Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

USAN Integrates Management of Contact Centers and Communication Channels

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 22, 2017 6:53:15 AM

Over the last few years the telecommunications and call center industries have undergone radical changes. Telecommunications was mainly in the hands of national and regional telecom companies, which essentially owned all the cables in the ground. The call center market was dominated by a small number of vendors that provided on-premises systems to manage and route calls when they arrived at a company’s offices. The telecom model was in effect the first cloud-based service, though almost no one stopped to think about how a call made on one device arrived at another. The arrival of the internet and wireless technologies and the telecom companies’ willingness to lease capacity on their lines changed both models. Now almost any company can provide communication services, and the majority of contact center systems are cloud-based. In this evolution some organizations that previously were hidden behind the telecoms have emerged as suppliers of communications and contact center services.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Employee Engagement, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

CallMiner Advances Customer Engagement Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 2, 2017 11:41:01 PM

Our benchmark research into the next-generation contact center in the cloud confirms what most people intuitively know – that consumers now engage with each other and organizations through more communication channels than a few years ago and that many of these are speech- and text-based. Companies are therefore generating large volumes of voice recordings and textual records. They contain vital information about what customers feel about issues connected to their dealings with the organization – marketing messages the sales process, product and service quality, and employee behavior, among others. The challenge for organizations is to extract insights from these unstructured records and take action to benefit the business based on those insights. When it was founded in 2002, CallMiner set out to support organizations in that quest, and in 2012 it won a Ventana Research Technology Innovation awards.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Employee Engagement, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Zuora Empowers the Subscription Economy

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 2, 2017 10:47:55 PM

Zuora provides software that supports the rapidly expanding subscription economy. I recently attended the company’s user event in London, called subscribe16. During his keynote speech CEO Tien Tzuo insisted that the subscription economy is not only here to stay but is likely to grow substantially. In the U.K. alone, he said, 40 million users are using subscription services, including 14 million use video streaming services, 5.4 million use music streaming services, and perhaps most surprising, 78 percent of adults age 55 or older use at least one subscription service.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Employee Engagement, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Verint Advances Voice of the Customer

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 10, 2016 5:46:46 AM

Verint is an established vendor of contact center systems. Its portfolio of products includes digital customer engagement, knowledge management, agent desktop, workforce optimization (for which it was recently rated the top vendor in the Ventana Research 2016 Value Index), voice of the customer and multiple forms of analytics - including text. Verint has built its portfolio through internal developments and acquisitions, the latest of which is OpinionLab. This merger adds two significant capabilities to its already extensive voice of the customer capabilities, giving organizations the ability to measure customer feedback across all channels, including digital.

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Topics: Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM, Text Analytics

NICE Robotic Automation Improves Interaction Experience

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 26, 2016 9:02:17 AM

Robotics is nothing new to some aspects of manufacturing and the IT industry, but it is relatively new in the customer experience (CX) market. The term often conjures up images of little gray machines taking over tasks previously handled by humans – machines making cars, programmed vacuum cleaners and the like. In the CX space, however, we are not talking about machines but about software that can automate routine tasks. For the time being, I don’t believe robots will take over the contact center and replace human agents. Indeed our recent research into next-generation contact centers in the cloud strongly suggests the opposite. It shows that the telephone is still the top channel of communication and that almost two-thirds (62%) of organizations expect call volumes to rise over the next 24 months. Thus agents will continue to handle large volumes of interactions, which may become more complex.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Employee Engagement, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Clarabridge Engages Customer Experience

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 26, 2016 8:04:31 AM

Analysts have been talking and writing about a “360 degree” view of the customer for years. Our own benchmark research into customer relationship management shows that only37 percent of organizations are able to produce analysis and reports that yield such a comprehensive view. Other research into next-generation customer analytics reveals that the main issue in this area for nearly two-thirds (63%) of organizations is data availability. To make the situation worse, customer-related data is getting ever more numerous and complex. A principal reason for this growth is the number of communication channels consumers now use to engage with organizations and the type of data these channels produce. It includes call recordings, text messages, email, social media posts, customer feedback surveys, chat scripts and event data such as videos that users download. All of these types of data are unstructured , which makes them harder for conventional analytics tools to access and analyze.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Employee Engagement, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

SugarCRM Stays True to Its Vision

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 10, 2016 7:03:53 AM

In the late 1990s, CRM systems were launched to help organizations become customer-centric, to manage customer relationships from end to end, through marketing to sales to customer service, and to provide a “360-degree view of the customer.” For a variety of reasons (overselling, lack of proper adoption, missing functionality), they never lived up to many companies’ expectations, and so CRM got a poor reputation. I recently wrote that customer experience management has undergone significant change in the last 18 months, taking over the role of helping organizations become customer-centric, and that CRM vendors have played a part in these changes. Some of the larger ones have, in my view, taken a backward step by breaking CRM into three components to support marketing, sales and customer service; this makes it harder to support the end-to-end customer life cycle.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM

NGData Delivers DNA on Customers

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 9, 2016 7:11:38 AM

During a recent briefing with NGData, I was initially put off by excessive “marketing speak.” The team began by describing its product, Lily Enterprise, as a “customer experience operating system.” Being used to having operating systems run entire computers, I wasn’t sure what this meant. This term was followed by a statement that NGData’s products help companies transition from being “B2C to C2B,” that is, to put the customer first, an idea that has been around for several years but in my experience few companies achieve. One of the biggest challenges in this regard is that most companies are organized into business groups, and each business group typically has its own processes, systems and metrics, a situation that makes it hard to have a single view of the customer and take actions based on the same customer view, and which lends itself to focusing on internal goals, not the customer. As an example, our research into next-generation customer engagement shows three key impediments to delivering exceptional customer experiences: systems that are not integrated (for 49% of organizations), communication channels managed as silos (47%) and customers receiving inconsistent responses at different touch points. The root cause of all these is data – customer data. Organizations have multiple systems that generate customer data, in multiple forms: for example, structured data in CRM and ERP systems, voice recordings, text data from multiple sources (letters, email, Web scripts, text messages, chat scripts and social media posts), video and event data such as a customer downloading a film. With so much data in so many formats, it is hard for companies to generate a single, “360 degree” view of the customer that can be shared across the whole organization.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

NICE Advances Contact Centers for SMB

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 2, 2016 1:06:39 AM

Over the years, our benchmark research studies on contact center systems have shown that larger centers use dedicated contact center systems to support their operations nearly twice as often as centers that have fewer than 250 seats. Smaller centers typically lack budgets and technical skills to deploy and operate such systems. This situation is evident in the tools commonly used to support workforce management and analytics; smaller centers most often use spreadsheets. While spreadsheets have their place in limited ad hoc analysis for small groups, in an environment such as a contact center, they cause issues with regard to ingesting data from multiple sources and providing analysis in real time.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics

Industry Changes Shake Up Customer Experience Management

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 14, 2016 9:52:49 AM

I have been involved in the call center and customer engagement market for more than 25 years, first as a consultant and systems integrator and for the past 11 years as an industry analyst. There have been lots of changes in that time but never as many as in the last 12 to 18 months. A simple illustration of the change is how I group vendors.

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Topics: Big Data, Social Media, Mobile Technology, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Aspect Provides Customer Engagement Center in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 25, 2016 1:35:43 AM

Aspect is a well-established global provider of contact center systems. Its portfolio of products includes applications for contact centers, self-service, workforce optimization and analytics. In May the company announced it has gained clearance for restructuring its debt, which means it is in a better financial position  to invest in its products and global ecosystem of partners, to the benefit of its customers and new prospects. In a recent briefing Aspect’s SVP and general manager of workforce optimization, Mike Burke, asserted that the restructuring will benefit its customers and cited healthy numbers around its pipeline, sales and revenue, including significant recurring revenue from sales of cloud-based products.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Customer & Contact Center, Call Center

Value Index Analysis Finds Workforce Optimization Market Mature

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 21, 2016 3:06:47 AM

Ventana Research has published its Workforce Optimization 2016 Value Index. The Value Index provides a comprehensive evaluation of contact center workforce optimization vendors based on responses to our RFP-like questionnaire, which was constructed using insights gained from our recent benchmark research into workforce optimization and our knowledge of the market. In our definition workforce optimization systems include interaction recording, agent quality management, workforce management, agent compensation management, training and coaching, and interaction-handling analytics. The research shows that organizations have deployed many of these applications and by doing so have achieved efficiencies in handling interactions, improved outcomes of those interactions and improved both customer and employee satisfaction.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Experience, Mobile Technology, Customer Performance, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Verint Adds Robotic Process Automation to Its Portfolio

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 9, 2016 9:22:45 AM

Verint is an established vendor of workforce optimization products that was the top-ranked vendor in our 2015 Workforce optimization Value Index. However, like many other large vendors in this category, its product portfolio and capabilities extend beyond workforce optimization; indeed, from a glance at its home page it is not immediately obvious that workforce optimization is a main part of its portfolio. The portfolio includes actionable intelligence, customer engagement optimization, security intelligence, and fraud prevention, risk management and compliance. Workforce optimization is a key component of customer engagement optimization, as are process automation and an employee desktop system, both of which can make interaction handling and associated processes more efficient. Recently the company announced two new products that enhance these capabilities: Verint Robotic Process Automation and Verint Process Assistant.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Call Center

Five9 Contact Center System Provides Omnichannel Customer Experiences

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 1, 2016 9:59:09 AM

Five9 provides contact center in the cloud systems. Its Virtual Contact Center is essentially communication infrastructure software deployed through cloud computing. At the heart of its products is cloud-based telephony software that replaces on-premises ACD and PBX technology. The software connects to public telephone systems and helps users receive, make and manage telephone calls while maintaining high voice quality. Being cloud-based provides a range of advantages: It opens up use of the systems by organizations of all sizes, requires fewer skilled resources than on-premises for implementation and administration, eases integration of the systems, provides flexibility and scalability, changes the cost model and above allows organizations to transition to omnichannel engagement that is consistent across all channels and touch points.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Performance, Call Center

Upstream Works Delivers Omnichannel Experience for Customers

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 23, 2016 7:30:16 AM

Since I last wrote about Upstream Works it has expanded its focus on contact center agent efficiency and effectiveness to include omnichannel customer experience. Each of its core products has undergone a number of developments. Its main product now is Upstream Works for Finesse, which it classifies as a smart agent desktop. This is a desktop application that enables users of contact center systems to access the information and systems they need to resolve interactions, as well as prompting the user with next best steps to complete the interaction efficiently and effectively. Upstream Works has a close working agreement with Cisco so the product is only available for users of the Cisco Finesse product.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Call Center

Cloud-Based Contact Center Systems Embrace Analytics and Communications

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 4, 2016 9:32:01 AM

I recently wrote that companies are struggling to provide omnichannel customer experiences and digital customer service is now seen as a business differentiator. To address these issues, organizations need to  change how they use people and processes, and deploy innovative technologies that can support new initiatives. To provide an enterprise-wide solution, contact center systems fall into four categories: communications, business applications, analytics and self-service. Our benchmark research into next-generation contact center systems in the cloud shows which types of systems companies have deployed, which they plan to deploy in the next 24 months and whether they prefer them to be on-premises or cloud-based.

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Topics: Social Media, Mobile Technology, Customer Performance, Cloud Computing, Uncategorized, Call Center

Workforce Optimization Undergoes Radical Change – Ready?

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 28, 2016 4:06:53 AM

In today’s intensely competitive markets, companies must strive to meet customer expectations during every interaction, and interactions occur through many channels. Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement finds that customers use up to 17 channels of engagement. Some channels involve assisted service from employees of the company, and some use self-service technologies such as interactive voice response (IVR), websites, mobile apps and social media, also known as digital service. Although the use of self-service is increasing, the research finds that organizations still expect volumes of assisted interactions to grow, albeit more slowly. The research also shows that the employees customers interact with may work in almost any line of business, including marketing, sales, the contact center, finance and human resources. These challenges require organizations to focus on people, processes, information and technology to optimize the performance of the workforce.

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Topics: Mobile Technology, Customer Performance, Cloud Computing, Uncategorized, Call Center

SAS Make Customer Intelligence Engaging and Valuable

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 22, 2016 9:43:34 AM

My colleague David Menninger recently wrote about the SAS Analyst Summit, concluding that “the SAS analytics juggernaut keeps on truckin’.” He observed, as I have done in the past, that SAS has a vast array of products that it regularly updates to keep up with market demand, ensuring it remains one of the premier vendors of data management and analytics systems. Dave’s perspectives provide in-depth insights into what these products do, while I focus on how they help with business outcomes around customer experience. I was therefore intrigued to hear at SAS’s European analyst event that its products support four types of user – data scientist, business analyst, intelligence analyst and IT analyst. The presenter used simple quotes to illustrate the differing priorities of these groups: For the data scientist, the one that caught my eye was “I need the latest algorithms to solve the latest problems”; for the business analyst I picked “I need to get my report done quickly and easily”; the information analyst is about “identifying patterns of interest that can prompt active decision-making”; and the IT analyst is about “issue resolution and redemption” (mainly operational analysis). In short each type of user needs different products and capabilities, hence the array of products. Nearest to my research practice is the business analyst, who wants easy access to reports and analysis to resolve business issues, and this is where the company’s Customer Intelligence product plays a part.

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Topics: Customer Performance, Uncategorized, Call Center

Market Research Finds Omnichannel Issues in Customer Service

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 13, 2016 9:14:20 AM

In our benchmark research into the next-generation contact center in the cloud more than two-thirds (69%) of organizations said they need to improve customer service, and market dynamics require them to do this is in new ways. Whereas today most (83%) compete on the services they offer, over the next two years 70 percent said they expect customer experience to be the top way they will compete, and nearly half (46%) said they expect to compete through self-service, digital channels. There is no doubt that consumers have changed the ways they prefer to communicate with each other and with companies. Mobile devices have become ubiquitous, and many consumers prefer to use chat-based technologies and mobile apps to engage. That is not to say that phone use is obsolete, as the research shows it and email are the most widely supported channels (each by 92% of companies), and while use of the corporate website (cited by 41%) is expected to show the greatest growth, more than one-fifth (22%) of participants said that the volume of inbound calls will show significant growth. Thus organizations must handle customer interactions across a variety of communication channels to maintain the business of all demographic groups.

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Topics: Customer Performance, Cloud Computing, Uncategorized, Call Center

NICE Systems Doubles Down on Customer Experience

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 1, 2016 12:09:43 PM

NICE Systems was one of the first vendors I started to cover when I joined Ventana Research more than 11 years ago. Back then it was a pure-play vendor of workforce optimization (WFO) systems and was creating a portfolio of products by developing its own systems and acquiring niche vendors of call recording, quality management, workforce management, performance management and analytics. Over the years its portfolio has grown with new features, improved integration between the component parts, centralized administration and management capabilities, and a standard, modern user interface. The latest version of its core Workforce Optimization product was rated a Hot vendor in our 2015 WFO Value Index. It is still
undergoing development, and a new version is being marketed as Adaptive WFO as it uses analytics to become more information-driven.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Uncategorized, Call Center

Contact Centers Need Radical Change to Meet Consumers’ Expectations

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 25, 2016 9:37:26 AM

I have been involved in the contact center industry for more than 25 years and often see organizations that are slow in keeping up with consumers’ expectations; many of them seem reluctant to change, regardless of the need to do so. For example, agents of my cell phone operator ask the same four questions at the start of a call as they did 30 years ago; my bank supports several channels of communication, but it doesn’t provide the same information on all channels; and a well-known airline couldn’t tell me where my bag was for 36 hours (it was at the airport where I departed!). My list goes on, and I am sure you have your own.

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Topics: Big Data, Social Media, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Uncategorized, Call Center

Interactive Intelligence Enables Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 18, 2016 6:00:04 AM

I recently attended the Interactive Intelligence Interactions 2016 conference and came away with four key insights regarding the company’s plans and progress in providing contact centers in the cloud. These include the short-term success of PureCloud, the company’s financial performance, the importance of customer support and dealing with change.

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Topics: Customer Performance, Cloud Computing, Uncategorized, Call Center

Verint Gains Innovative Products through Acquisition of Contact Solutions

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 18, 2016 8:23:35 AM

Verint is an established vendor of workforce optimization, advanced analytics and self-service products for customer experience management. Recently it announced its acquisition of Contact Solutions, whose products complement Verint’s. The acquisition adds analytics capabilities and fraud detection software, both of Verint will incorporate into its existing products. Contact Solutions also brings to the merger IVR and My:Time, two innovative products that add to Verint’s portfolio for customer self-service.

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Topics: Mobile Technology, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Uncategorized, Call Center

Interactive Intelligence Doubles Down on Cloud Computing

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 16, 2016 8:15:45 AM

Six months ago I wrote that Interactive Intelligence bases its product strategy on continued support of its three core products: CIC, CaaS and PureCloud. During a recent briefing CMO Jeff Platón made it clear that although the company continues to support all three, its main focus will be PureCloud Engage that is also certified and available on the Salesforce AppExchange. When the company first released this product in 2012, the financial markets and some analysts saw it as a big risk because it is a ground-up development designed to run only in the cloud. The question was whether the company could succeed with a new architecture, all new capabilities and a new cloud platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS). Now the answer seems to be yes; the company asserts that cloud revenue is up and that it has gained 26 new PureCloud customers in the last 12 months and some positive customer references. This is not surprising to me because in my past research I carried out nearly two-thirds or organizations said they planned to adopt contact center applications in the cloud, and just under half said they intended to adopt communication systems in the cloud; judging by results from this and other vendors, many seem to have carried out this intention.

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Topics: Customer Performance, Cloud Computing, Uncategorized, Call Center

Genesys Has New Impetus for 2016

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 10, 2016 9:15:45 AM

During a recent analyst briefing, I learned that Genesys finished 2015 with a bang and enters 2016 with high expectations. Last year it made several changes at the top of the organization, naming a new president, Tom Eggemeier; a new chief marketing officer, Merijn te Booij; and a new head of global sales and field operations, Mark Turner. Their mandate is to stimulate sales of the company’s core product, Customer Experience Platform. I also learned that since spinning out of Alcatel Lucent in 2012, Genesys has had financial success, won many new accounts and expanded around the globe. Several new customers use the cloud-based version of the product, which reflects our analysis that many organizations are replacing outdated, disconnected on-premises systems with cloud-based, fully integrated software suites.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Performance, Cloud Computing, Uncategorized, Call Center

TelStrat Achieves Success with Workforce Optimization in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 23, 2016 5:29:14 AM

TelStrat is a company with a long history. Founded in 1993 it initially resold products of Nortel, Cisco and other telecom equipment vendors. The first product it developed and brought to market was a call recording system deployed on the customer’s premises.  It expanded its portfolio over the years, and today its product suite Engage offers all the key pieces of workforce optimization: call recording, desktop capture, quality management, workforce management and speech, text and desktop analytics. TelStrat built this portfolio through a combination of in-house development and partnering with other vendors. It has achieved considerable business success, having more than 3,300 installations in 55 countries, most of which are delivered through a global ecosystem of some 330 channel partners. Engage is available in three models: Unity is an on-premises, single-server version that supports up to 250 users; Enterprise is an on-premises, multiple-server version that supports unlimited numbers of users at multiple sites; and Cloud is a hosted product that supports unlimited numbers of users and is available through a perpetual license or subscription. The company attributes its recent success to the Cloud version, which it supports through multiple data centers in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. This and its longstanding team of call center experts and partners prepares TelStrat to help organizations of all sizes improve contact center agent performance.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Performance, Cloud Computing, Uncategorized, Call Center

Research Agenda: Transforming Customer Engagement in 2016

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 7, 2016 9:05:22 PM

I have been involved in the contact center, CRM and customer engagement business for more than 25 years. Yet only in the past few years have I seen much change. Until recently nearly all organizations focused on handling customer interactions as efficiently and inexpensively as possible; few made much effort to manage customer relationships over the complete customer life cycle. However, over the last 18 months, the scene has begun to change very rapidly, and I expect that to continue and even accelerate during 2016.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Customer Experience in 2016 Infuses New Digital Technologies

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 1, 2016 8:47:26 AM

There were significant technology developments in customer experience management during 2015. Multichannel contact centers in the cloud took hold of the contact center infrastructure market; I counted 21 vendors offering such services. A variety of vendors entered the market for customer analytics, combining analysis of structured data, speech recordings, text, desktop data, Web contacts, and events and processes to provide a comprehensive “360-degree” view of the customer and customer journey maps to track individual interactions over time. In addition a range of self-service or digital customer service applications became available, including mobile apps, voice-activated virtual agents, interactive video and Q&A websites and chat driven by natural-language processing. Digitally connected devices (the Internet of Things [IoT]) and wearable devices began to emerge. In 2016 I will track and try to anticipate the impact these technologies have on the customer experience.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Customer Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

mplsystems Offers Array of Customer Experience Support for Contact Centers

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 3, 2016 10:46:14 PM

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.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Mobile Technology, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Customer Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Diabolocom Provides Customer Interaction in the Cloud Solution

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 24, 2015 8:38:13 PM

In our benchmark research into contact centers in the cloud, nearly two-thirds (63%) of companies said that adopting applications in the cloud would enable them to improve how they handle customer interactions, and slightly fewer than half (44%) said that adopting communication systems in the cloud would deliver similar benefits. Several vendors now provide such systems. Diabolocom is the latest one to brief me on its products. Founded in 2005 and having around 30 employees, it has headquarters in France (and its website is in French), but it has a global presence, primarily for supporting French companies that have offices around the world. Its contact center  products are available only in the cloud and extend beyond basic multichannel communications to other applications connected with handling customer interactions.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Customer Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Oracle Advances Applications and Technology for Customer Experience

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 20, 2015 8:19:34 PM

Oracle has built one of the world’s largest software portfolios through a combination of developing products in-house and acquisitions. In the last few years it has put great effort into transitioning from providing its applications as on-premises products to making them available in the cloud. It also has worked to add customer experience capabilities to its range of business applications. Improving the customer experience is a top priority as our next generation customer engagement research found in almost three quarters (74%) of organization. In doing so it has developed a common user interface across the applications to address modern user expectations and has built a platform to support common capabilities in all its products. Recently I had the opportunity to study the strides Oracle has made in these areas as well as to identify some issues that still need to be resolved.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Customer Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM

Intradiem Enables Real-Time for Agents and Work

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 17, 2015 10:37:09 PM

When I last wrote about Intradiem, its focus was on using numerous sources of data as input for a rules engine that enables companies to make better use of customer service agents’ idle time by allocating tasks to fill those gaps. Although that fundamental concept hasn’t changed, the latest versions of its products also take on a bigger challenge: automating the handling of interactions by shifting the focus from making the best use of idle time to making the handling of interactions and associated tasks more dynamic.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Customer Performance, Analytics, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM

dvsAnalytics Makes Strong Showing in Workforce Optimization

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 9, 2015 9:53:49 PM

Having covered workforce optimization systems for more than 10 years, recently I was contacted for a briefing by dvsAnalytics. I quickly learned that the analytics mentioned in the company’s name are focused on workforce optimization. Founded in 1983, dvsAnalytics is headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., and has thousands of customers in various industry sectors. Its Encore suite of products includes standard workforce optimization applications for call recording, quality management, workforce management and coaching as well as post-contact surveys, live monitoring, multiple forms of analytics and a range of APIs to support integration with third-party products, especially telecommunications systems. The products have mostly been developed in-house although workforce management is provided through integration with Community Workforce Management from WorkForce Management Software Group. DvsAnalytics makes its products available on-premises, in the cloud or in a hybrid environment; unlike some vendors, it builds all three options on the same code base. Most of its sales and post-sales support are provided through a network of partners in various locations.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Customer Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Text Analytics, Workforce Force Optimization

Enghouse Evolves Products for Contact Center Demands

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 8, 2015 10:40:17 PM

Over the last few years, through a combination of acquisitions and internal development, Enghouse Interactive has developed a portfolio of contact center products and services. Recently it announced its product portfolio for 2016. This consists of three core products: CCE, CCSP and EICC. These are updated and rebranded versions of the products I recently wrote about, and each is designed to help different types of organizations maximize the value of every interaction with customers.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Mobile Technology, Speech Analytics, Customer Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Transera Embraces Salesforce.com and Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 2, 2015 10:50:42 PM

Transera is an established vendor of contact center in the cloud systems and analytics, and as I discovered at the Salesforce Dreamforce ’15 conference and during a recent briefing, it has added support for managing voice interactions for users of salesforce.com Service Cloud. Its core product, Global Omni-Channel Contact Center, now supports voice, email, chat and Twitter, which are managed centrally through a routing engine that treats all interactions in the same way. This ensures that companies have a central view of how interactions are being handled, and they can manage the rules to guide customers to the channel most appropriate for what they are trying to achieve and route the interaction to the most qualified person. An enhanced scripting engine allows users to script the ways in which different types of interactions are handled, and a recording engine captures all calls and makes them available for analysis. Transera also has added capabilities to produce real-time analysis of contact center performance through dashboards and analytics that show a single view across all sites and data sources. Operational and business metrics can be calculated using multiple data sources, and a variety of visualization capabilities enable the analysis can be displayed in the format most appropriate for a specific user and occasion. All the systems are available in the cloud and are scalable enough to support companies of all sizes, including those with centers in multiple sites.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Customer Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

LiveOps Empowers Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 28, 2015 8:58:34 PM

Founded in 2000, LiveOps has evolved a unique two-sided business model. On one side is LiveOps Agents on Demand,  an Uber-like business in which home-based workers sign-up as LiveOps agents, and the company uses them to provide outsourced contact center services. This model enables LiveOps to provide flexible levels of service; customers can scale up and down as needed while the provider is able to manage agent numbers cost-effectively. The agents use the LiveOps Cloud Contact Center platform; in this way the company can test its system and use these agents’ experiences to improve the platform as used on the other side of the business. I have previously covered their focus on contact centers in LiveOps Improves the Agent Experience. LiveOps reports revenues growing on both sides and being able to expand its cloud contact center business globally.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Customer Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Three Tools to Boost Omnichannel Customer Experience

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 17, 2015 9:34:52 PM

Much is written about omnichannel customer experience, and various software vendors now claim to focus on the customer experience. With various degrees of credibility they range from providers of communication channel management to workforce optimization, voice of the customer, self-service, analytics and even CRM. This bandwagon raisesthe question of what  omnichannel customer experience really is and how companies can achieve it. Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement shows that consumers now engage with companies through as many as 17 channels of engagement though companies on average support six. The research also shows that every business group, with the exception of IT, engages with prospects and customers at different times during the customer life cycle. Customers today, we know, are more demanding than ever. They want to choose the channel and time of engagement. They want the process to be easy, and they want to be recognized so responses can be personal to them. They expect consistent responses regardless of channel and not to have to repeat actions if they change channels. They want agents empowered to resolve an issue at the first try. Finally, at the end of the interaction they want to feel good about how it went and the outcome.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Operational Intelligence, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Text Analytics

Genesys Brings G-Force to Powering a Better Customer Experience

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 5, 2015 11:11:05 PM

I recently joined more than 1,000 users, partners, consultants and other analysts at the first global G-Force 2015 conference, held in Miami. Sponsor Genesys put together an agenda that not only educated but entertained the attendees. For an example of the latter, Sekou Andrews, a poet, actor, musician and voice-over artist, preceded the main keynotes with a wonderful sketch that put customer experience into the context of marriage and reminded us to treat customers as he does his wife, remembering that the customer is always right!

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Customer Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Insights from Dreamforce ‘15 Exceeds Expectations

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 17, 2015 1:06:03 AM

I recently attended my first U.S. Dreamforce, the annual salesforce.com event designed to showcase its products and services as well as those of its partners, and I was impressed. I was told that Dreamforce ‘15 would be big, and it was – just about every hotel, restaurant, meeting room in San Francisco seemed to have been taken over for the week, and still the company had to bring in a cruise ship to accommodate people and events. I was told it would be manic, and it was – more than 100,000 attendees, and buses and cabs blocking surrounding streets. I was told it would be busy, and it was – more than 600 conference sessions.  I was told it would educational, and it was – I gained many insights into new product developments, both from salesforce and several of its partners. Here are some of the key takeaways for my research practice.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Marketing, Mobile Technology, Speech Analytics, Wearable Computing, Customer Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

ResponseTek Makes Customer Experience Management Simple and Sophisticated

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 8, 2015 11:39:57 PM

ResponseTek is a software vendor whose platform and services help companies collect and act on feedback from their customers. It supports a closed-loop process that collects feedback, analyzes it, provides customizable reports and analysis dependent on the user, and most importantly enables taking action based on the information. This allows companies to understand product and service issues, customer sentiment, intentions, and likely behaviors, and where necessary ensures the most appropriate actions are taken.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Customer Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Text Analytics

Calabrio Supercharges Workforce Optimization with Analytics for Customer Engagement

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 17, 2015 9:03:39 AM

Calabrio is a vendor of workforce optimization software whose core product is Calabrio ONE. It includes the common workforce optimization applications: call recording, quality management, workforce management and analytics. The company is rated Hot in our 2015 Workforce Optimization Value Index, and its product suite is the highest rated in the Usability category. Since our assessment, each of the modules has undergone upgrades, Calabrio has introduced more cloud-based services, and its analytics has undergone extensive changes to support customer experience management. The aim of these enhancements is to provide a single view of the customer that includes customer interactions across all channels, help companies streamline processes through workflow and automation, support more users and provide more deployment options. The Calabrio ONE Cloud Edition supports the full suite in a multitenant environment and is scalable to support companies of all sizes. It also enables users to store data, such as call recordings, in cloud-based services such as Amazon Web Services. I have reviewed these enhancements and note the most significant changes.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Feedback Management, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Call Center

NICE Delivers Customer Journey Maps for Customer Engagement

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 3, 2015 8:56:09 AM

Through a continuing program of acquisitions and internal development, NICE Systems has transitioned from being a vendor of workforce optimization systems to one focused on aspects of the customer experience, notably voice of the customer (VOC), customer engagement analytics and customer journey mapping. It is also moving to cloud-based services from products installed on customers’ premises and is taking a business-solution approach (providing previously integrated and configured products that address specific business issues) rather than general-purpose products. All of these changes are evident in its latest services, which link VOC, real-time journey mapping and predictive analytics to address common customer service and engagement issues. The foundation for these packages are products I have previously covered – Fizzback for multichannel customer surveying and feedback analysis and Causata for a big data analytics platform that includes predictive analytics capabilities – along with its own customer engagement analytics platform, which can link customer data from disparate sources. The result, for example, is that journey maps can show all interactions on all channels a customer uses to try to resolve issues, including the customer sentiment at each touch point and the outcome of the journey.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Feedback Management, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Pitney Bowes Doubles Down on Customer Engagement

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 20, 2015 7:55:43 AM

From its history of managing postal mail, Pitney Bowes has expanded into products for data management, analytics and location intelligence, as my colleague Mark Smith noted. Continuing this expansion through internal development and acquisitions of vendors such as Portrait Software and RTC, it has added to its portfolio products that include customer information management and customer engagement.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Interactive Intelligence and Omnichannel Customer Engagement

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 14, 2015 8:33:41 AM

At the end of last year, I wrote about Interactive Intelligence’s release of a new service, PureCloud. It was the company’s first step into the multitenant cloud computing market, using Amazon Web Services and aimed at small-to-midsize contact centers. To help companies understand the different cloud-computing models, I provided answers to Interactive Intelligence questions on the advancements of these approaches for business.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Performance, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Is NPS the Best Measure of Customer Experience?

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 29, 2015 8:24:09 AM

Recently my colleague Tony Cosentino wrote an analyst perspective asserting that big data analytics will displace net promoter score (NPS) for more effectively measuring the entire customer experience. This prompted a response from Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian, asserting that big data and NPS aren’t the only ways to measure customer experience success. The main point of Tony’s piece, as I interpret it, is that NPS is just a number, but big data analytics can reveal much more about customer behavior and intentions, and it can link these to business outcomes. On the other hand Maxie argues that whether or not companies use NPS, when it comes to measuring the customer experience, they rely too much on surveys and no one metric does the entire job. While to a large extent I agree with both arguments, from a business perspective I don’t think either addresses three very important questions. The first is what actually is the customer experience? Second, how should it be measured? And third, what is the best use of big data in relation to customer experience?

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Upstream Works Helps Customer Service Agents Improve Efficiency and Effectiveness

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 16, 2015 8:20:29 AM

My research and experience show that contact center agents and others handling customer interactions face the continuing challenge of meeting customer expectations while keeping down the cost of handling interactions. Our benchmark research into the agent desktop and customer service finds that one obstacle to meeting these dual objectives is that users have to access multiple systems – typically four or five – to resolve a customer interaction. The research shows that this impacts efficiency (by increasing average handling time and reducing first-contact resolution rates) and effectiveness (by degrading the customer experience, introducing data entry errors and undermining agent satisfaction). This situation is compounded as companies support more channels of communication, often making it necessary for agents to access even more systems.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Performance, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Companies Need Disruptive Customer Experience Technologies

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 10, 2015 5:41:25 AM

Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement finds that the top priorities in customer service for companies are to improve the customer experience (said 74%) and their customer service performance (70%). To do this, the technological steps most companies expect to improve customer engagement are to deploy collaboration systems, redesign the customer portal, deploy internal mobile applications, deploy mobile customer service apps and use social media for customer service. All of these we regard as potentially innovative and required digital technologies. Deeper analysis of the results finds key primary drivers for these priorities. Employees across the organization are handling customer interactions, but customers expect consistent responses no matter who they engage with. Customers are using more electronic channels of engagement, but here, too, they expect consistent responses. People on both sides are engaging more while they are on the move, so mobile support for employees and customers has become essential. Let’s consider how each of these five technologies can help companies meet these challenges and improve customer engagement.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Envision Offers Comprehensive Suite for Workforce Optimization

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 29, 2015 7:31:22 AM

Envision is a vendor of workforce optimization software that I have been following for many years. It is rated a Hot vendor in our 2015 Workforce Optimization Value Index. It offers a full suite of products, including interaction capture, quality monitoring, workforce management, coaching and training, agent compensation management and workforce analytics. In an analysis last year I wrote about how, in an effort to make workforce optimization more accessible and affordable, it created an architecture optimized to run in the cloud. During a recent update, CEO and founder Rodney Kuhn said that the company continues to focus on the cloud while adding new capabilities, especially in interaction capture, agent evaluation and coaching, and analytics.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Performance, Cloud Computing, Call Center

OnviSource Opens Up Workforce Optimization for Contact Center Excellence

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 19, 2015 5:46:38 AM

OnviSource is a 10-year-old vendor of workforce optimization software whose core product, OnviCenter 7, includes interaction capture, quality monitoring, workforce management, coaching and training, and workforce analytics. The company is rated a Hot vendor in our 2015 Workforce Optimization Value Index. It scored highly in the Manageability, Usability and Reliability categories but was held back by lack of compensation management (for which it provides input to third-party products) and some analytics capabilities. The 2015 Workforce Optimization Value Index shows how competitive the workforce optimization market is: The top seven vendors are separated by fewer than three percentage points, OnviSource ranking fourth.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Experience, Customer Performance, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Corvisa Brings New Generation of Contact Center Communications in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 12, 2015 2:32:22 AM

Contact centers in the cloud are increasingly popular alternatives to managing them on a company’s own premises. Running many business applications on hardware owned and managed by a third party is relatively straightforward and requires less support internally. Also the payment model changes from a license to a recurring fee, and typically the vendor provides updates as part of the fee. The challenge with placing a contact center in the cloud is that it is not a single system or even a collection of similar systems. The center includes infrastructure systems to manage communication channels, a network to support telephone extensions and access points to business applications, specialist systems such as routing and IVR, business applications (such as ERP, CRM and workforce management) and performance management and analytics systems; increasingly the contact center has to support mobile and social media as well. Moving all these to the cloud in an integrated manner is a complex task.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Feedback Management, Customer Performance, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Salesforce Helps Companies Innovate in Customer Management

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 4, 2015 8:19:38 PM

In recent years I have tracked Salesforce, its product development and its announcements. Despite having grown into a giant corporation, it continues to introduce innovations. At a recent analyst day in the U.K., I followed up on the company’s overall direction, some key product developments and a new service to help drive adoption of innovative customer-related processes. Salesforce’s primary aim is to help organizations market and sell to, service, engage with and know their customers through innovative processes and cloud-based systems. To support these efforts, it has made significant updates to its marketing, service community and analytics clouds. For example, it has added Marketing Cloud Predictive Decisions to its Marketing Cloud. The new module enables marketers to apply analytics to a range of customer-related data to gain a more complete picture of their customers and from it build more personalized marketing messages and campaigns. Business users can set up their own analytics, determine next best actions and deliver marketing messages and dialogues through multiple communication channels. Predictive Decisions helps transform marketing’s approach from general one-off marketing campaigns to one-to-one, personalized dialogues through channels that individuals prefer. On another front, the company has enhanced its Service Cloud with Service Cloud Intelligence Engine. This product also runs across multiple channels. It dynamically pushes work to the right employee, based on the skill set required to handle the task and the history of the request, and at the same time it distributes and manages the workload across employees who handle customer interactions. Analytics here provides an enhanced view of customers so that dialogues concerning a case can be viewed and preserved across all channels. In other developments Community Cloud has been enhanced to expand the range of expert groups to engage, deliver customer self-service as part of a community, and do this on smart mobile devices. Analytics Cloud now can ingest larger volumes and types of customer-related data, including interaction data. It enables both business users and analysts to use a wider range of data sources to find answers to specific questions, also on mobile devices. It also includes capabilities for developers to build specific analytic apps for targeted business uses. My colleague has assessed the product in Salesforce Analytics Cloud Delivers Wave of Elegant Dashboards. All of these developments and existing capabilities have been brought together on what Salesforce calls the Customer Success Platform. It is built on the company’s cloud infrastructure, and as well as its own cloud-based apps, it includes all the partner apps available on the Salesforce app store. A “scalable metadata platform” glues everything together. It includes data and objects, a mobile user interface, collaboration tools, analytics, workflow and identity management. Enhancements  enable developers to build mobile apps for both customers and employees more easily. In the pipeline are capabilities to use wearable technology to collect and display data. Salesforce’s efforts to help companies “do business in a new way” reflect challenges that many companies encounter in trying to serve customers more effectively. Our research into next-generation customer engagement shows that the three most common challenges are integrating systems (49%), managing communication challenges in a unified way and not as silos (47%) and inconsistent responses and information in customer interactions (33%).  My research and customer case studies lead me to conclude that changing processes is the biggest challenge. To meet this challenge Salesforce has introduced a consulting program called Ignite. This collaborative consulting service aims to help organizations design their customer management vision and execution roadmap. It is comprised of four steps: discovery, inspiration and design, prototyping and iteration and doing it. Discovery uses joint workshops and interviews with key stakeholders to introduce the program and its objectives, gain buy-in and discover the current state. Inspiration and design is another series of joint workshops to develop ideas and envision the desired state. Prototyping and iteration uses the new ideas to develop prototypes of how the new vision can be delivered. The “do” step presents and demonstrates the prototypes to stakeholders and develops a value statement and an implementation plan so the business can decide the way forward. Overall this seems to be a fairly typical consulting service that focuses on customer engagement and associated processes, systems and metrics, but it is deliberately collaborative and tailored around Salesforce applications and tools. The main innovation I see is that it is designed to uncover new ways of working that organizations may not have considered. Business, especially around customer engagement, is changing more rapidly than ever, and it is hard for organizations to keep up with technology developments and learn how to gain maximum benefit from them. Ignite should help Salesforce customers identify how they can improve customer management and introduce new approaches to keep ahead of the competition. The Salesforce Customer Success Platform is a comprehensive package of systems that focus on customer management processes, underpinned by improved integration, analytics and collaborative capabilities. Our research consistently finds that most companies are still relatively immature in the use of people, processes, information and systems for customer management. I therefore recommend companies seeking to survive and prosper in today’s highly competitive markets assess how the Salesforce products and service can help. Regards, Richard J. Snow VP & Research Director

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Feedback Management, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Genesys Advances Omnichannel Experience for Customer Engagement

Posted by Ventana Research on May 20, 2015 11:15:02 PM

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 smart 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.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Feedback Management, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Verint Introduces Gamification Software to Motivate and Engage the Workforce

Posted by Ventana Research on May 14, 2015 9:32:24 PM

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.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Feedback Management, Customer Performance, Cloud Computing, Call Center

NICE Systems Engages Analytics to Optimize Customer Experience

Posted by Ventana Research on May 12, 2015 9:51:06 PM

NICE Systems is an established vendor of workforce optimization products that has long included analytics in its portfolio. Its latest release in this area, NICE Customer Experience Analytics, focuses on mapping, understanding and managing customer journeys and metrics. The product is built on NICE’s common technology platform, which consists of three functions: collect, understand and optimize. The Collect segment has tools to help manage customer-related data and ingest data from multiple data sources; Understand uses analytics tools to analysis the data and produce reports, dashboards and other forms of output; and Optimize uses the outputs to help users improve business tasks such as improve customer satisfaction and net performer scores, suggest next best actions and reduce customer effort.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Panviva Embraces Cloud Computing for Guiding People and Business Processes

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 29, 2015 9:07:22 AM

When I last wrote about Panviva I likened its product SupportPoint to a smart agent desktop – a system that helps contact center agents access the information they need to handle customer interactions, guides them through the process of handling interactions and offers advice on what to say next (for example, which product to upsell). Several trends have emerged since then. Two of our recent benchmark research projects, next-generation customer engagement and next-generation customer analytics, confirm that handling interactions is now an enterprise issue – every business unit except IT now handles interactions. This change creates challenges. More kinds of employees need access to information relevant to the type of interactions they handle. Yet each business unit typically has its own processes and systems to support the way it handles interactions. A third issue is that more employees handle interactions away from their desks and need access to information on mobile devices. The situation is further complicated because, as our research projects also show, customers now interact with organizations through more channels, and companies must provide easy access to those channels.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Performance, Cloud Computing, Call Center

In the Digital Economy, the Customer Experience Is Critical

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 17, 2015 6:55:14 AM

Advertising and marketers tell us we now live in a “digital economy.” That implies the economy is based on and depends on digital technologies. It certainly is true that many consumers, especially younger ones, have changed the ways they interact with each other and businesses; they are now more likely to use digital channels of communication, particularly email, websites, text messaging, instant messaging and social media. In this digital world, where customers can search globally for products and services and change suppliers instantly, it is critical for companies to focus on the customer experience.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Feedback Management, Customer Performance, Cloud Computing, Call Center

New Research to Examine Best Practices in Customer Interactions and Experience with Cloud Computing

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 14, 2015 11:20:13 PM

In 2013, Ventana Research carried out groundbreaking benchmark research into contact centers in the cloud. It revealed that customer pressures have forced companies to support an increasing variety of channels of interaction. This research investigated the systems companies were using then or were planning to use, particularly cloud computing, to manage these channels. The research uncovered three major challenges: integration of systems, channels of communication supported as silos and customers receiving inconsistent information across channels. We found that to overcome these challenges, companies most often were planning to improve agent training and coaching (73%), to deploy contact center applications such as CRM and workforce optimization in the cloud (63%) and to adopt communications management systems in the cloud (44%). Further benchmark research shows continuing changes. The number of channels customers use continues to grow, and in particular more customers prefer to use digital self-service channels such as chat, visual IVR, voice-activated virtual agents and social forums. On the business side more employees across the organization have become involved in handling interactions, including finance and HR departments, mobile customer service and home agents. As channels proliferate more companies have realized that they need a single, comprehensive view of their customers that includes a history of their interactions, the channels they used for those interactions and likely actions they might take as a result of the outcomes of those interactions.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Feedback Management, Customer Performance, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Verint Engages on Customer Engagement

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 8, 2015 8:04:41 AM

In covering Verint for several years I have watched it go from selling call recording systems to adding workforce optimization software, analytics, and support for multiple channels of interaction with customers. Its latest product, Customer Engagement Optimization, increases support for customer engagement and managing the customer experience. Verint has achieved this expansion through a combination of acquisitions and in-house development. Its acquisition of Kana enabled it to go from supporting workforce optimization with some analytics to supporting multiple channels of customer engagement, workforce optimization and advanced analytics. I have written several times that this approach has its advantages – acquisitions shorten the time it takes to add new capabilities and extend the scope of the products – and disadvantages – it creates challenges in producing fully integrated products and developing a common user interface so the products are easier to use. During a recent briefing I saw that the company continues its efforts to advance in all these areas.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Feedback Management, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Nexidia Brings Compliance and Process Management to Interaction Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 31, 2015 7:08:14 AM

Nexidia is a leading vendor of speech analytics vendor. I recently wrote about how it has enhanced its architecture to include text analytics and improve overall system performance. Version 11 of its Neural Phonetic Speech Analytics continues these enhancements to make the product faster and more accurate in its results.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Call Center

VPI Applies Business Intelligence to Customer Experience

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 20, 2015 9:35:10 AM

VPI is a well-established vendor of workforce optimization systems and rated a Hot Vendor in our 2015 Workforce Optimization Value Index. It offers a full suite of products for this market. Notable among them is Performance Reporting, which produces reports and dashboards showing a range of analysis and metrics about telephony, agent performance, coaching and customer success, along with alerts to inform employees of required actions. It combines data from a range of sources, both structured and unstructured, using speech analytics, and works in real or near real time. Performance Reporting is the basis for a new product, Customer Experience BI, which uses many of the same capabilities but focuses more on the customer experience while retaining the contact center capabilities. Our benchmark research into next-generation customer analytics shows this to be an important development as just under two-thirds (63%) of participants said they are considering investing in customer analytics to improve the customer experience.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Enghouse Interactive Expands Portfolio of Contact Center Systems

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 13, 2015 9:00:51 AM

Enghouse Interactive is one of three divisions of Enghouse Systems, a publicly traded Canadian company founded in 1984. The other two divisions provide network technology to telecommunications providers and applications for public and private transportation companies; Enghouse Interactive owns the company’s three contact center systems. The corporate group has a history of growth – it now has a market capitalization of more than US$1 billion - achieved both organically and through an aggressive acquisition policy. The same applies to Enghouse Interactive. Its three core products are built on three acquisitions – Syntellect in 2002, CosmoCom in 2011 and Zeacom in 2012. Each of these has been enhanced by a combination of in-house development and integration with other acquired products. The three products are maintained and developed independently, something Enghouse Interactive says will continue for the foreseeable future. However it is working to integrate its latest acquisitions with all three products, so each will gain new capabilities.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Customer Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Tracking the Customer Journey Is Critical for Engagement

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 27, 2015 4:38:44 AM

Competition for customers is more intense today than ever before, and companies struggle to differentiate themselves from the competition. Our research repeatedly finds that customer experience is a key differentiator. Our research into next-generation customer engagement said the impetus for improving engagement is to improve the customer experience in almost three quarters (74%) of participants. One increasingly popular way to do this is to use customer journey maps, which show how companies plan to engage with customers: at what times, through which channels, at which touch points and with which business units or using which self-service technologies. Our benchmark research into customer relationship maturity shows that two-thirds (67%) of very customer-focused companies use customer journey maps. The top four uses are to develop more customer-focused employee training (by 78%), personalize customer experiences (76%), enhance customer experience processes (73%) and drill down on customer experience processes to the customer segment level (73%). Typically producing these maps has been a manual process, perhaps using process mapping tools; in these cases few companies were able to capture and visualize actual journeys. However, as more business units engage with customers and companies deploy multiple channels of engagement – including self-service – improving the customer experience and mapping the customer journey become more complex, and to keep up companies have to invest in processes and tools that help them automate the process of producing maps and capture data about and visualize actual customer journeys.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Customer Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Verint Advances Feedback Management to Improve Customer Experience

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 26, 2015 2:29:19 AM

Verint entered the enterprise market for customer feedback management when it acquired Vovici in August 2011. Since then the Vovici products have been integrated into Verint’s Customer Engagement Optimization suite, which includes products originally developed by Verint and Kana, which it also acquired. The current suite supports a range of capabilities that Verint groups into three categories: customer analytics (various types of analytics and Enterprise Feedback Management), customer engagement (which is largely the Kana products that support the agent desktop, email, chat and co-browsing, knowledge and case management, and Web-based self-service) and workforce optimization (quality monitoring, workforce management, desktop and process analytics, performance management and e-learning and coaching). Having this broad array of capabilities allows Verint to support a closed-loop approach to customer feedback and connect it to the processes with which to identify issues raised through feedback and take action to improve (through process change, training and coaching, for example).

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Customer Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Text Analytics

Cisco Provides a Portfolio of Contact Center Products

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 17, 2015 7:12:59 PM

I recently attended a Cisco Collaboration analyst day in the U.K. and was impressed by what I heard and saw. Cisco  of course is known as a supplier of network equipment and software, and it has long provided these through a global network of partners. But Cisco also has been in the contact center market for several years and has had success with its small and enterprise contact center systems, having more than 20,000 on-premises customers and revenue in excess of US $1.5 billion. Cisco markets the contact center systems as Customer Collaboration , but the portfolio is still based on its two longstanding contact center products: Unified Contact Center Enterprise  and  Unified Contact Center Express , designed for larger and smaller centers, respectively. Two other options are  CiscoPackaged Contact Center Enterprise  and  Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution for Contact Center (HCS-CC) . These both use the Enterprise products, but the first comes packaged and so has less options, and the second is based on cloud computing; both are easier to deploy and more affordable for a wider market than the other options.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Text Analytics

Genesys and Workforce Optimization

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 28, 2015 8:08:58 AM

Genesys is best known as a provider of contact center management systems and has long provided computer/telephony integration (CTI) and single-queue call routing systems. Over the past few years it has had changes of ownership and now is a stand-alone company focused on providing systems to improve the customer experience. To do this its combines contact center infrastructure systems and a suite of workforce optimization applications. We included the suite in our 2015 Workforce Optimization Value Index, which evaluates workforce optimization vendors against the requirements of companies as found in our benchmark research into next-generation workforce optimization. Genesys is rated a Warm vendor in the Value Index as a consequence of not actively participating with our process forcing us to base the evaluation on publicly available information including product documentation, presentation and briefings, which although comprehensive does not address all aspects included in the Value Index. During a recent briefing I learned more about Genesys’ software and services that I can provide more depth on some key areas of their workforce optimization offering.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Research Agenda: Customer Technology for 2015

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 23, 2015 9:48:29 AM

I recently wrote about customer experience lessons I learned during 2014 and the technologies required to deliver EPIC experiences. Both of these analyses focus on the people, processes, information and technologies required to improve the customer experience at every touch point, and these themes will also be at the heart of our customer technology research agenda for 2015.

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Topics: Big Data, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Technology Requirements for Providing an EPIC Customer Experience

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 20, 2015 1:22:25 AM

Customer Experience was one of the subjects most talked and written about during 2014, and I expect this to continue in 2015. Many observers and analysts, including me, believe it can be the difference between companies succeeding or going out of business. Yet debate continues to define what customer experience is and how to manage it. Some think the best tools are “voice of the customer” information and systems that enable companies to track and understand customer sentiments and likely actions. Others advocate customer or interaction analytics that provide a complete view of the customer. For others it is all about social media and how it changes the customer relationship, and many diehards still insist customer relationship management (CRM) systems are the key. Indeed, as it is with CRM, ask 100 people what it is and you may get 100 different answers. I go back to basics. For me the customer experience is how customers feel and act during and after any engagement with a company. Of course, there are many ways of interacting these days, whether it is seeing an advertisement, receiving an email, talking to an agent in a call center, having a service engineer visit your house, looking for answers on a company’s website, trying to navigate through IVR menus, using the company’s mobile app or watching a YouTube video. These all impact customers’ perceptions of a company, affect their emotions and drive their reactions. In all, the customer experience is determined by the combination of how employees behave, how well processes work, how complete the information about the customer is and the impacts of diverse types of systems, all of these at any point of engagement throughout the customer life cycle.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Workforce Optimization Software Vendor Ratings in Perspective

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 14, 2015 9:47:34 AM

As with many other research topics, Ventana Research investigates workforce optimization in two ways. Our benchmark research into next-generation workforce optimization assesses how companies use workforce optimization systems now and intend to in the future, while our Workforce Optimization Value Index evaluates how well workforce optimization products and vendors match buyers’ needs.  In our newly released 2015 Workforce Optimization Value Index the top vendors are Verint and VPI, both rated Hot, followed by five other Hot vendors: NICE Systems, OnviSource, Aspect, Calabrio and Envision. The overall scores place all seven Hot vendors within four percentage points of each other, and only a further three percentage points separate the three Warm vendors – Genesys, KnoahSoft and Interactive Intelligence. The closeness of the scoring suggests that this is a mature market and in most respects vendors support much the same features.

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Topics: Big Data, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

ManyWho Brings New Approach to Workflow and Business Efficiency

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 12, 2015 9:51:37 AM

ManyWho was launched in May 2013 by two former Salesforce.com executives, Dave Norris and Steve Wood. They branded it the Cloud Workflow Company, It offers an innovative approach that allows organizations to create workflows, automatically convert them into business applications and run the apps on multiple types of devices. The key to its success lies in the second and third steps, which differentiate ManyWho from most other business process optimization vendors; the process maps that users produce are not static representations of how business processes should work but instead become apps that monitor what is happening and enable the next step in completing the process.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Self-service, Operational Performance, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM

Customer Engagement Analytics Getting Simpler with Verint

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 12, 2015 8:38:47 AM

Verint is a well-established vendor of workforce optimization systems. It recently acquired KANA Software, as I discussed, which enabled Verint to move further into the customer engagement market. Now Verint has combined the two companies’ range of analytics products to create Verint Engagement Analytics.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Salesforce Innovates in Customer Engagement

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 8, 2015 6:41:15 AM

When Salesforce.com began in 1999 its stated intent was “to reinvent CRM in the cloud.” In 15 years, the company has achieved much more than that, having a major impact on the way IT systems are delivered: Large numbers of vendors have followed its example to provide cloud-based systems. It added a platform as a cloud – a software development environment in the cloud – to its portfolio, introduced an apps store where many vendors sell their products and services, moved into social and mobile computing, and expanded CRM in the cloud to marketing, sales and service clouds. And it continues to innovate in the fast-changing business software market.

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Topics: Big Data, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Lessons Learned about the Customer Experience in 2014

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 31, 2014 9:46:57 AM

During this year talk has been widespread about the customer experience, which is good. What is not so good is that, according to my benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement, most companies still struggle to deliver satisfying experiences. However, the research and my discussions with users and vendors lead to some clear conclusions:

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Topics: Big Data, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Self-service, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Workforce Optimization Vendors Rated in 2015 Ventana Research Value Index

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 30, 2014 10:33:20 AM

The Ventana Research Value Index for Workforce Optimization in 2015 is now released. Workforce optimization covers all aspects of managing everyone who handles customer interactions and is thus vital to improve operational efficiency, and customer and employee satisfaction. It includes the following applications: interaction capture, quality monitoring and assurance, workforce management, coaching and learning management, variable compensation management, and interaction and agent analytics. Our Value Indexes are informed by more than a decade of analysis of how well technology suppliers and their products satisfy specific business and IT needs. For each we perform a detailed evaluation of product functionality and suitability to task in five categories as well as of the effectiveness of vendor support for the buying process and customer assurance. In this case the resulting index gauges the value offered by each vendor and its products in supporting workforce optimization.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Text Analytics

Interactive Intelligence Innovates in the Cloud for Contact Centers

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 26, 2014 7:31:32 AM

Interactive Intelligence is a well-established supplier of contact center systems and just celebrated its 20th anniversary. Customer Interaction Center (CIC) is its on-premises product, which provides integrated management of multiple communication channels and supports a high degree of customization. Communications as a Service (CaaS) is a virtual private cloud (for single tenants) version of CIC and as such offers less potential for customization. Recently Interactive Intelligence released PureCloud, an innovative cloud-based service that is available through Amazon Web Services.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Self-service, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

IBM Enables Business Innovation from 21st Century Technology

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 19, 2014 10:05:10 AM

Those of us who have been in the technology industry for many years remember the phrase “No one ever got fired for buying IBM.” Then IBM was both a hardware and a system software vendor, and most IT managers new that hardly anyone would question a decision to go with IBM. These days IBM has done extensive marketing to make itself known for everything “smart” – planets, cities, commerce and of course technology. While its website suggests it offers a limited number of software products, in fact IBM is one of the largest providers software and is committed to innovation. David Stokes, CEO of the U.K. and Ireland division, kicked off its recent U.K. BusinessConnect event by reminding the audience that IBM is driven by three fundamentals – data, the cloud and security.

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Topics: Big Data, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Self-service, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

NICE Systems Delivers Customer Engage Platform

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 29, 2014 6:31:06 AM

I recently wrote about NICE Systems expanding beyond workforce optimization, including more analytics in its product portfolio.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

NICE Systems and Customer Engagement Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 4, 2014 9:12:20 AM

I recently wrote about NICE Systems’ acquisition of Causata to enhance its analytics capabilities and expand from workforce optimization into customer experience management. NICE recently released Customer Engagement Analytics, which is designed to analyze customer interaction data to help companies improve the customer experience at every touch point. NICE calls this optimizing the customer journey.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM

NewVoiceMedia Advance Cloud-Based Contact Center Technology

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 22, 2014 9:40:30 AM

Recently NewVoiceMedia announced that it has raised $50 million to fund its growth. The company was founded in 2000 in the U.K., initially offering call management and routing as cloud-based systems. Until then, most companies built their contact centers using on-premises private branch exchange (PBX) or automated call distributor (ACD) call management systems, with on-premises call routing and business applications such as customer relationship management (CRM). Some companies offered off-premises business application services, and salesforce.com had just begun to push its CRM in the cloud offering.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Voice of the Customer, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM

Oracle Customer Experience in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 14, 2014 9:17:02 AM

Oracle has a large and diverse set of products and now has most of its business applications operating in the private and public cloud. However, some recent acquisitions have enabled it to focus on cloud-based-products for managing the customer experience. Our next generation customer engagement research has found that customer experience is the top impetus for improving customer engagement as found by almost three quarters (74%) of organizations. Oracle has created a customer experience suite that includes marketing, commerce, service, sales, CPQ and social cloud. In particular the acquisition of RightNow has become the foundation of Oracle Service Cloud.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Mobile Apps, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM

IBM Brings Sophistication to Customer Analytics and Prediction

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 30, 2014 8:48:50 AM

During recent IBM analyst big data event, I learned about a new product, IBM Predictive Customer Intelligence. It extracts and processes customer-related data from multiple sources to analyze customer-related activities and has capabilities to predict customer behavior and actions. Predictive Customer Intelligence is built on IBM’s big data platform and supports extraction and integration of data from multiple sources, internal and external, and from structured and unstructured data. It can process data created by third-party products, such as text-based files of data created by converting speech to text. The product can capture and analyze customer interactions from multiple communication channels such as voice, email, text messages, chat and Web usage scripts and social media posts.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Voice of the Customer, IBM Predictive Customer Intelligence, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, IBM, Information Applications, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, IBM Watson, Text Analytics

SAS Helps Manage Interactions and Gain Insights on Customers

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 26, 2014 10:15:11 AM

By its own admission, SAS has a very large software portfolio (of more than 250 individual products), and it continues to develop and release more products and updates to existing ones. Some of the products are sold alone, and others are bundled into “enterprise solutions”. Some are for technical users, and others are business applications. This complexity can make it hard to identify which product or bundle serves a particular need. Three are most relevant to my research practice: Customer Intelligence (CI), which I wrote about after attending the 2013 SAS European analysts event; SAS Visual Analytics; and a new one, the Customer Decision Hub that SAS has developed to support multichannel customer engagement.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Mobile Apps, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Text Analytics

Nexidia Brings Sophistication to Customer Interaction Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 24, 2014 10:26:21 PM

Last year I assessed how Nexidia had advanced its products to support customer interaction analytics. Since then the market has changed, and Nexidia continues to expand its products to meet a broader set of needs for analyzing and optimizing customer interactions. Companies are recognizing that they need complete information about their customers, including interactions, and need to change the metrics they use to monitor and assess customer-related activities. My research into next-generation customer analytics shows that the most common tools used to produce customer analytics is spreadsheets (52%) and only 26 percent of companies have implemented a dedicated standalone customer analytics tool to help them respond to these requirements; however, the results also show that more companies plan to adopt dedicated customer analytics products in the next 12 to 24 months. For good reason as spreadsheets are known for errors that impact business and use of general BI tools can lengthen the time to value and not support the specific data and analytic needs like that needed in customer interaction analytics.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Nexidia, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Text Analytics

New Generation of Recurring Revenue and Billing Inspired from Cloud Computing

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 22, 2014 10:58:15 PM

Much has been written about how cloud computing changes the way businesses source their software and services. For software companies, instead of being installed inside the company, software like business applications run on a computer installed at an external site. If the external site is not shared with any other business, this is called a private cloud; if it is owned and operated by a third party and supports more than one business, it is called a public cloud. In the case of public clouds, users access the applications via the Internet, and increasing they can do this while out of the office, using laptops or mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. The main advantages of this model are that companies don’t need to invest in hardware or support staff to install and maintain hardware or software like these applications, the vendor handles system updates and users can work anywhere (including on the move) by logging in through a Web browser or an application designed specifically for mobile technology. Our research confirms that the overall importance is overall important in more than half (57%) of organizations.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Financial Performance, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

8x8 Integrates Communications and Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 18, 2014 9:55:34 AM

8x8, Inc. was founded in the 1980’s to provide semiconductor products to the emerging personal computer market; in 2002 it was relaunched to focus on Voice over IP (VoIP) services. By 2008 it had become the second-largest independent VoIP provider in the U.S., and its product, Virtual Office, was widely used by businesses for telecommunications. In 2011 8x8 acquired Contactual and entered the cloud-based call center market. Today the company brands itself as a “communication and collaboration solutions provider in the cloud” and has two main product lines, Virtual Office and Virtual Contact Center.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications

Genesys and IBM to Improve Customer Engagement with IBM Watson

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 14, 2014 9:34:23 AM

The contact center market continues to shift focus from handling customer calls as efficiently as possible to providing superior customer engagement across multiple touch points. The latest advancement is an joint announcement from IBM and Genesys who have signed a partnership agreement to provide “smarter customer engagement”. The agreement includes a technology partnership and a joint marketing plan, and brings together IBM’s Watson Engagement Advisor and Genesys’ Customer Experience Platform.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Experience, Genesys, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Operational Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Cognitive Computing, Contact Center, CRM, IBM Watson

NICE Systems Closes Voice of the Customer Loop

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 4, 2014 8:35:36 AM

NICE Systems is best known for its suite of workforce optimization products [http://www.nice.com/workforce-optimization-lobby] that I recently assessed. However, after attending its user event last year, I wrote in 2013 that it was extending its portfolio and changing its focus to concentrate on packaged solutions that address specific business needs. Over the years the company’s portfolio has evolved through a combination of in-house development, acquisitions and partnerships. This approach  enabled NICE to build a broad portfolio quickly, but it also created challenges in integrating the separate products into a homogeneous whole. One of the key acquisitions was Fizzback, which gave NICE entry to the market for customer feedback and voice of the customer (VOC) software. In this context I was keen to learn during a recently briefing how the company is integrating these products into a broader VOC portfolio.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Workforce Force Optimization

InContact Advances Workforce Optimization for Contact Centers

Posted by Ventana Research on May 29, 2014 10:11:02 AM

InContact has cloud-based products that cover multichannel communications infrastructure (sometimes referred to as a “contact center in the cloud”) and workforce optimization. The channel management products were developed by inContact and through a partnership with Verint. InContact has been working to make Verint’s workforce optimization products available in the cloud while integrating the two sets of products. I met Kristyn Emenecker, inContact’s VP of workforce optimization, at the recent ICMI Contact Center Expo to find out how the recent announcement that it has acquired Uptivity, which also provides workforce optimization products in the cloud, will impact that partnership and the future direction for the products.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Workforce Force Optimization

Contact Center Expo 2014 Highlights Cloud Computing and Customer Experience

Posted by Ventana Research on May 15, 2014 9:35:05 AM

I recently presented at the 2014 ICMI Contact Center Expo and Conference and have a few insights I want to share. I was impressed by the two main keynote speeches. In the first Bill Rancic, an entrepreneur, author and TV personality, talked about “How to Succeed in Business and Life.” Bill is not in the contact center industry, but he reminded the audience that individuals and companies that succeed in life and business grab opportunities when they come along. He went on to say that consumers (which includes you and me) are changing the ways we conduct our lives and the ways we engage with each other and with businesses. As we all know, use of mobile devices has rocketed, as has use of the Internet and social media, and as a result people are less inclined to talk to each other directly, choosing instead to text, post comments to social media or use the increasing number of mobile applications available; when we do talk, it is now increasingly likely to include video. This change creates opportunity for companies; those that meet expectations about communicating in these ways can grab the attention of customers and generate more business. I couldn’t agree more, having written about these changes myself. Consumers have already made these changes, and companies need to act now to grab the opportunities.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

Panviva Enables Smarter Customer Service

Posted by Ventana Research on May 8, 2014 8:39:07 AM

On its website Panviva describes itself as providing “business process guidance,” which is a phrase I was notfamiliar with. As I searched the site, I found messages such as”it’s all about customer experience,” “the right information for the right person at the right time” and “navigating complexity.” All of these describe issues contact center agents face on a daily basis, and I concluded that Panviva competes in a space I track. My benchmark research into the agent desktop and its impact on customer servicefinds that agents play a significant role in the customer experience, but many have to work with a desktop that impedes them in accessing systems and information, and some of the interactions they handle are complex.It was this perspective I brought to a briefing with Steve Pappas, Panviva’s SVP for North America.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Business Process Management, Call Center, Contact Center

OpenSpan Makes Smart Agent Desktop Simpler

Posted by Ventana Research on May 3, 2014 11:56:13 PM

My benchmark research into the smart agent desktop finds that in nearly two-thirds (65%) of companies, contact center agents have to access multiple systems as they try to resolve customer interactions. These range from channel management systems (such as telephone, email, text messages and social media) to business applications (such as CRM, ERP and knowledge management), performance dashboards and analysis, and messaging systems. Having to use all these systems leads agents to make mistakes, increases average handling times, produces data errors and reduces satisfaction for both agents and customers. The last two are especially important because the research shows that very satisfied agents twice as often as less satisfied ones meet important customer-related metrics such as customer satisfaction, net promoter and customer effort scores, and satisfied customers are likely to remain loyal, buy more and recommend the company to people they know. A smart agent desktop can alleviate these issues by making it easier for agents to access systems, navigate between them, enter data and view important information.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Experience, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Workforce Force Optimization

NICE Delivers Customer Interactions with Next Generation Workforce Optimization

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 3, 2014 9:17:30 AM

In my research of NICE Systems for several years I have remarked often that its biggest challenge is to integrate all the products that now make up its Customer Interaction Management suite. Through acquisitions, in-house development and partnerships, this suite has grown to include interaction recording, quality management, workforce management, incentive management, interaction analytics, performance management, real-time guidance, customer feedback management, mobile access and Web-based customer service. The company still offers each of these applications separately, but increasingly NICE bundles selected products into what it calls “solution suites” for uses such as workforce optimization. It also configures these suites to meet specific business needs such as voice of the customer and operational efficiency. These bundles require integration, common administration and management capabilities, as well as standardization of the user interface. My latest briefing by NICE executives showed the company moving in these directions but still having more to do to meet the expectations of a new generation of users. Successfully integrating applications to become business-related solutions is critical according to our benchmark research into next-generation workforce optimization, in which nearly half (48%) of participants said that integration is very important; analysis show that they want systems to be easier to use, to provide a better user experience, to be less error-prone and to connect processes such as customer feedback and workforce optimization. Version 6 of NICE Customer Interaction Management moves in this direction, with an integrated portal into performance management, workforce management and contact management, unified administration capabilities and enhancements to the user interface.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Workforce Force Optimization

Customer Analytics Research Reveals Required Capabilities for Software

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 29, 2014 9:52:40 AM

Our recently released research into next-generation customer analytics shows that the most participants (52%) use spreadsheets as a customer analytics tool. I recently wrote that while these popular tools are adequate for some tasks, they are not suitable for analyzing large volumes and many types of customer data. So I think it is appropriate that one in four (26%) participants have adopted a dedicated customer analytics tool and a further 29 percent are planning to invest in such a tool in the next 24 months.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics

Confirmit Advances Social Analytics for Voice of Customer

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 26, 2014 11:13:05 AM

The last time I reviewed Confirmit it had just acquired CustomerSat and was re-engineering its products to support a broader approach to voice of the customer (VOC), which Ventana Research defines as a complete view of customer interactions, customer sentiments after interactions and the outcomes of those interactions. During my latest briefing, I found out that the new architecture will be available in version 18 of the product, which Confirmit recently announced as generally available. Confirmit also recently announced the acquisition of Integrasco for social and text analytics and says it intends to have those products at least partly integrated into the core product during the second quarter of this year.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics, Unified Communications

Interactive Intelligence Advances Contact Center Software Portfolio

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 20, 2014 9:23:54 PM

Building a contact center is growing in complexity as companies struggle to support customers’ ever-higher expectations. Customers now insist on engaging with companies through the channel of their choice, often from a mobile device, and at a time of their choosing. If they interact with a person, they expect that person to have the social and technical skills to resolve their issues quickly and effectively. If they use any form of self-service, they expect the technology to help rather get in the way of speaking with a person. And of course many disgruntled customers don’t hesitate to publish their views on social media.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

Customer Analytics Deserve More Than Spreadsheets

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 7, 2014 8:24:59 AM

I recently completed two closely related benchmark research reports, on next-generation customer engagement and next-generation customer analytics. The  research on customer engagement shows that companies on average engage with customers through seven or eight communication channels and that almost every business unit except IT engages with customers. To provide customers with personalized, in-context and consistent experiences across these channels, companies need an up-to-date, complete view of their customers that gives those who interact with them the information they need to decide how to respond. However, the customer analytics research shows that the majority of companies don’t have access to such information and analysis. The most common analytics tool for more than half of companies is spreadsheets in 52 percent of organizations. Although spreadsheets meet individual users’ needs for ad-hoc analysis, they are inadequate for enterprise processes such as customer analytics. Almost three-fifths (57%) of companies in the research said that using spreadsheets makes it difficult to produce accurate and timely customer analysis.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics

Salesforce.com Continues Move to be Platform Provider

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 27, 2014 9:50:53 AM

Salesforce.com began with a simple message: On-premises CRM has come to the end of its useful life, and the way forward is cloud-based CRM. I have written several times that the company has won this argument, and my research into contact center in the cloud confirms this: 63 percent of participating organizations said that adopting systems in the cloud is one of the key ways to improve customer engagement. Furthermore, this vendor’s success pressurized  many other companies to move into the cloud, and not just for CRM. Salesforce.com itself expanded from cloud-based CRM to create clouds for sales, marketing and service.. This transition continued in the middle of last year when it surprised the market by announcing it would add a development platform in the cloud to provide tools for creating mobile apps. To further these aims, it recently announced the first release of Salesforce1 Service Cloud, calling it the “Service Platform for the Internet of Customers.” I had several questions about what this really means going into a recent briefing.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM

The Future of Customer Engagement Is Complicated

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 31, 2014 9:00:21 AM

In my benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement three-quarters (77%) of participating companies said it is necessary to improve the way they engage with customers. The main drivers for doing that are to improve the customer experience (74%) and improve customer service (70%). However, neither is an easy task because companies now have to support more channels of communication, and more customer interactions are handled by multiple business units within the organization. The combined impact of this complexity can be inconsistent responses that depend largely on which channel the customer uses and which person handles the interaction. This is situation is likely to get worse as customers continue to use existing channels but increasingly add new means of engagement such as mobile apps, voice-activated applications and social media posts.

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Topics: Big Data, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Envision Takes Workforce Optimization to the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 28, 2014 11:40:17 PM

Envision has carved out a slice of the workforce optimization market by offering its suite of products as cloud-based services. In addition to core products such as interaction recording, quality assurance, workforce management, training, coaching and agent analytics, it offers speech and desktop analytics and customer feedback management through surveys and our part of my research agenda. Our last Value Index shows that this is a highly competitive market, and my benchmark research on next-generation workforce optimization reveals that various segments of the market such as call recording and quality management have high levels of penetration. I was therefore keen to understand where Envision’s latest release, Click2Coach Cloud, fits in this market.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Workforce Force Optimization

Uptivity Launches Gamification Capabilities for Workforces

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 27, 2014 9:26:51 AM

I am not comfortable with the term “gamification” used in the context of business applications. It sounds as if employees are officially allowed to play games while working and thus take their attention away from the task at hand, which in a contact center is serving customers. So I was skeptical when Uptivity recently wanted to brief me about gamification capabilities it recently announced for its suite of workforce optimization products. I was doubtful that gamification will help companies in their quest to optimize performance from their contact center agents.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

Customer Engagement in 2014: Agenda for Delivering Best Customer Experience

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 15, 2014 9:53:46 AM

In 2013 we continued to see change in the contact center, customer service and customer experience markets: Consumers’ communication habits continued to evolve, more business units outside the traditional contact center became involved in handling interactions, software vendors continued to come up with new technologies, and cloud computing, mobility, big data, collaboration, social media and analytics all had a big impact on the ways users access and consume software. Many of these trends surfaced in my benchmark research on next-generation workforce optimization and next-generation customer engagement. Overall my research shows that organizations are slowly maturing in terms of the people, processes, information and technology they use to support customer engagement and related customer-facing activities. However, it also shows that many of the old issues have not gone away and that companies still have work to do to meet customer expectations and achieve their business goals.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Location Intelligence, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

Verint Doubles Down on Customer Engagement with Acquisition of KANA

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 10, 2014 8:51:51 AM

Verint recently announced a definitive agreement to acquire KANA Software. Its goal, in the words of the press release, is to “transform the way organizations engage with their customers.” Customer engagement and customer experience management have become the topics of many conversations in my research area, so I wanted to understand the substance behind this move.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Workforce Force Optimization

Infor Makes Customer Experience Management Simpler for Marketing

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 27, 2013 8:18:03 AM

I recently wrote that Infor aims to reinvent business applications and its new developments make it a vendor to watch. I was therefore intrigued to have a demonstration of its latest marketing products, Infor Epiphany and Infor Orbis Marketing Resource Management. These are grouped on its website under customer relationship management, and I don’t usually spend much time on this category of products since for my research it is too inwardly focused and doesn’t impact the customer experience a great deal. However this briefing showed that for Infor it is not that simple.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM

Aria Makes Billing Simple for Recurring Revenue

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 18, 2013 10:48:36 AM

I have written lately about how digital customers change customer engagement. It’s no surprise that at the heart of this change, as well as many others that impact business, is the Internet. Along with smart mobile devices, the Internet has changed the ways consumers engage with each other and businesses. In buying products and services, digital customers prefer to research them on the Internet, then buy online or at a store. They expect all activities to happen fast, perhaps in real time. Online commerce has helped support this business model for many companies but has not been as nimble to meet the subscription and billing demands needed today. If not, the Internet provides ways of helping customers express their opinions and feelings often and immediately. To adapt to this business will have to be able to support new methods of selling products and services to the market and support the rapid subscription and billing needs to capture revenue potential at any time of the day.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM

Companies Struggle to Engage with Customers Digitally

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 11, 2013 8:45:11 AM

If you stop to compare communication preferences of the past to those of today, you can’t fail to notice some major changes, especially in younger generations. Talking on the phone – fixed or mobile – is in decline, as many people now prefer text messaging, chat and social media. We rely on the Internet to search for websites, run mobile apps and use social media. We watch less TV in real time, preferring to watch what we want, when we want to watch it and to skip advertisements. The same applies to newspapers, with many people preferring to have the news they want to see downloaded to their smart devices. Today, any email from someone we don’t know goes straight to the junk mail folder, and writing seems to be becoming a lost art. This is the world of the digital customer. Companies have to support digital customers while continuing to support others who still make phone calls, send email and even write letters. According to my research into next-generation customer engagement, most companies are not yet prepared to meet the expectations of digital customers.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Failure in Agent Workforce Optimization Adoption Plagues Customer Interaction

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 5, 2013 7:40:20 AM

Ventana Research defines workforce optimization as a set of processes and technology for customer agents that include interaction (call) recording, quality monitoring, workforce management, training and coaching, compensation management and analytics. My benchmark research into next-generation workforce optimization set out to discover the people, processes, information and systems companies are using to get more from their customer service agents, the benefits they have gained, their plans to change and the barriers holding back those changes. Our research projects apply the Ventana Research Maturity Model™ to evaluate the maturity of organizations in a given market or with respect to a business or IT process. In this case our analysis shows that based on current practices nearly half of companies are at the lowest Tactical level of maturity and only 13 percent have reached the highest Innovative level. Closer examination of the results shows that companies are least mature in their use of technology for workforce optimization, with half at the Tactical level. Much has changed in the way companies handle customer interactions. Two of the biggest changes I have seen in various research are that companies now support more channels of communication and more employees around the organization are involved in handling interactions, meaning companies need to review their workforce optimization systems and begin to take advantage of these advances. Yet the research shows that most of them aren’t yet doing that.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Experience, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Financial Performance, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics

No Need to Dream of Customer Engagement at Dreamforce

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 19, 2013 7:32:49 AM

I recently wrote how the recent U.K.-based Call Centre Expo showed that companies have shifted priorities for deployment systems from on-premises infrastructures to cloud-based systems and that as a consequence vendors had shifted focus from workforce optimization to cloud-based multichannel interaction management. Confirming this trend, as salesforce.com Dreamforce event at least 10 such vendors will be showing their products. A few of them I saw at Call Centre Expo: Genesys, Interactive Intelligence, LiveOps, NewVoiceMedia and Vocalcom. But as an illustration of how rapidly this market has grown, Dreamforce also will host 8x8, Corvisa Cloud, Five9, inContact and ShoreTel. Between the two events there are 18 vendors offering such products, and many others will not promote and demonstrate products at the event.

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Topics: Big Data, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Companies Need to Reconcile Customer Interaction Priorities

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 16, 2013 8:50:10 AM

Today companies handle an increasing number of customer interactions and they do this through a greater number and variety of communication channels, and by using more employees that are dispersed throughout the organization. Managing the pool of agents in a contact center has always proved a complex task and this is made more complex as interactions are now handled by most lines of business (marketing, sales, customer service, finance, HR, home workers and mobile workers). To do this many companies have deployed what collectively is called workforce optimization (WFO) systems: interaction recording, quality monitoring, workforce management, training and coaching, compensation management and reporting/analytics. My benchmark research into Next Generation WFO set out to discover what people, process, information and systems companies are using, the benefits they have gained, future plans to change and what barriers are holding back those changes.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Infor Aims to Reinvent Business Applications

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 6, 2013 8:18:55 AM

Infor is a vendor I haven’t covered much in the past, but after attending the recent Infor on the Road day in the U.K. that is about to change. I viewed Infor as basically a CRM vendor, and I don’t believe such systems have much impact on customer engagement and the customer experience. Indeed if you view Infor website’s product page, it features several product categories focused on internal processes: CRM, Asset Management, Financial Management, Resource Planning, Human Capital Management and Product Management. (By the way, my colleague Robert Kugel wrote about some of these after his visit to Inforum.) If like me you are not technically minded, you might skip the technology section, which is where Infor showcases innovation in business applications.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Zeacom Communication Center 7.0 Modernizes the Agent Desktop

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 1, 2013 7:18:14 AM

When I last reviewed contact center vendor Zeacom it was in the process of being acquired by Enghouse Interactive, with its primary goal being a more global presence. At the time Zeacom’s main selling points were support for multiple channels of communication and integration with Lync, Microsoft’s unified communications software. Now the acquisition is complete (although Zeacom still seems to operate on a fairly autonomous basis), and I learned during a recent briefing that the latest release of its Zeacom Communication Center 7.0 product takes advantage of closer integration with Enghouse Interactive products and includes some important new capabilities.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Experience, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics

IBM Social Business Bets on Key Application and Technologies

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 24, 2013 8:25:24 AM

I recently attended an IBM event about its new social business products and services. I was skeptical at first: I have seen another vendor’s “social enterprise” come and go, and although companies need to address customer use of social media, I don’t think “social” is the path businesses should take; it is more to do with collaboration. However, I quickly learned that IBM sees things rather differently. Its starting point is the need for companies to make their workforces smarter – something I agree with. Employees are the heart of a company; for example, according to my research into customer service and the agent desktop, not only do happy, empowered employees twice as often deliver superior customer experiences, but they also meet customer-related targets more often, and deliver or retain more satisfied and more loyal customers who spend more.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Key Insights from Call Centre Expo 2013

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 11, 2013 1:04:58 PM

Two years ago I wrote about communications in the cloud taking over the annual U.K. contact center event Call Centre Expo. Now that dominance is almost complete. At one point at this year’s event I was standing at the center of the show floor and without taking a step I spotted 11 vendors all offering some form of communications in the cloud. This term includes all the systems that manage the various communication channels companies now support for managing customer interactions: telephone, email, fax, postal mail, corporate websites, chat, mobile text messaging, video and social media. Not long ago these channels would have been bundled into the contact center infrastructure and typically managed by disparate, on-premises, often proprietary systems. Now, as these systems reach the ends of their lives, companies are looking for more cost-effective and integrated ways to support multiple communication channels and increasingly are moving to cloud-based systems, which my last benchmark research on the contact center in the cloud identified as the third-most common response to the challenges of interaction-handling.

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Topics: Big Data, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Verint Utilizes Voice and Feedback to Advance Employees and Customer Satisfaction

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 2, 2013 9:02:34 AM

Verint has been a major player in the workforce optimization and voice of the customer (VoC) feedback markets for several years. As I noted in a previous analysis, its major challenges stem from the fact that its product portfolio has come about largely through a series of acquisitions, which has led to integration and user interface issues. Verint has been steadily addressing these by taking an information-driven approach and adding extensive analytics capabilities to the overall portfolio. Recently it has begun developing what it calls “business impact solutions,” the first of which I have written about. These offerings combine a number of individual products into predefined, prepackaged bundles that address some of the common business issues companies face, including personalized guidance of agents on the next best action, call avoidance and cost to serve. During recent briefings I learned that Verint is continuing down this path with two new releases.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Text Analytics

Nexidia Advances Customer Interaction Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 26, 2013 10:17:18 AM

Nexidia is best known as a vendor of speech analytics. It was one of the first in this market, and a key differentiator is that its product uses phonetics to identify words and phrases embedded in recordings of phone calls. This capability has the advantage over standard word and phrase spotting because users don’t have to create a dictionary of words they want to spot. Thus the software can analyze calls and identify their content without users having to predetermine what it should look for. The system can also index recordings based on the results of this analysis so that users can search back through the recordings to carry out more detailed analysis of calls they are interested in. Over the past few years Nexidia has advanced its product, now called Nexidia Interaction Analytics, to include other forms of text-based interactions such as text messages, chat scripts and social media posts. In addition to speech and text, it can include other customer and agent information to provide a full picture of interactions.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

ResponseTek Goes Mobile for Customer Insight

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 21, 2013 8:29:18 AM

ResponseTek is a well-established player in the marketing and customer feedback markets. It has four products that cover market research, customer feedback, knowledge management and media monitoring,  that enable companies to capture comments made on public sites, typically social media-based. Its customer feedback products support creation, collection and analysis of feedback through multiple channels, as I have noted, including mobile devices. ResponseTek has now taken its support for mobile one step further with the recent announcement of a mobile app.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Self-service, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Text Analytics

The Real Truth on Agent Performance and Workforce Optimization

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 19, 2013 9:06:36 AM

Ventana Research believes that in today’s highly competitive markets the most important factor is the customer experience, or to be more precise, the way agents handle customer interactions and their outcomes from the perspectives of both customers and businesses. Our research on the contact center in the cloud shows that to reach customers organizations are deploying channels of interaction beyond the telephone, such as Web-based chat and self-service, mobile text messaging and social media, and that they increasingly use employees based outside the traditional contact center to handle interactions. Only organizations that handle all these kinds of interactions consistently and with high quality are likely to meet customers’ expectations, deliver satisfying experiences and thereby generate customer loyalty and repeat business.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Experience, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics

CallCopy Brings Insights to Agent Performance through Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 17, 2013 9:10:02 AM

In my last review of CallCopy I wrote that it was moving further from its origin as a call recording vendor by expanding its product range to include workflow optimization applications such as quality monitoring, workforce management, coaching, agent-related analytics, customer satisfaction survey management and capture of non-voice interactions. During a recent briefing I learned that CallCopy is continuing this transformation with Insight, its contact center performance management product. The offering focuses on improving agent performance with enhanced analytics capabilities that enable business insights that can be used to drive process change.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Enkata Launches Action Center for Optimizing Employee Performance

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 9, 2013 9:44:34 AM

Enkata, as I wrote not long ago is continuing to expand the range and capabilities of its products for optimizing employee actions while maintaining a firm foothold in analytics for the contact center and agents. Its latest release, Action Center, maintains this position with a focus on improving employee performance.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Enkata, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics

Corvisa Cloud Provides Communications Management in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 5, 2013 9:13:59 AM

Our benchmark research on the contact center in the cloud shows that today organizations have to support more channels of interaction with their customers in order to provide superior customer service. This places pressure on companies to find systems that provide integrated management of communications channels at affordable prices, are easily managed and accessible with the skills their employees have, and above all meet the needs of the business.

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Topics: Salesforce.com, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Corvisa Cloud

Alteryx Advances the Process of Customer Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 28, 2013 11:44:08 PM

The market for customer analytics continues to grow as organizations realize the current competencies and technology are not aligned to the priority of providing the best possible customer experience through supporting business processes. At the same time those organizations that have invested and continue to improve in this area are taking advantage of why I call a new generation of customer analytics. As I research into technology to support customer analytics, I had a chance to assess the work done by a business analytics software provider called Alteryx. My colleague Tony Cosentino who is the research director of our business analytics efforts recently wrote an analysis of Alteryx, but I wasn’t familiar with the company until my own briefing about its customer analytics focus. For the technical aspects of the product, you can consult Tony’s analysis, but I want to discuss several key points that came up during my briefing.

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Topics: Social Media, alteryx, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics

Confirmit and Voice of the Customer Software

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 22, 2013 1:09:55 PM

The last time I was briefed by Confirmit it had just acquired CustomerSat and, in addition to undergoing a number of internal developments, was transitioning from supporting market research, customer and employee feedback to focusing more on voice of the customer (VOC). One of its key differentiators has been its ability to combine market research, customer and employee feedback to close the loop and produce VOC reports and analysis that include all three perspectives. Confirmit added the ability to collect feedback throughunstructured “conversations” on smart mobile devices, in recognition that these devices are being used more frequently by consumers and therefore such capabilities increase the likelihood of consumers responding to requests to provide feedback. Although my research on customer feedback management shows this to be an important, growing requirement, the Confirmit products continue to support the creation and analysis of surveys as a core way of collecting and understanding customer feedback.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM, Text Analytics, Confirmit

NICE Systems Acquires Causata to Optimize Customer Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 19, 2013 7:56:48 AM

NICE Systems is well known in the contact center market for its suite of workforce optimization products. However, over the past several months it has gradually been expanding out of the pure-play contact center market into back-office and mobile applications, as well as the broader market of customer interaction handling. My research on the contact center in the cloud shows that customer interaction processes are getting more complex as customers demand faster, more personalized responses, interactions occur through more communication channels, and more lines of business are involved with interaction handling. My recent benchmark research shows that companies are becoming increasingly reliant on analytics to monitor and assess how well they are performing these critical tasks and in what areas they need to improve.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, NICE Systems, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics

Verint Brings New Business Solutions to Optimize Customer Relationships

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 15, 2013 10:33:06 AM

Earlier this year I wrote that Verint Systems, which makes workforce optimization and analytics products for customer engagement, has changed its focus from individual product capabilities to packaged business solutions that include specifically configured versions of its products. The first of those was real-time personalized guidance; it uses several of the company’s Impact 360 workforce optimization products to guide agents in real time as they handle customer interactions. I wrote at the time I was expecting more of these from Verint, and now it has brought out three additional solutions, which I learned about during a recent briefing.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Verint, Workforce Force Optimization

Agent Desktop Management in 2013 Is Hot for Improving Customer Experience

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 13, 2013 10:30:45 AM

Ventana Research has just released its 2013 Value Index for Agent Desktop Management, in which we evaluate the competency and maturity of vendors and products that support the management of the desktop systems that agents use to handle customer interactions. Our firm has researched this software category for many years, and our benchmark research into customer service and the agent desktop shows the impact the agent desktop has on agent satisfaction and efficiency and the business outcome of such interactions. Because of its increasing importance, we have taken agent desktop management out of our Customer Experience Value Index and created a separate category for it.

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Topics: Salesforce.com, Customer Experience, NICE Systems, Cincom, Genesys, Jacada, Kana, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Upstream Works, OpenSpan

Enkata Optimizes Claims Processing

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 20, 2013 9:44:21 AM

Enkata used to focus its products on improving agent performance in the contact center. It has gradually expanded that focus to include improving the performance of workers in the back office, an effort that has culminated in a suite of products that help companies improve processing of healthcare claims.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Enkata, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Customer & Contact Center, Call Center, Contact Center, Desktop Analytics, Workforce Force Optimization

Salesforce.com Is Full of Surprises

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 10, 2013 8:58:13 AM

Anyone who follows salesforce.com is used to surprises, but over the last couple of months the company has come up with some that go beyond the usual. It rebranded the recent user conference in London as a customer company event. This follows from changing its messaging to urge every company to become a customer company not a social company. The event itself was everything we have come to expect, using an array of customer case studies to show how salesforce.com’s products help companies innovate and be successful, and a large partner and product showcase to prove how many products and partners salesforce now has. The real surprises were tucked away in meetings arranged for the many analysts present.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Information Applications, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM

IBM Improving the Science to Apply Business Analytics for Better Customer Engagement

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 4, 2013 2:08:26 AM

I recently wrote how IBM is making customer analytics smarter. Since then IBM has run events in North America and Europe to demonstrate how it is continuing these efforts and expanding into other areas. Outside of the customer space you can read how my colleagues assess its efforts: Mark Smith discusses HRRobert Kugel sees its impact on business overall, and Tony Cosentino addresses it in IT. Our research My focus remains the customer and I have learned more about what IBM is doing in social media, identity reconciliation, visualization, mobile apps and big data.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, IBM, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, IBM Watson, Text Analytics

SAS Aligns Marketing and Customer Intelligence

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 16, 2013 10:11:46 PM

I recently attended SAS’s European analyst event, where I went to focus on new developments around customer intelligence, an application of big data that SAS includes in its high-performance analytics and visual analytics. SAS offers an amazing number and range of products that is hard to keep track of, so I was glad to get a sense that now it is focusing more on business solutions built with data visualization and discovery, big data, data management, cloud computing, marketing analytics (which appears to be the new branding for customer intelligence) and enterprise decision management. It appears that the European event followed closely the lines of the U.S. event my colleague Mark Smith attended; he offers an analysis of the company’s wider messages.

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Topics: SAS, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

Barriers to Omnichannel Customer Communications

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 11, 2013 10:52:38 AM

In never ceases to amaze me, the number of new terms and acronyms the contact center market generates. Just as everyone is getting used to the fact that customers interact with companies through multiple communication channels (multichannel for short), someone invents the term omnichannel and we all have to get our heads around what this means. My research into the contact center in the cloud shows that companies now support on average nearly five communication channels, and although the traditional channels are still the most common, as the chart shows, there are signs that new channels such as chat (used by 37%), social media (29%), text messaging (22%) and video (5%) are on the increase.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Voice of the Customer, Echopass, Enghouse interactive, Five9, LiveOps, Mobile Apps, NewVoicemedia, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM, Interactive Intelligence, Unified Communications

IBM Watson Engagement Advisor for Smarter Customer Service

Posted by Ventana Research on May 25, 2013 10:56:40 PM

Recently my colleague Mark Smith wrote about the IBM Watson platform. Mark is our expert on technically complex subjects like IBM Watson and‎ cognitive computing and the value it can provide to organizations and wrote an educational white paper on the topic. In fact IBM Watson was awarded the 2012 Ventana Research Technology Innovation Award. I focus on the customer and the customer experience, but I became engaged with the launch of the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor, which uncannily brings the two together.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, IBM, Call Center, Cognitive Computing, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, IBM Watson, Text Analytics

SoCoCare Enables Social Customer Service

Posted by Ventana Research on May 23, 2013 2:44:45 AM

Much is being written about the impact of social media on customer service, although my research into the agent desktop shows it hasn’t reached the fever pitch that many commentators would have us believe. It is true that the number of consumers using social media and as a consequence the volume of posts are astronomical. But I wonder how many of these posts actually have to do with customer service and how organizations filter out the relevant ones to help them decide on customer service policies and the appropriate action to take.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Unified Communications, Social Media Analytics, SoCoCare

Interactive Intelligence Reveals Ambitious Plans for Customer Service

Posted by Ventana Research on May 20, 2013 10:08:58 AM

At its recent user conference, Interactions 2013, Interactive Intelligence (Nasdqaq: ININ) showcased its extensive product portfolio and its ambitious plans to improve the products both technically and functionally. I have written more than once about the complexities of building a contact center, which is getting even more complex as companies begin to support more channels of interaction as inbound ones are distributed around the organization including sales (59%), marketing (46%) and CRM team (41%) and distribute to many different contact center sites according to our customer relationship maturity research. To keep up with developments, I divide contact center systems and applications into five groups:

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Interactive Intelligence, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

IBM Making Customer Analytics Smarter

Posted by Ventana Research on May 10, 2013 11:33:15 AM

When it comes to today’s customers, companies have to be smart if they are going to anticipate and meet new customer expectations. These days IBM talks about doing most things in “smart” ways. Recently I was briefed on IBM’s Smart Customer Analytics, but it took me quite a while to find information about it on the company’s not-so-smart website. Surprisingly since business analytics is so important to IBM current and ongoing investments and is the top ranked technology innovation priority in 39 percent of organizations according to our benchmark research.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, IBM, Information Applications, Information Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

NICE Systems Leading Change at Interactions 2013

Posted by Ventana Research on May 1, 2013 11:33:58 AM

I recently attended NICE Systems’ annual user conference, this year called Interactions 2013. In discussions of its different products and latest releases and testimonials from selected clients, I was surprised by how the messages were packaged. NICE has a long history of acquiring companies, and it has let many of them continue to operate as autonomous lines of business. Often there was minimal integration with other NICE products, a variety of user interfaces, no common software administration tools. In my opinion this policy prevented it from taking advantage of having a suite of products focused on handling customer interactions. At the conference, Zeevi Bregman, CEO and President, positioned NICE as supporting three lines of business: interaction management, fraud and compliance, and security. He explained at length how the three are inextricably linked, tying fraud and compliance and security to interaction management and customer service. Fraud and compliance is linked to customer service because market segments such as banking have to ensure that the customer service they provide conforms to legislative requirements, and security is an increasing part of knowing customers and ensuring the safety of their information. Other executives also stressed these themes.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, NICE Systems, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

Attensity Uses Social Media Technology for Smarter Customer Engagement

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 23, 2013 10:55:38 AM

When I last wrote about Attensity I classified it as a “pure play” text analytics vendor, but the latest release of its product has lead me to revise my opinion. Its product Respond uses natural language-based analysis to derive insights from any form of text-based data and among other results can produce analyses of customer sentiment, hot issues, trends and key metrics. The product supports what Attensity calls LARA – listen, analyze, relate, act – which is a form of closed-loop performance management. It begins by extracting data from multiple sources of text-based data, (listening), analyzing the content of the data (analyze), linking this data with other sources of customer data, and producing alerts, workflows and reports to encourage action to be taken based on the insights (act).

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Kana Paints a New Picture of Unifying Customer Service

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 18, 2013 9:45:20 AM

Back in July I wrote about Kana’s acquisition of Ciboodle and its previous acquisition of Overtone and what seemed to be its ambitious plans to release an integrated version of the products. I went so far as to say Kana would have “something unique to offer” if it pulled off this effort. Now, almost nine months to the day, it has launched a new version of Kana Enterprise, and from what I saw in a prelaunch briefing it does seem to be something unique. Billed as “the first omni-channel customer service suite,” the new product brings together the original Kana customer self-service and knowledge management products, the Ciboodle desktop and several new developments.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Voice of the Customer, Kana, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Companies Need Smarter Agent Performance Management

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 17, 2013 9:04:41 AM

I read a lot these days about how companies should pay more attention to contact center agent or customer service representative satisfaction, as it can have an impact on customer experience and meeting key customer-related metrics. This is a far cry from the “good old days” when agents were often locked away in a dark, dismal place and told to answer as many calls as possible. My research into the agent desktop shows that many companies have indeed latched onto these new priorities, and the two top first ranked goals (19%) with respect to agents is to increase agent retention and thus keep the skills they have to handle customer interactions, and to improve agent satisfaction, which in itself helps ensure more agents stick with their roles longer.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Social CRM, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Workforce Force Optimization

Salesforce.com Prepares Marketing for the Future

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 10, 2013 12:12:18 PM

At the beginning of the year I wrote analyst perspective outlining why I think Salesforce.com is a vendor to watch during 2013. I followed this up with a post noting that Salesforce has shifted its headline messaging from becoming the “collaborative company” to becoming the “customer company” – a message that resonates better with me. During a recent analyst event, the theme of becoming a customer company remained the main message, but this time the emphasis moved to marketing, as the presenters dug deeper into Marketing Cloud which the company is moving further away from traditional marketing systems than Sales Cloud and Service Cloud are from sales and service.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM

ClickFox Maps the Customer Journey

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 8, 2013 11:28:56 AM

The last time I reviewed ClickFox it was primarily focused on capturing how callers transverse IVR menus. It produced visual maps of what options callers used and thus how they navigate what can be quite complex menus, allowing users to identify the most common paths and thereby optimize these to meet common customer requirements and business needs. Since that time the market has changed considerably, and ClickFox’s current products now support companies as they try to identify how customers use different communication channels and how they hop across different channels to resolve their issues.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Clickfox, Self-service, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics, Unified Communications

Astute Solutions Supports Integrated Approach to CRM

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 5, 2013 11:53:52 AM

Like all analysts, I have a series of classifications to help group together vendors with similar capabilities. My challenge is to create categories that align with most users’ expectations so I don’t confuse readers when I define which category a vendor falls into. My “big five” are WFO or agent performance management (quality monitoring, workforce management, training and coaching, remuneration, and agent-related analytics); contact center infrastructure, including cloud-based systems (multichannel interaction management, routing, CTI, and rerecording); CRM (marketing, sales and customer service); customer experience management (agent desktop, self-service, customer feedback management, knowledge management); and contact center and customer analytics (transactional, speech, text, event, process, multichannel, predictive and big data). Occasionally a vendor comes along that defies these classifications. Astute Solutions is one such. It describes itself as providing “best-of-breed CRM Customer Service, Social CRM, Contact Center, IP Communications, Knowledge Management, Mobile, and Self-Service solutions specifically designed for enabling customer-centric business strategies” – quite a mouthful.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Interactive Intelligence, Unified Communications

Companies Need Effective Contact Center Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 27, 2013 8:27:33 AM

I began my involvement with contact centers – actually they were called call centers in those days -more than 20 years ago. I quickly learned that almost everyone involved in running a contact center is obsessed with metrics: queue times, average call handling times, agent utilization, average length of after-call work – the list seemed to be endless. Since joining Ventana Research I have carried out numerous benchmark studies into customer and contact center performance, and found things haven’t changed a great deal. The number of metrics has increased and old favorites are still high up on the list.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Business Analytics, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics

IBM Launches Customer Experience Lab

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 18, 2013 8:50:59 AM

IBM recently announced its new Customer Experience Lab. During a briefing I learned that the lab is a response to what IBM discovered by interviewing more than a thousand CMOs, who are concerned about the explosion of data companies collect about their customers. This explosion is being driven by changing customer communication preferences and the way customers now interact with organizations, which I recently highlighted in my post about the 2.0 world. My research into the contact center in the cloud shows a similar trend; although traditional channels such as telephone calls and email are still the most popular, channels such as social media, instant messaging, text messaging and video are fast catching up.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, IBM, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

Taking Advantage of a New Generation of Customer Analytics Using Big Data

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 13, 2013 10:18:03 AM

Organizations have been talking about how to effectively analyze customer data for more than three decades. This has evolved into a desire for a “360-degree view of the customer” - a comprehensive picture drawn from all available data. As yet, not many organizations have achieved it. Our recent research into customer relationship maturity shows that fewer than one-third (31%) of organizations produce a single set of reports and analysis that the whole organization uses to support customer-related activities. Even those that do produce such a set of reports and analysis lack some critical information, such as customer interactions and social media comments.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics

Salesforce.com Helping Organizations Achieve Customer Excellence

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 12, 2013 10:46:35 AM

I recently wrote that Salesforce.com was a vendor to watch during 2013, and during a recent briefing I heard more messages that support this view. First there was confirmation about financials. Even though the company is only 14 years old and the overall economy is not exactly booming, revenues for 2012 were up 35 percent to $3.05 billion, with Europe matching this with a 37 percent year-on-year growth. This not only shows the company is here to stay, but that the cloud is now well and truly established as a delivery model.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics

Clarabridge Operationalizes Text Analytics for Better Customer Experience

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 11, 2013 9:52:44 AM

Clarabridge is a well-known text analytics vendor that markets its products under the banner of customer experience management. As I wrote last year, its products allow organizations to take a closed-loop approach by capturing all forms of text data, analyzing it, categorizing it, understanding root causes of customer issues and raising alerts so that action including collaboration can be taken based on these insights. Such a process is supportive of customer experience management, but for me the missing link is using these insights in real time to actively influence customer interactions.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Clarabridge, Mobile Apps, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics, Unified Communications

Welcome to the 2.0 World of Technology Marketing

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 8, 2013 10:01:55 AM

Like me, you have no doubt spotted the propensity for software vendors and consultants to call anything new “2.0”; for example, we have ERP 2.0 and CRM 2.0. Just recently during a joint Aspect and Microsoft presentation, the companies went one step further and introduced the concept of the 2.0 customer meeting the 2.0 company. My first reaction was one of horror, but as I thought about it, it became clear that customers have changed and so companies need to change to keep up – welcome to the 2.0 world.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Vendor(s), Workforce Force Optimization

Three Unified Communications Trends in Evidence at UCExpo 2013

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 7, 2013 8:03:38 AM

I recently attended the Unified Communication Expo exhibition and conference in London to find out how much communications has been changing. As I entered the exhibition center the first thing I noticed was the huge variety of vendors on show, everything from major brands in the telecommunications industry (Aspect, AT&T, BT, Cisco, Mitel, Nokia and Siemens Enterprise Communications) to some major brands perhaps not so associated with telecommunications (Dell, Citrix, Google and Microsoft), to several niche players with products such as mobility management, IP-based voice and data networks, audio/web/streaming/video conferencing, email/chat/text messaging and unified communications (presence and collaboration), to suppliers of audio equipment (Dell, Jabra, Logitech, Plantronics and Sennheiser). For me the most disappointing thing was the lack of vendors focused on the contact center, with only Aspect, Enghouse Interactive, Microsoft (in partnership with Aspect), Noble Systems and ShoreTel in evidence.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Vendor(s), Workforce Force Optimization

Genesys Acquires Angel.com to Advance Contact Centers

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 1, 2013 9:52:41 AM

The first positive signs for the “the new Genesys” emerged just 100 days after its sale by Alcatel was completed last year, and those positive signs have continued. The company has not only maintained strong development of its core products but has also made an aggressive move into the contact center mid-market, the contact center in the cloud market, and the multichannel communications management market. It strengthens its position now with the announcement of its acquisition of Angel.com.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Genesys, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

Transera Uses Big Data for Customer Engagement Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 22, 2013 9:47:00 AM

Transera is an established contact center in the cloud vendor with in-depth interaction routing capabilities. During a recent briefing I learned that it has now supplemented these capabilities by launching a new product that it calls Adaptive Customer Engagement. Although it’s not entirely obvious from the name, the product uses big data analytics to analyze past customer interactions, profile customers, then use these insights to optimize current and future customer-facing activities such as handling a live customer interaction, planning a marketing campaign or focusing agent training and coaching. The objective is to proactively influence these activities so the outcomes are better both from the customer’s and company’s perspectives.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Transera

Cisco Advances Customer Interactions and Collaboration in Contact Center

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 21, 2013 10:07:53 AM

Cisco is without doubt best known as a supplier of networking systems. Its products have been used by companies large and small to build local and wide area networks. It has played in the contact center space as a provider of network and call management systems that sit between public networks and contact center agents to manage the delivery of interactions to the right extensions and provide agents with softphones so they can manage inbound and outbound calls. These systems were designed to operate in a multi-supplier environment so companies could build contact centers that made use of existing ACD and PBX systems. Cisco’s go-to-market strategy has been primarily indirect, and it has therefore built up a vast ecosystems of partners that sell, deliver and support its systems.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Experience, Logitech, Mobile Apps, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Cisco, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Unified Communications, Upstream Works, Social, Workforce Force Optimization

LiveOps Improves the Agent Experience

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 13, 2013 10:26:52 AM

My recent research into the contact center in the cloud shows the typical agent’s life is not an easy one. Agents are expected to handle more types of interactions that arrive through more communication channels as found in our research with inbound, email and outbound in use by more than 74 percent of organizations, meet an increasing number of performance metrics, and leave each caller feeling happy with the interaction. And they have to do this with a desktop that my research shows can only be described as “a mess.” It typically has on it multiple business applications (such as CRM, ERP and knowledge management), multiple systems to access communication channels (phone, email, IM, social media), message boards and performance dashboards.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Experience, Social CRM, LiveOps, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM, Workforce Force Optimization

Subscription Billing Model Can Maximize Customer Value

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 7, 2013 7:13:12 AM

You would think that all organizations would want to maximize the value of every customer relationship, but my research over the last couple of years suggests otherwise. Three particular insights stick in my mind. My research into customer analytics shows that overall customer lifetime value ranked only sixth most important customer-related metric, compared to the highest-ranked, customer service costs, which was selected by 54 percent of respondents versus 31 percent for customer lifetime value. Executives had it second highest-ranked, but as you move down the organization it falls off in importance. This lack of focus is also reflected in my research into customer relationship maturity, where customer value was again ranked only the sixth most important customer-related metric, this time behind the top-ranked metric of overall revenue (62% versus 25%).

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Topics: Sales Performance, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM

Intradiem Takes Customer Agent Task Management to Next Level

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 5, 2013 8:52:23 AM

Intradiem is a vendor that not many people have heard about, for the simple reason that it is actually Knowlagent, which recently announced a complete rebranding. The company says the new brand better reflects its product and service capabilities. Knowlagent was all about allowing companies to automatically manage how agents utilize their time in those often very short periods when they are not answering calls or carrying out other fixed tasks, such as taking a training course. The latest release of its product, Intradiem 9.0, enhances those capabilities, so even under the new brand, the company will continue to help companies optimize agent utilization.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Intradiem, Operational Performance, Analytics, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM

OnviSource Joins-Up Customer-Related Processes

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 1, 2013 9:07:21 AM

OnviSource is best known for its OnviCenter Product Suite, which includes what is commonly referred to as workforce optimization (recording, quality, monitoring, workforce management, analytics) plus a telephony platform that includes a soft, IP-based PBX, IVR and call routing. It is available on-premises or through the company’s cloud-based option, OnviCloud. Recently OnviSource added a further option, OnviLink, and announced enhancements to OnviTel, its telephony platform.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, OnviSource, Workforce Force Optimization

NewVoiceMedia Expands Globally to Advance Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 1, 2013 6:49:05 AM

NewVoiceMedia recently announced it has raised $20 million of investment funds to aid its expansion overseas, including offices in North America. The company was founded in the UK in 2000 and originally offered telephony and call management in the cloud. It now has a close partnership with Salesforce.com, which has allowed it to expand into a multichannel contact center in the cloud. During the last 12 years it has achieved considerable success, both financially and in acquiring prestigious clients, mostly in the UK. Old instincts die hard, and even though the company’s services and support are accessible anywhere, potential customers still like to see support available in their country. This latest round of funding will allow NewVoiceMedia to make a serious attack on the American market.

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Topics: Salesforce.com, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Mobile Apps, NewVoicemedia, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM

Enghouse Interactive Advances Multichannel Customer Interactions

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 30, 2013 10:16:38 AM

I recently wrote how Enghouse Interactive is building a portfolio of products to support contact center in the cloud. The foundation of all its products is the handling of interactions through a comprehensive set of communication channels. My research into the contact center in the cloud shows that after the adoption of CRM in the cloud, companies are most likely to adopt contact centers in the cloud because they support consumers that want to interact through more channels, and because of the increasing need to support distributed contact centers and the diverse location of employees handling interactions.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Enghouse interactive, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM,