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Customer Interaction Solutions
October 2006 - Volume 25 / Number 5

TMC Labs Innovation Awards 2006: Part II

By Tom Keating
CTO, Executive Technology Editor,
TMC Labs

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The TMC Labs Innovation Awards are now in their seventh year, and still TMC Labs is amazed at the continual innovation being brought to market in the contact center space to improve training, increase morale, reduce turnover, increase efficiency and reduce infrastructure software and hardware costs. The TMC Labs Innovation Award’s sole purpose is to distinguish products and services that have unique features and that often help to carve out a new market niche or start a trend. This award is also about recognizing products and services with creative and groundbreaking features their competitors’ solutions often lack.

TMC Labs researched each of the applications and eventually arrived at our winners’ list. These winners have been published in two parts in order to accommodate our in-depth write-ups for the winning solutions. Part one of the winners’ list was highlighted in the September 2006 issue of Customer [email protected] Solutions. Congratulations to all the winners.

Mitel Customer Interaction Solutions

Mitel’s (news - alert) Customer Interaction Solutions portfolio is unique in its ability to target the enterprise and the small business contact centers, scaling from five to thousands of agent seats. The new offering provides organizations of any size with the flexibility to implement a contact center solution for their unique service requirements. The Mitel Customer Interaction Solutions portfolio is a twotiered offering that encompasses the Contact Center Enterprise Edition and Contact Center Business Edition.

The new features of the Contact Center Enterprise Edition support all forms of communication including voice, e-mail, Web chat and fax. This scalable, resilient solution combines robust communications platforms, automatic call distribution (ACD) and a modular suite of feature-rich, Webbased applications for streamlining contact center management and enabling advanced multimedia customer transactions.

Developed for individual contact centers with 25 agents or less, the Contact Center Business Edition is a cost-effective, out-of-the-box solution that allows customers to chose from a number of applications in Mitel’s contact center portfolio including historical reporting, real-time monitoring, dynamic agent and queue control, screen pops and intelligent messaging. The Business Edition can scale up to fit the needs of any size business.

The Customer Interaction Solutions portfolio is essentially a “contact center in a box.” It offers a completely bundled solution that includes integrated multimedia routing, historical and realtime reporting, integrated forecasting, integrated workforce management, integrated call accounting and integrated intelligent announcements: expected wait time, auto-attendant, screen-pop of CRM and more. This platform avoids “data silos” (different databases for different products) through a single, industrial-strength SQL database.

Customer Interaction Solutions was developed with .NET 2.0 and is the first to provide soft phone technology with ACD functionality and up-front advanced routing based on business intelligence which is “fed” by the CRM database.

The included soft phone features screen-pop, real-time presence and enhanced call control. The soft phone also features some time-saving functions including speed dial, pre-programmed call forward destinations, a customizable user interface and sounds for phone events. You can also select from a list of pre-configured account codes, contacts, a list of preconfigured “make busy” reason codes and quick key programming. The ACD soft phone facilitates first-contact resolution by enabling agents to avoid blind transfers by transferring calls directly to available agents they view in real time, thereby reducing instances of customers having to repeat requests in a single call.

From the real-time monitors that display calls in queue, you can simply drag a call on the screen and move that call to an alternate queue, a feature that TMC Labs found to be quite unique. In addition, you can right-click the call to transfer it to another extension (or even to yourself). Additionally, the platform can identify your most important customers and have them routed immediately to an agent.

All in all, the solution offers a great collection of features and, according to Mitel, Customer Interaction Solutions is the most affordable solution in its class.

Nexidia Inc.
Enterprise Speech Intelligence 6.0

Nexidia (news - alert) Enterprise Speech Intelligence (ESI) 6.0 provides a scalable speech analytics solution using a phonetic search engine that enables customers to extract actionable knowledge from recorded audio assets. It is an effective solution to mine audio content and deliver relevant knowledge and intelligence to both commercial and government organizations.

Nexidia’s core Phonetic Search Engine is an open-systems vocabulary retrieval system that both reduces the time and increases the accuracy of searches against large collections of recorded speech. Unique to Nexidia is that during the ingest process, audio files are marked in phonemes, the smallest unit of human speech. The Nexidia server ingests audio files to create a .PAT file (phonetic audio track), thus marking the audio files so they can be rendered phonetically searchable. Search terms and queries are created and applied against these .PAT files. The results of these searches and queries are then compiled and generated into dashboards, charts, trending and analysis reports. Using the Nexidia Replay feature, these audio files can be played back and further searched, allowing the enterprise to drill down into the intelligence contained in the recorded audio content, generating more in-depth analysis.

ESI 6.0 ensures accurate results by providing language models trained on a wide variety of accents and dialects. Nexidia states that, compared to traditional speech-to-text models that are heavily dependent on dictionaries, ESI 6.0’s phonetic approach provides a dramatically more accurate search analysis on all recorded audio. The search and query functionality available through ESI 6.0 not only finds words and phrases, but to ensure relevance, finds them in proximity to other content, thus generating more relevant results. The audio can immediately be played and the result can be listened to within the context of the original file.

Nexidia’s phonetic search engine (PSE) is the only technology that enables audio-video search by using phonemes. This allows the user to search on proper names, places, industry terms and jargon without extensive training and dictionaries. This powerful phonetic search engine delivers relevant data from both poorquality audio, such as cell phones, and high-quality sources, such as broadcast audio, and supports all audio variances, such as speaker’s age, gender, accent, language and dialect. Searches using phoneme pattern matching are executed on all words and phrases including blended words, proper names, slang, code words, nonstandard grammar patterns and ad-hoc use of different languages.

Nexidia’s technology is very fast, indexing recorded audio at a speed 63 times faster than the spoken word, creating viable, cost-effective solutions that make large volumes of audio searchable. Nexidia can render audio searchable with significantly less hardware than other technologies.

Nexidia ESI can also be delivered as an on-demand service. Nexidia’s OnDemand managed service offering provides organizations with the ability to leverage Nexidia’s secure infrastructure to upload recorded audio for analysis and reporting via an ondemand portal.

Nortel Contact Center 6.0

Nortel (quote - news - alert) Contact Center 6.0 (NCC 6.0) combines several products in the Nortel Symposium family, allowing businesses to tap into the power of real-time multimedia collaboration using any device. NCC 6.0 is scalable and supports industry standards such as SIP, but more important, it is modular so it has all the benefits of an all-in-one solution while allowing customers to buy just what they need.

Nortel Contact Center is simpler to set up and adapt, significantly lowering lifetime costs. Additionally, NCC 6.0 brings together contact center, selfservice, unified messaging and multimedia collaboration into a native SIPenabled modular suite called Nortel Applications Center.

Nortel claims that NCC, previously known as Symposium Call Center Server, was the first contact center product globally to offer skills-based routing instead of ACD. They also claim that Nortel Contact Center 6.0 is the first contact center to provide native SIP connectivity. Nortel Contact Center 6.0 is an open, standardsbased solution that uses standards like SIP and VoiceXML where available, and also uses industry tools such as the .NET framework. For example, Nortel Communication Control Toolkit, the next-generation CTI capability which is integral to Nortel Contact Center, reduces application integration time and costs with a familiar set of tools. The Report Generation Wizard lets users quickly generate custom reports without requiring database expertise.

NCC 6 is extremely scalable. A single node center can expand to a maximum of 3,350 concurrent active agents, handle 66,000 calls per hour, support 1,000 skill sets with 100 active skill sets per agent, and can grow to a virtual contact center that includes 30 nodes for 100,000 agents total. Also, NCC 6 integrates seamlessly with Nortel Contact Recording and Nortel Quality Monitoring, two key components of any contact center. Like all Nortel solutions, these are infrastructure- neutral, working in an IP, TDM or a hybrid network. Nortel Contact Center also works seamlessly with the full range of Nortel speech and self-service solutions, applications and services. For example, a corporate-wide licensing model means customers can deploy software license capacity where it makes sense for business continuity and lower cost of ownership.

Pega Customer Process Manager

Pegasystems’ (news - alert) Customer Process Manager is a CRM application that delivers best-practice processes for customer service, sales and marketing. Pega Customer Process Manager provides a powerful combination of rules and process management capabilities that enable organizations to unify their business goals with their systems and operations.

Pegasystems has stated that it provides the only CRM solution that is built on a unified business process management (BPM) and business rules platform. Because of this “smart” BPM foundation, the system can intelligently integrate application functions, essential enterprise data and human tasks into efficient, streamlined customercentric processes, and establishes and enforces complex sets of rules that govern application behavior and drive decision-making. These capabilities make complicated CRM tasks easy to coordinate, track and analyze.

Sophisticated work management functions facilitate advanced routing, escalation and prioritization of work. With this platform, companies can achieve intelligent customer interactions that drive profitability and build loyalty as well as perform one-anddone process automation that improves productivity and reduces costs.

Among the intelligent interaction management features are predictive servicing capabilities that use real-time decisions to dynamically change business processes based on business intent and enterprise knowledge, taking the guesswork out of managing customer relationships. The solution also features role-based and context-specific screen flows and dialog scripts to guide users through every customer interaction and ensure consistency and quality. A dynamic user interface presents customer data only when and where the information is needed, reducing training time and improving productivity. The platform also features real-time analytics to provide insight into key performance indicators. Organizations are able to quickly respond to changes in business objectives and can rapidly deploy new CRM initiatives, measure their effectiveness and refine their processes continuously for increased agility and return on investment.

Customers have achieved measurable value for their investment, including improved customer retention rates by 50 percent, improved first-call/contact resolution by 50 percent, reduced handle time by 80 percent, reduced manual steps by 60 percent, increased crosssell/ upsell close rates by 100 percent, improved time-to-market for new products and services by 50 percent and reduced user training time by 50 percent.

RightNow Technologies
RightNow 8

RightNow 8 is the latest release of RightNow Technologies’ (news - alert) flagship CRM solution. The hosted, ondemand solution optimizes the customer experience by delivering “knowledge at the point of action” (or “KAPA”) across an organization’s frontline marketing, sales and service touch points. By ensuring that customers and staff have the information they need when they need it, RightNow 8 can generate significant cost savings.

RightNow 8 focuses on customers by the delivery of knowledge to frontline, customer-facing staff to enable smarter, faster and more customerdriven behaviors across the enterprise. According to RightNow, “the focus on KAPA across the frontline differentiates RightNow’s value proposition from conventional CRM, which has historically been limited to narrow business challenges such as sales automation or back-office market analytics.”

RightNow 8 consists of three main modules: Marketing, Sales and Service. RightNow 8 Marketing enables marketing teams to quickly design and execute multi-stage campaigns and closely track their results. New features in the latest version include support for more granular segmentation, a document repository that simplifies management of content across all campaign-related activities, and enhanced Microsoft Outlook integration. RightNow 8 Sales enables sales teams to effectively and efficiently convert leads and opportunities into sales. It provides complete sales productivity tools, pipeline management and reporting capabilities required to maximize team performance. New features in the latest version include enhanced quote/proposal generation, differentiated workflow for unqualified leads versus qualified opportunities, and improved support for mobile Blackberry users. RightNow 8 Service enables contact centers to deliver a consistently superior service experience across all communication channels and to substantially reduce operational costs. New features in the latest version include expanded search parameters, enhanced workflow design tools and greater role-specific customization capabilities.

It also has modules for surveys as well as reporting and analysis. RightNow 8 Analytics provides highly robust tools for quick and easy creation of fully personalized reports and dashboards. RightNow 8 Surveys makes it easy to design, distribute and analyze the results of sophisticated surveys and incorporate the results of those surveys into customers’ records.

One of the most unique features is the solution’s sophisticated drag-anddrop interface customization capabilities, which is something you typically see in customer premise software — not within an on-demand environment. The ability to mix-and-match functionality across components in a single console allows for “blended” roles such as inbound customer service representatives who can also execute upsell/cross-sell transactions.

salesforce.com, inc.

salesforce.com (quote - news - alert) is well-known for its on-demand CRM application. The company has now built a complete on-demand infrastructure on which enterprises can run their entire business. It’s called AppExchange. With AppExchange, any enterprise can manage and share information across their organization. AppExchange OS, salesforce.com’s new on-demand operating system, allows companies to manage and share CRM and custom business applications in a single environment — with one data model, one sharing model and one user interface. Tools are available to build it yourself, or you can browse the AppExchange directory for communitybuilt, install-with-a-click apps ranging from expense management to purchasing to recruiting.

AppExchange lowers the barriers for developers to build and distribute their own on-demand applications to the growing, global salesforce.com customer base. With the tools available on the AppExchange platform, even those companies without software development expertise can easily build, save and share their on-demand applications. salesforce.com leverages the latest Web development tools, such as AJAX, PHP and Ruby on Rails, providing the salesforce.com community with tools to create new innovations such as enterprise “mash-ups” with other business applications and popular consumer Internet services.

AppExchange includes superb customization and integration toolkits, enabling almost anyone to easily tailor the salesforce.com CRM application or build entirely new on-demand applications. Users also can quickly build integrations between salesforce.com and legacy applications or build more advanced new applications with AppExchange API, salesforce.com’s Web service architecture. According to salesforce.com, the AppExchange API is one of the most successful enterprise Web services APIs, handling more than 45 percent of salesforce.com’s 2.6 billion transactions. Salesforce.com stated, “By providing these tools to the more than 15,000 developers in the AppExchange developer network, salesforce.com is extending the creativity that is commonplace on the consumer Web to businesses for the first time. New ondemand applications ranging from human resources, finance and legal operations can be easily built, saved and shared on the AppExchange.”

Spanlink Communications
Spanlink Quality Management

Spanlink (news - alert) Quality Management is a quality monitoring system that captures both voice and screen activity for effectively evaluating and improving agent performance. In a unique manner, Spanlink Quality Management software uses the processing power of the agent’s PC to record and process the voice and screen transactions for performance evaluation or compliance. This edgeoriented application architecture minimizes hardware and bandwidth utilization in a distributed or virtual environment and adds more scalability. Once the transactions are recorded, supervisors can review and score the transactions against key performance metrics, which drives initiatives for quality improvements and training.

Spanlink Quality Management is the first compliance recording and quality management product to be “edgearchitected” for distributed/virtual environments. Edge architecture has several key advantages, including more reliable system performance (reduced server bloat, smarter network utilization, expanded system capacity and reduced capital and operating expense).

Spanlink Quality Management was designed to handle distributed or virtual contact center environments and can easily provide the features they need for voice/screen recording, evaluation and training. Spanlink Quality Management is part of a full suite of products built for VoIP, including agent productivity/desktop tools, supervisor KPI management and collaboration tools, workforce optimization, self-service and solution management tools.

Because of the architecture, Spanlink Quality Management is very effective for real-time evaluation and analytics. It integrates tightly within the supervisor desktop to provide easy access to collaboration tools for coaching, evaluation and training, which is particularly beneficial in multisite deployments where evaluators and agents may not be collocated.

The SAVO Group
Sales Asset Manager

The goal of The SAVO Group (news - alert) is to use technology to improve sales force execution through more consistent delivery of the right messages and making the most powerful selling materials accessible in real time. With an innovative application designed for the front-line salesperson, The SAVO Group provides hosted, ondemand sales enablement solutions to clients in the financial services, business services, high tech and healthcare industries, among others.

SAVO’s Sales Asset Manager (SAM) is an on-demand application that allows salespeople to quickly identify the most effective “sales assets” (presentations, documents, coaching aids, internal resources, etc.) based on a given sales situation (customer profile, solution, sales stage, methodology, competitive landscape, etc.). Through an automated survey of relevant criteria, SAM proactively recommends the most appropriate sales assets and leverages the criteria to make cross-selling recommendations early in the sales process — a critical factor in successful solution selling. If necessary, salespeople may then rapidly customize sales assets while adhering to corporate standards for quality and consistency. SAVO’s technology leverages a 100 percent Web-based, multitenant, on-demand architecture. SAM is built entirely on .NET and is completely Web servicescompliant. Additionally, the latest SAM 5.2 release provides full seamless integration with salesforce.com.

According to The SAVO Group, “While information systems have always existed on the market in some form or another to store assets, these systems have turned into dumping grounds for outdated messaging and materials. This results in users wasting countless hours searching for upto- date, relevant materials, and then cutting and pasting them to fit their needs.” SAM, on the other hand, leverages a “push” model for content delivery rather than the legacy “pull” model incorporated by many competing solutions. According to The SAVO Group, “Rather than forcing salespeople to go on an “archeological dig” every time they need the latest executive presentation, case study or coaching document, SAM proactively recommends the BEST sales assets based on the selling situation. Simply stated, our philosophy is ‘stop searching, start selling.’”

Marketing and product management teams leverage SAM to create, publish, maintain and analyze sales assets. By using an intuitive user interface, content owners can easily monitor sales assets, make modifications, define new rules and publish updated messaging quickly and with no intervention from IT. Through embedded analytics, marketing can immediately assess which assets get used by the sales organization and in which selling situations. This real-time visibility drives ongoing improvement of the sales assets, further maximizing sales effectiveness and marketing return on investment (ROI).

Toshiba Telecommunication
Systems Division
Strata ACD Call Center Solution


Toshiba’s (news - alert) Strata ACD is an IP call center solution designed for small to medium-sized enterprises or larger corporate users with multiple sites. The Stata ACD is compatible with Toshiba’s Strata CIX IP family of business communication solutions. Toshiba’s Media Application Server is one of the first to use Host Media Processor (HMP) technology resources as an alternative to Intel Dialogic boards in the server. HMP does not require card slots, making the server more compact and more cost-effective.

The Strata ACD is also the first and only to take advantage of Toshiba’s FeatureFlex adaptability tool, which allows users to customize their own individual features to help them be more efficient with their communications solution. FeatureFlex makes the resources of the system available to create new or blended features and applications. It allows enterprises to create user-definable features companywide, by department, or for individual users. For a call center, it enables the system to be connected to valuable information resources, such as inventory, shipping, back-office information, etc. It can also connect to online information such as weather, stock tickers, etc.

There are several FeatureFlex modules available. A one-number access “find-me” feature lets callers easily find you. An interesting call screening feature allows users to set up separate lists so incoming calls are routed according to their ranking. For example, incoming calls from “friends” are always routed through, while calls from “foes” go directly into voice mail. Call monitor is a “listen in” feature that allows users to listen to voice messages as they are being recorded and pull the call out of voice mail, converting it to a live call. Call return is a nice usability feature that allows users to listen to voice mails in queue, return calls as they listen to calls and return to the next voice message in queue, all within the same telephone call.

The Strata ACD and reporting applications reside on the Strata Media Application Server (MAS), with autoattendant, voice mail, unified messaging, video conferencing and collaboration and many other applications, making it a very cost-effective add-on since it shares the hardware platform.

Strata ACD is compatible with all Strata CIX systems, making the CIX100 with Strata ACD affordable for small applications. It can also be networked across multiple Strata CIX systems, allowing for use in larger call centers. Toshiba’s Strata ACD is an IP solution that works with Toshiba’s IP telephones over Toshiba’s Strata CIX IP business communication solution. It can also be converged to add Toshiba’s digital telephones.

Verint Systems Inc.

(news - alert) ULTRA IntelliQuality is an enterprise quality monitoring (QM) solution that is the first QM tool to leverage multiple sophisticated analytics technologies to create what Verint calls a “focused quality monitoring process.” Focused quality monitoring involves the use of analytics to intelligently handle volumes of data in a fast and efficient manner by looking for trends in the data that can uncover previously unknown actionable intelligence. By combining speech, screen and data analytics into one QM solution, IntelliQuality identifies the calls that matter most, facilitates more efficient and in-depth evaluation and generates actionable intelligence that the contact center and the enterprise can use to improve key strategic areas. According to Verint, “By improving agent performance while simultaneously extending the benefits of quality monitoring beyond the contact center, businesses are able to achieve a higher return on investment (ROI) from their QM initiatives.”

IntelliQuality’s embedded analytics automatically categorize and push the most important calls to a Smart Inbox for evaluation via a set of focused delivery rules. Leveraging Verint’s IntelliFind speech recognition technology, calls are pushed to the supervisor inbox based on spoken conversation such as customer complaints or firstcall resolution. Verint IntelliScreen delivers calls to the supervisor inbox based on agent desktop application activity. In addition, IntelliQuality seamlessly integrates with CTI events. For example, if the supervisor is interested in evaluating calls between two to four minutes with more than 50 seconds of hold time, they can set a rule in IntelliQuality to have a sample of interactions within these parameters delivered to their inbox automatically.

Verint is a rare company that has the technical know-how to combine speech, screen and data analytics technologies to provide a comprehensive quality monitoring solution. Verint also leveraged their understanding of how contact center managers and quality professionals operate to create an evaluator workspace that is conducive to efficiency. IntelliQuality’s multimedia forms workspace allows quality supervisors to review synchronized voice and desktop activity and fill out evaluation forms in one place. These custom evaluation forms feature simple navigation and advanced tools such as a multi-language spellchecker to make filling out forms fast and easy.

Via its integration with IntelliMiner, IntelliQuality can also help automatically calibrate supervisors across the contact center. By analyzing all evaluated calls, the deviations between all calls and specific situations such as time of day or individual supervisor can be automatically identified and presented. For example, if contacts evaluated by a specific supervisor are scored higher consistently, the platform can identify this trend.


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