Based in the U.K., mplsystems is a relatively small vendor of contact center in the cloud systems, having fewer than 200 employees, but it has a distinct portfolio of products. Its core product, intelligentContact, is designed for omnichannel customer engagement. Its two other products, Customer Service CRM and Field Service Management, are not typically supported by other vendors in this space. As I dug deeper into the component parts of each of these products, I found other capabilities that also are not normally offered by contact center in the cloud vendors.
The core omnichannel product has capabilities to support blended queuing and routing of all supported communication channels, including voice, email, Web chat and social interaction, self-service and workforce optimization. Customer Service CRM includes the usual CRM capabilities plus a unified agent desktop, campaign management that includes outbound dialing, a knowledge base and contact center reporting and analytics. Field Service Management has standard features such as workforce scheduling, mobile field sales and service, part and supplier management contracts, payments and invoicing and reporting, as well as customer self-service, service desk and multichannel contact management. Added together this is a lot of capabilities; these are some of the key features:
- Single queue routing. The fundamental requirements for omnichannel experiences are support for both assisted and self-service channels, and single, unified routing of all supported channels. By supporting both mplsystems provides a foundation for omnichannel engagement.
- IVR designer. Although not entirely obvious on the company’s website, the system enables end users to create and manage IVR flows. The mobile app version helps companies create “visual IVR” – that is, it allows customers to select IVR options, enter data and receive information on their mobile devices.
- Self-service. Many consumers have gone digital, and for certain interactions prefer self-service rather than dealing with agents. The system includes a suite of templates with which users can create mobile apps, a self-service Web portal and a knowledge management system that supports natural language-based Q&A on websites or mobile devices. These use advanced text analytics capabilities to “understand” the request and search capabilities to deliver appropriate responses. Above all else the system supports seamless transfer from self-service to assisted service so that customers don’t have to re-enter data they have already submitted.
- Workforce optimization. The system includes standard workforce optimization capabilities such as call recording, quality management, coaching and analytics, but workforce management comes by way of integration with third-party systems. It also can integrate customer feedback into the agent quality management process.
Customer Service CRM
- Agent desktop. As the number of channels and systems increase that agents have to access to handle customer interactions, so does the complexity of their desktop system. The system includes capabilities with which companies can build sales, service and unified agent desktop systems that make it easy for users to access all the information they need to carry out their tasks and resolve customer issues.
- Knowledge base. There is an old saying that “information is key.” This usually means that the more information you have, the better the decisions you can make. It is equally true in the context of customer experience. Customers want the same information no matter which channel they use, so the system supports a range of content and information management capabilities that provide the same information no matter what channel the customer uses.
Field Service Management
- Mobile field sales and service. More workers carry out their tasks away from their desk today, particularly mobile sales people and service engineers. The system therefore includes mobile access to system and information that allow such employees to work wherever they are located.
- Intraday scheduling. This uses similar capabilities to create agent schedules and manage detailed work schedules for field service engineers and can show addresses on color-coded maps and to plan routes between locations.
- For me customer experience is a multichannel, enterprise-wide issue that requires processes to flow across business group boundaries. Information must be updated and shared across all systems, and everyone must work from the same timely information. Mplsystems has developed all of these capabilities in-house, with the exception of workforce management, which is supported by integration with several of the main workforce optimization vendors. It thus achieves tight integration between the component parts, which in turn supports these three fundamental requirements.
- Cloud or on-premises deployment. The system, in totality or by component, is available either on-premises or in the cloud, so companies can choose whichever suits their circumstances best.
I wrote recently that supporting an omnichannel customer experience is not easy. Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement shows that for three out of four (74%) companies getting it right is a top priority. Doing so requires supporting assisted and self-service channels with seamless transfer between channels. It requires systems to ensure skilled people are available to deliver assisted service, and it demands a unified desktop to make accessing systems and information easy. It requires systems of record such as CRM to store essential customer data, and it requires analysis of all sources of customer-related data so everyone knows what is going on and how well customers are satisfied. To my knowledge, mplsystems is the only vendor to support such a diverse set of capabilities, and while it might not include all the features of some of the stand-alone systems, they are tightly integrated, which as I said above is essential to supporting omnichannel experience. Companies on or beginning a journey toward omnichannel customer service should include this company in the vendors they assess.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director