Call Center Management Feature Article
July 18, 2012
Monet Paints a Picture of the New Customer Experience
By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC
TMC this year celebrates 30 years of covering customer interaction, which means it couldn’t be a better time to look at where we’ve been with customer service and where we’re going. We’re also rebranding and retooling our customer effort. In this installment of our CUSTOMER coverage, we talk with Chuck Ciarlo, CEO of Monet Software Inc. Ciarlo also is on the advisory board of TMC’s (News - Alert) new CUSTOMER magazine, which launches in September.
What’s your professional background? How does it relate to the customer contact/customer service/customer management space?
Ciarlo: I have over 30 years of experience in call centers and technology. Before I founded Monet Software, I owned and operated outsourced call centers. It was this hands-on experience that allowed to me to became very familiar with all facets and challenges of running a call center and managing call center staff. I would say that a very big differentiator for us over other vendors is that the majority of our employees have worked in the industry, and all their years of call center work experience have gone into our solution.
How and when was your company established?
Ciarlo: I founded the company on a simple idea, which is, sophisticated software that offers true business benefits doesn’t have to be complicated to use or expensive. This simple premise is still driving our business today. We got started back in 2002 and released our first product, Monet WFM, in 2003. Having spent many years owning and operating call centers, some of the biggest challenges we always faced were the inability to accurately forecast call volumes and properly schedule agents to meet the various service levels and other business demands. Call center software was too expensive, difficult to implement and very complex to use. Only the largest call centers could afford it; most often they spent years implementing it, and never realized the full potential. I thought there had to be a better way. So I started Monet Software. A few years later, when web-based technologies could provide the same or a better user experience, we made a 100 percent commitment to moving our entire solution to the cloud. In fact we actually took the time to rewrite our entire solution to be used and delivered from the cloud. This was a huge undertaking, but now looking back, it was the right move. Today, Monet is the leader in cloud- based workforce management, and we have just introduced call recording, quality management and agent analytics delivered all from the cloud.
Who is your target customer?
Ciarlo: We have always focused on small to mid-sized organizations because they love our ease of use and functionality. However, over the last few years, we have seen tremendous interest and traction from larger contact centers with as many as 5000 agents. These larger centers are looking for the same ease of use and flexibility and are interested in getting it all delivered from the cloud.
We’re celebrating the 30-year anniversary of TMC’s Customer Interaction Solutions magazine. What has been the most important development in the past 30 years related to customer interactions?
Ciarlo: The Internet and how the Internet is being used in contact centers today – first e-mail, then later the use of web-based forms, to deliver customer support and engagement
In the past decade?
Ciarlo: The introduction of new channels of communication provided even more flexibility in customer engagement. In addition to e-mail and web-based forms, there were new services introduced such as web-based self-service, online chat, online forums and social media.
In the recent past?
Ciarlo: With the increasing adoption of cloud-based technologies, finally, call center software became affordable for small and medium sized call centers to take advantage of robust call center software. This allows every call center to become virtual – having virtual call centers around the globe and having agents anywhere
How has the rise of IP-based networks impacted the call center – customer interactions at large?
Ciarlo: IP-based networks allowed of virtualization of call centers, home agents, and off-shore centers around the globe.
How is CRM changing?
Ciarlo: More and more companies chose cloud-based CRM to manage customer interactions. Many of those companies could not afford CRM software before. Social media is becoming a major new communication channel for CRM. Social media is being used for customer service and customer engagement.
How is WFM changing?
Ciarlo: Customers are looking for one-stop shopping and for a fully integrated WFO solution to take advantage of synergies across multiple functions. The adoption of cloud-based software is accelerating due to proven value: scalable, secure, low cost, easy implementation.Call centers want to move from a reactive to proactive mode of operation. They want to proactively set goals, key performance indicators, triggers, alerts, and instant notifications to further optimize resources and improve efficiencies. And then there is schedule adherence – this still remains one of the key challenges for call centers. They know that increasing schedule adherence has a huge cost saving and efficiency potential. And they need to tools to better track all agent activities on a more granular level to get to the next level
How is marketing changing?
Ciarlo: Customer are more and more in the driver’s seat through the use of social media.
Online marketing (SEO, PPC and social media) are becoming most important channels.
Mobile apps and location-based marketing are evolving. There’s a move to more sophisticated and targeted online advertising with increased personalization.
How is the rise of cloud computing impacting how businesses target, engage with, and deliver product/service/support to the customer?
Ciarlo: The Internet and cloud computing have become even more critical for businesses, not only to increase and find new revenue streams, but to manage and run their business operations. Employees are using cloud-based services to engage, market, sell, deliver and support products, and use social media contact channels to connect with customers and prospects
How is the widespread use of social networking technology impacting how businesses target, engage, and deliver to the customer?
Ciarlo: Social media has dramatically changed the one-way customer communication to a true two-way conversation. Companies are using social media to generate new business (referrals, likes, tweets, etc.); get feedback (monitoring social media and forum posts), and support (listen to questions and provide pro-active answers to known issues).
How is the increased use and comfort level with video impacting how businesses target, engage, and deliver to the customer?
Ciarlo: The dramatic growth of YouTube (News - Alert) has proven that people love watching videos. Over the last 5 years, companies have leveraged videos in many ways: to market and promote their products (demos, etc.); educate and train (tutorials); support (how-to video clips); and viral sharing of content.
What new tools and practices are businesses using to better leverage their own and/or outside data to target, engage, and deliver to the customer?
Ciarlo: Big data is the new trend. Companies have access to a huge amount of transaction and demographic data and use this data to better personalize and target their offerings and customer engagement.
How is the mobile boom impacting how businesses target, engage, and deliver to the customer?
Ciarlo: Mobile is the new web. People have their smartphones always with them, making these devices extremely valuable for companies to engage with customers almost 7x24 – through phone, apps, web, and social media.
What other key trends are you seeing as they relate to how businesses target, engage, and deliver?
Ciarlo: The increase in personalization of advertising, product, services and offerings based on your preferences, web usage, social network, location, etc.
Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX. ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. For more information on registering for ITEXPO click here.
Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO. Follow us on Twitter.
Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli