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October 1999

A Harvest Of Call Center Products

Editors' Choice award Aspect Introduces   Two New Call Center Products

James Carraker, chairman and CEO of Aspect Communications, recently said, "Customer relationship management is not a software package, it is a business strategy." But it is also obviously critical to have the tools to help define and carry out a CRM business strategy. Aspect has released the Aspect Customer DataMart, to work in conjunction with the Aspect Customer Relationship Portal, to provide both a mechanism for gathering customer interaction information and also an engine for analyzing that information and acting upon it to meet the goals of a proper CRM business strategy (recently released, the Customer Relationship Portal enables businesses to deliver a consistent customer experience that connects customers with the right enterprise resource, whether the customer uses e-mail, Web self-service, clicks a "call me" button or clicks a real-time voice over Internet Protocol button).

The Customer DataMart is designed to allow companies to integrate any multimedia contact center customer interaction data with other customer data residing in enterprise systems to give companies a view of all of their customer data. The consolidated data can then be analyzed and used to improve a business' customer relationship management processes. For example, it can be used to capture routing statistics and workflow information to monitor service levels, to analyze customer preferences, patterns and trends to provide personalized service and provide opportunities for cross-selling and upselling, or to evaluate sales and marketing campaigns.

The Customer DataMart can collect and analyze information, such as routing and workflow statistics, gathered from the Aspect Customer Relationship Portal and also integrate additional information, such as account numbers and promotional codes, from other databases used by front- and back-office and legacy systems. The Customer DataMart can also collect data on calls in progress, queues and agent activity.

Aspect also has released the Aspect Office System, an enterprise-class automatic call distributor (ACD) designed for small- to medium-sized contact centers and regional offices. The Office System is designed to run Aspect Call Center Software and provide all essential ACD functions. The Aspect Office runs on a dedicated Windows NT server and, when combined with the Aspect Customer Relationship Portal, can serve as the foundation for a number of advanced capabilities including contact media blending, allowing interaction by e-mail, fax, Web or phone; connectivity to databases through computer-telephony inte-gration; and integration of CRM applications with the call center.

The Aspect Office has the following standard features: conditional call routing, priority queuing, overflow queuing, CTI server software, DNIS/DDI-based routing, caller-directed routing, announcements, auto-attendant, music on hold and prompting and audio help. Optional features include skills-based routing, data-directed routing, voice messaging, ANI, CLI-based routing, callback messaging and basic IVR.

No. 532, www.ccsmag.com/freeinfo

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Editors' Choice award Performance Measurement System

Obtaining call center agent performance data usually involves gathering data from disparate systems and databases and producing reports from the different systems in an often uncoordinated fashion. Call Center Technology, Inc. (CCTI) has developed Prism 2.2, a performance management system designed to give call center managers a consolidated view of call center activity, both real-time and historic, and create, view and report on any combination of data. Prism 2.2 supports standard XML for data exchange, uses SNMP to monitor enterprise solutions, features 100 percent graphical SQL Builder to give users access to open databases and contains scalable object pooling architecture to support hundreds of users.

Prism is designed to serve as a repository of information such as call handling statistics from ACDs, adherence exceptions from workforce management systems, performance scores from monitoring systems and data from IS systems. The Prism Server collects and organizes information in real-time from links within the call center for viewing and reporting at the Prism Console. A database table creation facility allows data not currently stored in electronic form to be entered into the system and maintained as part of a SQL database.

For the call center manager, Prism can work with a scheduling system to show a real-time floorplan that reflects how many seats are active, who is assigned to each seat and present icons that indicate when an agent signs in, when they are on break or when they are on a call. The manager can also check individual agent performance statistics (such call queue times for that agent or if the agent is meeting performance standards) in real-time and compare them to historical activity. Prism comes with standard viewing and reporting capabilities and also the option to tailor the view. A drag-and-drop interface allows the creation of custom forms, and these custom forms can be saved on the server for access by other enterprise users. A variety of charting tools, dynamic gages, digital counters, progress meters and standard Windows controls are available. The components can be combined to create new views of call center activity.

The Prism Expression Builder provides for the creation of new performance metrics, allowing users to perform mathematical operations on selected data. For example, agent report cards can be created and viewed by agents and supervisors to track performance. Weighted averages, boolean operators and a variety of other functions allow users to create new performance metric definitions designed to reflect the call center’s objectives.

No. 533, www.ccsmag.com/freeinfo

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Editors' Choice award WebLine Provides Web Collaboration Tools

As the online consumer population continues to grow at an astonishing rate, so too, do the expectations they have for better ways to communicate with the companies they do business with: They are looking to have the one-on-one personal exchanges they would experience by walking into a store. To provide e-commerce companies with the ability to provide such exchanges, WebLine has introduced the WebLine Collaboration Server, which is an enterprise- and service-provider-class application designed to enable representatives in sales and service contact centers to engage in real-time, Web-based collaboration while conducting a conversation via chat, telephone or voice over IP. When combined with the WebLine Media Blender integration framework, it provides integration with an organization’s existing telephony and e-commerce infrastructure.

Version 3.0 adds several key enhancements to the WebLine Collaboration Server. These include: application sharing, which enables interactive e-commerce by allowing both the caller and the agent to collaborate on any Windows application running on either party’s desktop; new caller collaboration technology, which allows two callers located anywhere around the world to jointly collaborate without the intervention of an agent; and collaborative white boarding, which enables users to create a white board image on which both the caller and agent can draw.

With version 3.0, WebLine introduces WebLine Development Kit, a software development kit for creating interactive e-commerce applications. WebLine’s customers, partners and systems integrators use these APIs and documentation to build multiuser collaborative applications. These applications can then take advantage of WebLine’s secure, firewall-friendly communications infrastructure.

WebLine’s features include two-way page and application sharing, split screen comparisons, “Follow-Me-Browsing” for collaborative Web browsing, FormShare for sharing standard Web-based forms, FrameShare for sharing framed Web pages, text chat, file download, conferencing (one-to-many, many-to-many) and CyberSeminar mode for large online conferences with hundreds of participants.

WebLine has also introduced eMail Manager, designed for managing high volumes of customer inquiries submitted to company mailboxes or to a Web site. Based on customizable business rules, WebLine eMail Manager processes and tracks incoming messages, directs them to the right agent or support team, suggests relevant response templates and can send automated acknowledgements or more qualitative replies. A full-feature browser-based interface provides agents with productivity tools to claim and read messages, view correspondence history, search the response libraries and collaborate on replies for more efficient, knowledgeable and personalized response.

Among the key features of WebLine eMail Manager are: modular enterprise configurations, which allow for a distributed system of rules, where a central rules server transfers inquiries to a hierarchy of subsequent rules servers for more detailed processing and allowing for administrative tasks to be distributed within the various departments; graphical business rules, which allow business administrators to create and manage a sophisticated set of business rules for managing a large volume of free-form e-mail, structured forms and other media; productivity tools, which give managers the opportunity to determine the most efficient way for system users to read and respond to messages, whether they are full-time support agents, infrequent responders or external partners; multiple user interface options including a full-featured, thin client interface, which provides access to knowledge base resources and efficiency tools; a MailWrap feature, which tracks e-mail messages that are sent by the system to users of familiar, traditional e-mail applications; and management tools, which allow contact center managers and supervisors to monitor message queues to ensure service level goals are being met.

No. 534, www.ccsmag.com/freeinfo

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Editors' Choice award Motive Releases IT Department Support Portal

Web self-service: one of the golden eggs of e-commerce that is so difficult to produce. Put up a FAQs list and let them help themselves was the rallying cry in the early days of e-commerce, but Internet interactions have changed. Users now demand personalized service and to help meet these demands, Motive Communications, Inc. has released Motive Solo, a new product that is designed to enable IT support departments to reduce calls, cut costs and improve customer satisfaction through self-service support portals on the Web. Motive products are based on a concept called support chain automation, which connects and automates the people, processes and organizations involved in delivering technical support, called “support chains.”

Solo uses Motive ActiveSense technology to digitally personalize and automate the end user’s support experience to ensure that end users are only presented with solutions and support services relevant to their system and applications. For example, Solo knows a user’s brand of computer and printer and will only display information for those products. Digital automation performs diagnostic and repair tasks on the behalf of end users.

Motive Solo provides users browser-based access to all IT support functions. Its “disconnected self-service” lets users solve a set of common problems while they are away from the corporate network. “Active self-service” lets users connect to the Solo portal to access automated support content for dozens of key problems: hardware and software; break-fix and how-to; configuration problems; bugs; and other IT-related issues. Active self-service also delivers proactive services, such as information updates and PC health and wellness services designed to prevent problems before they occur. If a user can’t solve a problem via self-service, Motive Solo transmits the complete history of the support incident to a support analyst to initiate “assisted service.” It automatically populates a trouble ticket in a help desk system or escalates the problem into Motive Duet, Motive’s product for delivering assisted service.

Solo’s Internet-based architecture allows the dynamic loading of service technologies as needed onto end-users’ computers as plug-ins. At the back-end, Motive Solo is a traditional Web server that support personnel can easily implement and manage using a single integrated portal management console. Other support resources such as knowledge bases, password reset tools or internally developed applications also can be integrated.

The Motive family of products also includes Motive Duet and Motive ActiveLink. Duet establishes a direct digital connection between end users’ systems and support analysts, allowing help support personnel to determine the root causes of problems and deliver solutions. Motive Solo and Motive Duet can be implemented independently or jointly, depending on each support center’s goals and objectives.

ActiveLink provides a source of automated support solutions for common software applications and problems. Support centers download these solutions from ActiveLink via a secure extranet-based connection and put them to use in either Solo or Duet.

Dell Computer Corp. has recently announced that Motive’s technology is within Dell’s OpenManage Resolution Assistant, an Internet-based systems management and support software solution that is now factory-installed on Dell’s PowerEdge network servers.

No. 535, www.ccsmag.com/freeinfo 

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