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What is the most important technology for a virtual contact center?

An expert shares four technologies that are key to successful virtual contact centers: integrated contact routing, workforce management, computer-based training and gamification tools.

Virtual contact centers allow organizations to use a geographically dispersed workforce rather than pay for a centralized...

brick-and-mortar facility. Agents can be located in small groups in multiple physical sites or work independently from a home location.

Virtual contact centers are becoming more common as a result of organizations seeking to reduce expenses and requiring access to a broader workforce. Companies can potentially reduce contact center costs by paying lower salaries to employees and reduce facilities costs. Access to a more diverse workforce provides opportunities to bring in additional skill sets, more flexible scheduling and improved business continuity.

The success of the virtual contact center model depends on companies' ability to transform established business practices to support a new operating model. Technology continues to evolve and is a critical enabler, as well. Some of the following technologies are key in today's virtual contact centers:

Integrated contact routing: Integrated contact routing technology provides an efficient process to move customers and their concerns or questions, regardless of the communication channel in which the query was received, to the most appropriate agents depending on predefined rules -- these rules involve agent availability and expertise. In a virtual contact center environment, it is not always easy to reallocate staff to where the work needs to be performed. With integrated contact routing, the work is presented to agents and the inefficiency of analyzing agent availability and moving agents to work queues is eliminated.

Workforce management: Workforce management software automates the functions of resource planning, scheduling and staffing for the contact center. A virtual contact center provides additional opportunities to use creative schedules such as split shifts, part-time work and more. Identifying and then maximizing this type of scheduling manually is a daunting process. Workforce management software ensures the most effective use of alternative schedules.

In virtual contact centers, there is a need to virtualize and automate many employee forums.

Additionally, workforce management software provides real-time adherence monitoring and reporting, which are critical when agents are not in a physical location and have varied schedules.

Computer-based training: Computer-based training helps train agents in an online setting, which is particularly important when agents are dispersed in virtual contact centers. In a virtual contact center, there is limited capability to bring contact center agents together in a classroom environment for both new hire and continuing training. Computer-based training provides the delivery mechanism to support training regardless where agents are located.

Gamification software: Gamification software helps engage employees in virtual environments. When agents are in an office environment, there are many visual cues and face-to-face interactions that occur to support and enhance employee interaction and engagement. In virtual contact centers, there is a need to virtualize and automate many of these forums. Gamification software provides a structure to create employee incentives for specific activities even though participants may not share a same physical location.

Virtual contact centers are a key component of a contact center strategy providing tremendous benefits to organizations. To successfully operate a virtual contact center it is critical to utilize key technology enablers in order to take advantage of the business benefits.

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