Performance measurement, customer satisfaction, management effectiveness and customer loyalty. These needs define the tactical goals and strategic objectives of contact centers as they grow.

Each phase describes a specific set of needs and tactical issues. The first and primary objective is to create a framework that supports customer contact. The Responsiveness Phase is centered around the requirement to respond directly to customer contacts. Issues encompassed in this phase include selection of geographic location, physical facilities, communications solutions, definition of operational procedures and application of human resources.

In order to answer questions about the business performance of a contact center, reliable statistical information is required: information on agent productivity, information on system performance and information on the performance of the contact center as a whole. Detailed data is required to perform real-time productivity management and to cost justify new applications. The Performance Measurement Phase establishes the ability to gather and analyze real time and historical data. Real-time data will help a contact center adjust to current conditions; historical data will allow a contact center to analyze its performance over a period of time and to plan for future operations.

Once a contact center has data to work with, that data can be used to improve the customer experience, from initial contact, through a transaction to completion and follow-up. Although technology may play a part in many places in the contact center, it can be argued that the most important role it plays is when impacting the critical first impression made by that contact center. Is the contact center easy to access? Do options provided immediately meet the customer's need? If the customer transaction achieved a less-than-desired outcome, is the problem understood and corrected? The Customer Satisfaction Phase is comprised by the requirement to increase customer access options and alternatives, streamline customer transactions and create a closed-loop system with contact follow-up.

Once the targeted level of customer satisfaction has been established, the next issue in the hierarchy is how to maintain the level of service you're providing, while becoming more efficient and cost-effective. Increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the contact center is explored in the Management Effectiveness Phase. Typical objectives include enhancing agent productivity; implementing workforce management for forecasting, scheduling and tracking schedule adherence; streamlining processes, procedures and reporting through workflow management; and the use of performance supervision for evaluation, quality assurance and training.

Choice with consistency is a key element of NEC's contact center applications. Maintaining consistent functionality for both customers and agents even across diverse media is imperative. Customers can and should expect quality of information and action and personalized service regardless of the technology involved. The Customer Loyalty phase is defined by the pinnacle requirement to establish long-term customer relationships. Objectives encompassed in this stage include developing consistency of performance, response and personalized service across multimedia access technologies, including telephone, web, fax and e-mail; and integration of the contact center with front office and back office applications to enable corporate practices to develop customer intimacy.

NEC America's products, including both PBX systems and Key Systems, address the design and deployment of nextgeneration customer contact centers throughout their phases of evolution. These products are geared to provide contact centers with a framework that closely corresponds to the way organizations build proficiency. Several types of products are integral to this environment:

Call Routing products, commonly known as Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) systems, are geared toward establishing flexible, accurate call direction based on the customer's business rules and other input.

Management Information Systems (MIS) gather and analyze real-time and historical statistical data.

Geographic Distribution & Networking products are designed to create a network of contact center systems, or to define a single contact center system across a network of PBX systems; also includes products that enable single agents and small groups of agents to work remotely from the contact center.

Advanced Applications enhance contact center productivity and customer service.

Computer Telephony Integration provides third party call control that enables the development of advanced contact center applications such as screen pops, advanced routing, and customer callback.

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