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Customer Interaction Solutions
October 2006 - Volume 25 / Number 5
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By Tracey E. Schelmetic, Editorial Director, Customer Inter@ction Solutions

SpeechCycle And Convergys Team
SpeechCycle, (news - alert) a provider of on-demand, intelligent automated agents for technical support using speech recognition for the cable and telecommunications industries, has announced a partnership with Convergys Corporation. (news - alert) SpeechCycle’s speech applications are hosted on Convergys’ SpeechPort VoiceXML platform. The partnership will enable Convergys to deploy automated solutions that can resolve a significant percentage of calls, increase customer satisfaction and reduce costs. SpeechCycle’s automated agent solutions allow callers to speak naturally to resolve an array of technical support issues for video, broadband/DSL and digital phone services. The solutions are continually updated to include changes in premise-based equipment and service provider procedures, allowing the automated agents to more effectively troubleshoot the issue specifically for each caller’s environment. Convergys’ speech solutions utilizing SpeechCycle applications also take advantage of billing and contact center systems to optimize and personalize the caller experience and seamlessly integrate with an agent when required through screen pop technology.

SpeechCycle’s voice self-service solutions revolve around its Continuous Improvement Process to address the full lifecycle of speech applications, which means its automated agents never grow obsolete. SpeechCycle ensures high call resolution rates with its technology that “talks and thinks human,” according to the company.

Sage Announces ACT! Add-on Solutions
Sage Software (news - alert) has announced over 40 ACT! add-on solutions compatible with the new ACT! by Sage 2007 (9.0) contact and customer management product family. Add-on products give ACT! users the freedom to choose from a selection of value-added communications, sales, marketing, mapping, help desk, synchronization, administrative and productivity applications. Each ACT! add-on solution has been reviewed by Sage Software and works with the new ACT! 2007 product family.

Sage Software also simultaneously announced four new products — ACT! by Sage 2007 (9.0), ACT! by Sage Premium for Workgroups 2007 (9.0), ACT! by Sage Premium for Web 2007 (9.0) and ACT! for Palm OS 2.0 — comprising the ACT! 2007 product family.

CallRex Certified To Record Encrypted Phone Calls Occurring On Cisco Unified CallManager 5.0
Telrex, (news - alert) developer of VoIP call recording and monitoring software for small and medium businesses using IP-PBXs or hosted PBX services, has announced that its solution CallRex has successfully passed interoperability testing as the first call recording solution to support the recording of encrypted calls occurring on Cisco Unified CallManager 5.0.

“Telrex is pleased to be the first call recording solution to pass interoperability testing with Cisco Unified CallManager 5.0,” says Robert Kapela, president of Telrex. “CallRex’s support for the recording of encrypted phone calls underscores our commitment to be an integration leader with CallManager, as well as our commitment to provide our joint Cisco-Telrex resellers with advanced, affordable call recording solutions that help them close more CallManager deals.”

Firms with a regulatory obligation to record calls can benefit from CallRex’s ability to record encrypted calls. For example, financial services firms using Cisco Unified CallManager no longer have to choose between call recording to help verify Gramm- Leach-Bliley compliance and the security provided by encrypting their phone calls.

CallRex records encrypted calls by capturing encrypted voice packets as they pass through the network and decrypting them using encryption keys shared by Cisco Unified CallManager 5.0 on a per-call basis. CallRex, Telrex’s flagship product, enables small and medium-sized businesses to record VoIP calls for training purposes, dispute resolution or regulatory compliance.

Aspect Releases Enterprise Contact Server 6.2
Aspect Software, Inc. (news - alert) recently announced the general availability of Aspect Enterprise Contact Server 6.2, which offers a robust application that blends automatic call distributor (ACD) functionality and computer-telephony integration (CTI) while delivering greater capacity and improvements to availability and security. The new release also incorporates the advanced routing and CTI capabilities of Aspect Uniphi Suite. This added functionality can lead to an improved customer interaction experience by routing the customer voice or Internet-based contact to the most appropriate agent, regardless of whether that agent is in a single or multisite contact center environment. Additionally, for contact centers solely needing back-end system integration for screen pop capabilities, Aspect has also released a new version of Aspect Contact Server 6.2. Aspect Enterprise Contact Server 6.2 builds on the functionality in Aspect Contact Server and expands it by integrating resources and data from across the enterprise. It creates a cohesive, real-time view of the contact center by pulling information from multiple channels, switches, reporting and administration interfaces. The latest releases of both products offer built-in realtime displays and historical reporting with standardized templates that may be customized. High availability enhancements provide automatic and quick recovery in the event of network failure and security enhancements protect against threats by adhering to IT security policies.

In other Aspect news, the company recently announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has awarded the company a new patent for a dynamic help option for Internet customers. The technology, developed by the Aspect Software R&D team, enables an organization to determine when an Internet browsing customer should be provided live agent assistance and can evaluate if an agent is available. The technology can make the determination based on how much time a customer spends on a particular Web page, errors in forms submitted by the customer, Web pages repeatedly viewed by a customer or at areas where customers may be more likely to abandon the transaction.

When the technology determines that a customer should be given automatic assistance, it reviews the probability of agent availability. If an agent is available, the customer is presented with a “help” option on the screen. If the customer does not respond to the “help” option within a certain amount of time, the option is removed. By dynamically determining the appropriate time to provide a “help” option and only providing the “help” option when an agent is available, the invention proactively provides meaningful service at the critical time.

Humantech Releases New Version Of ergoTool Office Ergonomics Software
Humantech, Inc. (news - alert) has announced the release of ergoTool 5, a major new version of its Web-enabled management tool for office ergonomics. ergoTool 5 will allow companies to quickly identify and address ergonomic concerns and implement effective solutions to improve health, safety and productivity in the office workplace. ergoTool 5 is a comprehensive, two-part program. The first part is an online employee survey that examines the most critical ergonomic components of the office environment and captures quantifiable employee data. The second part, ergoTool Manager, is a management database that provides detailed reports and employee-specific solutions to your office ergonomics challenges. Data can be sorted to help you prioritize improvements, and an action plan helps ensure your solutions are cost-effective and easy to implement. New features of ergoTool 5 include improved navigation and graphics, a simplified setup process and an enhanced e-mail alert system. In addition, ergoTool administrators can add and define permissions for users, sites, departments and groups, as well as customize the ergoTool employee survey to meet their needs.

Porticus Launches “Who I Am; Where I Am” Solution
Porticus Technology, Inc., (news - alert) a player in the field of voice biometric authentication for secure and trusted remote communication, recently unveiled Valocater, a location-aware service for mobile handsets. With Valocater, call center operators and m-commerce applications will be alerted to the geographic location and identity of a wireless caller before a phone is answered or business transacted. Combined with the Versona voice biometric from Porticus, the Valocater solution delivers “triplefactor” authentication security to automate user login and reduce fraud. Initially designed and approved for licensed race and sports wagering in Nevada using wireless phones with GPS capability, Valocater’s location verification system now insures jurisdictional compliance for gaming and government applications and uses both GPS and non-GPS capable handsets. In Nevada, Valocater confirms callers are within state borders in accordance with the law. Similar regulations apply to the lottery, which are specific to each state.

Valocater optionally incorporates the same patent-pending voice biometric authentication algorithm found within Porticus’ Versona family of solutions. Porticus’ Versona, based on a patent-pending voice algorithm developed during the course of a decade, relies on the physiological aspects (length, width and thickness) of the human vocal tract, making it less susceptible to background noise, recorded playback and intraspeaker variability (cold and flu). As speech is considered the most natural form of human communication, it has become a viable biometric option for identification security and remote authentication for wireless transactions.

SYSPRO Updates Flagship Product
SYSPRO, (news - alert) an enterprise business solutions provider, has announced the worldwide release of the latest version of its flagship product. SYSPRO 6.0 Issue 010 offers added functionality across all areas of the platform: financial, distribution and manufacturing, as well as new customization capabilities and new modules. The latest release offers a number of technological enhancements including a new user interface that is flexible and adaptable and which empowers users to tailor the product to suit their needs. A major benefit to this customization capability is that it is version-independent and easily deployed across the enterprise.

In addition, SYSPRO 6.0 Issue 010 debuted SYSPRO Reporting Services, a nextgeneration reporting tool that also incorporates an embedded version of Crystal Reports XI. SYSPRO Reporting Services offers interactive reporting with scheduling and archiving capabilities that enhance audit capabilities.

SYSPRO 6.0 Issue 010 also introduces Electronic Signatures, which provides the option of authenticating operators as they are processing transactions. Electronic Signatures generates a log for auditing purposes, plus provides the facility to activate triggers for notification via e-mail or for integration to third-party products or custom procedures. Electronic Signatures assists in meeting compliancy requirements of a number of regulatory bodies.

Datamonitor Releases New Report: The Future Of Outsourcing
Outsourcing is increasing its reach in terms of vertical industry as well as geographic scope. While the firms investing in it are wide-ranging, their individual needs are all similar in that they need to reduce overheads as much as possible. Yet the outsourcing phenomenon is poorly understood. In its new report, “The Future of Outsourcing,” market analysis firm Datamonitor (news - alert) examines what lessons from the past the new wave of outsourcing can learn from and what will drive its success going forward. Datamonitor’s report examines outsourcing in automotive, energy, healthcare, technology and financial services markets.

Outsourcing is continuing to grow across all vertical markets, and contact centers are no exception. However, western domestic contact center outsourcing is slowing in the wake of new business realities and offshore locations providing high levels of customer service at a lower cost. Many investors in the U.S. and Western Europe have adopted to “nearshore” models as a way of moving their operations to cheaper locations. Simply put, they locate their facilities in relatively close proximity to the markets they service (e.g., from the standpoint of U.S. investors, Canada and Mexico). However, to derive maximum profits from outsourcing, many are now using the “bestshoring” strategy, which involves tailoring specific customer care needs to locations that are best suited for these functions. It allows the investor to save on the cost of domestically sourcing the work, while at the same time removing the inflexibility of using only one offshore location. For example, many European outsourcers are now locating administrative-to-mid level customer care in offshore locations including India, Argentina and the Philippines (which may account for 60 to 70 percent of total call volume), while locating the high-end/value add work in nearshore locations such as the Czech Republic or Egypt.

Salesforce.com Previews Winter ‘07
Salesforce.com (quote - news - alert) has recently previewed Salesforce Winter ‘07, the 21st generation of its family of on-demand business applications. Salesforce Winter ‘07 is scheduled for availability in the fourth quarter of 2006 and is expected to drive forward a new era of unlimited freedom, collaboration and success for customers, according to the company. (They add that customers who purchase salesforce.com applications should make their purchase decisions based upon features that are currently available.) Leveraging Salesforce’s multitenant architecture, Winter ‘07 was designed to deliver unprecedented customization across every level of the service from the user interface to the AppExchange development platform. Customers, developers and partners will be able to develop new processes and applications, giving them a means to manage and share all of their information on demand on the business Web.

“Winter ‘07 will build on our innovation of multitenancy to now offer unlimited customization through the AppExchange platform,” said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO, salesforce.com. “This is a game-changing release that delivers unlimited freedom to create custom user interfaces, innovative mashups and more powerful multitenant applications.”

ASC Releases New Version Of MARATHON EVOlite For Smaller Businesses
ASC, (news - alert) a provider of communications recording and quality monitoring solutions for contact centers, financial institutions and public-safety and government organizations, has announced a new version of MARATHON EVOlite, a recorder designed to meet the demands of small and medium-sized businesses. It now offers hybrid recording (mixed VoIP and TDM) in one rack-mountable 19-inch chassis. The world’s first Linux-based communications recorder, MARATHON EVOlite provides power, reliability, security and open-source flexibility in a cost-effective package, according to the company. Built for organizations with up to 60 phone lines, the system is specially designed for future expansion and scalability and protects the customer’s investment by growing with demand. The new version offers online storage of up to 175,000 recording hours and may be equipped with IOMEGA or DVD-RAM drives for long-term archiving. Mirrored and hot-swap hard disks provide optimal data security.

MARATHON EVOlite provides a tailored communications recording solution to fit the requirements of any business by combining selective, rules-based, bulk and record-ondemand solutions. The system helps organizations comply with strict regulatory requirements for the recording of phone, VoIP and radio conversations. With a scaleable channel array, MARATHON EVOlite captures and records all customer interactions from four up to 60 channels simultaneously and may be configured to record, live monitor and archive diverse communications from one location. It also provides the flexibility to connect multiple recording platforms, departments or locations, with data automatically transferred to the central INTERACTION server.

LiveVox Unveils IMS-based Voice Portal
LiveVox, Inc. (news - alert) recently announced a new offering, the LiveVox Voice Portal. LiveVox integrates the application, network and transport layers on an IMS-based architecture in order to provide a hosted, uniquely tailored contact center solution. By building IMS-based applications, LiveVox can deliver its voice solution to clients faster and with a low total cost of ownership. The LiveVox Voice Portal’s IMS-based architecture also allows for vertical integration of all layers of inbound and outbound voice application solutions, including application, network and transport. Adding to LiveVox’s original offering of inbound/self-service and outbound dialing, LiveVox’s Voice Portal now offers automatic call distribution (ACD).

(ACD). In addition to offering a tailored contact center solution for each client, LiveVox delivers all of the carrier-related transport services in one vertical solution. This enables enterprises to take advantage of SIP access to the backbone, which reduces line requirements and delivers unlimited capacity and high voice quality. Additionally, this capability eliminates the need for clients to contract directly with carriers for this service.

ePLDT Acquires BPO Provider SPi Technologies
ePLDT Ventus, a provider of offshore call center outsourcing solutions, has announced that its parent company, ePLDT, has acquired SPi Technologies, (news - alert) a global business process outsourcing company with over 6,500 employees worldwide. The acquisition allows ePLDT Ventus to further expand into the healthcare, legal, publishing and transaction industries. With 26 locations throughout North America, Europe and Asia and over 150 global clients, SPi’s process expertise and service delivery in such areas as medical and legal transcription, electronic data discovery and transaction processing will expand and strengthen Ventus’ outsourcing solutions globally. The acquisition allows Ventus to deliver scalable and knowledge-based outsourcing solutions to its diversified markets.

Additionally, the combination of Ventus’ call center facilities and SPi’s facilities in the Philippines, India, the U.S. and China is expected to further strengthen Ventus’ positioning in the market globally and at the forefront of the call center industry.

Spanlink Acquires Calabrio, Inc.
Spanlink Communications, Inc., (news - alert) a provider of customer interaction solutions that leverage VoIP-based unified communications technologies, recently announced that it has acquired Calabrio, Inc. and its software for distributed workforce management (WFM) and scheduling. Based in Longueuil, Québec, Canada, Calabrio’s workforce management solutions have contributed to the success of hundreds of call and contact centers in North America, Europe, Africa and South America. Spanlink’s goal is to provide a software suite that focuses on transforming the business process for customer interaction in a services-oriented architecture (SOA). This approach enables businesses to improve customer interactions by making supervisors and agents more productive at all stages of customer interaction, including how they manage their time, interact with their customers and collaborate with their teams.

The Calabrio acquisition extends the Spanlink InteractiveEdge family of products, which includes Spanlink Quality Management for recording, evaluation and training, to provide a comprehensive workforce optimization (WFO) offer for IPbased contact centers. With the addition of Calabrio Workforce Management software, Spanlink now offers workforce scheduling, adherence, key performance metrics and additional reporting capabilities into the agent and supervisor desktop views.

Call Center Agent Satisfaction Key To Customer Loyalty
Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc. (news - alert) has released the eighth study in its Contact Centre Realities series for Australia and New Zealand. Titled Optimising Agent Performance, the latest Genesys study comes at a time when contact centers are under increasing pressure to meet the often conflicting demands of service quality, revenue generation and cost efficiency. Although there are several aspects to address in order to meet these challenges, the Genesys research indicated that leading contact centers recognize that they need to focus on what is both their highest cost and their most valuable asset: agents. The Genesys research revealed that the key determinant of customer loyalty is the quality of the customer experience. Consumers rated customer service as being the number one influence on their loyalty to a company. Additionally, 71 percent of consumers would do business with a company based on a great contact center experience. While remuneration is important to agents, it is not necessarily their biggest driver of motivation, and 75 percent of agents are most motivated by factors that engender a sense of personal satisfaction and achievement in their daily work, although only 52 percent of agents report experiencing this. The biggest agent motivator is feeling or being told that they’ve helped a customer, and a majority of their job stress relates to customer frustration and the inability to serve customers well.

The survey also revealed that there is significant room for improvement in the engagement and retention of contact center agents. Only six percent of agents want their next role to be that of a contact centre agent. Additionally, 70 percent of managers agree that a tighter labour market has made it significantly more difficult to hire contact center agents.

Intervoice Strengthens Contact Center Offerings With Nuasis Acquisition
By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Contact centers are consistently searching for cost-saving solutions while also improving customer service. A new purchase by Intervoice, a provider of converged voice and information solutions, is intended to do both. While the company has announced that it expects revenues to be near or slightly above the top end of the previously predicted range of $44 to $49 million for its second quarter, Intervoice has also purchased the assets of Nuasis, a provider of Internet-enabled customer contact software.

Under the agreement, Intervoice now owns Nuasis’ products, intellectual property, customer and channel contracts and other assets while also assuming certain obligations. In addition, Intervoice hired many of Nuasis’ employees who joined the company effective September 1, 2006. Intervoice intends to continue to serve Nuasis’ customers and will leverage the IP contact center suite for distribution to existing and new Intervoice customers. The acquisition of Nuasis is expected to enable Intervoice to take a leap forward in fulfilling the goals of its strategic growth plan while also meeting the growing needs of its customers for new contact center applications.

Through the Nuasis (news - alert) solution, Intervoice will be able to bring new IP-based contact center applications to the agent desktop. Features will include Web-chat and e-mail response applications as well as speechenabled IVR and voice portal solutions. Deployment options are flexible and the offering supports remote agents and hosted solutions. According to Daniel Hong, senior voice business analyst at Datamonitor, the contact center landscape is altered by Intervoice’s announcement. The acquisition couples Intervoice’s strength in speech self-service with a nextgeneration IP contact center application that features multisite virtualization, multimedia routing, business intelligence, monitoring and reporting, CTI and outbound capabilities.

Hong also highlighted that Intervoice is now able to offer customers a total solution that is completely switchindependent. It is the optimal solution match-up to compete in the broader contact center market. Intervoice serves over 5,000 customers worldwide, providing contact centers with deep domain expertise in IVR and speech applications. Adding the Nuasis product suite and the NuContact Center routing software provides for the expansion of the applications expertise of the company while also opening new product opportunities within the contact center.

Positioned as offering competitive advantages over traditional CTI/ACD vendors, the seamless integration of selfservice and live assistance allows customers greater flexibility to move from one service model to another as necessary. The NuContact Center product combined with the Intervoice services methodology will complete the Intervoice technology offering for the contact center. Nuasis brings contact center expertise, along with a rapid approach to design, configuration and deployment for solutions that synthesize the call process and provide a seamless customer experience across multiple communication channels.

Intervoice President and CEO, Bob Ritchey, commented that several years ago the company began to transition Intervoice to a new direction, one based on open standards and converged voice and data networks. The objective behind this asset purchase was to accelerate Intervoice’s multichannel automation and IP contact center product strategy. Ritchey added that Intervoice is enhancing the value that the company brings to its customers by providing a solution that expands its reach into the contact center. Intervoice is also able to immediately lead the way in helping customers to reduce contact center operating costs and improve customer service.

Intervoice is taking a position that it is a direct answer to the needs displayed by contact centers across the board — lowering costs and improving customer service. By focusing integration on multichannel communication and enterprisewide applications, Intervoice will be able to present its offering as the only solution that the contact center will need. The company will have the challenge of meeting the expectations of current Nuasis customers. To prevent defection, the transition must be seamless for all customers and service must be at a new and improved level. Intervoice can offer a powerful solution, but service will still dictate its success.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for http://eastbiz.com.


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