VPI is a well-established vendor of workforce optimization systems and rated a Hot Vendor in our 2015 Workforce Optimization Value Index. It offers a full suite of products for this market. Notable among them is Performance Reporting, which produces reports and dashboards showing a range of analysisVR_WFO_VI_HotVendor_2015 and metrics about telephony, agent performance, coaching and customer success, along with alerts to inform employees of required actions. It combines data from a range of sources, both structured and unstructured, using speech analytics, and works in real or near real time. Performance Reporting is the basis for a new product, Customer Experience BI, which uses many of the same capabilities but focuses more on the customer experience while retaining the contact center capabilities. Our benchmark research into next-generation customer analytics shows this to be an important development as just under two-thirds (63%) of participants said they are considering investing in customer analytics to improve the customer experience.

Achieving this goal is not easy, and the research indicates that data is a major impediment. The foremost issue is the number and variety of data sources that contain customer experience data. The research finds that companies currently use an average of about eight data sources, most commonly data about finance (for 62%), website usage (58%), demographics (58%), customer feedback (56%), interactions (42%), channel usage (41%), social media (24%) and video (19%) – some vr_Customer_Analytics_08_time_spent_in_customer_analyticscompanies use all of 21 of the sources we identified. It shows that for the customer experience the areas of most expected growth areas are customer feedback, metrics derived from business intelligence (BI) and interaction data. To help users overcome data collection issues VPI has built more than 50 standard connectors that support data extraction from common telephony, CRM, call recording and feedback management systems. These capabilities also help address a second and related issue: data management.

However, the research shows that rather than spending time making decisions based on the outputs of analytics, users spend most of their time preparing (47%) and reviewing (43%) data. This is likely a consequence of using spreadsheets as the main analytics tool, which 50 percent do regularly and 32 percent do universally; these tools notoriously require manual effort to prepare and digest data, and are prone to introducing data inconsistencies and errors. The tools available from VPI are designed to make it easier for business users to determine which data to use and thus what outputs are produced. The system comes with packaged reports, scorecards and more than 500 standard metrics, all of which can used as is or customized. VPI hasn’t forgotten its call center heritage so information can be displayed on large screens within a contact center or as tickers on an agent’s desktop. In addition Customer Experience BI includes root-cause analysis and a variety of ways in which alerts and actions can be flagged to make appropriate information available in a timely fashion for users to take action on. VPI is also keeping up with innovative new technology by making the outputs available on mobile devices, something which our various research projects show is increasingly important as more employees work away from their desks but still need access to alerts and information.

At least partly because spreadsheets are so commonly used to producevr_Customer_Analytics_03_key_benefits_of_customer_analytics customer-related and indeed contact center analysis, dashboards and metrics, many companies struggle to make a business case to purchase specialist analytics tools. When it comes to customer experience analysis, our research shows strong reasons to invest emerging, as the users of such tools have seen improvement in customer experience, which our research into next-generation customer engagement shows is the most-often cited benefit, for more than half of companies. The same research shows another customer experience challenge is providing a consistent experience across all touch points because separate business units typically have different customer information. The case for investing in specialist tools is further strengthened in that more than half of users have gained better alignment across business units (52%) and better sharing of information (51%). So if your organization is seeking to improve the customer experience, I recommend evaluating this new tool from VPI.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

Enghouse Interactive is one of three divisions of Enghouse Systems, a publicly traded Canadian company founded in 1984. The other two divisions provide network technology to telecommunications providers and applications for public and private transportation companies; Enghouse Interactive owns the company’s three contact center systems. The corporate group has a history of growth – it now has a market capitalization of more than US$1 billion – achieved both organically and through an aggressive acquisition policy. The same applies to Enghouse Interactive. Its three core products are built on three acquisitions – Syntellect in 2002, CosmoCom in 2011 and Zeacom in 2012. Each of these has been enhanced by a combination of in-house development and integration with other acquired products. The three products are maintained and developed independently, something Enghouse Interactive says will continue for the foreseeable future. However it is working to integrate its latest acquisitions with all three products, so each will gain new capabilities.

Maintaining three products, while at the same time integrating them with new acquisitions, is a resource-intensive and expensive task, but there is a rationale for it. Unlike some other vendors that target different markets with the same product, Enghouse Interactive markets the three products to different markets. Contact Center: Enterprise, based on the products acquired from Syntellect, is designed for large organizations. It is an adaptable, scalable, high-availability multichannel platform that supports thousands of contact center seats. It is available on private or public clouds. Contact Center: Service Provider, based on the CosmoCom products, aims at telecommunications service providers, which typically use it to provide outsourced contact center services to end-user companies. It is a multitenant cloud system available on public and private clouds. Communications Center is an enhanced version of the Zeacom product. Aimed at contact centers with 100 to 150 seats, it is sold only through approved third parties. Like the other two products it is also available on public or private clouds. Having three products with separate origins requires Enghouse Interactive to support a broad array of capabilities, most of which fall into the category of contact center infrastructure in the cloud; we advise potential customers to carefully assess which product best matches the capabilities they require. This gap is being closed to some extent as all new acquisitions, of which there are several, are being integrated with all three product sets.

Over the last four years Enghouse Interactive has made four significant acquisitions to enhance its products in the areas of knowledge management, quality monitoring and outbound dialing:

  • TELREX was acquired in 2010. Its products include IP-based call recording, desktop usage recording and quality monitoring that supports agent evaluation.
  • Safeharbor was acquired in 2013. Its focus is knowledge management, and it has capabilities to create and manage different types of media-rich content, a search engine to help users find content that best matches their needs, and customizable portables that enable Web-based self-service and customer forums.
  • IT Sonix was acquired in 2013. Its products support historic and real-time speech analytics and agent scripting.
  • IAT SmartDial Solutions was acquired in 2013. Its products support blended inbound and outbound dialing, including predictive dialing.

Along with integrating all these products, Enghouse Interactive continues to enhance the core product sets, notably Enterprise and Communications Center. As well as making the architecture of the enterprise products more resilient, there are two other developments of particular interest. Enghouse Interactive has developed a new control room console user interface especially for the utilities market. This interface is easy to use, makes use of color has point-and-click capabilities and uses icons to display information and alerts. The company also offers new mobile capabilities, which are marketed as Mobile IVR Navigator, a name that doesn’t do justice to its capabilities. Rather than providing interactive voice response per se, it enables users to develop mobile apps for customer self-service and supports seamless transfer to assisted service if customers are not be able to complete interactions in the app.

There is also an update of Communications Center, version 8.1. One of the strengths of the original Zeacom product was integration with Microsoft Lync. These capabilities have been further enhanced to support more devices, automate outbound dialing, enhance call flows, queue up instant messages and escalate between communication channels. The new version also includes enhancements to the user desktops. The agent desktop has added more metrics and again the user interface has been updated to meet today’s user expectations. The operator desktop goes one step further and now supports visualization and animation of call flows so an operator can see which calls are in the queue and the priority of calls; it also has capabilities to manage and view call flows, an active directory of who is available to take calls and a view of transferred calls waiting to be answered – all of these enhance call management.

I have discussed in some of my recent perspectives that improving customer experience is paramount to business success, but it is no easy thing to achieve. Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement vr_NGCE_Research_06_changes_to_improve_engagementshows that organizations are anticipating the need to deploy systems to improve engagement, including collaboration, more advanced customer portals, mobile apps and support for social customer service. In addition our research on the contact center in the cloud shows that increasingly organizations are looking to deploy their contact center systems beyond their own premises. And all our research consistently shows that usability – much of which depends on the user interface – is the most important criterion as organizations select new systems. Supporting such a variety of features in one product is hard, and supporting them across several products, especially newly acquired products, is a major task. However, Enghouse Interactive addresses many of these requirements, so I recommend that companies evaluate the product set that suits their market to see how it can help improve customer engagement.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

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