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Customer Inter@ction Solutions
May 2007 - Volume 25 / Number 12
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With Tim Passios, Director of Product Management
Interactive Intelligence (News - Alert)


Q:Our contact center seems to operate well, yet we’re still looking to make changes that will set us apart and provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Are there technologies or products other contact centers are using that can help us accomplish our goal?

A: I’ve never seen a contact center that can’t be improved. But you must first evaluate where your contact center is relative to the most recent innovations for contact management. A good place to start is by asking a few questions:

1. Is our contact center utilizing the power, cost savings and flexibility of VoIP and SIP?

2. Do we allow customers (and prospects) to contact us using multiple methods: phone, Web chat, e-mail and fax?

3. Do we utilize tools like call recording, screen recording, whisper coaching and post-call satisfaction surveys to monitor agent effectiveness and improve performance?

4. Do the interaction management applications we use tightly integrate with our company’s back-end systems, letting us respond to customer inquiries more effectively?

5. Does our contact center offer in-demand self-service options, such as speech-driven IVR and e-mail auto-response to speed answers to inquiries?

6. Is our contact center structured to facilitate the use of remote agents to expand organizational flexibility?

7. Have we taken steps to ensure that our contact center is as easy as possible to manage, including implementing and administering new technology?

If your answers strike a positive note, you’re on your way to building what we call The Intelligent Contact Center, which leverages technology to increase agent effectiveness throughout a contact center and improve each customer’s experience. Ultimately, the resulting value difference between an Intelligent Contact Center and an ordinary one is measured in the contribution the contact center makes to an organization, and getting there starts with how well your contact center integrates new innovations.

How will the Intelligent Contact Center evolve over the next few years? As the name indicates, technology will enable contact centers to build more “intelligence” into the interaction process. For example, whereas most agents can now access databases to locate certain information about a caller, new Intelligent Contact Center solutions will allow them to capture and analyze a customer’s data, then initiate specific actions based on that information. That is, systems will go well beyond simple data dips, and will use several aspects of a customer’s information to manage an interaction more completely and dynamically.

Along with a customer’s account status and purchasing history, Intelligent Contact Centers will employ a customer’s stated preferences, geography, culture and the acceptance or declination of past offers to determine an exact course of service during an interaction. Also, instead of an agent accessing only a customer account record and trying to determine what to do next, technology itself will drive subsequent actions: Should the call be routed to a specific individual or to a group? What options should be presented to the caller? What additional information about other products or services should be presented?

As technology drives contact center processes for customer service, two important things occur. First, the customer’s experience improves dramatically, since a contact center presents appropriate information and choices—unburdened by options that are often irrelevant. Second, agent errors and dependence are lessened. Rather than relying on the need for a seasoned, well-trained agent, technology drives the interaction process, meaning less reliance on an agent’s skills and judgment, as well as fewer agent training requirements and far less turnover.

Thanks to technology, the Intelligent Contact Center is an evolution that will continue to mature over the next several years. The good news is that the genesis of it is here and available today, benefiting the Intelligent Contact Centers that implement it. CIS

Tim Passios has more than 16 years’ experience in the contact center industry and is the Director of Product Management for Interactive Intelligence, Inc., a leading provider of business communications software for the contact center and enterprise with over 2,500 installations in more than 60 countries. For more information, contact [email protected] or 317-872-3000.

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