IP contact centres: customer retention the key

Traditional contact centre infrastructure vendors face few greenfield opportunities in the large enterprise market in mature geographies. This has caused them to change their sales and marketing strategies. Now they focus much less on the benefits of the transition from time division multiplexing (TDM) to internet protocol (IP) and much more on areas such as unified communications (UC) for the contact centre and ways to connect the enterprise with the branch and the contact  centre, according to new research*.

The report found that IP contact centre vendors have begun to offer unified product lines, aiming for common administration and reporting, common user interfaces and functionality far beyond basic routing.
An IP contact  centre is any contact  centre that does not use circuit switching; that is, all calls are carried by voice-over-IP or converted from TDM to IP. An IP contact  centre leverages the intrinsic benefits of IP communications, including the fact that either or both voice and data communications can be efficiently routed to any customer service agent with access to an IP connection. Through the use of SIP, IP contact  centres can detect and route customer communications based on SIP-controlled presence management in place of the traditional automatic call director (ACD).
Increased focus on customer service and retention
The sluggish economy has led to a change in strategy in the contact  centre: the focus has shifted from customer acquisition to customer retention. Clients' budgets are tightening and consumer confidence is in decline along with consumer spending. This is making it difficult for enterprises to gain new business, and they are concentrating on current customers, improving customer service and seeking out contract renewals and upgrade opportunities. Customer service quality and customer intimacy are becoming increasingly important to achieve good customer loyalty rates.
Core IP contact  centre features and functions are important and customers still consider functionality when making their purchasing decisions. But, the difference between choosing vendor A and vendor B rarely comes down to which technology provider can implement specific-agent recall routing rules or which one has a scripting engine for canned email responses. This is why it is crucial for enterprises to consider technology alongside other factors such as a vendor's reputation among its own customers and its position in the market.

Different market leaders

To offset markedly slower growth in the their traditional stronghold of the large enterprise market, IPCC vendors will try to find ways to package and sell products for smaller customers. This means increased competition for companies that have already created small and mid-sized enterprise products. It also means increased competition for technologically and business process-savvy channel partners from which smaller companies typically buy such products.

Although both were identified as market leaders, Alcatel-Lucent/Genesys and Avaya have different priorities and roadmaps and will not necessarily always directly compete for the same client accounts.
There is little space between them, an indicator of the intensely competitive nature of the contact  centre industry and of the wide-ranging, but differing, appeal of the two companies' approaches.
*Decision Matrix - Selecting an IP Contact  centre Vendor