Tollring iCS Online Review: Analytics to Take Customer Service Beyond the Contact Centre
Read our Tollring iCall Suite Online review
When is a contact centre solution not a contact centre solution?
No, we’re not trying to catch you out with clever riddles. Perhaps we should start with a more fundamental question – what do we mean by a contact centre in the first place?
According to Tollring, the UK-based cloud call analytics specialist, all we really mean by the traditional definition of a contact centre is a dedicated department responsible for handling inbound and outbound calls. In terms of the core technology required to perform this function, there is no real difference to the rest of a business PBX – you essentially need telephones, a switchboard and various call handling and management tools.
The real distinction lies in the role the contact centre plays in the overall organisation of a company. The clue is in the name – the contact centre is first and foremost about handling contact with customers, and therefore its real specialist role is providing customer service. Or, in the case of outbound calling, sales and marketing.
In both cases, theses added functions create a need for oversight, monitoring and measurement against KPIs. Customer service teams want to know about things like wait times, resolution rates, abandonments and customer satisfaction levels so they can improve performance. Outbound sales and marketing teams want to be able to measure responses, follow ups and conversions.
All a contact centre solution is, then, is a marriage of these two core functions – a sophisticated PBX capable of handling large call volumes, and reporting tools to measure performance.
Tollring would argue that this traditional definition of a contact centre no longer reflects how businesses organise themselves, certainly from a customer service point of view. The arrival of multi-channel communications means service can no longer be based purely around the telephone. Customers are choosing from a wide range of communication methods, and the modern contact centre must be set up to embrace them all.
The arrival of omni-channel has also shifted the goalposts on contact centre reporting. Performance data now has to come from multiple touch points aside from the humble telephone. But more than that, say Tollring, as customer service has grown in importance as a competitive point of difference, responsibility for delivering great service has spread beyond the confines of the contact centre and across the whole organisation.
And that is why Tollring says that the highest value contact centres are not really contact centres at all, but whole businesses built around the principle of delivering outstanding customer service throughout. To that end, it positions its iCall Suite (iCS) Online platform, which is more a reporting and analytics product than a contact centre solution in the traditional sense, as perfect for the needs of the modern cross-organisation contact centre.
Before we take a closer look at what iCS Online can deliver in the contact centre, please remember that all of the opinions in this review are those of the author only, and that UC Today does not play any role endorsing or promoting any specific brands.
What can it do?
iCS Online is a cloud-based analytics suite which plugs into existing cloud or on-premises telephone and UC systems to deliver service-oriented reporting.
In total, iCS Online has six modules available:
- iCS Insight provides live reporting and data visualisations through predefined dashboards and wallboards which refresh every 15 minutes
- iCS Report offers enhanced reporting and dashboards which can be broken down by agent, hunts group or ACD call queues. Incoming calls can be analysed and monitored in greater depth, and report scheduling can be customised
- iCS Report Premier adds live monitoring to iCS Report’s capabilities for supervisory control. Agent availability and handling stats are available live, with configurable call queue parameters to display on wallboards and dashboards, and ‘what if’ contact centre modelling to aid staff resourcing
- iCS Contact integrates multi-channel, multi-touch contact points with calls. It provides enhanced supervisory controls such as in-play group and agent reallocation, and additional call control and preview functions
- iCS Record is an adaptable call recording and playback suite. iCS Record Plus adds supervisor functions such as call tagging and call evaluation
- iCS Detect is a security module which guards against call fraud
All of these modules are designed with contact operations in mind. Comprehensive live statistics delivered via reports, dashboards and team wallboards provide supervisors with real-time visibility of presence, call flows and call handling activity, allowing them to manage teams and base decisions on accurate data.
The iCS Contact module in particular is intended to extend these capabilities beyond the traditional call centre and across a business, into what Tollring refers to as ‘informal contact centre’ operations. By sitting on top of a business wide UC system, iCS Contact applies the same analytics principles you see in a formal contact centre to anyone who speaks to clients or customers over the phone, whether dealing with queries, taking orders or making sales calls.
Contact teams no longer need to be formally organised in one place using a single system. iCS Online can provide the same business intelligence into service levels at all points of contact, anywhere across a business.
What do we like?
Performance monitoring, queue management, staff modelling, caller tolerance, and reporting on unreturned missed calls or grade of service have long been vital metrics for maximising efficiencies and monitoring customer interactions in the contact centre. What iCS Online does is apply these principles wherever customer interactions take place across a business, providing the tools for improving customer experience everywhere it takes place.
Who is it for?
As a cloud-based solution, iCS Online can be deployed successfully by companies of all sizes, with different modules catering for different analytics requirements. The iCS Contact module in particular is ideal for larger businesses with lots of different teams involved in elements of customer service, sales, marketing and client relations, providing a powerful suite of reporting tools to combine intelligence across them all.
Where can I get more information?
Tollring have published white papers which provide important and relevant information:
Will Your Customer Journey Map Bypass the Call Centre?
Resolving Missed Calls: The Key to Transforming Customer Service
Go to the Tollring White Papers Download Page. There are also a number of Case Studies available at the same location, just click on the ‘Case Studies’ tab.
What is it compatible with?
iCS Online is built to sit on top of most hosted, on-premises and hybrid contact centre and business PBX systems.
UC Today opinion
The idea of distributed contact operations fits in very neatly with modern trends in business organisation. But by focusing on a solution which treats a whole business as a potential point of contact for customer service, Tollring hits upon a deeper truth. Delivering customer service, or sales and marketing, outside the contact centre is nothing new. But such ‘informal’ contact operations are often beyond the oversight provided by typical call centre analytics tools, and therefore take place in a shadow away from the illumination of business intelligence.
With iCS Online, Tollring has anticipated the value to businesses of tracking all customer interactions, no matter where they take place. They recognise that customer opinions on service levels know no distinctions between contact centre and other operations, they will not judge slow or poor service leniently because they are not speaking to a designated contact agent. iCS Online may not be a complete contact centre solution, but as an overarching contact analytics platform, it provides the intelligence businesses need to ensure consistency in service levels at all points of the customer journey.
If you have used Tollring’s iCS Online for contact operations in any setting, let us know your thoughts about it in the comments section below. And please share this article on social media to invite others to join in the conversation.