What it Takes to Go Global with Your Contact Center
Bryan Martin recently published a blog talking about the real world challenges of going global in the enterprise communications space and talked about some of the things we are doing at 8x8 to help make it easier for our customers to do business as global companies. Today I wanted to have a similar conversation specific to the Contact Center and some of the challenges that going global poses in this market.
In today’s global economy, more and more organizations are expanding their Contact Centers around the world. There are a number of drivers for doing this: the availability of highly skilled, lower cost talent in many parts of the world; the need to support customers and prospects that need help or want to buy from you in different locations around the globe; or the acquisition of another company that suddenly opens a new geography for your business.
While running a global organization can be exciting and generate a great deal of frequent flier miles, managing customer relationships across the globe creates a whole new set of challenges for contact center managers. Some key challenges facing global contact centers:
Managing equipment: The headache of managing equipment at multiple sites in different locations around the globe is a real challenge. Having technical expertise on site on different continents forces companies to open large call centers with a whole lot of agents just to justify the underlying costs to support their presence in the area.
Local phone numbers: In many cases, companies end up with regional phone numbers to serve multiple countries instead of local numbers for each country. This can be a competitive disadvantage when prospects see that you don’t have a local phone number in their country. Having a regional presence is certainly an advantage over forcing customers to find you on another continent, but simple issues such as managing phone numbers can limit this advantage. It’s easy enough to point multiple phone numbers at a single contact center, but how do you get local numbers in countries where you have no presence?
How well does your service provider deliver phone numbers for different locations across the world? If you have a small group isolated far from the rest of your offices, it becomes very difficult to get competitive rates for your telephony traffic, and those costs can add up quickly.
Hair pinning calls around the world: In many cases, cloud vendors will serve customers from a single data center in one location in the world. This means that calls that take place far away from the data center need to travel around the world and back, even if they are connecting customers who are calling local agents.
Call latency: Sending calls around the world creates latency, which leads to confusion. Latency is a time lag that happens when signals are forced by bad call routing to travel long distances. People think that it is their turn to talk, so they end up talking over each other. The lag from when someone starts talking and the other person hears is long and creates a great deal of confusion on the call. When a digital voice stream moves across long distances, packets are lost causing jitter, dropped calls and other call quality issues.
Adding Data Centers Helps: The most mature cloud vendors provide their customers with a solution to this problem by providing data centers around the world. This eliminates the need to hairpin calls around the world, but it’s only a partial solution to the problem.
Creation of multiple teams: One of the biggest benefits of a cloud contact center system is that you don’t have to have your agents all in the same physical location. Agents can work from anywhere and be part of the same team, connected to the same cloud-based system. Unfortunately, this breaks down in a global environment where agents need to connect to different data centers around the globe.
Most cloud vendors cannot create a system for a company (generally referred to as a tenant) that spans multiple datacenters. This means that each physical location is required to function as a completely independent group, with separate management tools, reports, and administration.
If a company wants to have its global contact centers function as a single unit they will need to build all sorts of highly customized overlay tools and reports on top of their system to make it function as such. This makes it very hard for a global contact center to function as a single team.
So, how do you solve this management problem?
Create a Global Tenant! Moving infrastructure to the cloud allows companies to scale down the number of agents it takes to be cost effective at any given location. Instead of needing a room full of agents to cost-justify a system, companies can now have a couple of folks working out of a small office anywhere in the world. Agents can even work from home or wherever they are most productive.
Connect Locally, Manage Globally: With 8x8’s Virtual Contact Center we have separated the media server function from the administration functionality. This means that you can now have agents working around the world, connected to their local data center but managed from a single, central location.
With this approach, you can have the best of both worlds. All telephone connections can be handled locally to ensure high-quality interactions and control telephony costs. You can also manage your distributed contact center as a single team with one set of administrative tools, one set of reports and one configuration tool. Your agents all have the exact same set of tools wherever they are in the world, and you can provide a consistent experience to your customers around the globe.
With the global capabilities of 8x8 Virtual Contact Center, your global contact centers are better connected. You can now provide local phone numbers to your customers to make it easy to reach you, you can ensure high-quality calls by avoiding having to bounce calls around the world, and you can manage your team as a single entity to ensure you are in complete control of agent productivity and your customer’s experience anywhere in the world.