AT&T Solutions starts up Multimedia division following spinoff of another

AT&T Solutions recently launched Multimedia Call Center Solutions, a new division that targets network-based teleservices strategies.

The Basking Ridge, NJ-based company, a division of New York-based AT&T Corp., aims to bridge communication services across telephonic and electronic mediums through interactive voice response, advance call routing and training at its AT&T Call Center College of Excellence. Multimedia Call Center Solutions streamlines AT&T Solutions’ other businesses, which provide consulting, systems integration and outsourcing.

AT&T Solutions earlier this year sold its Customer Care division to Cincinnati Bell’s Matrixx Marketing, which is also being spun-off and will soon become Convergys Corp.

While AT&T’s Customer Care division centered on contracting outsourced workers and technical support for call center operations, the Multimedia division consolidates consulting, systems design and strategy into one seamless operation.

“What we did was bring them all together into one organization with Multimedia Call Center group,” said Joyce Van Duzer, an AT&T Solutions. “What we have found over the last year or so is that the issue of call centers within a corporation has risen. It isn’t just telecommunications managers. All of a sudden call centers have evolved into a potential strategic operation. As that happens it starts getting more attention of senior executives, chief executives and chief information officers. They are looking for someone with expertise — not just a specific product but someone who can understand what their strategy should be.”

Deborah Ingram, managing partner for the newly created division, is leading the initiative. “We can’t think of just call centers anymore; we call it multimedia,” Ingram said. “Whether people are speaking with interactive voice recognition, the Internet or speaking with a live agent, they expect a consistent brand experience. We have to think of that experience as more than a voice. We’ve had to expand our perspectives and our portfolio to look more broadly at all the interactions between a company and its customers, because as customers move across mediums their data has to move with them.”

Van Duzer added that response must keep up with technology.

“Consumers are more sophisticated about the way they interact with companies,” Van Duzer said. “What companies are realizing is that even though they have built and retained customer relationships they need to provide the same responsiveness through e-mail, fax, the Internet and live agents.”

AT&T Solutions created the new division to streamline those mediums as electronic and telephonic points of distribution. “Electronic channels grew up separately within companies so they have three different faces with customers,” Ingram said.

By targeting other marketers bent on streamlined and consistent communications messages to their own customers, AT&T hopes to deliver integrated voice recognition, fax and electronic mail-based interactions and is looking at financial services firms as a prime target. Through the division, AT&T expects to help its clients identify high-profit customers, service levels, and service objectives through database building and network infrastructure.

“Take checking account balances, for instance,” Ingram said. “The sequence of transactions need to be identical for customers as they move through the process. Banks have many different business units, and customers want complete consistency as banks expand portfolios of products and services.

“There is not a banking executive out there who hasn’t realized they need to give up traditional bricks and mortar to move into electronic points of distribution,” Ingram added. “Inbound and call routing goes everywhere. Specific call routing processes dip into account complexity and sophistication of solutions. It is consumers who are driving banks to touch their customers in many different electronic ways.”

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