Richard Snow's Analyst Perspectives

Cisco Finesses Agents with Real Time Support Using Nexidia

Posted by Richard Snow on Dec 29, 2010 2:21:01 PM

Contact centers face a number of challenges beyond simply answering customer calls. Among them are improving  customer satisfaction, increasing the number of calls resolved at the first attempt and ensuring agents comply with  regulations. But chief among these, my research into contact center analytics shows, is the mandate to reduce the average length of time it takes to complete calls.

Doing all of these things requires information. My research also shows that companies are just beginning to realize that one of the most substantial sources of data that can be used to derive this information is the calls themselves, which they can record. However, accessing this data and analyzing its content has until quite recently been possible only through the application of an enormous amount of manual effort, in the form of supervisors or analysts listening to recorded calls and reporting on their content.

This began to change when vendors such as Nexidia emerged with products that automate the entire process. Nexidia’s suite of products, Enterprise Speech Intelligence (ESI), allows companies to capture information about calls, analyze their content and report on what both agent and customer said. Its search facilities allow companies to pick out calls containing defined words or phrases and thus focus as needed on customer sentiment, agent performance, trends and the root causes of calls.

ESI’s proven abilities have allowed the company to achieve record performance this year and raise additional funding that will allow it to continue investing in the product as well as expand into other focus areas and geographies. This growth is likely to accelerate even more now that it has announced a major partnership with Cisco.

As well as being a major supplier of telecommunications equipment and software, Cisco has a major presence in the contact center market. Its products are used by a large number of companies that have chosen to build their centers on the voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) or are using a mixed traditional and VoIP environment. These include a multi-channel ACD and systems for call routing, computer-telephony integration and multi-channel contact management. The new partnership between the two vendors means that using an integrated offering, companies can now capture and analyze calls as they are happening; Nexidia’s tool taps into the voice stream in real time and delivers the content for analysis, enabling a company to identify what is being said as it is being said.

This opens up all sorts of promising new possibilities. Call center management could identify as it’s happening an agent saying the wrong thing or missing an opportunity to close the call or make an up-sale. It could listen to customers’ negative comments as they’re made, making it possible for a supervisor or senior account manager to intervene. The possibilities are unlimited, determined by the rules built into Nexidia.

For this all to happen, though, someone must be alerted about the situation and take appropriate action. As those that follow me regularly know, I am a great advocate of the smart desktop as critical for customer experience management, which provides the ideal tool to alert agents, supervisors or others. Somewhat to my surprise, I have discovered that Cisco recently released such a product, Cisco Finesse. This provides a desktop that integrates traditional contact center functions into a single thin client. It allows companies to build a customizable environment that gives agents access to multiple systems and sources of information and provides a place where alerts can be surfaced. The integration with Nexidia thus completes the chain, allowing companies to alert users based on real-time analysis of the call flow. The calls can of course also be recorded, enabling them if they wish to use all the normal functions of ESI to gain insights from them.

This opens up all sorts of possibilities for companies to innovate in how they handle customer interactions, which means they have another promising tool to use to provide customers with better experiences. Doing so has of course become an even higher priority in today’s challenging economic circumstances. Are you ready for this level of innovation?

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Richard Snow – VP & Research Director

Topics: Customer Experience, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Nexidia, Call Center, Cisco, Contact Center, CRM

Richard Snow

Written by Richard Snow

Richard leads Ventana Research’s Customer and Contact Center Performance Management research practice, which is dedicated to helping organizations improve the efficiency and effectiveness of managing their customers, throughout their lifetime and across all touch points, including the contact center. He conducts research exploring the people, process, information and technology issues behind customer operations management, contact center management, and customer experience management. He also works with senior business operations and IT managers to ensure that companies get the best performance from today’s highly complex application products. Richard has worked in management and consulting leadership positions in the technology industry including with Price Waterhouse, Sema Group and Valors. In his work, he has been involved with all aspects of delivering highly complex IT solutions to a variety of clients in the telecommunications, financial services and public sectors. Richard has specialized in delivering customer care and billing solutions for telecommunications operators, and several multi-channel contact centers for organizations in both the public and private sectors.