I recently wrote about six technologies that can help companies deliver experiences that live up to their customers’ expectations: an integrated multichannel infrastructure, analytics, a VR2014_TechInnovation_AwardWinnersmart agent desktop, business applications such as workforce management and knowledge management, collaboration and mobile apps. They should be closely integrated to simplify system administration, to support processes that have been disconnected because they required multiple systems and to be easy to use. In my experience few vendors provide systems that meet all these goals so I was keen to learn about the latest version of the Genesys Customer Experience Platform which was the recipient of 2014 Ventana Research T Technology Innovation award for contact center in its works with IBM Watson Engagement Advisor.

The platform includes many systems, including SIP-based multichannel communications (contact center telephony, enterprise communications and WebRTC communications), routing, IVR, workforce optimization, omnichannel desktop, reporting and analytics, omnichannel management and proactive communications. Together these systems support familiar capabilities such as multimedia communications, workforce management, scripting and knowledge management, and some specific to the platform – personalization, orchestration, multimodality, omnichannel context, interaction and task distribution, dynamic self-service and life-cycle monitoring and analytics. Orchestration allows responses to be made in the context of the overall customer relationship, and omnichannel context supports similar capabilities so responses on one channel are in context with previous interactions on other channels. Multimodality supports customers in using more than one channel at the same time – for example, the company’s website while talking to a contact center agent. Interaction and task distribution works behind the scenes to ensure that each task is given to the resource most appropriate to handle it. In vr_NGCE_Research_01_impetus_for_improving_engagementdynamic self-service, responses can be varied depending on the customer and put into context using data entered and/or retrieved from supporting systems. Life-cycle monitoring and analytics captures interaction and transactional data to provide reports and analysis of customer journeys. The platform is available in three different packages (premier, business and enterprise), which target centers of different sizes, and is available on-premises or cloud-based.

As a package, these match most of the capabilities I outlined to support customer engagement in the digital era. Three in particular caught my attention: an omnichannel desktop and routing, personalized assisted and self-service interaction, and orchestration of omnichannel journeys. All of which support what our next generation customer engagement research found is the top priority for improving customer experience as found in almost three quarters (74%) of organizations.

vr_db_top_five_customer_service_challengesThe omnichannel desktop is an updated version of the Genesys interaction workspace. It has been enhanced to take into account the demand for agents or other employees serving customers to support multiple channels of interaction. Our benchmark research into the agent desktop shows the usefulness of such a desktop. Participants said that they struggle to provide superior customer service because communication channels are managed as silos (21%), activities are not coordinated across business units (17%) and the desktop is complex (13%); regarding the last, agents on average have to access seven separate systems to resolve an interaction; some have to use 20 or more. A “smart” desktop that masks this complexity can overcome these issues, but it has to support an array of capabilities. The Genesys omnichannel desktop supports an interaction preview that includes a view of the customer’s profile, interaction history and notes; co-browsing and multimodal push of Web pages to the customer; views of the customer’s browsing history; steps in the customer journey; access to multiple business apps, such as CRM, from a single desktop; and access to and integration with knowledge management to provide fuller responses to assisted service. While the current version makes it easier for anyone handling interactions to access the systems and information they need to resolve customer issues, I believe it could be further improved with a new task-oriented, point-and-click user interface that would match the expectations of digitally oriented users and help them complete specific tasks.

Personalized assisted and self-service interaction focus on multimodal operations and providing responses within the context of the overall customer relationship and prior channel usage. It combines understanding of historical interaction data and use of transaction and knowledge manage systems to personalize responses across all touch points. A key feature is multimodal callback; for example, when a customer tries to call the contact center and all agents are busy, he or she is given the option to set a time for the company to call back. It also includes what I call connected service; for example, when a customer using a mobile app and cannot complete a transaction, he or she can call the contact center and data already entered into the app is shared with the agent, who can pick up the transaction without asking the customer to re-enter data. It also can include the option to arrange a callback or schedule an appointment without speaking with an agent. Genesys says it is enhancing these capabilities to support what some vendors call virtual agents, which automate assisted service so that customers can complete more interactions without speaking with a person, for example by pushing surveys to customers after they complete an interaction. I believe such capabilities will appeal increasingly to digitally oriented customers.

Orchestrating of customer journeys is in my view the most exciting development in Genesys’ new release. I recently wrote about the importance of the customer experience in the digital economy and the difficulty of mapping customer journeys. The Genesys Customer Experience Platform includes capabilities that allow companies to design, orchestrate, monitor and tune journeys across channels and business units. It has the key capability to capture both interaction and transaction data, and I expect future releases to use this data to visualize journeys in more sophisticated ways that not only show the journey but the outcomes and the root causes of journeys and offer recommendations for improvement. From the customer’s perspective this should make it possible to  resolve issues with less effort.

Genesys is evolving quickly from its origin as a vendor of call-routing software. The overall Customer Experience Platform includes a combination of systems and capabilities that few other vendors provide. It is relatively new, so while every component might not be the best in its class, the fact they are integrated is key. Despite not having the best clarity in why Genesys is better, faster and smarter than alternative vendor approaches, I recommend that companies wanting to improve multichannel customer experiences and accelerate the transition to omnichannel interaction assess how Genesys can support those efforts.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

Some new words can give the wrong impression. Take “gamification,” for example. It may sound as if employers are inviting their employees to play games just for fun, when actually this is a technique increasingly being used to recognize achievement and thus help improve performance. Several workforce management software vendors have introduced gamification systems that support setting targets, measuring achievement against those targets, rewarding players who meet their target and displaying winners who do best at meeting or exceeding their targets. This concept is not entirely new in contact centers, which long have used notice boards that recognize achievements such as “agent of the month,” which is also an award to the employee best meeting his or her targets. A new product called Verint Gamification supports similar capabilities but visualizes them in more engaging ways that link meeting personal goals with enterprise objectives.

It has been developed using the GamEffective product, which Verint has embedded into its customer engagement optimization portfolio. It can draw data from any of the other Verint applications, as well as from external systems such as CRM. The system includes graphics tied to themes so employees can visualize and play games they prefer, whether a football match, a race or building a city. Other features support personalization and noncompetitive leader boards, raffles, ad hoc competitions, simulations, quizzes and surveys; all of them provide data as input to show who is winning. Results can also be shown on balanced scorecards or benchmarks. Games can be played individually or within teams to help motivate both people and teams. Games can also be played across the enterprise, helping collaboration as one team can see the impact of their performance on other teams. From a technical perspective the system requires little or no coding to put in place, is highly scalable, currently works on Android and Apple mobile devices and is available in the cloud. Users of Verint’s other products can automate actions based on rules that apply across what formerly were independent processes; for example, performance in a game might show that an employee needs specific training, which can be set up through the workforce management application, or customer feedback can be included as part of quality management.

As noted, the purpose of Verint Gamification is to improve employee performance, and in this sense it is related to coaching, mentoring and training. It supports setting targets, monitoring metrics and rewarding employees but takes the learning process one step further by making it fun to learn from and collaborate with other employees. In doing so players can gain new skills, information and techniques in a more engaging way than traditional training courses. Employees can play a game at their leisure or be prompted to take part in those that are required, for example to complete a certain task. The system reports on how well they are doing, and this can be taken into account as part of the quality assessment and reward processes.

The system brings together all four aspects of gamification – setting targets, measuring and recognizing achievement, having fun and motivating individuals and teams to perform better.vr_NGCE_Research_05_who_handles_customer_interactions It does this by engaging and motivating employees, and playing in teams can improve knowledge sharing and collaboration as the team works together to achieve the end goal. I believe both of these are of high importance because our recent benchmark research shows that employees across the organization – with the exception of IT – now engage with customers, making collaboration and sharing of information essential to provide consistent experiences for customers. Employees benefit from gamification by gaining new skills, getting to know other team members better and sharing experiences and knowledge. In many instances they are recognized and rewarded for reaching set goals, and of course it can be refreshing to have some fun at work. Employers benefit by linking games to business targets and having employees more motivated to reach their goals, both during games and in carrying out the usual job tasks.

As ever the name of the game is improving employee engagement and thus performance. Our benchmark research into the agent desktop and customer service reveals the importance of engagement, showing that satisfied agents twice as often meet key customer-related metrics such as CSAT and NPS as agents who are not satisfied. Used in the right way gamification can help motivate self-learning, collaboration and strong performance. I recommend that organizations evaluate how Verint Gamification can help improve employee engagement and ultimately the customer experience.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

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