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Integrating UC and CRM (or ERP): Contact Center Capabilities on the Road

Posted by Kevin Gulley

Oct 1, 2014

Imagine this scenario. You’re a financial advisor and you get a phone call while at your daughter’s soccer game from a client you haven’t spoken with in 5 years.  His name pops up on your phone and you’re thinking “Brendan McSheffrey, why do I know that name?”  You take the call, faking things while you chat and get back up to speed.  Calls like this happen all the time to field-based employees in all kinds of industries, right?  mobile_Unified_Communications

Now what if that same call came in and a screen-pop appeared showing you not only his name, but the last time you spoke, the fact that he is a 2 handicap and a friend of your brothers,  his wife’s name, his current portfolio and positions and how long he’s been a client.  All of your conversations come flooding back into your mind.  You answer the phone with a “Hey Brendan, how are you hitting ‘em these days.”  Imagine how much more effective your call will be. Suddenly it becomes the kind of call that results in more business down the line.

Mobile Workers With Contact Center Insights

With the rise of Unified Communications capabilities, it is no wonder that the number of companies looking to securely deliver customer and prospect level insights to their mobile workforce is growing quickly.  Historically, however, this was hard to pull off in the heat of the moment.  You had to be sitting in front of a computer or working in a contact center to have this kind of access, and it only ever happened on an incoming call with the best of CRM / telephony integrations, and never when the call was coming into your mobile phone.  To learn more about what is driving this trend and and how companies are delivering on this quantum leap in customer care, I caught up with Eric Wright, the Regional Manager of Contact Center and Integrations at Mutare, who explained the situation succinctly as ‘push versus pull’.

“When it comes to getting information into the hands of field based workers, companies have traditionally thought about it from a push perspective.  Syncing CRM databases to someone’s laptop, logging in to a web interface, dialing in through VPN to access the ERP.  These things take time that is not available in a split second when the sales rep or mobile worker needs it, and they are also bandwidth intensive, not the greatest thing for a mobile employee,” says Wright.

The key to this new opportunity is to wait for an event - like an incoming or outgoing call - and react.  That way, the employee is instantly pulling a very finite, but highly valuable set of data and delivering it directly to the device upon which it will be most valuable at that moment.  “The ubiquity of mobile devices and the explosive growth of BYOD means more important calls being taken by employees away from the office and even away from their desk,” explains Wright.  “The growth of mobile UC solutions and the obvious business benefits have businesses scrambling to close this hole in their customer relationship.”  

Connecting UC to CRM or ERP is really a middle-ware play, where on the back end there is access the corporate database and certain fields are picked and made available.  On the front end, that data can be delivered along with the CallerID to the employee’s phone via Cisco’s Jabber or Avaya’sOneX mobile, or MS Lync, or whichever UC client being used.  “If the company is not using one of these, a proprietary secure mobile app can work just as well,” added Wright.

Securely Passing Data Back and Forth

But what about keeping that information secure, especially in a BYOD world.  There are a couple of keys to this according to Wright.  The first is encryption when the data is in motion or at rest on the end user device, ensuring security and compliance for even the toughest regulations like PCI and HIPAA.   “Another aspect we have worked with clients on is quickly ‘retiring’ the information in the app” explains Wright.  In other words, you hang up the call and the information on the app goes away in 20 seconds.  

That doesn’t mean that there is no additional functionality.  The information could be brought back up on demand, or information can be sent back to the CRM or the ERP to enhance the customer record, or for follow up.  Going back to our financial advisor scenario earlier, the user could enter notes from the meeting directly via the app. They could even take things a step further as Wright explained.  “Imagine a button that shows up when the phone call ends, and the rep starts speaking his notes into the phone where it is queued for transcription.  Then a ‘Submit Notes’ button appears that puts the notes in the CRM, as well as a ‘Notify’ button that  sends an email notifying the correct people about action items that must be taken, like filing paperwork to increase 401k contribution by $500 per month.”

Bringing this level of customer care to field-based employees has the potential to deliver tremendous business opportunity.  Don’t be surprised to start seeing more and more of this as leading companies continue to get on-board.




Topics: Voice, collaboration, Contact Center, Business Case, Mobility, Unified Communications,