next year or longer. Also look for ways to integrate SMS in your strategy.
What are the top things contact center operators need to do to field inbound SMS?
Call centers need to connect to at least one SMS aggregator in order to have their SMS messages routed properly. In addition they need to be aware of the difference between long-code and short-code texts. Long-code is generally less expensive, but it’s also supposed to be used only for person-to-person (P2P) messaging. Application-to-person (A2P) messages requested by the recipient are generally okay, but marketing A2P long-code texts are a serious no-no and will cause the aggregator to block all texts from the call center. Marketing A2P texts should go over a short-code service, which is generally more expensive but allows pretty much any type of message.
What are some examples of contact restrictions? And how can contact center operators accommodate those restrictions?
If the contact center is based in the United States, it must abide by the laws state and federal governments have enacted to restrict unwanted contact. The first restriction was a simple time-of-day limitation: no calling after 9:00 p.m. local time. Next came Do Not Call (DNC) lists, both federal and state. Do Not Call lists have all sorts of exceptions; the primary one is that the provider can contact you if there is a “pre-existing relationship.” – which means pretty much anything the provider decides it means (previous purchase, previous serious enquiry, and so forth). Naturally the politicians exempted their own political campaigns completely, so any phone is a valid target for someone backing a particular candidate or issue. Do Not Text lists will undoubtedly spring up shortly.
Call centers can get a subscription to the DNC list by going to www.donotcall.gov/faq/faqbusiness.aspx and signing up for a SAN (subscription account number). This gives data access to the federal DNC, and it’s very easy to integrate into most calling applications if the call center has any programming skills available to it.
What are the three biggest challenges that contact centers will face in 2015?
The first is making up for the lost revenue due to 2015 not being an election year. The second is complying with increasingly onerous restrictions for who may be contacted. The third is including SMS texting as a growing technology for reaching potential customers.
As president of Voxox, Cliff Rees is an experienced telecommunications executive and entrepreneur whose expertise is rooted in building new businesses and rapidly growing existing ones. As an industry veteran, he has held leadership roles with several global VoIP providers, overseeing sales, marketing, and operations globally and managing revenues of over $1.5 billion.
[From Connection Magazine – Jan/Feb 2015]