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July 09, 2012

Envision Aims to Help Companies Shift Call Centers to an 'All-Pro Defense'

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC

TMC (News - Alert) this year celebrates 30 years of covering customer interaction, which means it couldn’t be a better time to look at where we’ve been with customer service and where we’re going. We’re also rebranding and retooling our customer experience effort. In this installment of our CUSTOMER coverage, we talk with Rodney Kuhn, CEO and founder of workforce optimization company Envision, and a member of CUSTOMER magazine’s advisory board.

Envision’s customers represent SMB centers from 50 to 200 agents, as well as large multi-site implementations on the order of 1,000-8,000-plus agents located in different countries. Kuhn has also been a software engineer at Active Voice Corp. Kuhn also is on the advisory board of TMC’s new CUSTOMER magazine, which launches in September.

We’re celebrating the 30-year anniversary of TMC’s Customer Interaction Solutions magazine. What has been the most important development in the past 30 years related to customer interactions and WFM?

Kuhn: Related to WFM, we believe the most important development is the ability to correctly forecast and schedule the appropriate number of agents needed in the contact center.

In the past decade?

Kuhn: The adoption of real-time adherence over the past decade has clearly led to improved productivity and lower shrinkage levels for centers utilizing this important feature.

In the recent past?

Kuhn: Related to WFM, we believe it is the capability to provide and reward agents with shift bidding and priority based on performance related to quality scores. This allows the business to achieve its service levels, as well as reward agents who perform well with priority shifts.

How is the rise of cloud computing impacting how businesses target, engage with, and deliver product/service/support to the customer?

Kuhn: The cloud will have a profound impact on how customers expect to be able to contact a company, gain information and have their problems solved. Contact centers will leverage the cloud to be more flexible and scalable with their centers, particularly add work-from-home agents quickly without large capitalized technology investments.

How is the widespread use of social networking technology impacting how businesses target, engage, and deliver to the customer?

Kuhn: It’s only starting. Soon the contact center will have a significant role in handling customer interactions through the social channel. The adoption of social media, combined with the customer demand to be serviced nearly immediately, will create huge challenges in the contact center related to training, forecasting and scheduling interaction volume, coaching for appropriate response and analyzing what’s driving customer dissatisfaction.

What new tools and practices are businesses using to better leverage their own and/or outside data to target, engage, and deliver to the customer?

Kuhn: Analytics and voice of the customer solutions, such as Envision’s, are being used to identify what customers like and dislike about products and services. This can lead to cancelling unprofitable product lines that are problematic and drive customer sat down. Furthermore, it can be used to identify opportunities where coaching agents to change behavior can drive upsells and cross sells that increase revenue.

How is the mobile boom impacting how businesses target, engage, and deliver to the customer?

Kuhn: More consumers connected to broadband data plans will result in business offering services to mobile customers. You already see this with many websites specially designed to run on mobile devices and provide a better experience. Mobile will also create opportunities to route calls to specialized agents who may not take calls all day but are experts on call and available when needed for expert situations. Imagine an agent with specialized skills logging into the ACD, and receiving two to three calls per day over mobile when that expertise is needed. The definition of the agent will continue to evolve as mobile is embraced more.

What other key trends are you seeing relating to how businesses target, engage, and deliver to the customer?

Kuhn: Right now it’s all about virtualization and the cloud, which will drive scalability and flexibility; and helping companies shift their contact centers into what we like to think of as an all-pro defense that can properly handle the sheer amount of social media noise that’s coming their way.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman
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