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This month, the CEO Spotlight speaks with Mercom’s Avi Margolin. Mercom (news - alerts) is a provider of interaction recording and performance evaluation solutions, scalable to meet the needs of very large to small organizations.

Mercom CEO Avi Margolin

CIS: Traditionally, we know that financial services organizations have always required call recording functionality. As the world becomes more regulated, in light of legislation like Sarbanes-Oxley, are you seeing more industries buying and using call recording technologies?

AM: Absolutely. Full-time call recording is becoming a staple component of a strong risk mitigation strategy in light of increasing business regulation. We’ve seen accelerated interest in compliance recording from non-traditional recording markets and a move toward more full-time recording and less quality-only recording across the traditional call center verticals.

CIS: What do you think of the trend of call recording/quality monitoring companies merging with workforce management companies for what they’re calling total “workforce optimization”? Is this a good thing?

AM: This, just like any avenue which leads to additional information for call center management, is a compelling concept. It will certainly be interesting to see the market’s response and the tested ROI of this approach as opposed to the traditional method of simply integrating quality data with a customer’s existing key metrics, including their best-in-breed workforce management. Mercom is known for a focus on evergreen technologies and investment protection, so by our culture, our first approach is always to utilize the customer’s current workforce management investment, but we’ll certainly be watching this trend closely.

CIS: How has IP telephony affected the quality monitoring industry? What sorts of capabilities are possible now that once weren’t before its advent?

AM: VoIP dramatically extends the “reach” of quality monitoring and recording systems. As physical location becomes irrelevant to telephony connection, quality monitoring and recording capabilities are extended across the virtual call center, opening up possibilities that did not exist a decade ago. Work-from-home agents can be recorded and monitored with the same ease as agents sitting 10 feet away, so at-home does not have to mean unsupervised. Mercom embraced VoIP early on, both for our own business and that of our customers. It’s exciting to watch what our customers are able to do today and we are pleased to be an integral part of their IP success.

CIS: Why do you think analytics are becoming so important to contact centers? What kinds of metrics are being vastly improved due to modern analytics solutions?

AM: Call centers have long contained an overabundance of disconnected data. The ability to make sense of those data has been the challenge. Modern analytics solutions make the extraction of usable metrics out of mountains of data possible, so it’s not at all surprising that they are becoming so important. Beyond individual metrics, the combination of data sources allows for improvements in areas such as call-handling efficiency (beyond a one-size-fits-all, shorter-is-always-better measurement) and agent effectiveness (both from a quality and productivity perspective). Mercom customers, for example, can now pinpoint which behaviors on their quality monitoring form statistically correlate to operational key performance indicators such as customer service index or sales revenue.

CIS: What kinds of activities will we see in the future, near- and long-term, from Mercom?

AM: Mercom has seen a trend in the use of customer-provided hardware platforms for our product offerings, and we are accommodating those customers who have expressed this need. We see this growing dramatically over time, making Mercom much less of a hardware provider and much more of a software company.

The centralized call center is fast becoming the global call center — often a call center without walls. Mercom has had great success in Japan by providing centralized recording for a customer with several hundred sites where all of the calls are stored, administered and archived in a central location even though they are recorded throughout the country. We see much more of this type of application in the near future.

With the needs of companies changing due to new regulations and the advances in computing power, we are starting to see a stronger need for speech recognition coinciding with the capability to provide it at a cost that offers a strong ROI. Mercom has been providing speech recognition capabilities for a select few customers for the past couple of years in partnership with the leading providers of this software. Now the costs are coming down due to the need for fewer servers, and the benefits are being recognized. We expect to see speech recognition and the subsequent data mining becoming a more significant part of our business.

The need to absolutely guarantee the authenticity of our recordings is another strong industry trend. Mercom is able to offer time-stamped and certified recordings that meet international standards for legal authenticity. This is a new trend in our industry and Mercom has solutions available that ensure that the calls we record have not been altered and are therefore admissible in any court of law globally.

CIS: Thank you for your time.


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