Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Interactive Intelligence Working on Integrations with Social Media Applications

June 17, 2010

Interactive Intelligence, a provider of unified IP business communications software for contact centers and enterprises, is working on integrations with social media applications that would help companies more quickly and effectively respond to what their customers are saying through these intensely popular channels.

Interactive Intelligence is working with an unidentified social media analytics firm to provide an application that would enable customers to capture any mention of them or their products/services on the social Web, including sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and forums. These mentions would then be e-mailed back to the most appropriate representative or department using the Interactive Intelligence software's multichannel queuing and routing capability based on business rules (such as key words or phrases).

"We're seeing serious uptick in customer interest in these integrated social media solutions," explains Rachel Wentink, Senior Director of Product Management for Interactive Intelligence. "We're already exploring additional applications. These include applying analytics to social media responses, as well as embedding information gleaned from social media interactions into screen-pops."

Interactive Intelligence is also working with its reseller channel to develop integrated social media applications.

"The benefits of social media applications are many, ranging from improved customer service and higher sales, to increased customer loyalty and improvements to products and services," Wentink points out. "Without integration to the company's core communications routing and reporting systems, however, they leave the door open for wrong responses, which can turn minor annoyances into major firestorms."

Social media-based customer interactions was one of the key emerging contact center trends identified by Frost and Sullivan's global program director Ashwin Iyer in a keynote he delivered at the recent 2010 Interactive Intelligence User Forum held in at the company's global headquarters city of Indianapolis, Ind. The event drew approximately 350 customers and more than 500 total attendees.

Iyer's keynote, "Your Passport To The Future Of Customer Care," drew on a Frost and Sullivan North American survey conducted in April 2010 that said 30 percent of respondents indicated they support social media customer activity and interactions on external social media sites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter). At the same time 29 percent indicated they monitor and extract intelligence from this activity. Of social media benefits, the top three cited were to "provide better customer service," (75 percent), "drive sales," (58 percent) and "drive customer loyalty" (54 percent).
The keynote also covered other key areas including:

--Customer satisfaction back as a top priority: A full 50 percent of respondents were profiled as "customer-oriented," with 35 percent profiled as seeking the "latest and greatest" applications and the remaining 15 percent profiled as "cost-focused."

--Growth of hosted services; increasing adoption by large contact centers: The fastest growing segment for hosted contact center adoption were respondents representing contact centers with more than 500 seats (from 35 percent in 2009, to 47 percent in 2010); among all size segments, a total of 30 percent indicated they would use hosted services in 2010, up from 24 percent in 2009.

Growth of Web collaboration, text and video: Of supported inbound interaction channels, growth from 2009 to 2010 was highest for text/SMS (25 percent increase), video (15 percent increase) and Web-based interactions (8 percent increase).

--Consistent customer experience across channels continues to be a high priority across industries: The largest majority of respondents - 67 percent - rated ensuring consistent service across channels as a "very high priority" or "high priority."

--Significant increase in proactive customer contact activity across industries: Of three types of outbound customer programs, the majority -- 65 percent -- indicated they would increase their "proactive, value-add customer contact" programs over the next two years; 43 percent said they would increase their sales and marketing programs and 42 percent said they would increase their collections programs.

"It was good to learn that Interactive Intelligence has uncovered among its own customer base virtually the same trends Frost is seeing," said Iyer. "Even more pleasing was learning how the company is working to address these trends.

"Examples shared at its User Forum included the vendor's outbound agentless dialing feature, enhanced hosted services that now include a Web portal for simplified administration, and upcoming integrations with providers of social media analytics applications. Clearly, Interactive Intelligence is listening to its customers and responding with innovative and unique solutions," concluded Iyer.

(TMC is holding a new event on social media and Social CRM, The Social Customer Summit. Co-located with TMC's ITEXPO in Los Angeles, Calif. Oct.4-6, The Social Customer Summit is a two-day conference that will cover this dynamic new channel, including integration with the contact center. Check back often at ITEXPO West 2010 for more details)

Brendan B. Read is ContactCenterSolutions's Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard