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March 2009 | Volume 27 / Number 10
Customer Interaction News

Customer Interaction News

• A new study shows that consumers have a 45 percent higher recall of vanity 800/toll-free numbers than they do of Web URLs. It also illustrated that vanity 800 numbers are also more memorable than URLs when used in print, outdoor, and broadcast advertising formats. The research, sponsored by 800response (www.800response.com) suggest that marketers will conversely benefit from featuring memorable toll-free numbers in addition to listing a web addresses in their advertising campaigns. The majority of some 1,000 consumers surveyed cite “Research the Advertiser” and “Research the Competition” as their first steps when visiting an advertiser’s Web site. An examination of multiple industries (auto, home improvement, education and health care) reveals that as many as 40 percent research an advertising company’s competition as their first step once they move on from their Web site.

• Altitude Software (News - Alert)’s (www.altitude.com) Altitude uCI 7.5 has now been updated with new features that include an enhanced agent desktop, able to achieve higher first call resolution rates through the use of a built-in knowledge base and simpler routing management. A new business routing function provides a user-friendly interface for operational users to manage the multimedia routing visually, while providing contact center operations with enhanced intelligent call direction. Also, the Altitude Voice Portal 7.5 enables intelligent self service, for both inbound and outbound, leveraging speech recognition and text to speech capabilities, in addition to its established VoiceXML support.

• Confirmit (News - Alert) (www.confirmit.com) has released Confirmit Horizons, the first fully on-demand, multi-channel (web, live agent, IVR, paper) platform for customer feedback, also known as enterprise feedback management or EFM, employee feedback, and market research applications. Key new elements include a module for reporting and analysis that enhances reporting productivity and increases opportunities for collaboration, and an ‘analyst’ role that enables users to perform ad hoc analysis for rapid sharing of information. There is also a hosted telephony service that provides on-demand telephone interviewing and which enables rapid call back to manage customers who report dissatisfaction.

• A new report by Forrester Research (News - Alert) (www.forrester.com) offers several strategies that will help companies cut costs and at the same time boost revenues by improving customer service. The study, “The Economic Necessity Of Customer Service” by Natalie L. Petouhoff, Ph.D., Sharyn Leaver, and Andrew Magarie, also implore organizations not to shrink the quality of contact center-delivered customer care, and not to treat contact centers as cost centers. The net results are that firms will lose more than they gain: in higher operating costs, reduced revenue, brand equity, and market longevity.

The strategies the report recommends includes customized proactive chat to prevent shopping cart and site abandonment, empowering sales agents with co-browse tools to assist customers, exploring deploying unified communications i.e. presence tools that connect agents to experts. It also strongly advises investing in creating and tapping into social networking communities and making self-service work in all channels to avoid abandonments and live agent zero outs.

• Interactive Intelligence (News - Alert) (www.inin.com) will integrate the contact center and IP telephony capabilities of its Customer Interaction Center (CIC) software suite, with the unified communications and collaboration functionality of the IBM (News - Alert) Lotus Sametime software. The integration will include presence synchronization, company-wide directory, desktop client enhancements, and mobility features, all designed to improve communications capabilities between contact center agents and business users.

• LiveVox (News - Alert) (www.livevox.com) now offers skills-based routing into LiveVox Hosted Dialer, enabling credit and collection organizations to match their best collectors with the highest value accounts. It also permits multilingual agents, who are typically used on inbound calls, to be blended into outbound programs, thereby increasing productivity. Hosted dialing gives a high degree of technical flexibility to outbound, whose volumes fluctuate program by program, thereby matching supply and costs with need. LiveVox is the only provider to integrate an ACD, which is required to deliver this feature, into a fully hosted dialing solution.

• Loyalty Lab (www.loyaltylab.com) has four new, lower priced products geared toward rapidly improving customer retention. Loyalty Lab CRM offers multiple data source consolidation, segmentation, and offer management. Loyalty Lab Reward provides card-based frequent shopper programs, rules-driven point programs, and benefits-driven recognition programs. Loyalty Lab Clienteling allows retailers to manage customer relationships actively. It also gives front-line personnel have access to the latest customer information and relevant calls to action. Loyalty Lab Insight is a reporting and analysis solution for consumer-specific businesses. It provides deep insights into customer behavior over time by leveraging the data warehouse and matching algorithms used by the firm’s CRM and loyalty marketing products.

• Tapping into social networks has become easier. Mercury Grove (www.mercurygrove.com) has gone live with Dex, its first social CRM tool. Dex allows firms to follow a better and efficient contact management system with focus on relationships, openness of information, and strong integration with websites and e-mail marketing programs. The company says that unlike existing CRMs that are built on databases that require constant maintenance and updating, Dex is the reportedly the first "community-maintained" database, leveraging the Internet.

• Netop (www.netop.com) has launched Netop Live Communicator Suite 3.4, the latest version of its online collaboration and communications tools which offer solutions for desktop management, unified communications, conferencing, advanced training and instruction. It now allows participants to share multiple videos and applications from multiple sources. In addition, conference meeting leaders can use the solution to ask participants to work together in breakout sessions and then return to the main conference. Users can mix the audio sources during a Netop Live Communicator conference on the Communications Manager Server, resulting in lower bandwidth consumption, enhanced quality of sound and support for more simultaneous participants.

• OrecX (www.orecx.com) debuted at ITEXPO (News - Alert) East the OrecX VoIP Recording Appliance its first all-in-one, plug-and-play call recording solution. The product, which combines OrecX's Oreka TR Total Recorder application with a 1U, Linux-based rack- mounted server, can record up to 200 simultaneous VoIP sessions The OrecX VoIP Recording Appliance gives small-to-medium businesses a smooth migration path for handling VoIP calls while providing total recording, live monitoring, rule-based selective and sampled recording, or record-on-demand options. The appliance integrates with any phone system and supports all major protocols.

Salesforce.com (News - Alert)’s Service Cloud

Salesforce.com (www.salesforce.com) has lifted customer service, including technical support, literally to the next level, in the cloud. It has rolled in the Service Cloud: which combines live agent voice, e-mail, and chat customer interactions with social networks and communities and with hosted knowledge solutions to provide coherent, effective, and lower cost service and support.

Built on Salesforce’s the Force.com platform, the Service Cloud brings together cloud computing platforms like Google, Facebook (News - Alert), and Amazon.com to capture every conversation and leverage every community expert within them. Force.com provides the necessary building blocks to quickly build and run business applications including database, workflow, logic, integration, customization, mobile, and user interface capabilities.

Contact center agents and support reps will use the Service Cloud as a community/social network informal presence tool by quickly reaching out to experts in these communities and sites that will be created, defined, and limited by their organizations. Through these connections, companies will be able to funnel this information directly into their knowledge bases. The Service Cloud ensures that they will have the most up to date support information sourced from community experts.

Key Features and Components
Salesforce.com’s Service Cloud includes the following features and components:

• Presence capabilities for contact center agents, enabling them to seek and obtain assistance from available experts

• Tools to create an internal online active community within and adjacent to your organization, such as remote agents, suppliers, and partners

* Ability to reach out to community/social networks, ensuring that the quality of customer service is consistent across every channel. Organizations can define the size, scope, and members of their communities

•  Hosted easily updatable knowledge bases within your firm or with password access your network

•  Google (News - Alert) search built-in

• Force.com development tool

System Requirements

Must be Salesforce.com customer


The Service Cloud packages start at $995 per month, which includes creating a customer community with unlimited usage for up to 250 customers and a contact center with up to five agents. It also permits a connecting with native cloud computing sites such as Facebook and Google and inviting up to 5 partners to participate.

Avaya (News - Alert)’s Video Assist

Avaya (www. avaya.com) Avaya Video Assist is an in-store, IP video-based customer service solution that can connect customers to off-site experts using video conferencing, and thereby help customers get specialized assistance on specific products. It delivers more in-depth product information or support than an on-site retail associate can deliver, or if in-store staff is not available to help a customer.

To use Avaya Video Assist, customers or shoppers visiting a store simply go to the Video Assist kiosk and while interacting with the kiosk, they can select the Live Help option from the touch screen. Avaya Video Assist will then connect with the off-site resource based on the kiosk location, the screen the customer is on in the kiosk application or any other criteria that is required to establish a 2-way video conference between the in-store shopper and the appropriate live off-site agent or resource. The agent can push instructions, video clips, photos or diagrams to the customer for reading and printing; they can even send a store map to direct a customer to a product’s location and can also relay promotional information.

Key Features and Components

Avaya Video Assist includes the following features and components:

• Sales Floor: Avaya Video Manager, Avaya IP Softphone w/video, Virtual Network Computing (VNC) Server, Webcam, Microphone

• Video Assist Agent: Avaya Video Manager, VNC Client, Webcam

• Contact Center: Communications Manager with Call Center Elite/Advocate, Call Management System (CMS), Application Enablement Services, skills based routing, reporting, and recording. Agent-side functionalities including annotation capabilities, pushing contextual video to kiosk, sharing screens, and applications to kiosks via video or associated document window(s)

• User experience: easy to use multimodal experience for hold, mute, transfer functionalities, wideband audio to be provided to the kiosks (with physical phones)

• Video and application wait treatment: Interactive voice, video response for hold treatment, digital signage on kiosks

The physical device which Video Assist runs on to interact with the consumer could be a desktop computer, freestanding kiosk housing, or a flat panel wall mounted touchscreen.

System Requirements:
Avaya Communication Manager platforms and IP Softphone applications along with contact center applications including Avaya Call Center and Call Management System. Avaya Video Assist sits on top of Avaya Contact Center infrastructure but can plug into any kiosk or self service retail application or station. It can also use various webconferencing technologies such as Adobe Connect or VNC.

For implementation in a 50 store chain, approximately $4,500 - $8,000 per store or for a 250 store chain, approximately $2,500 - $4,000 depending on options and business process (es) implemented. This indicative pricing is exclusive of the kiosk form factor and assumes the necessary Avaya IP and contact center infrastructure is in place.

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