The ubiquity of multi-site call centers

I wrote on my blog recently about the prevalence today of multi-sited call centers. My guess is that nearly every company with significant call volume (>100 million calls/year) is multi-sited to some extent.

“Multi-sited” typically means that the company runs multiple call centers or that it outsources some of its calls to a 3rd party. I extend the definition to also include companies that outsource all of their calls to a 3rd party because, from my vantage point, it leads to the same issues. Being multi-sited has a large impact on the customer experience because it impedes innovation and optimization.

Being multi-sited impedes optimization

Being multi-sited impedes optimization simply because it is very hard to coordinate changes across multiple sites. Even before multi-site situations became popular, there was often an organization schism between the people running the call center and the people close to the business objectives of customer satisfaction and improving revenue. Thus even simple changes like changing an IVR prompt that is clear need of fixing become difficult to synchronize.

Analyst Jon Arnold wrote recently:

In these scenarios [multi-site operations] one of the biggest challenges faced by enterprises is providing a consistent experience across all locations.

Being multi-sited impedes innovation

On a larger scale, this issue impedes innovation because 1) It is rare for any two call centers to be built on identical technology and 2) There are no standards for interoperability between call center equipment. The result is incompatible proprietary systems which means that call centers have to fall back on the lowest common denominator functionality. The following quote says it all:

Most midsize to large contact centers are based on complex and unstable architectures that integrate many disparate technologies into distinct, unique and costly combinations of components … [even] acquiring an IVR system from vendors such as Avaya, Nortel Networks and Genesys does not ensure tight integration with those companies’ ACD or CTI products.

– Yankee Group, “VoIP and Lower TCO will Drive Adoption of Hosted
On-Demand Contact Centers”, April 2006

Fonolo to the rescue

Fonolo is particularly well suited for a world of multi-sited call centers. That’s because the product lives “outside” the realm of the call center equipment. We like to think of it as a layer above the call center implementation that gives a new level of control to the business owners, without requiring any changes to the call center infrastructure.