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Better collaboration through unified communication

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Dimension Data says that large financial services institutions in South Africa are using unified communications (UC) to slash the cost of workforce training, upsell customers, and improve collaboration between their employees and clients.

Dimension Data chief technology officer, Mayan Mathen, says that the South African financial services industry is enormously dynamic and adaptive, having to stay abreast of consumer use of technology and continuously drive new products into a highly competitive market.

‚Our large banks and insurance companies are extremely tech-savvy ‚ because not being able to interact with customers in ways that suit those customers means an almost immediate loss of market share.

‚Some years ago they moved beyond simply having a range of communications technologies in their contact centres so that customers could communicate with them by the technology of their choice.

‚They realised that integrating their various communications technologies would give them the ability to overcome the physical boundaries of their business and, in doing so, increase their organisational agility. Combining, for instance, video communications and conferencing with presence reduces business process latency.

‚And, while some financial services institutions still deliver their service to consumers through a structured business process approach, many have increased their competitive advantage by using next generation communications to enable employees to reach colleagues and progress workflow in real-time.‚

Mathen therefore believes that UC is a new way of thinking about human interaction. ‚Instead of the old hierarchy of my boss having a boss who also has a boss, employees are collaborating with whoever in the organisation can best service the task at hand.

‚So, being able to see, via Presence, that someone is available telephonically right now, saves leaving a message and then getting hold of that person only when they choose to respond to it. Decisions can be made right now, with a minimum of to-ing and fro-ing.

‚Also, being able to link in a third person ‚ or fifteen other people ‚ via a conference call that also enables participants to see the document being discussed and make their changes live, shortens approval processes and, therefore, time to completion of a project or time to market of a product or service.

‚South Africa’s large financial institutions have vast investments in information and communications technology (ICT) platforms and systems. So they already have in place most of the tools for UC. It’s a question, then, of exploiting those tools to maximum effect, by enabling collaboration.‚

According to Mathen, such collaboration usually translates into a massive leap in customer service. For example, with standard contact centre technology, a contact centre agent can see when a customer calls in about a home loan query that the customer also has several other accounts with the company. The agent can also see that the customer would be better served by, say, consolidating those accounts into a single product that is more beneficial in terms of interest. ‚The difference UC makes is that it enables the agent to see that the person best able to discuss the consolidation with the customer, perhaps the customer’s own bank manager, is available online or on the phone. The agent then links the customer and the bank manager, facilitating both an upsell that benefits the bank and financial relief or other benefits for the customer.

‚The opportunity of having the customer on the line and interested in having a problem solved is turned immediately into new business.

‚In all cases, UC gives financial institutions the best and most affordable means to wring the last drop of value out of their enormous technology investments. In a very real sense, it’s reckless not to embrace UC.

‚For progressive financial institutions such as we have in South Africa, it’s more than a must-have. It’s a strategic tool that can both increase market share in existing markets and also create entirely new markets.‚

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