Thursday, October 07, 2004

IP Telephony and Web Callbacks

An interesting technology gap exists the innovators of IP technology and the adopters in the Enterprise - specifically referring to the multitude of contact centers and helpdesks. As Jon Udell mentions in this article there is a big difference between computer telephony and IP telephony - nowhere bigger is the contrast in the enterprise consumers. The big problem does boil down to the inability to articulate business benefits brought on by cool technology.

Why are vendors like Genesys, Cisco and Avaya still able to convince enterprises to cough up millions of dollars (no kidding there) and still charge the antiquated "per-seat" licensing ? What is per seat when there are virtual call centers, work-from-home agents and the like ? Isn't it only logical for these enterprises to seriously look for open source linux-based solutions that are fundamentally cheaper and more easily tailorable ? No - not yet! The main reasons are as old as the open source v/s commercial battle with one twist - the business leaders in the call center have not yet come to appreciate the benefits of technology.

The argument is that the demographic of future customers for customer support is changing - the workforce of the future will be younger, will demand more channels and more flexibility in how problems get resolved. Why wait on hold for 30 minutes when I can schedule a web callback ? How about IM'ing me when you have resolved a problem ? Send me a text message if you can find me online. These are very plausible scenarios that will not be addressed by enterprises with their wait and watch strategy.

In the meantime, the tech divide will continue to manifest as one of the most annoying problems in civilized society today - customers waiting for a human touch. With the over emphasis on automation in the form of self service, Natural language processing (NLP) etc it's ironic that the same crowd has placed an over-reliance of technology in one area to effectively alienate themselves from the very audience they were expected to serve - the customer.

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