TMC this year celebrates 30 years of covering customer interaction, which means it couldn’t be a better time to look at where we’ve been with customer service and where we’re going. We’re also rebranding and retooling our customer experience effort. In this installment of our CUSTOMER coverage, we talk with Marty Beard, president and CEO of LiveOps.
How and when was your company established?
Beard: For more than a decade, LiveOps has been rooted in customer service. LiveOps’ founders saw the Internet as an opportunity to match an infinite number of skilled workers, who could be located anywhere in the U.S., with call center managers. That basic Internet connection evolved into a sophisticated IP-based, intelligent routing system.
As the social and mobile revolutions ignited a firestorm of expectations about customer service, brands worldwide have been forced to look for solutions to socially enable their customer service contact center. LiveOps saw this as an opportunity to leverage its customer experience expertise and its highly scalable and secure platform to pivot its business. In addition to offering talent services of home-based independent contractors and the cloud platform, LiveOps would offer a platform with inherent social and mobile channels.
Building on its expertise in routing high quality voice calls, the flexibility of the cloud-based platform makes it an ideal infrastructure for adding multiple channels, including social. This complete multichannel offering on an integrated agent desktop enables companies to engage with their customers no matter which channel the customer initiated contact on. The flexibility of the cloud enables LiveOps to create deep integrations between all channels and CRM applications.
As the original cloud contact center provider, LiveOps has established itself as a leader in cloud applications for customer service and enables quality customer engagement across multiple channels including voice, chat, e-mail, SMS, Twitter, and Facebook. LiveOps is the only pure cloud provider with inherent social media channels; therefore, there is no additional third-party integrations required.
To whom does your company sell today?
Beard: LiveOps is a cloud contact center and applications provider. LiveOps Platform, LiveOps Applications, and LiveOps Talent meet the challenges facing the contact center today and have transformed customer interactions in the cloud. More than 250 companies worldwide, including Salesforce.com, Symantec, Amway, ADP International, and AAA trust LiveOps. With [more than] 10 years of cloud experience, LiveOps is the partner of choice for companies wanting to migrate their contact center to the cloud.
How has the rise of the IP-based networks impacted the call center – customer interactions at large?
Beard: Delivering voice, e-mail, chat, SMS, and social over the corporate IP network offers distinct advantages. It allows all channels, in addition to voice, to be integrated and blended at the agent desktop so that the company is interacting with the customer on the customer’s preferred channel.
The integrated desktop also enables the agent to pivot the customer from a public channel, such as Twitter or Facebook, to a more private channel such as e-mail, SMS, or voice to resolve their issues. For example, when a customer tweets or posts a question about account access or new credit offerings, those are the types of questions that can start on a public channel but, with an integrated desktop, can be easily pivoted to a more private channel.
All inbound contacts can be prioritized based on business rules and the value of the customer to the company no matter which channel they come in on. While integrating multiple channels so that customers can interact with the brand on their preferred channel is ideal, a tremendous operational benefit is in the reporting. Each interaction can be measured and reported on to ensure optimum agent performance equals excellent customer experience. In fact, LiveOps recently added a new client who is migrating off on-premises to our cloud platform. One of their deciding factors to move to the cloud was the ability to obtain information on a per call basis that includes the call history based on agent performance and user experience.
How is CRM changing?
Beard: The rise of social media is what is changing CRM. Consumers are proactively talking in the social-sphere to let their opinions be known about their preferences, likes and dislikes, about doing business with brands, products and services. Good and bad customer experiences are being talked about publicly and these experiences are influencing masses of people. At the end of the day, all of these social exchanges happening outside the company are producing valuable customer data.
How CRM is changing is that the new customer data being created in the social sphere needs to be monitored, managed, measured, and in many cases, responded to in a timely manner. Bringing social and CRM together is providing new, real time insight into what customers think. And the ideal place in the enterprise to manage this convergence of CRM, social, and customer service is the contact center.
Social has inspired a new era of CRM where the customer and company engage in a two-way, real-time, interaction on the customer’s channel of choice. Companies can now engage with customers on numerous channels including Twitter, Facebook, voice, e-mail, chat, or SMS. This customer service transformation enables a new form of CRM with the contact center acting as the hub in the middle of the conversation between the consumer and the company.
What other key trends are you seeing in how businesses target, engage with and deliver product/service/support to the customer?
Beard: The key trend we are seeing within the contact center is the explosion of social. More and more businesses have accepted social channels as a means to communicate effectively with their customers. Not only are businesses accepting this channel for communication, but consumers are using social as a channel to be heard by companies. For companies, social media should not be treated as a self-service where users help others. It should be a direct dialogue between customer and company.
We’re also finding that cloud customer service offerings, such as pure cloud contact center, are gaining more consideration from industry professionals because of the ability to quickly and easily integrate with existing, legacy investments such as on-premises point solutions, CRM applications, such as Salesforce, and telephony infrastructure.
Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX. ITEXPO offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. For more information on registering for ITEXPO click here.
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