For many customers I talk to, it isn’t their people or contact center apps that prove inflexible in the face of today’s customer service operational challenges. Most often, it’s the telephony architecture that has them chained to a legacy of costly and proprietary tools that can’t support both the needs of their employees and their customers. This division creates a ‘house divided’ between corporate telephony needs and customer service operations which, to deliver great customer service, cannot stand. In many cases liberation is coming in the form of SIP-based architectures, and with it a much more flexible, scalable and cost-effective way to provide great customer service..

Historically, the ‘Automatic Call Distribution’ system supplied by the PBX vendor was coupled with the same telephony platform that delivered voice functionality to enterprise users — and was implemented as ‘one-system’. The flaws in this model become more and more pronounced today as consumers want to interact through new non-voice channels, and as we look into the back and branch office for knowledge workers and field experts to become part of an ‘Enterprise-wide’ customer service approach. Most customer service leaders are sourcing service from throughout the company, not from solely one department or the four-walls of the contact center.

Moreover, customer service operations require a dynamic architecture that can provide the scalability and reliability needed to serve both the employee and customer constituents. If one system supports both, someone is bound to get short-changed – as customer interaction volume ‘bursts’ based on seasonal sales, promotions or environmental factors. Add-in how SIP-based contact center architectures provide native support for new media and channels and the legacy proprietary ACD + PBX model begins to look fundamentally flawed.

But the most obvious flaw in the PBX + ACD model is an economic one, which falls flat on the maintenance, network and hardware cost levels that supporting those legacy architectures require. Many of these platforms are near end-of-life if not at end-of-life, and ‘smooth migration paths’ are increasingly being realized as forklift upgrades. Enterprises are waking up to the realities of costly desktop hardware versus a thin-client soft phone.

A SIP architecture where merely power and internet service is required versus a proprietary hardware device full of unused features starts to look compelling. And finally, as voice and data networks are reconciled – with the quality of service argument falling flat in the face of today’s advanced SIP-based systems and testimony of leading Enterprises using SIP, the time to act is now. Doing so will begin to unite the house divided, and both your CFO and your customers will thank you for it.

If you’re interested in learning how to prepare your contact center for the future with SIP, join Ovum analyst Keith Dawson and me on May 22nd for a webinar titled – How SIP delivers your Next-Generation Contact Center