Software-based solutions deliver full contact centre functionality for a South African SME

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Contact centres are the interface for businesses between themselves and their customers. However, the full-service functionality that really adds value for customers has typically been limited to the larger enterprise space, due to the high cost of infrastructure involved in implementing these solutions. In a country like South Africa, where the vast majority of businesses fall within the Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) market, the limited functionality of SME contact centre solutions has subsequently limited their ability to service customers effectively through this interface.

With the growth of social media and the requirement to manage and respond to multiple channels in near real-time, this challenge has become increasingly difficult. The evolution of software-based solutions has changed this, however, providing all of the features of enterprise-class contact centres for the SME. Fortunately, this is now available at a price point that meets their budgetary requirements, and with systems and solutions that cater specifically for the needs of the smaller business.

Contact centres offer several benefits to organisations, not least of which is the ability to standardise procedures and provide a consistent service to customers. In addition, the contact centre enables organisations to manage numerous different channels, from telephone and email to social media such as Facebook and Twitter, while providing workforce management and optimisation tools that help to enhance efficiency and thereby improve customer service. Regardless of the size of the organisation, these requirements are consistent – SMEs have the same challenges as their larger counterparts, with the additional issue of smaller, more modest budgets.

From Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) for self service options, to the ability to train multi-skilled agents for better query handling, not to mention multimedia requirements and particularly social media. SMEs need access to the same features and functionality as those on offer in the enterprise contact centre. However, on a scaled down level that is more affordable and applicable to them. In addition, quality management, workforce management and comprehensive reporting are essential for improving efficiency and enhancing customer service.

With the number of SME businesses growing substantially, software-based contact centre systems have now come to the fore as the ideal solution for the smaller business market. Driven by virtualisation, which dramatically reduces the hardware component by enabling a single server to function as multiple virtual machines, the latest generation of software-based contact centre solutions offer a context-sensitive, collaborative, multichannel customer contact solution.

This enables SME businesses to anticipate, automate and accelerate customer interactions, improve customer experiences, and increase customer lifetime value and revenue, while improving agent efficiency to reduce cost – all of the benefits of an enterprise-class contact centre. Multi-channel capabilities, including voice, email, SMS, fax, instant messaging, web chat, social media and more can be integrated into a single solution for easier administration and management and routing to the most appropriate agent for a more efficient response. In addition, robust reporting, workforce optimisation, call recording and enhanced functionality to take the SME from reactive call routing to proactive contact response.

SMEs can now create a complete and holistic view of their customers and create context for interactions, which enables far superior management of the customer experience and better levels of engagement. Additional features such as automatic dial out to customers and contextual customer information at the agent’s fingertips help to improve the quality of interactions, optimise agent utilisation and productivity, and deliver a superior customer experience that helps to drive sustainable business growth.

Machine virtualisation, by dramatically reducing the hardware footprint required, has enabled SMEs to now take advantage of enterprise-class contact centre functionality in a far more cost-effective manner than ever before. These solutions offer fast and easy installation, enabling a full contact centre to be set up in less than a day, delivering full service contact centres on an SME budget.

Jasco Group delivers end-to-end best-of-breed solutions across the entire ICT value chain. Their services include solution design, business consulting, project management and logistics to manage the supply, installation and commissioning of solutions; and professional services to provide integration and customisation of solutions; managed services, support and maintenance.

Jasco’s operating divisions, namely Intelligent Technologies, Enterprise, Carriers and Electrical Manufacturers deliver a range of solutions and services. Intelligent Technologies delivers broadcast, power, data centres and Property Technology Management (PTM) solutions as well as Energy Optimisation and Co-location services, a carrier-neutral co-location telecommunications hub where the network infrastructure serves multiple service providers. The Carrier business provides solutions and components for access and transmission networks as well as hi-sites. The Enterprise business delivers contact centre solutions, Unified Communications, Cloud Solutions and security and fire solutions. Electrical Manufacturers delivers contract manufacturing of white goods.

The Jasco Group has a national footprint with offices in Gauteng, Western Cape, Free State, Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal. Other than South Africa, the organisation trade in many sub-Saharan African countries, with a special focus on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.