Over the past few months, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Will McKeon-White on a report that looks at the benefits and challenges related to bringing unified communications (UC) and contact center (CC) solutions together. The result of this work is our new report: Come Together: Combining UCaaS And CCaaS Unlocks New Customer Value. My favorite thing that we uncovered in our research is a use case where brands use the shared UC and CC infrastructure to blur the lines between remote offices and a centralized contact center, resulting in better customer experiences and more efficient customer service.

Here is how this could work for me: I have State Farm insurance, but I don’t call State Farm’s 800 number. I call Mimi, my local agent. If she or her administrator are in the office, they will answer; if no one is there, I’ll leave a voicemail (remember voicemail?) and they will call me back. This is how things have worked for years, but it’s not optimal for either the customer or the business. If your UC and CC systems are tightly integrated, it’s easy to do something much better.

I always want to get a live person when I call. If no one is available in Mimi’s office, I’d be happy to talk to someone else at State Farm if they are able to help me solve my issue. With UC and CC together, it is simple to forward my call to the contact center when no one is in the local office. If I want to set up a tee time for golf with Mimi, I’ll need to be transferred back to voicemail. If I have a question on coverage, or rates, or the status of a claim, the contact center can answer those questions. Forwarding these calls to the contact center can happen seamlessly, without the customer even being aware that it happened. From my perspective as a customer, I just got someone from the office who has the answer at their fingertips. For the brand, this can provide customer experiences that improve loyalty and help agents focus on selling insurance.

This allows brands to build local, high-touch relationships at a scale that only a contact center can provide.

Let’s talk about dentists for a moment: RingCentral customer Heartland Dental provides services for its dentists that include telephony infrastructure. When someone calls the dentist’s office, they will answer if they can. If no one answers, the call will roll over to a centralized contact center, where an appointment can be scheduled or general questions can be asked. The patient just thinks that they are talking to someone in the office and gets their business done.

What impresses me the most about Heartland’s approach is the wisdom that the organization brings to its rules for when to forward to the contact center. When a patient calls, they wait for six rings and then the call will go to the contact center. If the system believes that the person calling is a prospect, an unanswered call forwards after only four rings. Why? Because Heartland knows that most people who are looking for a new dental provider will go with the first one that answers their call, so Heartland wants to make sure that it is the first one to answer.

This is a use case in which both the brand and the customer benefit. I’ve seen it work at surgery centers, car dealerships, and several other businesses. This sort of handoff is second nature to deployments where UC and CC are tightly integrated and very difficult to do cost-effectively when handing off between separate services. While this is just one of many use cases highlighted in our report, it is one that does not get the visibility it deserves and is something from which many brands, and their customers, could benefit.