NICE systems is an established vendor in the market for agent performance management (APM) systems, and it recently took the top ranking in the Ventana Research APM Value Index awards [http://www.ventanaresearch.com/resources/resources.aspx?id=3786]. Workforce optimization software includes call recording, quality monitoring, workforce management and training; to this APM adds call routing, coaching, compensation management and agent-focused analytics. The need for these additional capabilities was validated in our benchmark research on agent performance management. I recently wrote an update on NICE Systems’ efforts and direction for 2010 in which I noted that NICE has been expanding its analytics to support better cross-channel customer interactions for agents.
I have been in the customer service and contact center space for over 20 years and have seen many fads, hot topics, three-letter acronyms and "end of an era" predictions come and go. The latest trend is that suddenly everything is "social": We have social customer relationship management (CRM) that should help marketing, sales and customer service improve significantly. So it's worth asking what all the fuss is about and why it is happening now.
Anyone involved in running a contact center is aware of the imperatives my research has highlighted: reduce operating costs, transition to multichannel support, raise customer satisfaction levels and increase up-sales. On a daily basis, these demands spur managers to focus on reducing average handling times, increasing first-call-resolution rates, optimizing agent utilization, delivering more pertinent agent training and personalizing responses in light of the customer’s profile, the context of the call and targeted business outcomes. The foundation of all these efforts is information and systems that support the contact center agent.
Most of all, customer experience management is about a company delivering the optimal experience during an interaction. For example, during a conversation the contact center should ensure that the agent’s responses are appropriate to the context of the overall customer relationship and are personalized. The same should be true for a customer’s visits to the Web site, during chat sessions and in responses to mobile text messages. It goes without saying that the person or system involved in an interaction needs all relevant information about the customer, so responses meet the customer’s expectations while also delivering against business goals.
My research into customer experience management shows that the customer’s experience is equally important in creating customer loyalty and in getting customers to recommend a company to others. It also found that the main channels of communication remain phone calls to the contact center and visits to the company’s Web site. This combination means it is vital that companies support their contact center agents as fully as possible by providing them with tools that not only make their actions more efficient but also make them more effective at resolving customer issues. As I have written several times, the most important tool companies should provide for agents is a “smart desktop.”