Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Skype, Contact Centre & Banking

I've set myself the task of covering three big topics in a short post today.

At first glance, Skype may not seem very relevant to either banking or contact centre but let me explain.

Skype represents a new channel for customer interactions and one the most organisations cannot currently support. Now there are views that Skype will collapse because of its lack of revenue and because it has no network (as most recently argued in The Register). I accept the point made specifically to Skype, but even if Skype fails, VoIP arriving via the web channel is something organisations have to adapt to. Similar to my previous entries on e-mail as process driven or response driven, VoIP is a communication medium that some key demographics are adopting and organisations need to be able to support it.

This is where banks come in as some of the largest users of contact centres. One of the first to introduce Skype based contact management has been ABN Amro. The VoIP function is built in (with chat bots for IM and avatars) to a site targeted at a younger technically oriented user. This has been followed by Rabobank with a similar site, functionality and target market. Why the Dutch market should be so far ahead of (say) the UK I'm not sure, but it is interesting to see a trend being taken up.

Will Skype or VoIP replace traditional voice? Hardly yet, I suspect that the amount of VoIP voice traffic the banks are expecting is relatively low. The real significance (as discussed in my post on e-mail) is that we are moving to distinguishing communications not by the communication medium, but by whether they are synchronous or asynchronous. In this world the contact centre becomes an essential part of managing the increasingly interactive customer.

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