I have spent 15-20 years as a consultant building contact centers and now as a research analyst covering all business technology aspects of handling multi-channel customer interactions. Up until now my experience and research tells me building a modern day center hasn’t changed a great deal and requires purchasing several different types of hardware and software applications, and then integrating them. Over the last few months I have been tracking developments at a technology provider called NewVoiceMedia and after my latest interaction with them I see how the industry has significantly changed.
In the old world building a basic call center required an ACD to manage the telephony, call routing software to route calls to agents or agent groups, CTI software to integrate to the agent desktop, and IVR to collect customer information and thus make call routing smarter, call recording software for regulatory purposes and to analyse agent performance, an agent quality monitoring system, a workforce management system to manage agent work schedules, training and coaching, a performance management system and analytics to report and manage contact center performance, and a CRM application to record what customers called, why they called and what was done about it. That is not easy to integrate or manage. Typically these systems had to be purchased from different technology vendors, although over the last few years vendors such as Aspect, Genesys, Nice Systems and Verint have bundled some of the component parts into pre-integrated solutions. The systems were typically purchased as hardware or on premise software applications, although over the last few years vendors such as Cisco and Interactive Intelligence have produced software only solutions. And last but not least, most companies had to employ a systems integrator to put the whole thing together, as integrating the components was a major task and then configuring the whole system to meet operational requirements was yet another major task.
NewVoiceMedia changes all this. It has built a ground up software only system called ContactWorld that includes ACD functionality, call routing, CTI, a very smart IVR system (including a customer surveying application), call recording, an agent desktop application which makes it easy to access other applications without having to re-enter data, a basic CRM system, and analytics. It also has pre-packaged integration with other applications such as salesforce.com that i recently covered (See: “Salesforce Cloudforce – Socializing and Servicing Customers in the Clouds“)and informavores. As well as bundling all this functionality into one solution, the software includes some unique functionality:
- Creating agents and managing their profile happens at the click of mouse; literally during a demonstration (over the Internet) I was created as a virtual agent within the demonstration contact center, with calls being routed to my cell phone and with me having access to the full set of functionality allowed by my profile. In a more normal operating environment this means supervisors can set-up new agents in seconds, agents status can be managed remotely and in an instance, and say an agent was snow bound, calls could be re-routed to their home number and they could continue to work as normal.
- An agent has the opportunity to impact what happens to a caller on their next call e.g. they can set the system up to play a certain message or make sure the call was routed to them if they are available.
- Much of this functionality is possible because of a unique capability built into the system. The system comes with a number of what are called applications. An application can be almost anything; play a message, take an action, collect data, create an alert etc. These applications can be built into different call handling flows or processes thus allowing users to determine how different calls, from different users are managed. Each call is tagged with a unique identifier so that the progress of calls can be analysed as they pass from one step to the next.
- The system generates over 100 data points which can “drag and dropped” into customer built reports and analysis, or exported to the company’s own analysis tool.
These are just a few of the unique features built into ContactWorld but the story doesn’t end there. The solution is available as part of cloud computing approach, so as well as getting all this functionality it has all the benefits of a being cloud-based: no hardware except for desktops, absolutely no software to download, no maintenance fees, no heavy dependence on IT, available anywhere there is access to the internet and a telephone network (fixed or mobile), multitenant so all users share the functionality, and scalable. What this does is open up the available of a highly sophisticated but easy to use contact center to companies with only a small number of agents, or indeed to companies that don’t regard themselves as having contact center agents but simply want to improve the handling of customer interactions by whoever in the company is authorised to do so.
In a nut shell, this solution has high functionality all bundled into one system, it is easy to set-up and use, and it because it is cloud-based it is applicable to large, medium-sized and small companies. If this meets your profile then I recommend you take at look at ContactWolrd as soon as possible and learn about the new voice in the contact center industry.
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VP & Research Director