How contact center software can help you – outside the call center

The concept of a contact center only being able to answer customer calls is woefully outdated. Modern, software-based contact centers add new functionality that can help improve internal processes and even generate more revenue, while lowering the burden of effort on the customer and the agent.

Once upon a time, the call center was a behemoth of machinery, feeding calls into a room full of individuals doing nothing but answering the phone for eight hours a day.  Calls were handled efficiently by the agent most suited to answer the request, by virtue of intelligent routing.  However, each of those agents had a phone wired directly into the ACD - and adding or removing seats required extensive planning and costs.

With the advent of VOIP and its evolution to UC, adding inexpensive seats became as simple as a configuration on a website: Presto! You have a new agent connected to the cloud-hosted, WISP-like call router.  What many people don’t realize is that this easier configuration and lower per-seat cost opened new avenues that have potential to streamline everyday activities, lower business costs and even generate more revenue while increasing customer satisfaction.

Scenario #1
Ted the technician is configuring a Widget 5000 for a customer - when he runs across a request he’s not sure how to implement.  Ted IMs Terry the technician, who directs him to Erin the senior engineer.  Ted then IMs to Erin, since her presence shows green (even though she’s in the middle of working to resolve an outage).  Erin is able to answer Ted's question - but, as the most senior engineer, pulls her away from a project where she's billing at $500/hour.

Not too bad, right?  Well, a couple things could be improved:

  • Terry took extra time from Ted, Erin, himself and the customer
  • Erin answered the question - but the 10 other engineers in her department (who bill at half the rate) also knew the answer and were available.  

What if these users were configured in an intelligent router?

Instead of Ted going through Terry and Erin, he just sent an IM to their "Engineering Helper" endpoint saying "I need Widget 5000 help."  The intelligent router determined that one of the engineers had Widget 5000 expertise, and then identified that Eddie the newly promoted engineer knew what to do sent the message to Eddie.  The same question would have gotten the same answer – but involving fewer people, and using and less of expensive and scarce resources without the delay.

Scenario #2
Generico is rapidly expanding their sales team.  To encourage friendly competition, Generico’s CEO decides to send the salesman who makes the most calls to Napa Valley for a week.

Steve the salesman makes 400 calls in a single week - setting a new record, and securing his spot to Napa!  Strangely, even though his call numbers are off the charts, his actual sales are far below his goal.  Stacy is bummed that she only made 250 calls, but at least her sales numbers were up!

If Generico had proxied sales calls through contact center software, the CEO would know the real story due to more explicit reporting and recording functionalities.  With contact center software, Generico would have been able to see that Steve had lots of calls under 10 seconds in duration, and 50 calls to the same phone number.  Listening to recordings of his calls, Generico could identify that he was being rude to customers, resulting in his low sales numbers.  Steve really should have been reprimanded and Stacy rewarded for her excellent job! 

Learn more about how contact centers can improve employee communications, helpdesks and other applications today.

Add functionality beyond Skype for Business’ Response Group Services

Response Group Services (RGS) can provide call routing to groups of users in Skype for Business – out of the box.  For non-critical customer service, response groups can be helpful: the basic tools include hunt-group or simple IVR routing to agents, with basic queuing to manage volume.

When the process being managed grows in importance or complexity, many people find that response group functionality is limited and not very customizable.  However, adding features found in contact center software is often a viable solution, now that scalable, affordable software is available for Skype for Business.  This means internal functions or informal customer service centers that were not traditionally “call centers” now can make a huge leap forward in efficiency and effectiveness.

Functions that add value above and beyond response groups include:

1)      Multiple communication channels

RGS only supports voice interactions – but today, many people expect to communicate via IM and webchat, especially since Skype for Business was designed as a UC platform.  Contact center software can add the missing functionality and unify these new communication channels - improving efficiency and customer satisfaction.

2)      Enhanced IVR and intelligent routing

Response groups only have limited menu and response options. Modern contact center software offers nearly unlimited options, with modern interfaces that are easy to use. Interacting with available customer data to make these intelligent routing decisions is one powerful example of possible ways to use these tools.

3)      Real-time monitoring, call recording and reporting

You can’t manage what you don’t measure.  For those running important processes with RGS, it can be frustrating that it offers almost no management functionality – either monitoring or reporting.

Modern contact center software can serve up actionable data with real-time, proactive alerts.  Call recording adds value for training, compliance or in-house consultation.   With reporting, you can assess the effectiveness of your current efforts and make improvements as needed or gather valuable feedback from your users via surveys.

For help in solving your response group problems, contact us today at  

Three business cases for moving your contact center to Skype for Business

There’s a powerful case to be made for moving your contact center to Skype for Business (read more here).  The IT department may want to move a contact center to Skype for Business to save costs and cure tech headaches.  But what about the actual users of the contact center software? 

The business users care about ease of use and functionality. They have a job to do, and when the tools get in the way of doing that – which is almost always the case with multiple systems – the users get frustrated and don't work efficiently. Providing a single, full-featured, simple-to-use collaboration platform makes life easier for everyone. 

#1 – Collaboratively solving customer issues

Working together with other team members to meet the needs of the customer has always been tough in the traditional contact center.  Conferencing in another resource was about all you could do in the past, and we all know how clunky and time-intensive that can be. With modern, collaboration-based unified communications tools, teams can solve customer needs faster, in easier ways than ever before. Screen sharing, video, and remote PC control are just some of the powerful options available.

With a collaborative contact center, external-facing agents can communicate with internal experts to assist customers rapidly and cost-effectively.  For example, a major online university cut a response time for student services from 9 days to 15 minutes by deploying a contact center solution powered by Clarity Connect.  Read the case study today.

#2 – Improve agent experience to boost customer satisfaction

Reducing the number of systems used by agents makes their experience better, which also improves customer satisfaction. For example, in some legacy systems, agents have to log on – and potentially manage – presence across multiple products (such as phone, chat and email presences).  Alternately, agents may have a utility that updates the many systems on presence changes from one to the others.  However, this can create situations where one modality, product or feature sends interactions, but hasn't updated the others, and users get too many interactions sent to them because the right hand isn't aware of what the left is doing yet.  This creates stress for agents and takes attention away from the customer. 

In addition, when multiple programs are being used to manage different channels, the interaction sometimes doesn’t go smoothly.  For example, the email system may not know the agent is already on a call and has two chats, and if the system doesn’t manage these interactions seamlessly the agent can easily get overwhelmed.  A single omni-channel system doesn't cause this pain, and enables control of how many of each type of session an agent can handle simultaneously.  Wouldn’t you rather your agents be actively managing your customers instead of their systems?

#2 b – Reduce training and turnover costs

Contact center managers constantly battle training and turnover costs.  One easy way to improve on-boarding for agents and to retain them is to simplify the toolset.  By consolidating to Skype for Business you reduce the number of systems the agent needs to be trained on.  It also is a familiar interface to many prospective agents, speeding up the time needed to train new agents.  Reducing training time also reduces costs by making agents available to take calls sooner.

#3 – More ways to interact with customers

People use more communication channels than ever: IM, calls, email, Web chat, Facebook Messenger, and more.  The contact center needs to adapt to this change and enable the agent to manage these communications from a single interface.

Skype for Business was designed from the start as a powerful, enterprise-grade UC platform.  Extending its capabilities with a contact center platform makes perfect sense. 

Want to learn more?  Read our free white paper “Why Skype for Business is a natural fit for the contact center.”

Improve customer service response time by 89,180%

There can be huge inefficiencies sunk into resolving customer service issues. But if your institution has Skype for Business (or Lync) deployed, you already have most of the infrastructure you need to make massive improvements.

Skype for Business unlocks the expertise in your organization by interconnecting departments with presence and IM, video and voice, making it easier to communicate and collaborate. With response groups in Skype for Business, you can add basic call routing to groups of users offering a basic level of support.

What do you do when response groups aren’t enough? Like our many clients, you can use Clarity Connect to add intelligent routing and queuing to Skype for Business in order to reimagine traditional customer service models. With presence and IM enabled via Skype for Business, you can deploy a collaborative contact center that unlocks the expertise within your organization.

For example, a leading online university deployed a collaborative contact center solution (with Clarity Connect) to cut a process that took 9.3 days on average to just 15 minutes. Call center agents couldn’t have access to financial aid information, and financial aid personnel couldn’t be tied up on the phones all day. But with a collaborative contact center solution, the sensitive data stayed in the right hands and the agents could do what they do best: customer service. The key – unlocking the expertise of the financial aid office by connecting the call center to them via IM.

Want to dramatically cut your response time?  Find out how Clarity Connect can help you solve your customer service issues with a free demo

Federation – the surprising customer service tool for Skype for Business

One of the most undervalued capabilities in Skype for Business is federation. With federation, users can use all the collaboration features of Skype for Business – presence, IM, voice, screen sharing, etc. – with any other organization that also has Skype for Business and has enabled federation, and even people who use consumer Skype. They can do so without using the public telephone network, and while still maintaining security and compliance with organizational reporting and archiving policies.

As someone who works remotely, I find that Skype for Business makes it much easier for me to communicate and collaborate with my colleagues if I’m not in the office.  Presence lets me see if a colleague is available, IM starts a quick chat, adding voice lets us talk more directly, and screen sharing enables us to collaborate.

Federation brings that same level of connectivity and productivity with any partner or customer that has consumer Skype or Skype for Business. This presents a unique opportunity for customer care, in entirely new models. Contact centers can become more customer focused: by monitoring presence to see when the best time is to reach out, for instance, or by enabling a customer to start a conversation with IM and later add voice or screen sharing / video as needed. 

For example, a leading European outsourced IT support firm uses Clarity Connect to service a number of external companies via federation.  As a result, they can essentially act as an internal helpdesk for their external customers.


Fundamentally, customer service improves with better communication. With Skype for Business, federation and Clarity Connect, organizations can bring customers into the fold, improve communication and collaboration, and manage those interactions - leading to a markedly improved customer service model. 

The three IT headaches of running a contact center on a siloed telephony platform

Running a contact or call center on a different telephony platform than the rest of the organization is shockingly common given all the headaches this causes. And many are not aware Skype for Business is a perfect platform for a multi-channel contact center.

Here are some reasons why you should consider consolidating platforms: 

  1. Cost – Why pay for duplicate services or features across more than one product/platform?
  2. Support and availability – Supporting two technology platforms not only means work and training, it introduces more complexity – especially when the two platforms need to interact.  This means more resources devoted to maintenance, and also an increased likelihood of outages.
  3. Interoperability – A patchwork of different products may not work well together, and can be difficult to configure and keep working together.  For example, when two PBX platforms transfer calls between each other, it can cause:
    • Dial-plan issues that don't match on the two systems.  This means that calls can work from one system, but don’t complete on the other, which is painful to troubleshoot, identify and resolve.
    •  Codec/transcoding issues can cause poor audio or failed calls

Another excellent solution is a contact center that’s native to Skype for Business.  A truly native product will be considerably simpler to install and maintain, and can take full advantage of the often complex arrangements that are made for large enterprise environments with very little additional effort.

Read more in our “Five reasons Skype for Business is a natural fit for the contact center” white paper.

Five reasons Skype for Business is a natural fit for the contact center

Thousands of companies have successfully deployed millions of Skype for Business seats, yet many still don’t think of it as a platform for their contact center. 

Learn how a Skype for Business contact center is a great fit for:

  1. Multi-channel communications 
  2. Cloud contact centers 
  3. Development and extensibility 
  4. Employee mobility
  5. Significant cost savings

Read the free white paper on what you can accomplish with a Skype for Business contact center.