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It’s time for customer service to adapt to ‘bimodal IT’

Global industry analyst Gartner originally coined the phrase ‘bimodal IT’, an approach that enables organisations to meet the demands on IT today. Gartner then goes on to define what each tier or mode actually means: ‘Mode 1 is traditional and sequential, emphasising safety and accuracy. Mode 2 is exploratory and nonlinear, emphasising agility and speed.’

Simply put, bimodal IT advocates a blend of different people, processes, technologies, and budgets rather than the straight-forward provision of reliable IT systems to drive organisational and commercial success. Some would say nothing new then? What is new is that the successful application of bimodal IT appears to be fuelled by the exponential growth of cloud-computing. According to the Cloud Industry Forum, latest research indicates that ‘69% of organisations (in the UK) have formally adopted at least one cloud-based service within their business, and satisfaction with the use of cloud solutions remains high.’

It’s a changing situation that highlights another trend in the contact centre where new communication channels are constantly emerging. Voice calls remain important with WebChat, mobile communication and social media such as Facebook Messenger being added to the mix at a phenomenal rate. Therefore, customer service operations and contact centres, by their very nature require speedy response to change and epitomise bimodal IT, however the processes and technology can be slow to catch up.

Cloud contact centres – the positive outcome of natural selection

Cloud contact centres are naturally suited to bimodal IT. They combine stability and agility all in one step by offering:

Flexibility, scalability, and business agility

Will your business grow or will it suffer from an economic downturn? Are there plans to expand overseas? Will seasonal peaks and troughs like the summer holidays or Christmas affect call volumes with a knock-on effect on staffing levels? The latest cloud-based solutions help contact centre managers tackle the challenges of fluctuating business requirements and call volumes head on.

Control over administration and customisation

The days of a large IT department on call 24 hours a day are over. Using a simple Internet connection and web browser, ongoing maintenance, upgrades and software roll-outs can be administered in the cloud. Furthermore, the inherent flexibility of the cloud makes it easy for organisations to configure and customise their contact centre solution themselves.

Absolute independence for resilience and service

Organisations need no longer worry about bad weather affecting telephone lines or machinery accidentally ploughing through cables because everything is virtual, data is stored centrally, in the cloud. Location independent, agents can log onto the system at any time and from any location using their own devices.

Integration for improved business processes

Cloud capabilities and web services automate business processes and integrate them seamlessly with chosen business applications to save time and manual effort. Extracting pertinent customer information in real-time from the company’s CRM system empowers agents to hold meaningful interactions that boost customer confidence and promote next generation customer service.

Stepping up to WebChat

In the most modern cloud-based contact centre solutions, WebChat capability is built in rather than bolted on. Multiple Chats can be handled by the same agent at the same time and WebChat customer satisfaction surveys offered at the end of a conversation. Likewise enquiries from other new channels such as social media and SMS can all be handled from within the same application as voice and email, saving agent time and increasing productivity.

Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

The majority of users choose to retain their original handsets and equipment making the evolution to a cloud infrastructure an effortless affair. They simply turn the old system off and commence the new cloud service on the very same day using the same legacy hardware, thereby retaining any original investment in equipment.

Only the fittest survive

Interestingly, the prominence of bimodal IT is also transforming the role of IT itself and the CIOs who manage it. IT analyst Kurt Marko points out, ‘as businesses grapple with the impact of new computing modes; mobile, cloud, Internet of Things, big data, on their business processes, products, customer services and business models, IT services not only enable business-critical back-office operations, they also are fast becoming the primary mode by which many companies engage customers – and how they create and capture value.’

At the same time, the need for two-speed IT is affecting the role of the traditional CIO. Today, using IT to compete in the digital world and drive a higher level of customer interaction may call for a different kind of expert – a ‘Digital CIO’ or ‘Chief Digital Officer’.

Contact centre managers need to accept – and embrace - that IT is now the cornerstone of customer engagement. It has transformed into a strategic tool that, managed well, can boost customer satisfaction and profits, but if left to its own devices, can lose customers and good corporate reputations. It’s time to keep one step ahead and take charge of today’s digital contact centre to unleash the true power of cloud-based contact centres and bimodal IT.

Thomas Rødseth, VP of Product and Marketing at Intelecom

Image Credit: Mikko Lemola / Shutterstock