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May 1999

Customer Interaction And Satisfaction Solutions


Editors' Choice award eContact From Quintus
Everyone's aware that the call center is being called on to handle all sorts of new responsibilities - from responding to e-mail service or sales requests, to collaborating with a customer in an interactive Web product tour. Just as customer service/sales solutions are growing more complex, so too are automated service systems being developed to not only serve, but also personalize the customer's experience of a Web site. What's lacking is a platform to tie everything together - to make consistent business decisions that are based on predetermined rules that are triggered not on the basis of communication channel (e.g., e-mail, voice, fax), but on the basis of a customer's lifetime value to an enterprise.

Quintus Corporation, traditionally a CTI/call center software vendor, has announced a new product suite designed to route and manage customer interaction across all forms of electronic and voice-based media. Called eContact, the new suite includes Quintus' desktop applications for consumer call centers, support departments, inside sales, consumer relations and human resource call centers.

Quintus has developed a set of media connectors that allow eContact to link to automatic call distributors (ACDs), interactive voice response units (IVRs), e-mail systems and e-commerce software and tools. The core piece of the system, however, is the eContact engine itself.

It provides a single point of control for all forms of electronic interaction, and through it organizations can apply business rules that are consistent across each electronic channel (voice, e-mail, fax, Web, etc.), enabling the company to personalize service and sales on a massive scale. The eContact engine:

  • Distributes management of customer interactions in real-time,
  • Routes interactions to appropriate resources,
  • Enables the sharing of data across interaction "touch points" (e.g., phone, self-service and e-commerce systems),
  • Also enables the sharing of legacy, back-office and customer relationship data,
  • Presents interaction status, customer histories and other user-defined information to the agents,
  • Captures and stores interaction histories, and
  • Can create reports detailing quantitative and qualitative results across communication channels.

Coordinating and personalizing customer interactions, regardless of channel, involves, in the eContact suite, the creation of Data Containers (DCs) that are assigned to each interaction to collect data about the customer and coordinate the efficient movement of the transaction. Information collected in the DCs includes identification information (ANI, DNIS, URL), customer data from multiple enterprise systems, profile information, routing data and transaction history. All data collected in the DC can then be shared by the entire eContact suite, which helps the system (and the agents, of course) to identify and then personalize the interaction.

The eContact suite includes an Agent Console that is automatically popped on the desktop, complete with customer data and sales scripts. It provides the agents with the information they'll use to provide personalized service and to take full advantage of upselling opportunities. It also provides phone controls and enables the agent to link into customer information systems, legacy systems and third-party enterprise applications if the need arises.

Equally important as the interaction itself are the reporting tools used to measure that interaction. eContact's Consolidated Reporting layer provides a common set of customization and administration tools that can be used to report on cross- and inter-channel activity. Whatever path the "call" followed during the interaction, from Web site self-service to commerce engine, to live agent assistance, can be measured, tracked and thus, improved.

No. 407,

Editors' Choice award Real-time Customer Service Data At Your Fingertips
There's been a lot of discussion and thought recently regarding customer relationship management. While it's useful to embrace the concepts, it's also helpful to learn about specific tools that can actually help improve your knowledge of what your customers are experiencing. For example, there is often a disconnect between how you think your customer service function is performing and how your customers think you're doing - which, of course, gives rise to thoughts of customer satisfaction surveys and indices. And while useful, those surveys tend to happen after the fact, so the data they provide are outdated. From a reactive standpoint, that's great, but if your goal is to be proactive (or at least reactive in near real-time) then you'll need a different tool.

Decisive Technology has announced a new product/service called SupportView that is designed to meet the call center's need for a solution that enables the collection and analysis of customer satisfaction data in real-time, thus enabling call center managers to respond more quickly to the natural ebb and flow of business, re-deploying money and resources as needed. SupportView is an e-mail survey product that ties in to your call management/customer history solution (from which it pulls the e-mail addresses and names of recent callers who will receive the e-mailed survey), and so it helps companies communicate directly and immediately with large numbers of their call center customers worldwide.

SupportView (which is a call-center-specific part of Decisive's EnterpriseView product line) is an outsourced or hosted solution. This simply means that Decisive Technology maintains the physical computer systems, while you can sit back and enjoy the benefits of the product. Each SupportView solution includes:

  • Consulting and survey design - A team from Decisive visits your site and works with you to identify your overall objectives, assess your needs and then transform your requirements into an actionable plan.
  • Customized baseline and tracking surveys - The Decisive team will also work with you to determine the data points that drive change in your organization, since the data you might want to collect is not always what's used to implement change. Decisive will also develop a pilot survey to test a representative sample of target customers at the "strategically valid response rate," and create a baseline survey to benchmark questions over a broad range of issues, which will help you discover the significant drivers of your customers' behavior. The final piece comprises the tracking surveys, which are sent daily to determine customer satisfaction levels. These results are then compared to those of your baseline survey.
  • Data collection - SupportView automatically collects and summarizes survey results. You'll receive results as soon as customers receive the survey and send their responses. The information can then be viewed over a secure, password-protected Web connection to the Decisive-hosted server.
  • Ongoing management of the entire solution - The goal of SupportView is to deliver data that will help you retain your customers, streamline your processes, improve agent performance, understand your competition and improve product delivery and function. Decisive's consultants can work with you to make that process easier (which helps you focus on your core competence - handling the service/sales issues), by interpreting survey data, helping you take proactive steps identified by trend data, and make the decisions that positively impact customer loyalty, retention, and in the end, revenue.

Actionable, near real-time customer-satisfaction-specific data are of critical importance to any stratagems your company has designed to build customer loyalty and retention and gain competitive advantage. You need to give your call center managers and supervisors the opportunity to resolve problems as they arise, rather than having them wait to find out, weeks later, that the customers they were serving (or selling to) were completely put-off by the campaign in question.

No. 408,

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