This article originally appeared in the Nov. 2011 issue of Customer Interaction Solutions
This year marks the 12th installment for the prestigious TMC Labs Innovation Awards, for which TMC Labs analyzes dozens of applicants to find the most unique and innovative products. Contact centers are constantly looking to increase agent productivity, reduce costs, and improve customer satisfaction through the utilization of innovative products. Like last year we have quite a few hosted offerings, but it’s a very diverse group, featuring everything from hosted file storage to hosted workforce management. With the growth of social media such as Facebook (News - Alert) and Twitter, it’s no surprise we have at least one winner that directly integrates with social media.
We are proud to bestow this award to 17 worthy companies, listed in full in the September issue of Customer Interaction Solutions magazine and online at TMCnet. CIS divided between two magazine issues the detailed write ups of the winning products and services. You can find the first installment in the October issue of CIS magazine. Here is the second installment.
Five9 Cloud Computing Platform for Call Centers
Without a doubt, Five9 is one of the earliest pioneers of cloud-based applications. Its platform lets you build your call center in the cloud for faster deployment and easy scalability. Five9 enables you to build a call center virtually instantly that handles inbound, outbound (including predictive dialing), and blended traffic. The platform also enables developers to integrate with their call center applications through the use of APIs. The cloud-based call center features CTI, VoIP, text-to-speech, agent scripting, call recording of agents, quality monitoring, and real-time reporting offer personalized dashboards that let supervisors monitor call center statistics on ACD queues, agents, and campaigns. They also offer pre-built integrations to leading on-demand CRM vendors including Salesforce, NetSuite, RightNow, and Leads360.
One notable feature is the ability to deliver automated messages to your contacts. Another feature of note is its powerful workforce management capabilities, which enable you to predict future call volumes, handle times, and staffing requirements. The WFM feature set also enables you to create easily agent schedules that conform to working rules and optimizing your staffing requirements. Importantly, you can monitor agent adherence to their current schedule in real-time, make intraday adjustments, and report on historical adherence. Lastly, the platform features integrated Do Not Call capabilities rounding out the call center feature set.
FrontRange Customer Service Management (CSM)
FrontRange Customer Service Management (CSM) is both an on-premises (first available in early 2007) and SaaS (to be released by the end of 2011) multi-channel, interaction management application that enables customers to communicate to the company’s service team via channels such as e-mail, web or self-service and the phone. CSM is a voice-enabled application with automatic call distributing, integrated voice response, as well as agent desktop and VoIP softphone.
Features include skills-based routing, screen pops, whisper coaching, and call recording, Outlook integration, call center statistics, and even a knowledge management system that both internal and external users can utilize. CSM enables you to customize business workflows, which proactively create the activities and communications needed for timely support and improved customer service. Important call center statistics measured include number of calls placed, abandoned, transferred, total talk time, average talk time, as well as business productivity statistics such as activity achievement, customer service request per source, product, owner and teams.
This is a unique solution because it provides customer service business functionality along with voice capabilities from a single vendor. Typical customer service and voice system implementations require customized integration between the CRM application, which provides the business functionality, and the voice system that provides the ACD, IVR, and agent softphone functionality. CSM can support multiple service requests/interaction channels all from one centralized queue. In fact, CSM can take multiple interactions from the same customer (i.e. service requests submitted via e-mail, self service, voice, etc.) and route and assign them to service agents/teams in one queue, regardless of the originating channel. Thus, all customer interactions can be centrally managed in one queue for better management and quicker time to resolution.
Virtual/Cloud End-User Monitor (VCEM)
Knoa Virtual/Cloud Experience Manager (VCEM) is designed to monitor and manage real end user experience for enterprise and CRM applications that are running in virtualized environments or in the cloud. Knoa VCEM monitors application performance and end user experience in the cloud. It uses a desktop-based passive agent (Knoa's Universal Client Agent) to monitor application performance, end user experience for applications that reside in the cloud. As more applications deploy to the cloud, Knoa VCEM helps to mitigate the risk. Knoa explains, “The only way to ensure web application performance and quality for apps deployed in the cloud is to monitor your applications from the real end user level – capturing user experience right at the front line of user experience. And that’s just what Knoa’s VCEM end user monitoring solution is designed to do.”
The product features dynamic benchmarking, which enables the IT organization to compare system performance before and after a system change. It also has powerful alerting features that allow you to create and manage alerts based upon established service level agreements. It also has a unique dynamic baselining feature, which allows IT organization to monitor when any performance metric (response time, quality or utilization) varies from short- or long-term historical trends. Importantly, the platform enables the IT team to examine the impact of end user behavior and desktop resources that caused the performance issue. With VCEM providing insights to the actual users experience of their applications both historically and currently, this gives the IT team a powerful tool in their arsenal.
LiveOps Screen Recording
While voice recording and screen capturing of an agent’s screen is nothing new, offering it as a SaaS cloud-based offering is quite unique. The LiveOps Screen Recording is a new application with cloud-based storage that enables the audio and screen capture and review of any customer-agent interaction. LiveOps Screen Recording doesn’t require any hardware at the customer premises. Putting these recordings in the cloud eliminates the costs associated with traditional storage systems used with call and screen recording products. LiveOps Screen Recording allows you to determine exactly when and where the recording application should be used. Leveraging a web interface you can easily view recorded calls and stream them back with a simple click. LiveOps provides secure audio and screen recording transmission, encryption, and storage protection for all recordings and at no time are audio or screen recordings ever stored on an agent’s desktop.
Medallia Text Analytics
Medallia Text Analytics automatically analyzes millions of customer comments collected from online surveys, IVRs, comments, and other sources. Medallia Text Analytics collects, categorizes, and organizes customer comments and other free-form text. The solution enables companies to not only track customers’ feedback day-to-day but even minute-by-minute. Medallia Text Analytics is a SaaS cloud-based CEM solution requiring just a browser. It provides easy to understand dashboards and a performance color-coded heat map showing how various parts of your organization perform over time. Surveys can have quantitative (scored) questions as well as open-ended questions that are difficult to analyze. With Medallia’s text analytics module, you can understand what customers think even with open-ended questions. In fact, sometimes surveys don’t ask the right question so they don’t get the answers the company needs to hear. Thus, the only way to do this is to read and analyze the text comments that their customers write.
Medallia tells TMC Labs, “Medallia Text Analytics is the first in the industry designed to allow users to easily distribute analysis results company-wide with built-in collaboration tools and workflows. Most text analytics solutions analyze only text and ignore other important parts of the feedback – like quantitative scores. Only Medallia combines both text and scores together, so you can see which comment topics are having the greatest impact on your scores. Medallia does that by creating a simple, proprietary algorithm called the Medallia Impact Index. The MII helps you determine what comment categories have the greatest impact on overall satisfaction and loyalty scores. You can easily slice and dice data to get deep insights on any topic. You can see at a glance what customer segments are talking most about a topic, and which business locations or teams are generating the most feedback on this area.”
OpenScape Contact Center Campaign Director
OpenScape Contact Center Campaign Director Solution is an open, feature-rich predictive dialing and outbound campaign management platform. It can run as a standalone complete contact center solution, or it can be blended with inbound contacts handled by Siemens’ OpenScape Contact Center Enterprise solution.
The dynamic campaign management features a call tactics feature that allows managers to define unique calling strategies for each contact, and leverages the predictive dialing Smart Pace VI algorithm. Supervisors and managers can manage outbound campaigns through an intuitive, easy-to-use client desktop to configure scripting, design IVR applications, manage compliance rules and customize reports. Important features include preview, progressive and predictive dialing, skills-based outbound routing, agentless IVR outbound applications, inbound/outbound call blending, and integrated recording and remote monitoring.
It features the ability to dial multiple phone numbers from a single record, increasing your chances of getting your intended call recipient on the line and a web-based agent desktop (called WebAgent) that provides flexible call scripts and allows agents to make quick changes. Campaign Director's VisualScriptor tool enables managers and administrators to build scripts quickly. VisualScriptor is actually an Adobe (News - Alert) Dreamweaver extension so web and HTML developers can use this popular tool to build outbound campaign scripts quickly. Campaign Director enables supervisors to monitor audio and video simultaneously from their desktops, viewing screen pops for a full picture view of agent performance and works on-site or remotely. Real time do not call lists from Gryphon Networks are also supported. Campaign Director also allows you to play messages when an answering machine is detected, allowing you to reduce abandoned call numbers helping to meet regulatory requirements.
Toshiba America Information Systems, Telecommunication Systems Division
Call Manager for IPedge
Toshiba’s Call Manager for IPedge gives enterprise and SMB users of Toshiba’s IPedge pure IP business telephone systems a unified communications solution featuring an easy-to-use graphical user interface, button flexibility, fully-featured call control, presence viewer, IM chat, whiteboard, and more. Call Manager’s Ribbon GUI is based on the Microsoft Fluent User Interface, making it easy to use and manage. The Ribbon groups together all the common features and functionalities to make it fast and easy to find the feature or functionality needed. The Ribbon format features multiple tabs, each of which is broken down into groups. Each tab has a specific function, and all the buttons in that tab support that function.
Buttons are available in the Call Manager to be programmed for a variety of functions. In addition, other buttons can be added for ACD agent functionality. Each button companion application can hold eight banks of 64 buttons per bank, offering extensive customizability. Buttons can be programmed by the user for feature codes, speed dialing, system/PBX (News - Alert) commands, user-defined actions, ACD keys, DSS extension keys, web keys, and running programs.
The desktop call control feature has the ability to drag and drop incoming calls to either voicemail or another extension. Call Manager also supports outbound dialing from applications, including Microsoft Outlook, Act!, and Tigerpaw. Users can highlight any phone number from any application and perform a quick dial for click-to-dial outbound dialing. Importantly it has CRM integration with screen pop support for many popular CRM programs, including Act!, Goldmine, Tigerpaw, and Salesforce.com. You can view contacts and presence of other extensions from the UI, as well as view the history of calls dialed, received, and missed. The ACD Viewer lets users view the status of all contact center groups to which they are a member.
Upstream Works Software Ltd.
Business Interaction Manager
Business Interaction Management captures customer interactions in real time and offers detailed analysis, enabling you to pinpoint customers at risk, which agents require more training, and more. It can run as a hosted or premises-based solution. Business Interaction Manager captures key elements from each customer interaction with each agent or system, as it happens, saving it in a data mart in an easy-to-use and channel-agnostic (i.e. phone, e-mail, chat, etc.) format. This simplifies the data visualization task and ensures that the data being used is complete and auditable down to the granular interaction level. It uses traditional BI tools for visualization (industry-standard BI tools like Business Objects or dashboard tools like Qlickview).
This solution does not rely on the mashup of existing databases to provide a 360-degree customer view. Instead, the technology connects into existing applications (self-service or assisted service) or optionally provides an agent toolbar to assist with capturing the required information, and saves the information on a per interaction basis. This real-time capture provides executives with live, accurate dashboards, and agents with up to the minute information on a customer’s interaction history.
Upstream explains, “Our competition requires a mashup of existing data sources to provide true value. These data sources are not normalized to each other, and the process of integration is complex and by its nature decreases the accuracy of the resulting data. As a result of this mashup, the visualization process is one way. There is no easy way to audit the information and find specific problem examples in the data that can be drilled to and cross related to other agents or channels.” The company continues, “Because of the nature of how we collect this information, the channel and type of interaction are unimportant, so that direct comparisons can be made across various assisted channel types (e.g., e-mail and phone) and across self-service channels (e.g. IVR and web).”
Vivisimo CXO Suite
Vivisimo’s Customer eXperience Optimization (CXO) solutions provide your sales, support and customer service organizations with all of the information they require for a positive and successful customer interaction. The platform can help increase cross-selling and up-selling, enhance customer satisfaction, improve staff retention, as well as reduce support, training and operating costs. CXO maps content from multiple data repositories in real time for a comprehensive view. CXO is an alternative to custom CRM deployments. With CXO, the CRM system manages customer and transactional data while CXO provides rapid deployment and customization for the top-level view that customer-facing professionals need.
Vivisimo explains, “Most organizations assume that because they have deployed a CRM platform or other tools they have properly equipped these employees to provide an outstanding customer experience. But research shows that the average customer-facing professional has to separately access 10 different applications and data sources in the course of a day to perform their job. This adversely affects their ability to focus on the customer. Vivisimo’s CXO solution consolidates all of the information that customer-facing professionals need – including data in the CRM system – into a single view in a way that is contextually relevant. This frees sales, support, and account management professionals to focus directly on providing an outstanding customer experience, including cross-selling and up-selling where appropriate.”
CXO incorporates elements of social media and Web 2.0 by providing activity feeds to keep account managers and other customer-facing professionals informed about all events that relate to customers, products, and other topics they are following. Because of CXO’s comprehensive connectivity to any enterprise application or data store, activity feeds may contain information from any of these sources.
Tom Keating is Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Technology Marketing Corporation, and Executive Technology Editor/SEO Director for TMCnet.com. To read more of Tom’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi