Customers and prospects are vital to any business, writes Andy Bull, director of Mitel SA. Contact centres, as a first point of customer contact play an important part in building and solidifying your customer base.

This is why every customer call should always be handled quickly and accurately, which in the trade is known as first contact resolution. It means linking callers in the shortest time possible to the right people, processes and technology that can fulfil their requests.
The payoff? Not only can first contact resolution differentiate you as a market leader, it can also result in increased revenue and customer loyalty.
In response, contact centres are adopting IP technologies. With it, contact centres are enhancing customer service, improving sales performance, and streamlining branch office operations like never before.
An IP-enabled contact centre offers many distinct advantages. They include Automatic Call Distribution (ACD). Designed for quick call resolution, IP-powered ACD quickly routes calls to the most appropriate employees regardless of where they’re located. This “agents anywhere” model means agents can move from phone to phone, including home-based agents or geographically dispersed agents.
The network itself is also highly resilient to disruptions, enabling agents to continue processing calls in the event of a system or network outage that occurs anywhere in the network.
Exceptional customer service and cross- or upselling opportunities increase dramatically when agents have the right tools and information at their disposal. Customers are looking for immediate resolution and want to avoid voice mail messages and call-backs. With an IP solution in place, agents can pinpoint the whereabouts and accessibility of fellow team members.
Customers can then conference with remote and in-house agents and subject matter experts, resulting in more effective communication between an organisation and its customers. ACD is also enhanced with the ability to recognise high profile customers so they can be routed immediately to the appropriate subject matter expert.
Contact centre software tools and suites also benefit those who manage contact centre agents. Managers can access specific tools that allow them to better and more easily centrally manage, monitor and measure service levels across multiple sites throughout the organisation.
Flexible reporting tools allow managers to generate reports that enhance operations and quickly determine contact centre performance; and the performance of the agents who are manning them. Custom reports dramatically transform business processes by displaying information the way managers want to see it, reducing information-overload and eliminating meaningless statistics.
Using a Work Force Management (WFM) package, managers can also accurately forecast future agent resource requirements, and provide feedback such as how many agents are needed to work throughout the day.
More and more, contact centres are the means by which customers make contact with an organisation whether it’s by phone, email or web. Improving customer service by upgrading to an IP-enhanced virtual contact centre enables first contact resolution and can dramatically increase customer loyalty. That, plus instituting productivity-enhancing IP management software tools, can lead to dramatically improved revenue growth, transitioning what was previously a cost centre into a profit centre.