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Technology Highlights
January 2002

Four Paths To Better Service

2002 Editors' Choice Awards

SPSS Recommendation Engine

A great promise held out by the Web and one of the end uses of CRM is providing personalization on a scale unimagined and unimaginable a few years ago. Unfortunately, due to the ease of Internet access and the poorly thought out condition of many companies' Web sites, many customers are demanding information and do not know how to request that information, and so they are off to the competition's site in a flash. In the current economic climate, it is an imperative to generate repeat customers and provide them with what they need in the fastest manner possible. To help companies meet this imperative, SPSS, Inc., which has a background of more than 30 years of work in providing businesses with statistical analysis tools, has released the SPSS Recommendation Engine. Developed by its Enabling Technologies Division (SPSS ETD), the SPSS Recommendation Engine provides personalized recommendations to customers through SPSS data mining, modeling and deployment technologies.

The SPSS Recommendation Engine is designed to make personalized recommendations based on data derived from demographic attributes and customer behavior, including past purchases and Web usage. The system discovers customer segments, establishes product associations for each segment and uses the segments to make recommendations. The recommendations can then be deployed online to Web sites, call centers and brick-and-mortar outlets or off-line to direct mail or marketing campaign systems.

The SPSS Recommendation Engine provides recommendations based on the previous behavior of individuals and groups. By analyzing the previous behaviors of individuals or groups, an organization can better understand its customers' wants and predict their behaviors. The SPSS Recommendation Engine applies statistical analysis and data mining technologies to actual customer behavior with demographic and transaction data; models can be updated easily and frequently to include emerging trends; it can build models for prediction; it can support existing rule engines and can read an existing data mart; and it can deliver personalized recommendations online, at the point and time of customer interaction.

The recommendation engine can also be used to reduce customer churn by identifying customers at risk of leaving and develop personalized messages or offers to retain those customers, help reduce fraud by detecting which customers are likely to commit fraud or make fraudulent claims, as well as improve campaign management by identifying individuals likely to respond to specific promotional materials and activities.

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2002 Editors' Choice Awards

Witness Systems'eQuality Discover
As companies are creating more Web-based self-service options for their customers to provide them with more service choices as well as lower support costs, finding a way to measure and ensure the quality of that service presents new challenges. A company may have spent years developing outstanding phone service, but a lack of coordination in providing service across all channels can lead to customers deserting in droves.

To aid companies in their quest to provide consistent service levels across all contact channels, Witness Systems developed eQuality Discover, which allows the recording and review of captured samples of customer Web experiences so that companies can identify ways to improve their Web service by determining how customers interact with their site.

During playback of a recorded Web visitor's session, users can view exactly what occurred during the visitor's experience on the site, including the amount of time spent on each page. Users can access a thumbnail layout of the events that occurred during the Web visitor's session, providing a visual summary of user activity. Users can configure eQuality Discover to specify the conditions, or business rules, to trigger an action before, during and after a Web self-service customer interaction. The user can then retrieve a sample of sessions by simply searching selected criteria, including the date, time or business rule. Users and reviewers of recorded Web visitor sessions can add annotations during a playback to note, or 'flag,' a significant occurrence on a specific page or an entire session. Users can configure eQuality Discover to notify one or more people throughout the enterprise by e-mail when the system initiates recording through a specified business rule. Management teams and departments throughout the enterprise can access all system functions from an Internet Explorer browser, giving all authorized users throughout the company the ability to replay recorded sessions from the Web without a dedicated replay client. Users can also denote areas of the Web site to be 'masked' when containing confidential and proprietary information during recording and replay, such as credit card and account numbers.

Subsequent extensions of the eQuality customer interaction recording suite will monitor other self-service interaction media, including voice commerce, interactive voice response (IVR) and kiosks to help companies enhance these other customer touch points.

[ Return To January 2002 Table Of Contents ]

2002 Editors' Choice Awards

Electronic Workforce7.2 From Edify
With resources stretched to the limit in the past year, there has been a necessary emphasis in corporate America to squeeze every ounce of productivity out of workers as can be squeezed, to get as much efficiency as can be gotten from its technology infrastructure and also to provide supreme service to hang onto every customer that can be hung onto. Where these forces come together perhaps with the greatest impact is in the contact center, which, if operating properly, has one foot in the front office and the other in the back office. To tie the two together and help keep the customers satisfied (no matter the channel they are using), Edify has released version 7.2 of its Electronic Workforce platform. The Electronic Workforce platform is designed to give companies the ability to provide better agent-assisted or self-service options for their customers.

Newly upgraded for version 7.2 are the automated and assisted e-mail management and a fully integrated Windows 2000-based interactive voice self-service (IVR) system that allows customers to take advantage of speech-enabled applications from technology partners including SpeechWorks.

Edify Assisted Email adds to the capabilities of Edify Auto Response by giving agents the ability to view and choose suggested replies to service e-mail requests. Using Edify Assisted Email, the agents can incorporate a customer's unique data to give a more accurate, personalized reply. The Edify Response Repository merges static and dynamic data together automatically, giving the agents the answers they need, when they need it. Edify Assisted Email also provides e-mail routing capabilities and full integration into the Edify Enterprise Interaction Center product suite.

The IVR integration with SpeechWorks provides enhanced speech recognition capability, allowing customers to use speech recognition technology from leading vendors including Nuance, Vocalis and SpeechWorks. These vendor integrations enable users to add applications such as natural language and directed menu speech recognition to provide easier navigation to improve self-service options for customers or to get them to the proper agent faster.

Electronic Workforce 7.2 also provides a computer-telephony integration (CTI) stand alone component, which gives Edify customers the ability to use their own CT desktop applications with Edify's Electronic Workforce platform. Electronic Workforce 7.2 will be used to collect the automatic number identification (ANI) information and pass it to the customer's CTI desktop application. CTI functionality can be purchased as a stand-alone option for interaction management.

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2002 Editors' Choice Awards

UniPress Releases FootPrints 5.0
Issue tracking and resolution continues to be a major thorn in the side of many companies. A service request may have come in weeks ago, but the customer has no record of the complaint or may have contacted the wrong department, which also has no record of it and has no way of gaining access to it, all causing the customer to give up in frustration, saying, 'I wish I could look it up myself,' or, even more disturbingly, 'that's the last time I buy anything from them. Their help desk is no help at all.' Aiming to combat such poor service, UniPress Software has released version 5.0 of its FootPrints software.

Among the features and functionality UniPress has improved or added in FootPrints 5.0 are integrated support for Microsoft Active Directory and LDAP directories, extensive e-mail integration, asset management, advanced remote control and diagnostics and software change management and version control.

By integrating FootPrints with LDAP, users can dynamically access addresses in Exchange or other address books while the information still resides in the LDAP directory. By setting a pointer to the LDAP directory, FootPrints can map the fields to get the data, so that separate address books do not need to be imported, managed and updated by the service desk.

FootPrints 5.0 can build a comprehensive, fully searchable online knowledge base to support Web-based collaboration and centralize workflow. UniPress has added to the new version enhanced knowledge base capabilities, including the ability to search public, online knowledge bases, better manage FAQ lists and offer advanced search functionality for technicians while entering a ticket.

Through an alliance with Centennial, FootPrints can now also provide asset management capabilities, whereby users can identify and track PC and network assets, hardware, software and changes from within FootPrints. Version 5.0 is also integrated with AllChange to provide a Version Control and Release Management module, which is an integrated tool to link the flow of information about software configuration information and initial problem reporting between help desk and software development teams. The Version Control and Release Management module has the ability to automatically send information and updates back to customers when the problem has been resolved.

UniPress is developing versions for German, Portuguese, French and Spanish. Users will simply be required to change text files for the various languages and not reprogram. 

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