Many companies have legacy systems in their contact centers, especially systems to manage telephony. My research into the use of technology in centers shows they can create headaches for center managers whose budgets don’t allow them to invest in new systems to match emerging business requirements and changes in consumer behaviors. My research into customer relationship maturity shows that consumers now want to interact with companies through multiple communication channels, with social media and smartphones rapidly emerging as the two channels of choice, which legacy systems cannot accommodate.
Hold-Free Networks has some innovative products and services that help companies enhance their existing systems to handle new capabilities. It calls them overlay applications, which sit in front of a company’s existing infrastructure and provide consumers with more up-to-date methods of interaction. The applications interface and integrate with existing systems, thus providing a way to update capabilities without major capital expenditure. They provide capabilities ranging from simply adding a “click to call” icon on a company’s website or in a mobile app, to building what amounts to a visual IVR app that allows customers to select options using the smart features on their phone.
As well as a range of finished applications, Hold-Free provides APIs that allow companies to build their own.
Hold-Free Service eliminates the need for consumers to search for a number to dial, navigate through menus, repeatedly input account data or wait on hold. Instead, they press a few buttons on their smartphone app or website and subsequently receive a self-service response and/or a call-back as soon as an agent becomes available. Secure App Messaging provides a personalized communication channel that enterprises can use to send follow-up information, targeted offers and fraud prevention alerts. Social Sentiment gives consumers the ability to submit feedback on the customer service experience, which can be published to social networks or routed directly to the company for action. It includes an engagement console that enables agents to view comments and generate responses while remaining apprised of service level thresholds, the context surrounding individual comments and overall trends affecting the enterprise.
The applications sit in the Hold-Free cloud and interface with a company’s existing infrastructure though what it calls the “edge application framework” – a series of software models that provide two-way integration between applications and existing systems. While cloud-based systems are not for all organizations, our research into the adoption of cloud-based contact centers shows they are an increasingly popular way of updating existing contact center operations.
My research and interaction with customers and vendors show that the customer experience is now what counts for companies – get it right and customers will stay loyal and buy more; get it wrong and customers will leave or make negative comments on social media. With all the new technologies available today affecting consumer behaviors, getting it right is no easy task. Hold-Free Networks offers an innovative way of meeting these new requirements, and companies should include it on the list of vendors they evaluate as they set out to improve their technology and their customers’ experiences.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director