The Hidden Knowledge in Your UC System

Stephen Davis

In a previous article, Age of Unified Communications (UC) and Your CRM, I discussed the benefits of integrating a UC solution with a CRM (like or SugarCRM). One of the advantages of this type of phone system integration is having screen pops that make it easy for sales and customer service teams to log call details. It also provides quick access to existing customer information, enabling outbound-focused teams to have better conversations with customers and prospects. Digging into the data sourced by a UC system can provide an untapped stream of knowledge for other key employees, too - including the call center manager.

A call center manager holds a critical, and often stressful, role within the organization. Responsibilities include handling call volumes to agents, shifting staffing levels and coaching new call center employees. UC systems can make these demanding tasks much easier so the manager can focus on what really matters, improving service by coaching his staff. But that wasn’t always the case.

In the age of analog phone systems, getting a more complete solution that enabled some level of data retrieval required paying for expensive add-on features or services, such as call recordings, call queue and call reporting. Not only would the “add-on” features have to be purchased separately, but integrating them with the analog system and managing them was often challenging for everyone involved. The integration process was so cumbersome, it usually ended up with the company hiring an additional in-house team member (someone with specific experience) or paying expensive consultant fees to outsource managing and extracting data from the systems.

On top of all that unexpected overhead, it could also take days to receive the requested call logs from the company’s IT department. Even then, managers had to hope everything was provided, as needed, from the cobbled phone system and there were no gaps in the data. This delay and potential missing data could cause staffing decisions to be slow to business demands.

Fast forward a few years and there’s a big difference in the speed and accuracy of the data collected, not to mention the ease of management and the reduced cost. UC solutions now provide web-based access with an access control list (ACL), which puts the power in the manager’s hands, allowing her to easily extract information such as queue logs and status, concurrent calls by agent, and call log details to track number of calls received and placed by hour/day/week.

Phone System Data Matters

Data, even that from a business phone system, tells an important story that helps shape decisions. In fact, the level of detail and ease of access that advanced UC features provide to a company allows managers to make real-time or near real-time decisions, especially where staffing is concerned. Has the company launched a new product and teams need to be trained? When is the best time of day to take agents off the phone without impacting the queue wait times? The graph below gives an example showing number of calls by hour and that at 3 p.m. the call volume drops to almost no calls. A manager can see this data and quickly know that time period is ideal for pulling agents offline for training; similarly, the data indicates an extreme number of calls at 9 a.m. and understands that a full staff is required to adequately manage the morning call volume.

Call center managers cannot monitor all calls at the same time, but they can review calls at a later date with call recordings. The UC phone system should make this easy by allowing the IT manager, or call center manager with proper ACL, to schedule which queues or agents (and what type of calls - inbound, outbound, or all) to record. The system can even offload the recording to an FTP server for easier access. Not only can this be used for training, but if a manager has issues with customer expectations he or she can listen to the call recording to find out what was promised.

Because the call center manager is often actively training agents and may not be able to watch the queue metrics in real-time, there are scheduling options that can be utilized. The manager can receive an email hourly and/or daily with the details of the call queues, including average wait time, average entry position (into the queue), number of abandoned calls, or even maximum wait time. All of this data, delivered straight from the phone system, gives a manager enhanced visibility into business operations and allows a person to react to and change the staffing of the queue.

In an age of instant results, having a view into the data from a UC system is critical. The phone system, along with access to the right data from the system, can empower a company to better service their customers by helping call center managers quickly and proactively make staffing changes for call volumes.


Stephen Davis is a sales operations analyst for Digium, a business communications company based in Huntsville, Ala., that delivers enterprise-class Unified Communications. He has experience administrating and developing in and Pentaho Business Analytics/Data Integration, and has a background in sales and customer service. Connect with him on LinkedInand follow him on Twitter @SDavis1112.