Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Right Approach to Workforce Management

When we decided to incorporate WFM into our suite of offerings, alongside Call Recording, Screen Capture, Evaluation, Dashboards, Speech Analytics, Agent Portal and Desktop Analytics, we wanted to make sure we got it right, in terms of making sure the solution is "right-sized" in terms of enterprise capability, multi-location scalability and overall value and affordability.

A three-year investigative process has resulted in Virtual Observer Community Workforce Management, which is a proven solution which stands proudly alongside more expensive legacy wfm systems.

Enterprise WFM is a critical need in today's multi-channel, multi-environment workplace.

Contact centers need to be able to confidently place the right skills in the right spots at the right moments.

Virtual Observer Community WFM is a web-based, game-changing workforce management and analysis tool which can be rolled out for a cost-of-ownership which is not typically found in this space.

Read more about this release in Virtual Strategy magazine.

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Thursday, November 08, 2012

Automating PCI Compliance with Desktop Analytics

We're pleased to introduces Virtual Observer Desktop Analytics to help customers automate PCI compliance.

This new functionality reduces task complexity and frees up IT resources for other needs.

This works by using the Desktop Analytics feature to capture a customer's processes where they input credit card information (in a CRM, or an order entry system, for example).

Once this process is logged, the system will be able to trigger Virtual Observer to be able to stop recording once the process is initiated, and to resume recording once the agent ends that particular task.

Virtual Observer Desktop Analytics works with the LightsOut! API to achieve this process.

Desktop Analytics is a technology which connects, captures and automates desktop activities and tasks. The feature is gaining acceptance as a critical component in most workforce optimization suites, providing insight into customer interactions throughout the enterprise.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Power to the people: Agent Portal for Virtual Observer 4.0

Placing the quality monitoring process directly in the hands of your agents, essentially providing them with their own accountability, exposure of peer performance, and the ability for them to reach out for help when neccessary, can benefit the overall performance of your contact center in a way a simple, flawed negative scores will never do.

Check out the news release or the Agent Portal webpage itself for more on this exciting new workforce optimization feature.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Guest Post: Today's Call Centers Are Reborn With Multi-skills, Multi-Channels

This guest blog post was provided by Ashley Furness, Software Advice Analyst

Today's consumer demands instant gratification when they contact a company. In the past this was fulfilled through call-in service: the phone rings, they talk to an agent, they get an answer. Now they face extended holding, automated prompts, unhelpful agents and a sea of transfers.

This irritation–coupled with technology for better, faster service through Web channels–has impacted customers’ support preferences. So what does the future hold for customer-company communication? 

This was the subject of a recent live online debate moderated by research firm Software Advice. The event, a live Google+ hangout called “Will Technology Kill the Call Center?” featured a discussion about consumer contact channel utilization, technology and the impact of these trends on the future call center. The speakers offered advice on customer contact channel strategy, as well as forecasted what companies can expect from the next generation of consumers.

The panel answered four scripted questions before the discussion was opened up to the digital audience of 40 attendees. If you missed the event, we'd like to share a few key takeaways from their conversation:

Technology Levels the User Experience Playing Field
As was mentioned, customers crave speed to contact. Poor user experience for non-phone channels previously prohibited their adoption, but that has changed. The speakers said virtual agent, chat, self service and other technologies can finally deliver on the promises they made years ago.

As a results, consumers now have the option to choose which channel works best for them. It’s up to the company to “right channel” their business–or determine which channels are most important to its customers and invest in those technologies. Companies should consider, for example, that the majority of customer contact will soon come from a smartphone or tablet. Users don’t want to tap through self-service login screens, or fish around FAQ pages using a tiny keyboard. So organizations should start investing in ways to best serve these customers.

Don't Silo Communication Channels
All of the speakers agreed that consumers are embracing newer contact channels, such as virtual agents and self service, at a pace never seen before in the contact center world. In fact, a recent Avaya report showed 60 percent of consumers continually change how they contact a company.

This doesn’t mean customers are choosing these new channels instead of voice. Rather, they are using self service, FAQs, mobile and other channels in addition to the telephone. 

This also means that once that consumer reaches the phone, they are likely at a crucial juncture in their interaction. The speakers said companies need to be smarter when that customer gets there. In other words, they need to be able to track the interaction from beginning to end. Was that customer looking at FAQs before they called the 1-800 number? Did they interact with a virtual agent? These answers can bring context and personalization to the live response experience. This increases efficiency and customer satisfaction.

The Call Center Reborn
The speakers agreed customer contact preference is shifting away from voice, but this won’t kill the call center. The concept of a call center comprising phone agents has evolved into a contact center comprising ”command teams” who manage customer interactions through multiple channels. That’s because today’s consumer demands instant gratification, and the reborn center is expected to support those demands, whether they come through Twitter, live chat or a phone call.

This will continue to affect expectations from contact centers and their agents. Companies need to ensure that their contact center has the ability to leverage these various channels together. This means agents will need to be more skilled and technically savvy.

“At the end of the day it’s the agent behind the technology that's going to make the difference. While technology will enable agents to be better, faster, more efficient. It will not replace the contact center,” one of the speakers said.

About the guest author: 
Ashley Furness is an analyst for Software Advice. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising. 
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Monday, October 08, 2012

17 under-hyped but mega-useful enterprise call recording features

The engineers in the Virtual Observer labs upstairs are always plugging away, adding features and dropping them on us as early Christmas presents.

We try to make sure every new and valuable gadget, widget, bell and whistle is presented and explained to each and every customer, either through email alert, annual customer interview or through frequent dialogue. 

Sometimes, however, customers are so excited about a particular feature they tend to overlook some of the other capabilities.

There can be a lot of stuff under that hood!

Here's a quick list of some of the most requested "I didn't know we could be doing that!" heard from our customer base, categorized by function:

Call Recording:
* The ability to exclude specific area codes from call logging parameters
* The ability to use alarms to notify personnel when calls aren't being logged

Screen Capture Functions:
*  Users also have an ability with certain screen capture types to record screen capture in real time while they are watching a user in VO Live Desktop.
* VO has an ability to trigger screen capture for screen only events manually from within the software or by an API trigger.

* The ability to record screens in a thin client or multi-monitor environment

* The ability to bring any available data stream into a widget on your real-time Dashboard
* The ability to create an infinite range of custom dashboards
* The ability to save any event log view as a favorite, or even as your default start-up view

Quality Monitoring:
* The ability to chat with an agent and assist them in navigating your CRM system during a live call
* The ability to calibrate scoring results for a single event

 Data Storage and IT:
* A client may choose to have certain groups’ calls stored in a separate location, which is possible with most logging environments.
* CSI offers various flavors of automated data replication and redundant storage locations. This goes for VO Auto-Archiving as well.
* Event retention may be different for varying call types or different agent group, and VO allows the client to be able to set granular retention / purge requirements.
* Virtual Observer’s Avaya DMCC recording offerings allow a client to perform redundant recordings that post to redundant application servers and databases.
* CSI supports “cold start” DR solutions, as well as various flavors of “active / active” redundancy
* The ability to run VO in a virtualized environment

Remember, we are always happy to schedule additional webinar training sessions for customers who would like to learn a little more about how else they can leverage all of the robust quality monitoring and training features available in Virtual Observer.
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Thursday, August 16, 2012

5 important telecom checkoffs in a call monitoring project

Whether represented by a phone systems dealer, or from an internal role, the telecom professional is always a part of the conversation when an enterprise team is considering purchasing a new call monitoring system. 

While the call monitoring system itself has greater impact across the entire contact center operation, the actual selection and implementation of a call recording component is a heavy responsibility for the telecom team, so it is important to ensure that the selected solution provides:

* Vast phone system support. Telecom pros want to make sure their phone switch is supported. Most call recording solutions will support traditional PBX models from Avaya, Cisco, ShoreTel, Mitel, Aspect, Nortel, NEC, etc.. Most of these same telephony vendors also provide VoIP versions, cloud-based versions, SIP-based systems or hybrids, and active recording options, which allow the recording system to dip right into the switch API.

* Low cost of ownership. Telecom professionals appreciate when their cost of ownership is minimized. For example, when they're upgrading to a new version of their switch, or moving to an entirely new platform, they want to be confident they will not have to re-buy a more compatible version of the call monitoring system as well.

* Future-Ready scalability. Telecom buyers enjoy a scalable solution which doesn't handcuff them as they add recording channels, locations, departments, remote agents, etc., and especially when they're ready to upgrade their switch to the latest version.

* Best of breed options. Some phone system vendors work so hard to educate buyers on the advantages of having built-in recording (even going so far to claim it's included in the base price of the phone system) that they think it's the only selling strength they need. In contrast, securing best-of-breed components in a call monitoring system which integrates with the switch at a reasonable long-term cost is a winning option which is difficult to argue with. Remember, what you're buying may be built in or bundled, but it's never "free".

* People working with people. It's nice to know when call monitoring projects kick off, you're going to be working with a solid and reputable team of people who will work hard to ensure your project's success. At the onset of most implementations, a kickoff team is formed with a telecom professional, an IT representative, and a project manager from the call monitoring vendor. 

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Elements required for a speedy call monitoring implementation

The implementation of a call monitoring solution is a task which every call center faces, whether they are a startup with a smaller center or a multinational enterprise adding branch locations.

Once the right solution has been selected, there are a number of steps which must be followed to ensure a successful implementation. 

Throughout the process, it’s essential to keep open and ongoing communication between all teams. 

Project managers, IT and telecom staff all need to be working off the same project plan, with defined roles and responsibilities.

While vendors often request open VPN access, security concerns often make companies reluctant to provide full access whenever needed during a remote installation. 

While onsite training is always recommended, remote installations are often preferred because of the speed which they can be turned around and because of the travel expenses saved.

Still, as efficient as a remote install can be, the tools used and the team involved from both parties are essential.

"Remote access tools, web collaboration and presentation products are great but they are not sufficient enough to expedite the build. 

There is no substitute for an ‘always available’ remote connectivity method during the implementation process.

It is certainly understandable why VPNs are not always granted on an open basis, but access over the VPN should be made available if at all possible during specific times required for installation.

Enterprises seem to be receptive to this request, even as more and more stringent lockdown procedures are added to the mix for security purposes.

“Enterprises understand the need for an efficient, no-nonsense, temporary VPN authorization. We can surely accommodate web based remote connectivity options after the implementation is complete, but they are not conducive to expedited build processes, when they require someone to be on the other side,” added Blake St. John, CSI Project Manager.

"IT people want to reduce their footprint, and save on time and money. It’s amazing how quickly a system can be implemented, especially if the server is virtual. More and more IT teams are requesting virtual servers, which we can accommodate in most environments. They also want very granular security, and we've been a leader in providing bulletproof call monitoring solutions. It’s a great combination - ask, and if possible, you shall receive!" St. John added.

With a healthy collaboration, VPN access and peace-of-mind security, a rapid and successful implementation is achievable.
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Monday, July 16, 2012

5 critical benefits an IT team looks for in a call monitoring system

It's important for a call monitoring system to offer a bulletproof implementation, especially for an enterprise's IT team, who are looking for these kind of items to be a check-off, rather than a wish list item.

Here is a quick list of what we see as being important IT check offs:

* Virtualization: Any robust call monitoring solution will support virtual servers. CSI currently supports VMware, Citrix, Microsoft VM, and others. In an active recording environment (no audio recording board hardware) it's awesome to be able to slice off a VM and add a branch center to a centralized recording environment.

* Scalability: Contact center monitoring systems should be designed from the ground up to be extremely scalable and enterprise-ready, especially in terms of supporting multi-site/multi-country installations. Organizations should be able to quickly add recording as needed. Systems should be able to scale to seasonal spikes as well.

* Security: We were actually one of the first recording vendors to automatically encrypt all recorded media via 256-bit encryption. We've evolved with PCI standards and continue to offer enhancements which bolster system security even more. Administrators can control access and permissions down to the button level. Many companies utilize different levels of assessment and only the most locked down systems will be able to pass all assessments. CSI hasn't failed an assessment yet.

* Implementation and Support: We've got experience - enough (40 years) to know that being responsive and thorough is important to those using our system. There's a reason we have 95% customer retention over such a long period of time. We use a support ticketing system which ensures timely response and customer updates as issues progress. Many companies are choosing remote training, which saves on costs. We'll still come onsite, of course. We also always answer the telephone, which goes a long way.

* IT footprint: Keeping the IT costs down is huge. Many of the above-mentioned bullet points, especially virtualization, contribute to a smaller IT footprint. Having a web-based interface is huge, meaning any authorized user with access to a web browser can log in and use the system, from any location. We've also seen more and more active recording implementations, where the recorder integrates directly with the switch. This helps to flatten IT costs as well.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Inside CSI: 40 years in business part three of three

Happy Independence Day
Happy Independence Day!
Part 3: Challenges and Opportunities

The heart of Coordinated Systems, Inc., veteran-owned and CT-based, (CSI) begins and ends with the professionals who work here. “Each individual at CSI brings his/her own unique abilities to the table. Each and every day we face new challenges, whether it is a support call, a unique sales call, the development of new functionality to stay competitive in this ever-changing world. I have been grateful for our management, who has found a way to keep this company going through good times and bad, facing tough economic challenges,” offered Dennis Vincent from our support and training team. “We are a success because we just get the job done,” added Robert Hutcheon, CEO.

“People here at CSI are always taking on multiple responsibilities and learning new skills. As a small company, we are often thrown into the fire and forced to succeed, which we do,” said Rich Marcia, Marketing Director.

Challenges have been aplenty in the 40 years of CSI. Amidst the recessions we stayed positive but lean. During the hurricane of 2011, we forged on while battling power outages and telephone interruptions. We’ve faced numerous “emerging” competitive threats who’ve all managed to become less prevalent. We’ve stood in the footsteps of the giants of the industry and won because we were more nimble, more cost effective and more open to specific customer requirements and their diverse needs.

“CSI also has a wonderful ability to be very successful in the hiring process, finding people with unique skills and a desire to “go the extra mile” to contribute to the company’s success. It is this, above all else, that I feel has allowed us to continue to be a company that has been able to adapt to changing times,” Dennis added. One of our employees is nearly at “half-life” as he calls it. Our director of development, Dan McGrail, started at the company fresh out of college at age 22 and says, “three more years and I’ll have been here longer than I haven’t”.

Personally, working in a family-like environment means learning quite a bit about your co-workers. You see them through all of life’s milestones: weddings, children, grandchildren, new cars and homes, sports events, etc. “My son, who turns four this week,” Rich said, “knew that “C-S-I” is where his Daddy worked when he was only two years old. “ You also get to experience life’s tragedies with the support system a close-knit family-like organization will provide. Unspeakable events such as 9-11 come to mind. One of our owners, a storied Vietnam veteran, remembers the toils of war as well as the turbulence of an economic downturn. “If you’re to remember anything about CSI, it’s that we are survivors,” he exclaimed.

As we’ve grown, we’ve had to keep up with the growing demands of a similarly-growing customer base. A big part of our ability to keep up has been the addition of our support management system. It’s allowed us to become more efficient and really streamlined our support processes.

Being at CSI for a long time has other perks as well. Company outings are always memorable, whether it’s a hockey game, a trip to the ballpark or a college football outing, the common thread here is work hard and play hard. Every Friday morning the company eats a home-cooked breakfast. We rotate menu choices and dish-cleaning duty. It’s a culture we’re proud of.

Some of the best memories of the 40 years come from our own customer interactions. We still support many long-time customers from the early days in manufacturing. With VO, we’re on 10+ years with a lot of customers, including many global enterprises, recognizable brands, healthcare institutions and a diverse array of other vertical market customers, both large and small.

Thinking back on 40 years brings back many memories and also presents a great sense of accomplishment, laying the foundation for a bright and innovative future. We’ll continue to evolve the Virtual Observer platform, adding features, functionalities and connectivities as our target markets, and most importantly, our customers have demand for them. We’re big on waiting for the industry giants to launch their new buzz features at big prices. We’ll then apply our “simple, effective and affordable” philosophy to it, and disrupt the marketplace with high value and breakthrough affordability.

“We’re certainly researching new technology and new spaces to see where else we can provide value to our customers. I see VO being in a great position to make evolutionary transitions, thanks to our agile development and our ability to stop on a dime and make the changes needed,” added Marcia. “In the recent years we’ve seen VO move swiftly to virtualized servers in many environments, and we’ve created a web-based interface. The global footprint will continue to be flattened, as will our customers’ true cost of ownership.”

Read part one of three

Read part two of three
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Inside CSI: 40 years in business part two of three

Part Two: The Times They Are A-Changin’

Over our 40 years in business, we've become well known for delivering on what we promise. Bulletproof call recording and quality monitoring software for contact centers. What isn't well known, however, is the fact we’ve actually created other software products, such as our popular “RecordNow”, a call recording software for small office/single line recording which has been really successful as a entry level personal recorder.

We’d created ADCM and AMS, precursors to Virtual Observer (VO), our enterprise contact center solution. 

We saw the future, however, and it wasn’t manufacturing control software.


 Manufacturing would undergo its’ own quality process evolution, with ISO9000 and such, and the job shops and defense industries in particular were dwindling in market size.

We looked to the call center as a growing market.

The recording industry had few competitors, and they were each really good as call loggers or as quality monitoring specialists.

No one did both very well, and if they did, they were so overpriced we knew we could make some noise in the industry.

In fact, we created the first blended Logger / QA model by offering the ability to record every call with audio and a random sample with audio and screens.

We pioneered the merging of “Legal, Liability Recording” and “Quality Assurance” industries. From those early discussions and some key relationships with industry expertise we developed Virtual Observer, initially winning small and medium-sized call centers over with our bundled feature set and low cost of ownership.

As with manufacturing, most of our early customers are still our customers.

With it’s third incarnation, we actually designed VO from the ground up to be an enterprise application.

Architected using .NET services allowed for the scalability and framework to support multi-location demand.

It helped us land a large call center outsourcer, with over 4000 phones and over 18 locations sharing an Avaya platform.

VO centralizes all the calls and quality monitoring back to their main hub.

 Possibly the latest achievement was one of our favorites, bringing our enterprise-class VO system from a client-server architecture to a web-based architecture.

It made our solution fresh and extremely user-friendly with a reinvented web interface and a dizzying array of new features, including “Call Insight” for integrated speech analytics, and “Agent Portal”, for bringing the front line agents directly into the process.

The development team is especially proud of their recent “to-do list”, which included completed check offs on the web transition, speech analytics, the agent portal, the chatterbox feature, redefining the way we do screen capture (rules-based) and creating the most flexible Avaya DMCC recording connectivities on the marketplace.

Our Avaya DMCC success was a combination of three factors: determination and creativity of our engineers; being a partner with Avaya in the DevConnect program; demand placed on us by our strong Avaya partner channel, who were not only selling VO as a bundled offering with their phone systems, but now using VO as a “foot-in-the-door” application sale all on it’s own.
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Thursday, June 07, 2012

Inside CSI: 40 years in business - part one of three

Building a foundation for the future: 

CSI timeline

Many of the people here at CSI have had long tenures within the organization. Half of the current staff started here pre-1995, when we were transitioning from manufacturing control software to the call center. The younger people all have been here since 2005, creating their own tenured careers. We hire great people. They fit in, they excel, they stay. Originally a UNIX shop, we brought our manufacturing control software to Windows with Version 6. It was a big deal, as the user interface was overhauled to take advantage of the graphical capabilities.

“We actually were very ahead of our time: we had come up with a model to “rent” the software and make most of our revenues from customization. It was kind of a precursor to the "freemium" marketing model which so many technology companies use today, especially in the SaaS world,” said Rich Marcia.
“I can also remember our top sales guy walking out of a first sales calls with a check. These are such different times, 40 years later.”

Everyone was so terrified of the Year 2000 “problem”, except for our developers. They tackled the issue with swift and confident logic, making sure it was a non-issue for our JSM customers. Dan McGrail, now our Director of Product Development, even wrote 3 books on the subject. It was a challenge which the CSI team handled admirably.

We’ve seen a number of milestones and achievements over the forty years, in terms of major development efforts, like the initial creation of Virtual Observer (VO) in the call recording and quality monitoring space. We had largely been a custom programming consultancy and developers of “Job Shop Manager”, an MS-DOS based solution which enabled many of the smaller manufacturing job shops and defense suppliers, as well as injection molders, with a way to automate their billing & inventory processes. We did it with a low-overhead, nimble, “simple, effective and affordable” operating philosophy which established a formula for how we would disrupt the call center industry. Read Part Two of "Inside CSI: 40 years in business"
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Finding those disgruntled callers...automatically

Contact center supervisors are now using Speech Analytics to automate the process of identifying the calls they really want to listen to.

With some centers recording 10s of 1000s of calls per day, the process of finding the calls was like trying to find the needle in the proverbial haystack.

 The process was made simpler if the contact center agent tagged the call, or if the supervisor knew details about the call - customer name, caller id or agent name, you could then cross-reference a query against those call details, if your system had that information.

Customers now can have all of their recorded calls processed and "listened to".

By creating a category of specific keyword phrases, such as "Disgruntled Callers", the query can be run against the index of analyzed calls and matches can be displayed on screen in seconds.

 What kind of keyword phrases could you use to identify "Disgruntled Callers"?

 "speak to a supervisor"
"mad as hell"
"cancel my service"
"not very happy"
"have to call again"
"need a refund"
"just doesn't work"
"same old runaround"
"find a better deal"
"getting angry"
"HULK SMASH"...and so on.

 There are many different types of speech analytics systems, but they can usually be broken down into two categories: The “Dictionary” based and the “Phonetic” based.

The dictionary-based systems require users to define words and phrases in advance so the speech engine can look for or “spot” those words as the engine is analyzing the audio.

The “Phonetic Based Indexing Engines” are much faster and don't require you to program words in advance.

Our solution, "Virtual Observer Call Insight" is a phonetic-based, enterprise-class Speech Analytics solution that is simple, effective and affordable enough for contact centers of all sizes.

Call Insight provides the ability to receive important search results in real-time within our web-based interface.
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Customer service in the age of social sharing

There isn't much room for customer service mistakes these days.

After all, every business has a CRM system, a quality monitoring solution, hundreds of years of coaching and training knowledge, speech analytics tools, desktop monitoring and analytic tools, etc., all implemented with the common goal of improving customer service.

With the proliferation of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as smartphones which can transform a quick thought into a viral message before the thought is reconsidered, a lone customer service error can grow into a whole lot more.

Salesforce acquired a company called Radian6 with the purpose of integrating social media monitoring with your CRM dashboards.

If someone's mentioning your brand on Twitter, it's now automatically posted on a dashboard immediately. Forward-thinking companies will have a social response team patrolling these feeds, responding with honesty and integrity. If they don't, it will only make it worse.

Yesterday I had walked into a convenience store and showed them an item I had bought which had an expired date. I simply wanted to return it. They didn't even apologize for selling me the item, never mind offering me a new one.

My first reaction, the emotional outrage, was to break out my Droid Razr, snap a picture of the date on the item and then of the store logo and post it to Twitter. Why would anyone want to do business with this store?

Of course, after a few seconds, I thought about it. Maybe the cashier was having a rough day, and maybe this incident isn't representative of the entire store chain.

The Droid Razr went back into my pocket.

How often does the reconsideration not happen, and the blistering comment get posted?

Does your company have anyone who is actively monitoring social media for brand mentions?

Are they equipped to respond?

We're now enabling multi-channel monitoring in our call recording and quality monitoring suite, Virtual Observer, where you can record web chats, emails, social media response, etc., and bring those interactions into your evaluation and scoring process.

If you're going to be out there responding, optimize the way these situations are handled and include them in the quality initative.

Note: since this incident, a highly reputable, upscale store whom I don't frequent, happened to ship me a pair of totally used (thought we were purchasing new) rain boots for my 3 year old son. Crazy!

I tried to call and give them a chance to put their stellar reputation to work and they proceeded to make me transfer and re-tell my story three times. Frustrating.

I returned the boots to the local store, went home and ordered them on Zappos for the same price. Zappos shipped them to me next day, for free.

I ended up relaying the pleasurable Zappos customer experience to the store I had previously purchased the boots from, and the clerk actually told me "I know. Zappos is great. I can't believe we had actually shipped you the ones you returned to us (they were not only worn but discolored.)."

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Flatten Your Global Cost of Ownership for Call Monitoring

Back in 2011, we launched the latest version of the Virtual Observer (VO) quality optimization solution, ushering in a new web interface along with a fresh and redesigned layout for the application. As the system has seen fast adoption within our customer base, some of the side benefits have begun to emerge.

VO has always offered businesses the lowest cost of ownership in our space, a crowded space (over 30 competitors at last count!), mainly attributable to agile development, minimized overhead costs, fair pricing and managed expenses.

We've been able to scale VO to enterprises across multiple locations, globally, with hybrid voice system integration and mixed business needs.

The new version completely flattens the global cost of ownership for customers in a variety of ways, making it far more affordable to scale recording to the far reaches of your enterprise.

- VO is now accessible anywhere in the world with a simple web browser. Remote workers or customers can now be authorized, with proper permissions, to play back or score calls without having to install any software.

- Virtualized environments: in most environments, customers can spin up a virtual machine as opposed to having to buy hardware or audio boards. This not only will reduce your carbon footprint but also your bottom-line IT expenses.

- The emergence of active recording methods utilizing API (application programming interface) integration directly within the phone system (Avaya's DMCC integration, Cisco active recording, Nortel DMS, Mitel, ShoreTel, etc.) also removes the need for audio boards.

- Reduced training time is created by the ease of use and familiarity of the browser. Training is now performed more often than not via remote teleconference/webinar methods, reducing travel expenses and out-of-the-office time for your key employees.

- Virtual Observer customers enjoy painless upgrade paths to our latest version of product at zero software dollars. They pay only a nominal professional services fee to have the new system installed. This is in stark contrast to the expensive forced upgrade path our industry is used to.

- Agent development and training can now be accelerated with the introduction of VO's Agent Portal features, which brings the agent into the quality optimization process and actually humanizes the automated elements of quality monitoring.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Top 10 Benefits of Real-Time Dashboard Analytics for Contact Centers

The Dashboard Analytics feature set available in Virtual Observer 4.0 has many benefits for today's busy contact center:
  1. Gain real-time contact center performance snapshots and insight into emerging trends 
  2. Keep all vital information on one screen rather than having to switch through multiple screens
  3. Focus on high level results and drill down as needed through multiple levels
  4. Detect patterns across multiple dashboard components
  5. Find inefficiencies in agent skill sets and create targeted training programs to improve the overall performance
  6. Generate trending reports to provide evaluation feedback by day, week, month, quarter, year, etc.
  7. Identify actionable changes required in your scoring process
  8. Measure your agents against standard scores with attainment reports
  9. Focus in on specifc agents or questions to uncover agent weaknesses or discover your next superstars-in-training
  10. Compare peers, groups or departments to see the collective gaps and performance gains
When asked by Customer Interaction Solutions about analytics, Coordinated Systems, Inc., was eager to speak to changes happening in the industry as well as some of the enhanced dashboard analytics released in their web-based Virtual Observer 4.0 call recording and quality monitoring solution.

Here are some excerpts from the discussion:

Customer Interaction Solutions: What business needs deliverable via contact centers are you seeing a growing demand for i.e. (a) knowledge management, (b) operational efficiencies, (c) multichannel management, (d) increasing self-service success rates, (e) customer retention and (f) sales/collections performance that you are seeing more of and why?

CSI: All of the above are important, but the one I've seen emerging as an in-demand request are for tools which focus on the customer experience (retention). It’s more and more vital to retain your current base versus spending tremendous monies chasing new business…there's an old adage there somewhere. Multichannel especially social media has gotten a lot of press these days. We haven’t really seen any requests for incorporating Twitter or Facebook (News - Alert) streams as scorable, recordable data points. On the other hand web chat has really seen an uptick. One of our customers, a large expo producer, has noticed a large percentage (20 percent) of customer traffic now flowing through that channel. I also surveyed our customers and a good number of them can see a point where web chats will exist alongside recorded calls, screens and e-mails.

Customer Interaction Solutions: Customer interaction channels: such as contact center live agents, self-service, social media and others such as retail have been housed in silos, making difficult to obtain 360-degree insights from via the information they collect on which to perform analytics. Are these channels beginning to break down or are they still locked in? Are firms getting it that they must rip apart these walls? What strategies do you recommend in response?

CSI: It's becoming more and more apparent that the applications we use today and in the future will be required to offer an API for easy access to data. Even beyond that, the app engineers will need to make it WYSIWYG so the data becomes accessible to any business analyst or application who needs it. With strict privacy controls in place, this should be fairly simple to pull off. It's kind of like when Facebook asks you to give permission to an app – you’re essentially a user who is allowing an app to have access to your data (and your friends’ data - yikes!). I can envision a social network of business applications...apps that are pre-authorized to access each other's data.

Customer Interaction Solutions: Firms appear to be more so in an "I-want-it-yesterday" mode when it comes to information, intelligence and insight. Are you seeing this and what are the drivers?

CSI: This is most definitely the case. We're now fashioning our performance reporting data as real-time, multi-level widgets which can be inserted into any users’ custom dashboard environment. The main drivers for this would be a need for speed in all areas of business analytics. The faster you get your data, the faster you can analyze it and make decisions based on it. We’ve equipped Virtual Observer version 4 to offer a wide range of dashboard analytics to meet this demand.
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