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ContactCenterSolutions Contact Center Solutions Week in Review

November 10, 2012

In the Contact Center Solutions community, it’s becoming apparent that much of the news unrelated to new products and services, customer wins, industry studies and vendor recognition is centered around three big things: improving the customer experience, business process optimization and the move to the cloud.

Interestingly, these are not mutually exclusive, especially the impact of the cloud on the first two. 

With this in mind, in looking at the news this past week, it seemed appropriate to start with items relating to improving the customer experience and the deliverable of improving customer loyalty:

  • Leading off was the announcement by cloud-based contact centers provider Echopass that it would be partnering with BluIP’s hosted IP PBX service to offer customers expanded capabilities to improve work flows and  increase customer retention rates.
  • The cloud, and the need to have a platform that enables customers to immediately speak someone, was behind the U.K.'s Vanquis Bank to upgrade its contact center with a cloud-based solution from Azzurri, Avaya and Callmedia.
  • Phizzle, a provider of advanced mobile marketing products and digital advertising solutions, has launched Affinity, a new loyalty solution. Built around activating redeemable 'card-less,' point-earning capabilities via mobile, social or in-person contact with customers. 
  • Ivytalk Enables Customer Engagement through Various Communication Channels. While modern day communication technology is making life easier, it's making life difficult for companies involved in marketing communications. Since customers these days are using so many forms of communication, companies have a hard time deciding which communication platform to use for their own purposes.
  • Driving Customer Satisfaction in a Multichannel World. In the contact center industry, the main goal is to efficiently handle customer interactions to supply information or complete transactions to the satisfaction of the customer. While it sounds simple enough, not all customers use the same channels for interaction and not all users have the same expectations when it comes to customer service. The contact center must then determine the best strategy for satisfaction in a multi-channel world.

On the business process optimization front, the activities spanned a variety of capabilities that included not just managing processes but improving the processes used for managing people including as seen in the first item the growing use of Gamification.

  • Arcaris Launches Gamification Platform. Arcaris Inc., a provider of SaaS-based solutions for contact center human resources, launched a talent management platform for contact centers called PlayVox. integrates HR processes with videogame dynamics and social psychology techniques in an effort to help organizations conquer agent demotivation, turnover rate and low productivity. 
  • Aspect Software launched Workforce Management 7.5, an advanced, integrated workforce management product and the newest iteration of the Workforce Management 7 platform. 
  • ContactCenterSolutions Contributor Tracey Schelmetic’s piece on the importance of enhanced digital call recording capabilities for improving contact center administrators’ ability to better manage workflows and agent interactions with customers, is highly recommend.  
  • Bomgar, a provider of secure remote support solutions, debuted a new Intelligent Collaboration feature that enables support representatives to broadcast a request for help with a remote support session to other representatives who have the necessary skills.
  • UTOPY has released a new Contact Center Workforce Optimization (WFO) suit that provides business intelligence for assessing agent/customer interactions and enables administrators to better evaluate and train agents according to their unique strengths and weaknesses. 

Interesting the costs and benefits of outsourcing generated more than a bit of interest this past week.

  • Frost & Sullivan released a new study on the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) contact center outsourcing market which contained interesting insights as to why slow growth in predicted in these regions over the next five years.   
  • 1 to 1 Media’s Anna Papachristos has some interesting insights into the difference between outsourcing contact center operations versus outsourcing customer relationships and why the distinctions are important.  

In other industry news, the role of contact centers in emergencies was front and center as a result of Hurricane Sandy in the U.S.

  • Call centers are popping up quickly thanks to Hurricane Sandy, as exemplified by Atlanta-based call center outsourcing firm NexxLinx getting the nod from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide call center services for people seeking federal disaster assistance and relief referrals in the state of Maine.   
  • Amcom Software, Inc. revealed that a higher number of emergency call centers are implementing its public safety answering point (PC/PSAP) solution so they can remain open during power outages and weather disasters.

Finishing up the news, LivePerson Inc., a provider of real-time engagement solutions, recently signed a definitive agreement to acquire ENGAGE Pty Ltd., an Australian provider of cloud-based customer contact solutions. And looking to leverage all of those Microsoft Lync deployments (and licensees that have not be activated), AltiGen and Project Leadership Associates have teamed to provide MaxACD Contact Center for Lync.   

Weekend reading  

As always I have a few items for weekend review if you have a chance. The first is the interview my colleague Rich Steeves did at ITEXPO Austin 2012 with Tim Passios, director, solutions marketing on contact center solutions and the cloud.  And at the risk of over promoting myself, I think you will enjoy my article from a few weeks back, “Who Owns the Customer Experience? Hint, Customers Do.” Plus, the community is filled with updated materials which include new videos, whitepapers and podcasts on a variety of subjects. 

In fact, as noted last week, I liked the “Ask the Experts” piece on excelling at mobile customer service is worth a read.  

I also highly recommend the recently concluded webinar, Best Practices for Evaluating a New Contact Center Solution: Leading Analysts Share Their Insight and Research. It featured Frost & Sullivan Principal Analyst, Nancy Jamison, Gartner Research Vice President, Drew Kraus, McGee-Smith Analytics Founder and Principal Analyst, Sheila McGee-Smith, Nemertes Research Vice President and Service Director, Irwin Lazar and provided a wealth of valuable insights.

And, as always don’t’ forget to that more focused information is available on our affiliated channels — Accounts Receivable Management, Business Process Automation, CaaS, Cloud-based Contact Centers and Insurance Technology.

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