1 TechTarget Enterprise Applications Media E-Book The executive s guide to contact center technology planning Running a successful contact center involves planning on many levels, and technology planning is a significant part of the process. There are many options for today s contact center as technology is constantly changing to help the contact center adapt and stay competitive. In this e-book from SearchCRM.com, learn about emerging contact center technology trends and newer options like self-service technology, analytics and Web 2.0. Find out about 10 must-have technologies for the contemporary contact center. Learn how to select the best technology to meet your needs, and read expert advice for setting up contact center technology and using it effectively. Sponsored By:
2 Table of Contents E-Book The executive s guide to contact center technology planning Table of Contents: Emerging contact center technology trends Selecting the right call center technology Top 10 call center technology must-haves FAQ: Making call center technology decisions Resources from incontact Sponsored by: Page 2 of 19
3 Emerging contact center technology trends Emerging contact center technology trends By Donna Fluss, SearchCRM.com contributor The recession may be temporarily slowing purchases of contact center software, but R&D in the industry is continuing at a rapid pace. When the recession ends, prospects will find an even better set of applications, underlying contact center platforms and more deployment options than ever before. This is not a reason to wait to make a purchase or investment, but it is something to look forward to. Contact center technology and business trends are intertwined, and it has never been clear which is leading the way. Here are six contact center technology trends that will have significant implications for your business over the next few years: 1. Contact center software will reside as applications on the enterprise data network: The days of standalone contact center systems and applications are coming to an end. It s too costly to implement and support these applications with dedicated resources; it is more cost-effective for enterprises to physically locate and maintain them with the rest of their applications (see Figure 1). Having contact center applications reside in the enterprise data network is also advantageous for contact center and enterprise managers, as it can facilitate sharing of data and benefits. For example, speech analytics applications can capture and analyze contact center transactions to find enterprise trends. Using this software in enterprise data centers can make sharing of information faster across business units. Source: DMG Consulting LLC, May Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and presence will eliminate the physical boundaries and constraints of the contact center: SIP is an application layer that facilitates the movement of multimedia-based communications, including Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)-based calls, s, video, Internet messaging, and so on. Presence is a feature of SIP that allows users to determine the availability of the people they want to reach before attempting to contact them. Processing calls and other contact center interactions with SIP simplifies the handling of customer communication across channels and allows organizations to route calls anywhere that is convenient. Presence allows users to find the people they Sponsored by: Page 3 of 19
4 Emerging contact center technology trends need, regardless of where they are and what they are doing. VoIP and SIP have made it much easier to set up contact centers anywhere in the world and to eliminate the need to route calls and other interactions through expensive carrier networks. Contact centers are just starting to take advantage of the flexibility and cost savings opportunities that these technologies offer. 3. Service-oriented architecture (SOA) technology framework will facilitate interoperability, integration and the rapid delivery of innovation: Contact centers are complex operating environments with many technologies and systems that must be integrated to facilitate the handling of interactions. SOA provides an architectural roadmap for facilitating system development and integration, dramatically reducing the time required to connect diverse applications and deliver new products to the market. SOA enables organizations to take advantage of new software functionality quickly and can shorten application integration time, reducing the cost of maintaining contact centers. 4. Enterprises will migrate an increasing percentage of customer interactions to self-service channels: Reducing operating expenses is a goal of contact centers during good economic times; it s a strategic imperative during a recession. Tools like interactive voice response (IVR) systems and Web self-service environments automate the handling of calls, s, chat or collaboration sessions that would otherwise have to be handled by expensive agents. Since it costs approximately $5 to handle a short call vs. $0.1 to $0.25 to handle a self-service transaction, senior managers are pushing contact centers and other operating groups to automate as much as possible, so customers can help themselves. 5. Contact centers will be driven by analytical solutions: Contact center managers receive dozens, if not hundreds, of reports from the systems and applications required to operate their environment. They receive a great deal of data but little practical information. Analytics takes this data and converts it into actionable recommendations that can be used to improve the performance and effectiveness of the contact center. There are two primary categories of contact center analytics: internal analytics, which is targeted at optimizing the performance of the contact center and its agents; and externally oriented applications, which concentrate on improving the customer experience. Internally oriented analytics applications include quality scoring/assurance, IVR analytics, performance management and desktop analytics. Externally oriented analytics applications consist of speech analytics, predictive analytics, real-time analytics, Web analytics, customer feedback (surveying), customer value analytics, and customer experience analytics. 6. Over the next seven years, the composition of live customer interactions will shift from being predominantly voice to a range of channels: Web 2.0 is altering the servicing landscape. Web 2.0 is the broad term used to describe the evolving use of the Internet as an interactive technology platform to enhance functionality, communications and collaboration. It encompasses the explosion of Web-delivered content, interconnectivity, new applications, and the way that always-on always-connected people have built relationships with one another based on shared content and like interests. It involves enhancing communications and information sharing and the way that companies, customers and prospects interact. The most prevalent Web 2.0 applications are incorporated into social networking technologies (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook), blogs (LiveJournal, Xanga, MySpace), online communities (Yahoo! Groups, Del.icio.us, Google Groups), user-generated content (YouTube, Epinions, CNN ireport), widgets (WidgetBox, Snipperoo) and wikis (Wikipedia, WikiWikiWeb, WebPaint). Sponsored by: Page 4 of 19
5 Emerging contact center technology trends Final thoughts The contact center is the front line for the customer experience. As new forms of communication alter the business landscape and new technologies influence how customer service is delivered, organizations including companies large and small, government, higher education and nonprofits have an opportunity to innovate to meet the changing demands and expectations of their customer base. All contact centers and customer service organizations should be developing a technology investment plan that will rapidly give their organization a strategic advantage. The technology and applications that each organization should acquire will vary greatly. But for the first time, flexible acquisition models licensing, hosting and managed services allow all organizations, from a five-person inside sales department to a massive contact center with thousands of seats, to acquire the technology they need. This is true whether the tools are core systems like the automatic call distributor and IVR or cutting-edge analytics applications. About the author Donna Fluss is the founder and president of DMG Consulting LLC, a firm specializing in customer-focused business strategy, operations and technology services for Global 2000 and emerging companies. Ms. Fluss is a recognized thought leader and innovator in CRM, contact center and real-time analytics. For over 23 years, she has helped end users build world-class differentiated contact centers and vendors develop high-value solutions for the market. She is the author of the book, "The Real-Time Contact Center" and many leading industry reports, including the 2006 Speech Analytics Market Report and the annual Quality Management/Liability Recording Product and Market Report. Sponsored by: Page 5 of 19
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7 Selecting the call center technology Selecting the right call center technology By Lauren K. Hoyt, SearchCRM.com Senior Editor Choosing effective call center technology is a matter of following a highly defined process and identifying the risks associated with each product being considered, according to one industry expert. Many firms rush through the important organizational stages of call center technology selection projects and haphazardly leap into analyzing products based only on the functionality that's needed -- or worse, they start the selection process with a specific vendor already in mind, according to Brian Hinton, a senior consultant with Strategic Contact. "How are you going to sort through all of the options?" asked Hinton, who boasts 10 years of call center consulting experience. "The way to find the right [software] is to apply a structured process to analyze your options." Start by defining call center and organizational goals Hinton offered a series of tips for approaching the vendor selection process with an open mind. Before beginning the software selection process, the consultant recommends, companies should take some time to outline the goals of the business, the key requirements for new call center software, and how the new product will fit into the overall technology environment. Once these details are in place, Hinton said, customers will be in a better position to make a solid decision. Use an RFI to help sort through the top five to 10 options Not to be confused with a request for proposal (RFP), a request for information (RFI) should be used at the beginning of the selection process. Once a list of potential vendors is decided upon, send each one the RFI -- a set of up to 10 questions -- to gather important information about pricing and product features. Once the vendors respond to the RFI, look at their answers and think about what differentiates them from one another, Hinton said. Then weigh those differentiators against the needs, goals and culture of the organization. In today's market, he said, companies shouldn't choose a vendor based only on the specific functionality it offers, because most products do it all. Other factors to consider during the initial stages of a call center technology selection project include whether to go with a hosted or on-premise provider, a niche offering, or a software suite to handle call center processes. Involve a cross-functional team in the decision-making process Include someone from IT and from the telephony group on the selection team, in addition to call center representatives, Hinton suggested. That will help ensure that the needs of all departments are considered during the call center technology selection process. Sponsored by: Page 7 of 19
8 Selecting the call center technology It's also important that the business and IT side work together throughout the decision-making process, he added. If the IT department initiates the process, then they should recruit business users to get involved in the evaluation stages, and vice versa. "What doesn't work is when there isn't a synergy between the two," Hinton said. "It really breaks down. [Consultants need to] try to facilitate that communication." When it comes to functionality, identify the must-have vs. the nice-to-have Today, there's no shortage of emerging call center technology, but it's still important to focus on core functionality when choosing a software suite, Hinton said. Focusing on the "nice to have" features may serve to distract the selection team from what's really important the business needs. Scheduling, skills-based routing and interactive voice response (IVR) are three features that should definitely be included, he said, whereas real-time analytics and click-to-callback fall into the "nice to have" category. Also, consider the product's ease of use. "More and more, [usability] is becoming a key differentiator," Hinton said. "We see vendors who are not getting that." Remember not to underestimate the viability of the vendor, its history and whether it will be a good partner as your company grows, he advised. Invest in a company that's putting a lot of money into research and development. Provide RFP guidelines for vendors To avoid getting back an RFP or a request for quotation (RFQ) filled with nothing more than hundreds of pages of marketing material, it's important to clearly define a model for all vendors to follow when submitting their pitch. For example, to avoid having to sift through details about each product feature, create a list of features and ask vendors to check off which are applicable to their product. Also, Hinton said, provide a model for vendors to use for submitting pricing information. This makes it easier to determine at a glance which product is the best value. "It's not just about the features," Hinton said. "Use the vendors and your research. What you're [looking for] is something as a team you can read and learn from -- not the marketing information you already knew." Use the information gathered from the RFP or RFQ to create a table to detail pros, cons, issues and questions about each product, Hinton recommended. Have each person on the cross-functional team create his own table. "You've got to take that mountain of information and take the 'so what' [from it]," he said. This will help you to consider the ROI and design a business case for upper management. Don't make cost the No. 1 consideration Sponsored by: Page 8 of 19
9 Selecting the call center technology "Cost is always a criterion," Hinton said. "But don't let it control this process. It's negotiable." During the evaluation stage, Hinton recommended scoring products twice, based on how well they meet a number of criteria. In the first evaluation, use a weighted model to evaluate products based on functionality, business needs, vendor viability or other considerations that matter to your organization. Then evaluate the products a second time, using the same criteria but also factoring in cost. With call center technology, there's no perfect fit In the end, there is no perfect product, Hinton reminded attendees, and the key is to identify the risks associated with each product. "Risk analysis is important all the way through. Where do they come from? [Your list of] cons," he said. Following a structured, formalized process to select call center technology will lead to a product choice that meets the requirements for all departments and the goals of your organization. "If you want to be successful," Hinton said, "make sure you have a strategy, the leadership to support the process, and the time to do it right." Sponsored by: Page 9 of 19
10 Top 10 call center technology must-haves Top 10 call center technology must-haves Donna Fluss, SearchCRM.com contributor I'm frequently asked what call center technology is essential to build an effective call center. Of course, the answer to this question depends on many things, including the purpose of the call center, its size, the supported channels (calls, s, chats, faxes, etc.) and its location(s). A call center can be complex and technically sophisticated or a relatively simple operation, depending on the needs of the organization (see Figure 1). There's a plethora of sophisticated call center technology, systems, applications and tools available to operate a call center. The challenge is to select the right technology, implement it properly, and then optimize performance on a day-to-day basis. Below are some of the must-have technology options for today's call centers: 1. Automatic call distributors and/or dialers: All call centers need a system to process calls and other interaction types like and chat, as necessary. Automatic call distributors (ACDs) and/or dialers are core call center systems; all other applications are intended to complement and improve the performance of these two underlying systems. Inbound call centers use an ACD to manage the flow of incoming calls and to route them to the most appropriate agent. Meanwhile, outbound call centers require a dialer to place and complete calls. 2. A CRM application/call center servicing application is the second most important technology in call centers. Agents use the servicing application to respond to customers with an understanding of their relationship and value to the enterprise. Call center agents also use the servicing application to document customer issues or requests and steps that were taken to address those issues. This creates a record of interactions that can be accessed the next time the customer reaches out for help. 3. Campaign management system: Outbound call center organizations require a campaign management system (CMS) to let the dialer know whom to contact, or to produce a list of phone numbers or contacts. A more sophisticated CMS will allow agents to record how each customer has responded to a given campaign. Contact Center Topology Gateway Servers IP Other Web Servers Internet backbone App Servers CRM/sales/servicing Workflow KM Search Recording QA WFM elearning Coaching Scripting Web crawling Other Security 4. Call recording systems: All sales contact centers and many customer service environments inbound or outbound require recording systems to capture all interactions so that they can be replayed if there is a question about an interaction. Some organizations just capture calls; others capture both the Unified Communications Servers Presence Mgmt. Inbound/outbound PBX Chat IM Collaboration Messaging Fax Video SMS ACD Dialer IVR Security DB Servers Databases CRM Repository KB Marketing data warehouse BI data Security Analytics App Servers Speech Real-time Web Customer value Customer feedback Predictive CCPM Security Copyright 2009 DMG Consulting LLC Customer-Focused ocused Strategy, Operations and Technology 0 Source: DMG Consulting LLC Sponsored by: Page 10 of 19
11 Top 10 call center technology must-haves call and related screens used to service the customer. The most sophisticated recording systems capture all interaction types, not just calls. 5. Interactive voice response systems/speech recognition systems are self-service tools that automate the handling of incoming customer calls. Advanced interactive voice response (IVR) systems use speech recognition technology to allow customers to interact with the IVR by speaking instead of pushing buttons on their phones. IVR/speech recognition systems can help companies keep their costs down and often automate the handling of 40% to 85% of all incoming customer inquiries in industries such as retail banking, credit card, brokerage, insurance, healthcare and utilities. Some enterprises also claim that IVR/speech recognition improves service quality, since an automated system can be available when live agents are not on duty. An increasing number of outbound call centers particularly those doing collections and sales -- are using IVR systems to increase their effectiveness and productivity. 6. Workforce management software is used to forecast the volume of calls (or other interaction types, like s and chat sessions). Workforce management (WFM) software can help call center managers schedule the optimal number of agents to meet projected needs, taking into account agent breaks, training classes, planned vacations and unplanned sickness. WFM software can automate the process of determining the number of agents that must be hired to ensure that customer transactions are handled at a specified service level. WFM is considered essential for inbound call centers with 100 or more agents or for smaller centers that are complex, operating multiple sites and/or handling a variety of interaction types. Recently, outbound call centers have also started to use WFM. 7. Quality management applications are used to measure how well call center agents adhere to internal policies and procedures. These applications are increasingly considered mission-critical for inbound call centers, as they give management insight into call center performance. Quality management (QM) applications are starting to be used in outbound call centers and will eventually become as valuable in those environments as they are in inbound centers. 8. Computer telephony integration (CTI) connects the ACD to the servicing or CMS application. At the most basic level, it delivers a "screen pop," bringing up the customer's account on the agent desktop when it delivers a call. This saves the agent from wasting time looking up customer information, and it saves the customer the aggravation of having to provide redundant identification or account numbers. CTI is a major productivity tool for many call centers. 9 and 10. While they are not actually call center systems, it's essential to mention the two primary mechanisms used to transport call center interactions, Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) and Internet Protocol (IP). TDM is the traditional way of moving calls, and IP has recently replaced TDM as the primary mechanism for transporting call center transactions. IP has two primary advantages; it is agnostic about what it moves (calls, s, chats, faxes), and it can be carried over the less costly, standard telecom data network rather than the old-fashioned voice network designed for analog signals communications. The systems described above are considered essential and are found in the vast majority of call centers with more than 250 agents. However, there are many other call center solutions some old and some relatively new that also add great value to enterprises and their customers. They may not be essential, but they often have a rapid Sponsored by: Page 11 of 19
12 Top 10 call center technology must-haves and quantifiable return on investment (ROI), which means they should be seriously considered by call center managers. These applications include the following: Call center agent coaching Call center agent scripting Call center performance management software Customer surveying software response management software Knowledge management tools (only for certain types of environments) Speech analytics software Web self-service software Call centers are complex operating environments that depend on a wide variety of sophisticated technology to process transactions. While call center technology is essential, it's really the agents who leave a lasting impression on customers, and they are the key to retaining clients and enhancing relationships. About the author Donna Fluss is the founder and president of DMG Consulting LLC, a firm specializing in customer-focused business strategy, operations and technology services for Global 2000 and emerging companies. Ms. Fluss is a recognized thought leader and innovator in CRM, contact center and real-time analytics. For more than 23 years, she has helped end users build world-class differentiated contact centers and vendors develop high-value solutions for the market. She is the author of the book "The Real-Time Contact Center" and many leading industry reports, including the 2006 Speech Analytics Market Report and the annual Quality Management/Liability Recording Product and Market Report. Sponsored by: Page 12 of 19
13 FAQ: Making call center technology decisions FAQ: Making call center technology decisions Q: What is your opinion of open source software in the call center? Donna Fluss President, DMG Consulting LLC A: Enterprises of all sizes have been adopting open source software at an ever-increasing rate. So far, however, call centers have not been major adopters of open source software; this is because call centers are often missioncritical functions and require applications that are highly dependable and backed by strong support organizations. While data security is an important issue for all types of software, open source software does not present greater security risks than most other applications. The real issues surrounding the use of open source software in call centers are system features, stability and availability of support. Many of the open source telephony systems available today are somewhat immature and lack some of the functionality taken for granted in long-established call center environments. Also, maintenance and support for open source applications is left either to volunteers via message boards (the community) or to third parties that provide support for packages that they often helped create, for a fee. Examples of this kind of relationship include the support available from Digium for the telephony infrastructure product Asterisk, and SugarCRM's support for its open source CRM software. Most of the adoption of open source call center software to date has been in smaller environments where the IT staff is willing and able to install and maintain the product. This is because open source software is often a "do it yourself" project, requiring the ability and resources to do your own implementation, integration, troubleshooting, and ongoing maintenance and support. Also, most of the currently available open source products are more suitable for small call centers, which can get along with a fairly basic feature set and do not require a great deal of integration with other enterprise systems. Installing open source software in a large, multi-site call center environment, while doable and potentially a good way to save money on software and installation expenses, requires a good deal of internal IT and telephony resources on an ongoing basis. As with any technology acquisition, it is important to do your homework before committing to a mission-critical technology. Compile a list of functionality that is needed to support the department and then determine whether the open source application under consideration has what you need. One unique thing about open source products is that prospects can download their source codes and test them out before making a major investment. You can also read up on what the open source community associated with each of the various packages has to say. The more popular open source products have websites where there are active community discussions about current issues and the company's plans to address them. For an example, visit Sourceforge.net. Q: Is it a good idea to deploy auto-answer/auto-response technology in the call center? Donna Fluss President, DMG Consulting LLC Sponsored by: Page 13 of 19
14 FAQ: Making call center technology decisions A: There are two categories of auto-answer and auto-response software: -based solutions and speech-enabled applications. Many companies use auto-acknowledgment systems to let their customers know that their has been received and to set expectations about when they will receive a full response. This is a very effective application. Using auto-answer systems to provide full responses is a different issue. While it serves the purpose of responding to customers on a timely basis, these systems do not always address all of the issues in the customer's and are known for missing the point if their accuracy threshold is set too low. However, if it's set too high, the percentage of transactions that are fully automated will be lower than most organizations want. These applications are continuing to improve and are being used by a growing number of companies. Vendors that provide these solutions include Kana and egain. Phone-based auto-response systems, when used properly and for the right application, can be very effective. Using an auto-response system as a call router, for example, can deliver significant benefits to organizations and be very satisfying for customers, as the accuracy rates are often very high. Speech-enabled interactive voice response (IVR) systems can also be highly effective when they are used for the appropriate applications and are scripted properly. No matter how good the technology, many people still do not like this type of automation. We recommend that if you adopt auto-response technology, you allow customers to choose whether or not to use it and make it easy for customers to reach live call center agents from any point in the application. Q: Which functional units and technologies are necessary for inbound call centers? Lori Bocklund President, Strategic Contact Inc. A: Each company and call center names its particular units or call center functions differently. However, the important thing to keep in mind for your call center is that you have sufficient support in these areas: Workforce management (forecasting, call center scheduling) Real-time operational management Quality management Call center training Process review and optimization Performance reporting and call center analytics Call center technology tools and workflows Human resources (recruiting and general support) Information technology Sponsored by: Page 14 of 19
15 FAQ: Making call center technology decisions Depending upon the size and scope of your call center operation, these functions can be as large as departments themselves or, as is often the case, they are combined and consolidated where synergies make sense. Q: Which call center technology is best for home-based or remote call center agents? Donna Fluss President, DMG Consulting LLC A: Whether your call center agents are based on-site, in a satellite facility or at home, there are dozens of applications and systems that are required to support them. To see a detailed list of necessary systems and applications, I suggest you review Chapter 3 of the book The Real-Time Contact Center, available at Amazon.com. The two primary applications that are essential for call center agents to do their job are an automatic call distributor (ACD), used to route and queue calls, and a servicing application, which agents use to address customer inquiries. This servicing solution may be called a CRM application or a customer service tracking system. For salesoriented centers, it may be called a telesales system or a sales system. I recently published a white paper, "At-home Agent Business Case and Best Practices," which addresses both the technical and business challenges of setting up home-based agents. It is relatively easy to set up home-based or remote agents today, thanks to the maturity of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology and the emergence of hosted applications that are available from dedicated hosting vendors and network carriers. I suggest that you look at another recent white paper, "Hosted Contact Center Solutions Vendor Guide." It discusses the call center technology required to support a call center and describes what is available on a hosted basis. It also includes a directory that lists the technology available by vendor. Q: I am evaluating voic software. What type of software and hardware would I need for PIN-controlled personal voic services that can provide alerts shared between patients and physicians? We would also need access through 800 numbers -- the alerts would be generated by an application with a.net front end and SQL database back end. Donna Fluss President, DMG Consulting LLC A: Overall, voic software has matured substantially in the past few years and is delivering some wonderfully innovative solutions. Voice messaging has also expanded into unified communications. Many vendors in the market (and all of the ones that I know) should be able to integrate with a.net back end, although the integration will require professional services. Most (if not all) voic software can issue alerts, which can be initiated by a variety of triggers and events. One of the first decisions you'll need to make is whether you want to use a networkbased or premise-based solution. I suggest that you look at the following vendors: Sponsored by: Page 15 of 19
16 FAQ: Making call center technology decisions 3Com Alcatel-Lucent Avaya Converse Inter-tel NEC Nortel OnviSource Siemens Q: I have to give a presentation for senior management about the importance of call center technology, the ROI of technology and how it positively impacts customer relations and the customer experience. Can you help with some of the key points on this? Lior Arussy President, Strativity Group A: Your approach to the presentation should be reversed. The presentation must focus on the power of customer experience to increase customer satisfaction, repeat business and recommendations. You need to build a measure of costs for upset customers and the potential negative impact associated with that. Present the top complaints you receive and your top challenges to address them, and then link those challenges to the call center technology that you need. One further suggestion: When discussing the ROI of call center technology, demonstrate customer experiencebased ROI, such as the impact on revenues of customers' turnover. Do not focus on cost reduction. Focusing on cost reductions will only position your call center as a costs center and not as a customer experience creation center. Q: We are moving from a call center agent group call routing environment to a skills-based call routing environment. What should we watch out for? What changes will we have to make to our workforce management (WFM) software to ensure we are staffing call center agents with the right skills? Lori Bocklund President, Strategic Contact Inc. A: My biggest hot button regarding skills-based routing is "keep it simple." While the software you have will undoubtedly give you many options in numbers of skills and skill levels you will make your life easier if you keep it simple. The more complicated your skills strategy, the more difficult troubleshooting, reporting and workforce management (WFM) becomes. Sponsored by: Page 16 of 19
17 FAQ: Making call center technology decisions Develop a strategy that is driven by your business needs, including your customers' experiences. Look at the toll-free numbers that you are handling and the prompting your customers will experience at the front end of the skills decision. Then look at the routing decisions on the back end to find the best-qualified available call center agent. Keep this skills-matching process, and your resulting skills strategy, as simple as you can. Regarding changes to your WFM software, ideally you would purchase the skills-based routing module for your WFM software. Many companies skip this investment, and the result is more manual work to try to approximate the skills world in your forecasting, scheduling and tracking. Because no two vendors do skills exactly the same way in the routing or the WFM going to a vendor training course on their skills module and networking with others who have similar environments can be invaluable. Most of the large vendors have user groups that can be a good source for hints and tips. Q: What's your opinion about Siebel or SAP for real-time analytics? Which is better analytics software? Are these the best call center software vendors for this area of analytics, or are there other vendors you can add to the list? Donna Fluss President, DMG Consulting LLC A: This depends on your definition of real-time analytics and where and how you plan to use the application. Today, real-time analytics describes a rather broad category of call center applications that generally function in near-real time, not actual real time. Many applications from call center software vendors large and small provide near-realtime analytics. For example, most call center speech analytics applications provide data on a next-day basis, but they fall into the real-time analytics category. Speech analytics products are available from standalone vendors like CallMiner, Nexidia and UTOPY Inc. They are also available from QM/recording (also known as workforce optimization) vendors like etalk, isense, NICE Systems, Verint Systems Inc., VirtualLogger, VPI (Voice Print International Inc.) and Witness Systems Inc. SER Solutions Inc. also provides a speech analytics solution. isense provides analytics on a real-time basis. For more traditional analytics, where Siebel/Oracle and SAP come into play, there are many other applications. Oracle purchased a vendor called Sigma Dynamics in 2006 that had an application that was able to provide information in real time. It was designed by a number of the same people who built Epiphany's real-time analytics product. There are also real-time analytics products from smaller companies, such as Island Data Corporation. This product does an excellent job of finding the meaning in unstructured inputs from free-form surveys, newsfeeds, blogs and so on. I suggest that you take a look at my recently released book, The Real-Time Contact Center. There is a free chapter download available on SearchCRM.com, or you can buy the entire text on Amazon.com. Chapter 9, called "Real- Time Analytics," provides a great deal of information about this market and the call center software vendors that offer these applications. Sponsored by: Page 17 of 19
18 FAQ: Making call center technology decisions Q: Do you have any statistics in your files about how many contact centers implement technology but then underutilize it? Lori Bocklund President, Strategic Contact Inc. A: In 20 years in the business, I've been in hundreds of centers. While I've never seen any statistics on technology utilization, anecdotally I would say the vast majority of centers highly underutilize their technology. Problems we see include not looking at systems in place to start out with and potentially leveraging something that already exists, over-buying (licenses, functionality, capacity, etc.), not allocating the resources to use it effectively, never getting to the "Phase 2" functionality, not making process changes to get the most out of technology, and failing to help the users see the benefits and make changes. There is a multitude of reasons why companies don't get the full "bang for their buck." To compound it, few companies follow up on their ROI analysis after implementation to be sure they have achieved their goals and to look for further optimization opportunities. With the types of technologies on companies' radars today, I think these issues could get worse. Some critical success factors to fully utilize technology are: Have a technology strategy, and pursue that strategy in full including rolling out additional functionality, allocating resource time and making the appropriate process changes to apply it effectively. Carefully define your requirements so you buy what you need in functionality and size. Take time to do a discovery process first to see what you have and compare it with what you need you may be able to leverage something already in place. Perform cost benefit analysis throughout. Start with a high-level analysis up front in planning, and refine it once you know the solution and its capabilities. Then follow through on your ROI and see whether you are achieving what you anticipated and, if not, define the changes you could make to optimize your technology. Use change management to ensure that the users successfully adopt the technology. Sponsored by: Page 18 of 19
19 Resources from incontact Resources from incontact Reduce Costs and Increase Performance: The SaaS Advantage for Contact Centers Webcast: Helping Call Centers Increase Profitability Whitepaper: Strategies for Optimizing Service Channels About incontact incontact is an on-demand contact handling platform for call centers that has grown from a powerful Automated Call Distributor (ACD) with skills-based routing, Computer Telephony Integration (CTI), and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) with speech recognition, to include an innovative online hiring solution, an elearning and communications application, workforce management functionality, and a customer feedback and survey solution. Because the incontact platform is delivered via a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, customers can realize significant cost savings and flexibility compared to premises-based alternatives. The incontact solution is changing the way companies achieve contact center excellence by removing the barriers to allow them to measure, control and improve each step of the customer experience. Sponsored by: Page 19 of 19
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The Inner Circle Guide to Cloud-Based Contact Centre Solutions Written by Sponsored by CONTENTS Introduction: Why is Cloud computing hot?... 4 Drivers for Cloud- based Contact Centre Solutions... 6 Financial...
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