August 2008 | Volume 27 / Number 3
Customer Interaction News
Customer Interaction News
West Launches Home Agent Security Environment
West Corporation has answered a key concern of teleservices clients about having home-based contact center agents handling their programs, namely how to protect their end-customers’ data, by introducing the West at Home Locked-Down Desktop Security Environment. This new patent-pending solution, installed for West at Home’s home-based agents, and believed to be the first of its kind, transforms employees’ home desktop computers into a West proprietary environment. When the West at Home agents begin work, the software only runs those applications or processes explicitly permitted to be operated. They cannot access other files, folders, or programs or go to West-unauthorized websites during this time, nor can they download, store and/or print information. When the agents have finished work, their desktops are restored to their former state.
DMA08 To Offer Customer Acquisition, Loyalty, Marketing Insights
Contact center executives and those responsible for customer relationship management (CRM) strategies may want to check out the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) DMA08 Conference and Exhibition that will be held October 11–16, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event has nine educational tracks with an array of sessions that offer valuable insight and information on hot topics including customer acquisition, loyalty, retention, multichannel marketing, and emerging channels. They look at for example how Microsoft is tripling its efficiency through lead management globalization and how Honda empowered its 1,200 service managers to increase loyalty. There will be examinations of alternatives to consumer credit data, and a look at optimizing results in multichannel, multiproduct marketing. There will be roundtables on key areas such as maximizing the customer experience conducted by leaders in loyalty programs.
Mitel Launches Advanced IP/UCC Solutions For SMBs
Mitel has launched several new products that address top requirements for small-midsized businesses (SMBs) including messaging, audio and web conferencing, mobile and remote workers support, and IP desk phones for their customer service and sales teams. The Mitel Applications Suite 1.1 unifies these business critical applications in an easy-to-use, cost-effective package. It delivers them on a single server with a simple administration interface, and offers pre-integrated packages that simplify deployment and upgrades.
Envision Signs Pact With Diagenix
Envision Telephony, which provides analytics, e-learning, performance management, and workforce management software solutions, will see them delivered to more contact centers thanks to a new partnership with Diagenix, a voice application company. Diagenix and Envision will integrate their products to provide a comprehensive hardware, software and services solution to Diagenix’s commercial and government contact center customers. For example, Diagenix and Envision are providing the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) with a turnkey full-time recording solution. It will be installed first in DFAS’s Cleveland, Ohio contact center, followed by at its Columbus, Ohio and Indiana centers.
SER and VPI Ink Pact On UCC, WFO
SER, which supplies contact management and speech analytics solutions, will offer Voice Print International (VPI)’s workforce optimization (WFO) solutions in SER’s contact management solution suite. The integrated solution will enable SER clients, in particular small-midsized businesses (SMBs), to use a tightly integrated, modular suite of workforce optimization solutions. Ted Lubowsky, managing director, DMG Consulting, says by partnering with VPI, a provider of workforce optimization solutions, SER will create a unified suite of UCC and WFO solutions for its customers sought by end users.
Dickinson Adds Intervoice IP Contact Center
Dickinson Financial Corporation (DFC) has selected the Intervoice IP Contact Center (IPCC) solution to extend their current IVR transactions to live agents. IPCC’s built-in CTI and SIP-based architecture allows customers’ data collected by DFC during the IVR sessions to be retained throughout the customers’ entire interaction so that they do not have to repeat their information to the contact center staff. The data is presented to DFC’s agents via screen pops, allowing them to more quickly and efficiently service their customers. Because the IPCC solution is switch-independent, DFC will leverage its open, flexible architecture without the need to upgrade their current phone system. DFC’s agents will also be able to handle multiple media channels in addition to voice, such as e-mail, web collaboration, fax call back requests and voice mail messages.
Monster to Open S.C. Contact Center
Online career and recruiting giant Monster will be opening a new 350-agent contact center in Florence, S.C. Monster had picked the location for its developing high quality labor market. The new site is part of Monster’s strategy of bringing its customer support back in-house from service bureaus. Monster will break ground for its new facility in the coming months and will begin area operations in September, 2008 at a temporary location.
Digital Dialogue Presents Awards To Contact Centers
Digital Dialogue, which provides contact center operations and software solutions for credit unions, has honored two credit unions that utilize the Financial Service Centers Cooperative (FSCC) custom contact center services supplied by Digital Dialogue. First Tech Credit Union received the Leadership Award while Pacific Marine Credit Union was recognized with the Service Innovator Award. First Tech Credit Union received the award for always making their members’ experiences a top priority through consistent monitoring and feedback on each member call interaction as well as daily scripting due diligence. The Pacific Marine Credit Union won its honors for its contact center scripting techniques, which create immediate answers for members utilizing contact center services, as well as 24/7 delivery for Western Union and wire processing.
Convergys To Expand Home-Based Agents
Convergys plans to hire an additional 2,000 home agents in key markets, including Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee and Texas by the end of 2008; The teleservices firm says that many of its clients need to ramp up quickly to handle increased call volume, and they see its home agent program as a way to deliver superior customer service. At the same time more people are looking for work-at-home opportunities. This gives them the flexibility of being their own boss and setting their own hours, which provides increased time to spend with their families. It also eliminates a daily commute that allows them to save money on gas, car maintenance, parking, clothes and meals.
Outdated Working Practices Lose Money For UK Contact Centers
The UK’s contact center industry, which is one of Europe’s largest, could be losing $200 million annually due to the use of antiquated working practices, reports CosmoCom. The firm estimated that of the 960,000 agents in the country’s roughly 6,000 contact centers, only eight percent work in hosted environments. Relying on its own return on investment calculator, CosmoCom estimates that the set up costs, per seat overheads and IT support and equipment costs using hosted contact center environments dramatically reduce operations expenses. These savings can run as much as hundreds of millions of pounds, especially when reducing real estate and power requirements are factored in.
Research Supports Move To Multichannel Contact Centers
A customer loyalty survey by Thunderhead revealed 61 percent of US and UK consumers are actively considering switching insurance providers in the next 12 months, with 63 percent saying the same about their banks. The research also found that only 26 percent of respondents said that they felt their current bank or insurance company sent them personalized communications that were relevant to their needs. 50 percent of consumers reported that real-time communications are very important to them. Another 76 percent said they would like the option to receive communications via e-mail and 40 percent preferred relevant, timely information delivered to them via personalized Web portals. A quickly growing segment indicated that they would like to receive messages and notifications through SMS. They were also interested in having messages ad new product offers delivered to social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook.
Infocision Expands Manfield, Ohio Contact Center
InfoCision Management Corporation has doubled the size of its Mansfield, Ohio contact center, allowing the teleservices firm to hire 120 agents and supervisors to join the 190 already working at the site. The facility has also been renovated with expanded indoor and outdoor break areas. The Mansfield expansion is one of several that has or is taking place. InfoCision has or is adding capacity at eight of its 13 locations. In February 2008 it expanded its Boardman, Ohio operations with a new building that allows for 120 new jobs to join the 250 already employed there. The need for more capacity is coming in part from programs being repatriated from offshore sites for what InfoCision says are quality, privacy, and compliance reasons. All of the firm’s contact centers are located in the U.S.
ESS Launches CRM System
Enterprise Software Systems (ESS) has launched a new customizable CRM solution, based on Microsoft’s .NET code frameworks and development, which will supply managed content services for integrating unstructured content into business processes, and support alternative delivery channels such as wireless. ESS leveraged its wide experience in software development and client interaction to create the application. It has served many industries including environmental management, fundraising, healthcare, security, and commercial real estate.
Salesforce Releases Salesforce Summer ’08
Salesforce.com’s latest version of its flagship software-as-a-service (SaaS) CRM application, Salesforce Summer ’08 has several new features and upgrades. It now offers Salesforce Ideas which enables companies to tap into the innovative power of their end-customer, partner or employee communities by allowing them to post, discuss, and vote on ideas. It introduced content analytics to Salesforce Content that permits usage metrics to be effectively tracked to determine the most frequently used content among sales reps, marketers and other users. Also, Visualforce, part of the Force.com platform, is now live in every edition of Salesforce and is designed to enable users to develop any interface entirely in the communications cloud.
LiveOps Releases Summer 08
LiveOps has updated its on-demand contact center platform. The new version, Summer 08, has several new features including the ability to create customized, real-time monitoring dashboards that incorporate data sources from across the enterprise into the LiveOps monitoring architecture. It also allows silent monitoring of phone calls handled by targeted agents or from a specific call campaigns, improved search capabilities, proctored call simulations with agents for skill enhancements and a new set of telephony testing capabilities. LiveOps is also delivering universal search coupled with “at a glance” capabilities. They enable contact center managers to traverse all of the center’s data sources: configuration elements, programs, campaigns, users and documentation with a single query and immediately locate the information needed.
Cellular One Implements Info Directions’ CRM
Wireless firm Cellular One has implemented Info Directions’ CostGuard XG CRM software and Lexys point of sale applications. The solutions will help Cellular One manage rating, billing, customer relationship management and retail operations for their growing subscriber base. Cellular One says that it can now link critical components in its corporate and retail activities to secure a single view of end user activities and purchases. It has already realized significant advantages by leveraging CostGuard’s ability to share the product catalog between the billing/CRM system and the retail POS. The implementation has, in addition, streamlined the launch of new products and services.
Tektronix Introduces ‘Zoey’, A New IP Testing ‘Assistant’
With IP telephony becoming the voice mode of choice in contact centers, maintaining a high quality of service is even more critical. To help contact centers and others, Tektronix Communications has introduced ‘Zoey”, an IVR system or ‘assistant’ that allows IP, along with PSTN and wireless phone users to test and diagnose the quality of their service at any time, Thanks to Zoey these users will have control over callers’ experience. Integrating Zoey’s IVR system with a service provider’s existing customer care system will shorten total repair times and increase and customer satisfaction. Zoey helps meet the need for IP reliability by detecting quality issues obtained by guiding users through a series of tests for common line problems. It then gives a verbal report, with the option of results retrieval from a back end system.
Research: Customers Are Annoyed and Frustrated
A Ventana Research benchmark paper “Customer Experience Management: (CEM) Improving the Consistency and Quality of Customer Interactions,” has found that that only 12 percent of organizations provide optimal CEM, leaving angry and frustrated customers in the majority. For the other 88 percent of organizations that need CEM help, the report, sponsored by Cincom, recommends tools to improve interaction consistency and quality, which are primary factors that impact agent/customer communication. Innovative companies are now using “smart desktop” technologies to improve agent performance and the customer experience and key performance indicators for CEM-driven companies.