Managing contact centers typically includes five areas: communications management, workforce optimization, business applications such as CRM, analytics and customer experience management. Last year I wrote about how inContact has evolved from a communications provider to sell a contact center in the cloud that supports most of those requirements. Its products cover communications (ACD, CTI, Dialer and IVR), workforce optimization (Quality Management, Workforce Management and eLearning, which includes content production, hiring and screen recording), analytics (Reports 2.0, which through a partnership with QlikView provides enhanced reporting and analysis capabilities) and customer experience management (ECHO Customer Survey).
Like other software vendors, inContact continuously enhances its products to meet market demands, and recently it announced a number of new capabilities. These include the ability to develop scripts that guide users in how to handle interactions; a “click-to-call” capability that allows customers to request a call back using the Web or IVR; plug-ins for common CRM systems so that users can manage their desktops more effectively; enhancements to the existing dialer so that agents can more easily switch from one interaction to another; and the ability to design a branded chat window.
These new capabilities are part of in Contact’s focus on what it calls “bringing harmony” to the contact center. Such harmony begins by recognizing that in addition to deploying contact center systems, organizations need to integrate contact management with mainstream business applications such as CRM. InContact’s latest release simplifies integration with these systems. The company has improved the time and cost of deploying its systems by having more out-of-the-box capabilities, and its deployment in the cloud eliminates most ongoing maintenance issues.
InContact’s new release supports a trend I have seen through my research into customer relationship maturity, which is that customer interactions are now being handled through more communication channels and by business units outside the traditional contact center. Its systems therefore support the concept of customer interaction management, which includes work-item management, intelligent work-item routing and holistic process oversight. Work-item management converts all items – phone calls, instant messages, Web requests, posts to social media, trouble tickets or any others – to objects, and all objects are processed in the same way. Intelligent work-item routing routes these objects based on a single set of rules that includes the customer’s profile, the best-qualified agent to handle the contact and the availability of skilled resources to handle the contact. The newly enhanced analytics provides a holistic view of how this process is working and allows managers to optimize performance from business, customer and agent perspectives. Because the analytics provides a view across the complete interaction-handling process, insights can be passed back to all business units involved in customer-related activities so that they can optimize their internal business unit processes.
Some of these new capabilities come as a result of a closer partnership with Verint. I understand the integration process continues so during the coming year organizations can look forward to more capabilities.
All of this supports my long-held view that the concept of a contact center is evolving and that organizations need to take a more holistic view of how they interact with customers and how they can improve interaction-handling across more communication channels and business units. Is this trend impacting your company? If so, please tell us how, and come and collaborate with me and discuss further.
Richard Snow – VP & Research Director