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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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, Unified Communications

Verint Announces Real-Time Personalized Guidance

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 24, 2013 10:05:02 AM

Recently Verint announced a new development in its workforce optimization suite Impact 360 Workforce Optimization that it calls Personalized Guidance. It aims to improve the customer experience by prompting anyone handling customer interactions with what they should do next. The principle is simple and logical: Analyze all the data you can so you understand the customer and context of the interaction, identify best next action, and prompt the person handling the interaction with this action so the customer receives a response best related to the interaction. Ideally, customers are happier and more interactions are resolved at the first attempt. The software also closes the loop and feeds information back to all other related lines of business so people there can also take appropriate action, which might mean changing a process, improving a product or updating a use guide, for example.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, 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

Companies Miss the Point of Voice of the Customer (VOC)

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 22, 2013 7:55:57 AM

The majority of companies think it is important to collect customer feedback, according to my recent research into customer feedback management, and they put that feedback to an average of five uses, the top five of which are to improve customer service (75%), to develop customer experience and interaction processes (54%), to identify agent training needs (54%), to improve products (50%) and to create a customer service strategy (49%).

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

Best Practices and Benefits from Using a Customer Service Agent Desktop

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 17, 2013 7:30:40 AM

My research into the customer service agent desktop shows that most centers expect a lot of their contact center agents: more than half (59%) handle between two and five different services (such as general queries, complaints and sales) and 14 percent handle seven or more. Nearly half (49%) are expected to handle between six and 15 calls per hour, and as well as calls, the majority (75%) are expected to handle other forms of interactions, with most handling between one and five per hour. To achieve these goals most agents (65%) have to access an average of three or four different business applications, as well as multiple communication channels and dashboards. To make matters worse, a minority (28%) still have to use multiple desktops to access these systems, and the majority (62%) have to sign into each system independently. It is therefore not surprising that only a third (35%) of respondents believe their agents are satisfied with their roles.

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

2013 Direction of Technology for Customer and Contact Management

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 16, 2013 4:16:26 AM

At the beginning of 2012 Ventana Research predicted that six major technologies would have an impact on the provision and supply of IT systems, and that these would bring about innovation in the way organizations support their business. Each of the six – business and social collaboration, mobile, analytics, cloud computing, social media and big data – has affected how organizations engage with their customers, but I don’t believe the full impact has yet been fully realized. Indeed, in some areas, their impact will accelerate.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, 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, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

Customer and Contact Center Management Research Agenda for 2013

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 11, 2013 10:26:26 AM

Despite the recession, 2012 was a busy year in the contact center, customer service and customer experience markets. Ventana Research completed four benchmark research studies into customer relationship maturity, contact center in the cloud, customer feedback management and agent desktop. Overall these show that organizations are slowly maturing in the processes, people, information and technology they use to support customer-facing activities. However, they also show many of the old issues have not gone away, and companies have still have lots to do in order to meet customer expectations and deliver on business goals.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, 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, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

NICE Systems Addresses Fraud in Contact Centers

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 9, 2013 11:14:54 AM

Back in 2007 when NICE Systems acquired Actimize I wondered how long it would be before someone figured out how to use the company’s fraud detection systems in contact centers. The answer is now, as NICE Systems announces its Contact Center Fraud Prevention system.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, NICE Systems, Speech Analytics, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM

Verint Advances Integration and Interactivity for Workforce Optimization

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 8, 2013 11:17:08 AM

In early 2012 I wrote a blog post about how Verint was overcoming some of its product integration issues by using an information-driven approach that allows users to drill down from key performance metrics into underlying application data. The latest version of its Impact 360 Workforce Optimization suite extends this approach and supports a flow of data between applications and workflows that enables cross-application processes. The suite of products includes interaction recording, workforce management, agent quality monitoring, eLearning and coaching, enterprise and customer feedback management, performance management, and desktop, process, text and speech analytics. The latest release is designed to make these operate seamless so that companies can manage processes related to handling customer interactions.

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

Customer Service Presents Major Challenges

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 7, 2013 11:33:45 AM

In today’s competitive markets, many organizations recognize that customer service represents an opportunity to differentiate themselves from their competition. However, our research into the agent desktop shows that providing excellent customer service is a real challenge in many areas, starting with managing the channels of communication required to offer customers a choice in how they interact with the company. My research into customer and contact centers shows that over the last 18 months, companies now support an average of five channels, including advanced channels such as chat, text messaging, video calls and social media. This presents a challenge for companies because these channels are often supported by different lines of business and the information delivered through them is not consistent. The net result is that customers don’t get a consistent experience across channels and so will often skip across channels until they get the result they are seeking. This situation is further aggravated because organizations are still most often organized into silos, with each line of business pursuing its own goals, objectives and metrics. This means customers get a different experience and different information depending on which line of business they are dealing with, and often are met with statements such as “that is not my responsibility” and “I can’t help because I don’t have the information.”

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Topics: Sales Performance, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM

Best Practice Customer-Related Metrics

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 4, 2013 11:39:27 AM

Customers have always been important to companies, but what are the best metrics to measure the success of customer-related activities, and how well companies meet customer expectations?

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Business Analytics, Customer & Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics

2013 Vendor to Watch – Salesforce.com

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 3, 2013 11:35:23 AM

It’s hard to believe that Salesforce.com was launched only 14 years ago. It has since grown into a multi-billion-dollar company that has changed the way companies source software. Back in the early days its two primary messages were “the end of on-premises software” and “a new era of CRM in the cloud.” Today the first message seems to have softened somewhat, with its own website talking about products and applications, and of course many companies still use traditional on-premise applications. As my research shows, companies are not so concerned about the specifics of “SaaS,” “hosted” or “cloud” but are more focused on usability, functionality, security, scalability, integration, performance and of course cost. They are also increasingly concerned about finding the skills necessary to deploy and operate the applications they need to support their businesses. When you add these all up, off-premises really comes into its own. My research into the contact center in the cloud shows that CRM leads the way in adoption in the cloud, with communications in the cloud (systems to manage the delivery of multichannel customer interactions) following closely behind.

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

Linking Customer Feedback and Business Benefits

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 2, 2013 11:11:45 AM

Many organizations collect customer feedback, but my recent research into customer feedback management shows that most have yet to take advantage of modern techniques. The research shows that companies on average use approximately four methods. The most popular remain email and online surveys, listening to call recordings and outbound phone calls. Newer techniques such as reviewing social media posts, social media forums, mobile apps and mobile text-based conversations remain the domain of early adopters and innovative companies. The same can be said of how companies analyze customer feedback, with by far the most common method being manual. Only the most mature companies having adopted specialized analytics tools that automate the process, thus making it more efficient, letting them use bigger samples of customer input, and making the outputs more reliable and consistent.

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

Altitude Software Supports Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 6, 2012 10:55:41 AM

Recently I completed a benchmark research project into the adoption of a contact center in the cloud, which I defined as the combination of contact center-related communications, applications and analytics in the cloud. Furthermore I defined communications in the cloud as the systems to manage interactions, inbound and outbound, through different communication channels: telephony, email, post, web-based chat, mobile chat, web-based messages, video, mobile apps and social media. The research shows that organizations are increasingly adopting cloud-based systems to support customer expectations to interact through the channels of their choice. At the recent Ventana Research Innovation Summit I outlined why I think the only practical and affordable way for organizations to meet these objectives is to adopt integrated, cloud-based communication systems and services from one of the increasing number of vendors coming to market with such solutions.

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

The Reality of Social Customer Service

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 4, 2012 11:39:44 AM

Much is written these days about how consumers have changed their buying and communication habits, and how more are turning to social media to search for product and service information, complain, exchange news and opinions, and, well, to be social. This has led to predictions such as the demise of the contact center, marketing becoming the prime leader of customer experience, and social media becoming the dominant channel for customer service.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM

Mplsystems Extends Beyond Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 24, 2012 7:56:56 AM

The parent company of mplSystems, Message Pad Ltd., was founded in the U.K. in 1994 and provides the infrastructure to support contact center operations. mplSystems’ main product family is intelligentContact (iContact), which is available either on premises or in the cloud. It is an interesting mix of products that covers call, email, chat, SMS, social media management and routing from a universal queue, a new social media product that routes social media posts to agents and provides the interface through which agents can respond. It offers some WFO capabilities, such as call recording, quality monitoring and workforce management, along with a new tool set that allows companies to build mobile customer service apps and a suite of reporting and analytics tools. Companies can choose to deploy as many of these applications as they require, adding more at a later date based on business demands to build a solution that meets the organization’s business requirements. mplSystems provides services to work with customers on these type of projects.

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

Zeacom Enters the Growing Enghouse Interactive Contact Center Solution Empire

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 19, 2012 10:55:45 AM

I recently wrote a blog post about how Enghouse Systems is expanding its portfolio of contact center vendors, and another detailing more about what capabilities its products support. I noted that its acquisition trail wasn’t over and that it was in the process of acquiring Zeacom. Although not quite evident from the Zeacom website, that deal is now done and Zeacom is part of Enghouse Interactive. This means that Enghouse Interactive now has three major contact center products, so it was good to catch up with a Zeacom executive to learn more about how Zeacom fits in with Enghouse Interactive’s overall portfolio.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, 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, Vendor(s), Workforce Force Optimization

Building The Collaborative Enterprise to Improve Customer Relationships

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 18, 2012 6:02:58 AM

I have challenged some of the hype about the social enterprise because I feel “social” gives the wrong impression. For most people, social media is predominately about being social. While everyone likes to feel that going to work is partly about being social, when it comes down to it running a business is about winning customers, selling them your products or services, and providing customer service when needed. In today’s competitive markets, none of these is an easy task.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Operational Performance, 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

CallMiner Introduces Real-Time Speech Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 15, 2012 11:04:05 AM

I recently wrote how CallMiner had expanded into text analytics and had released its myEureka product, which in my opinion took the presentation of analytics to a new level. My colleagues agreed, and our firm awarded CallMiner the 2012 Ventana Research Technology Innovation Award for Customer Excellence.

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

Vocalcom Supports Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 13, 2012 10:51:46 AM

Vocalcom is one of the up-and-coming names in the contact center market. Founded in 1995, it is headquartered in France but has a worldwide presence, with 4,500 customers and more than half a million users of its services. It may not be as well-known as other companies in the same space because many of the customers are in southern Europe, and a high percentage are outsourcers who use its services to provide contact center services based on its platform. It offers what I call multichannel contact center interaction management in the cloud – what some term “communications in the cloud.” A full contact center consists of the systems to manage multiple communication channels, systems to manage agent performance, business application such as CRM, and analytics. Vocalcom’s strength is in the former, along with integration tools that support interfaces with business applications and analytics that focus on interaction performance.

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Topics: Salesforce.com, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Vocalcom

Call Centre Expo 2012 Reveals Some Surprising Trends

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 4, 2012 12:26:15 PM

Call Centre & Customer Management Expo has been running for several years now. The event provides an opportunity for contact center and customer service managers in Europe to catch up with all the latest and greatest going on in the market. At this year’s event earlier this week, as usual, I found the normal mix of presentations, vendor exhibition stands and other side events. The vendor show included a mix of core contact center vendors (interaction management, CRM, WFO, customer experience management, customer and contact center analytics), supporting vendors such as headphone suppliers and post code software, contact center media players and associated professional bodies. My primary interest is in the core multi-channel contact center market and vendors, and having attended for more years than I can remember, I look for emerging trends on what vendors are present and what they have to offer.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, 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, Unified Communications, Vendor(s), Workforce Force Optimization

Confirmit Moves to Voice of Customer and Feedback Management

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 28, 2012 11:20:17 AM

Confirmit is one of the leading vendors of market research services. It has a full range of products that support every step of the market research cycle. Its software lets users create surveys that can be delivered through multiple channels, perform panel management (managing teams of people that contribute to research programs), collect the data from completed surveys, and use a suite of reporting and analysis tools to gain in-depth insights from the data collected. The company has been steadily moving into the enterprise feedback market, using similar products and services that allow companies to focus on customers and employees. These developments have been accelerating, as evidenced by three recent announcements: the release of the company’s latest Horizons 17 software, a new set of services that focuses on the customer, and the acquisition of CustomerSat, an enterprise feedback management software and services provider.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Customer Analytics, 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, Confirmit

Enghouse Interactive Contact Center Products Offer a Range of Capabilities

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 27, 2012 9:23:53 AM

Enghouse Systems Ltd. is not one of the best-known brands in the contact center market, but if it keeps acquiring vendors at the rate it has been doing then it might soon be. It was founded in Canada in 1984, and from what I can see it is grown largely by acquisition to revenues of more than $120 million. It has morphed into Enghouse Interactive, which now represents nearly 90 percent of its parent company’s business. A quick look at its website shows that over its lifetime it has acquired six brands that operate in the contact center market: Arc Solutions, Cosmocom, Datapulse, Syntellect, Terex and Trio; and this doesn’t include its latest acquisition, Zeacom. After my first briefing with the company I reported on three of these acquisitions: Cosmocom, Syntellect and Zeacom.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Voice of the Customer, Enghouse interactive, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

VPI Extends into Multi-channel Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 26, 2012 9:37:28 AM

Voice Print International recently announced it has selected Hewlett-Packard’s Autonomy to deliver speech and multi-channel analytics. This news means VPI joins a small group of vendors that can provide a view of customer interactions across multiple communication channels, which is of growing importance to companies. My research into the contact center in the cloud shows that companies now support an average of four to five channels of interaction with customers. Without a multi-channel view they are in danger of upsetting customers but not knowing what customers have tried before. The core challenge is that many interactions are either in the form of call recordings or text (email messages, forms, letters, chat and web scripts, and social media). Companies that cannot process all of these forms of data are left with an incomplete view.

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

Other Side of the Pond Takeaways from Salesforce Dreamforce

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 24, 2012 11:53:51 AM

Saleforce.com puts on a marketing event that no other software vendor can come close to. Any CEO that can get MC Hammer rapping about your company as an introduction to your keynote has to be admired. The actual content got mixed reviews; my colleague Mark Smith saw some shortfalls in how Salesforce.com supports analytics, while Robert Kugel felt the company’s cloud-based software could help midsize companies.

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

Customer Feedback Processes Lagging in Companies Today

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 17, 2012 11:17:55 AM

Many people these days talk about voice of the customer (VOC) programs and how they can improve business performance. The foundation of any VOC program is collecting customer feedback, analyzing it and using the insights to improve customer-focused processes, training and the use of technology. Changes usually focus on customer service, but increasingly companies are focusing on the customer experience – how companies engage with customers to resolve issues, provide information, close sales and respond to social media. Our benchmark research into customer feedback management shows that although their use of customer feedback to slowly maturing, companies still need to address a number of fundamental issues.

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

NewVoiceMedia Provides Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 14, 2012 12:33:17 PM

Our recent benchmark research into the adoption of cloud-based systems to support contact center operations shows that around 10 percent of companies have adopted what is commonly termed communications in the cloud – that is, systems in the cloud to manage delivery of telephone calls to the right location, be it an internal extension number within an organization, a branch office number, a contact center extension or someone’s home or cell phone number. Given that telecommunication service providers manage calls in the cloud, it makes sense to intercept calls before they are delivered to a physical location, use rules to decide the correct final destination and route calls directly. NewVoiceMedia, founded in 2000, was one of the first companies to offer such services in the cloud. It first came to my attention at a UK contact center exhibition when within minutes of visiting its stand I was set up as a technical support agent and began receiving calls from its test contact center – very impressive given that with similar on-premises systems setting up such a task could take hours if not days.

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

Companies Should Consider Adopting Contact Centers in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 5, 2012 12:01:39 PM

Our recent benchmark research on the contact center in the cloud shows companies are under more pressure than ever to upgrade their contact centers. The large majority of companies (73%) think it is very important to improve the way they handle customer interactions, and only a small percentage are fully satisfied with their current applications (19%) or their communications (14%).  Upgrading presents a significant challenge, however, because simple call centers that handle only phone calls have been made obsolete by the need to support multiple channels of communications. Consumer communication preferences have changed, and as a result companies on average now support five channels of communication in their centers, with just over a third (37%) supporting six or more – the most popular being inbound calls (still tops), email, outbound calls, fax and postal mail.

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

SAS Furthers Cloud Computing for Business

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 30, 2012 11:56:10 AM

After this summer’s SAS European analyst event, I wrote that I came away less than convinced SAS was truly committed to the cloud, based largely on the fact that most other vendors are blowing their cloud trumpets much louder than SAS. It seemed developments in and around customer intelligence and its other products were higher priority to the company than its cloud strategy. However, after a recent update, I was left with no doubt that the cloud is important to SAS and that the company has a well–thought-through strategy based around two services that Ventana Research touched on earlier this year.

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Topics: SAS, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics

Interactive Intelligence Embraces Business Process Management

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 22, 2012 11:11:39 AM

The product page for Interactive Intelligence highlights what the company is best known for – IP-based business communications. This image is further strengthened by its flagship Customer Interaction Center platform, which offers organizations a fully featured multimedia contact center in the cloud. This offering includes multimedia communications in the cloud along with many of the capabilities that Ventana Research terms agent performance management. However, the company also offers a third set of products, which support business process automation. On first examination these seem somewhat tangential to the other products, but my research into customer relationship maturity shows the product sets are likely to converge more and more as organizations address the challenges of providing customers with excellent experiences.

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

The Collaborative Enterprise to Support Customer Interactions

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 16, 2012 10:05:24 AM

I’ve challenged a lot of the hype about the social enterprise, because I feel “social” gives the wrong impression. For most people, social media is predominately about socializing. While everyone likes to feel that going to work is partly about interacting with friends, when it comes down to it running a business is about winning customers, selling them your products and services, and providing customer service when needed. In today’s competitive markets, none of these are easy tasks. As I look across four of our benchmark research areas: customer information management, customer experience management, customer feedback management and customer relationship maturity, I have come to several conclusions:

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

Calabrio Provides Integrated Workforce Optimization

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 8, 2012 11:04:11 AM

Calabrio offers a suite of workforce optimization (WFO) products used in call centers that includes call recording, quality recording, workforce management and performance management, and it also offers a purpose-built speech analytics product. From a briefing and demonstration, I confirmed that the core WFO products support the capabilities that our research shows companies expect of these products. Ventana Research defines agent performance management (APM) as WFO plus capture of all forms of customer interaction, agent training and coaching and agent compensation management, as well as all forms of contact center-related analytics such as text, voice and desktop. The recent Ventana Research APM Value Index shows that this market is highly competitive, as all the top five vendors scored within one percentage point of each other.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Calabrio, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Workforce Force Optimization

Salesforce.com Advances Customer Interaction

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 2, 2012 10:53:03 AM

Since it was founded in 1999, salesforce.com has been driving other vendors and end-user organizations to rethink how they supply and purchase software. The company has grown from being a supplier of CRM in the cloud to a vendor with diverse offerings that include a development platform, an app exchange, platforms that support marketing, sales and customer service, knowledge management, desktop technology, collaboration, website development, social media support and analytics. Along the way it has also become a powerful marketing machine – which sometimes gets in the way of understanding just what its products do and don’t do, and where they all fit. This obfuscation also extends to its extensive range of partners, where again it is sometimes hard to know who it deals with and how.

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Topics: Salesforce.com, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, LiveOps, NewVoicemedia, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Cisco, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Interactive Intelligence, Text Analytics, Vocalcom

Enghouse Expands Its Portfolio of Contact Center Vendors

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 31, 2012 8:48:55 AM

A look at Enghouse Interactive’s Products page shows it is not the easiest of companies to understand. Listed are six products – companies actually – that make up the parent: Arc Solutions, CosmoCom, Datapulse, Synellect, TelRex and Trio. As yet this list doesn’t include the latest acquisition, Zeacom. All the businesses in some way connect to multichannel communications and the contact center, with products that range, respectively, from communication management systems for Cisco, a cloud-based contact center, unified communications applications that improve collaboration between employees within an organization, a premises-based multichannel contact center, IP call recording and workforce management, and telephony systems, with Zeacom adding a cloud-based unified communications system based on Microsoft Lync.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Enghouse interactive, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

VPI Optimize Agents for Quality Customer Interactions

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 26, 2012 12:10:10 PM

VPI, a well established vendor in the workforce optimization (WFO) space, was recently rated as a Hot vendor in the Ventana Research Agent Performance Management 2012 Value Index, which extends the traditional definition of WFO to include multichannel interaction capture, agent-related analytics, and agent compensation management. VPI’s Hot rating is a tribute to the functionality and architecture of its suite, even though it doesn’t include a WFM product (instead, workforce management is supported through integration with a number of the specialist WFM products) or compensation management.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, VPI, Knowlagent, Nexxphase, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Pipkins, Workforce Force Optimization

Knowlagent Increases Agent Utilization and Customer Satisfaction

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 25, 2012 11:41:30 AM

Knowlagent has carved out a unique position in the agent performance management market. Everyone involved in running a contact center knows how difficult it is to manage agent time so that agents are available within service level agreement specifications to answer inbound customer calls, have sufficient time to carry out other essential tasks such as breaks, training, coaching and making outbound calls, but not burn themselves out. Our research into agent performance management shows that many companies, especially those with a small number of seats in their contact centers, use spreadsheets or specialized workforce management systems to try to achieve this delicate balance. Because of the limitations of these systems, most centers can only work with 15-minute slots as they attempt to optimize agent utilization. Even with the best planning, the random nature of inbound call patterns means that agents typically have two-minute slots of ideal time, and these can occur at random intervals, according to research sponsored by Knowlagent that we carried out. Knowlagent has therefore developed a product called Knowlagent RightTime that monitors in real time what agents are doing and then seeks to allocate tasks to agents to optimize their time within the parameters set up by the company – a process it calls automated intraday management.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Voice of the Customer, Knowlagent, Analytics, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Workforce Force Optimization

Kana Acquires Ciboodle

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 24, 2012 10:16:31 AM

This month Kana announced it had acquired contact center provider Ciboodle. This comes a few years after Ciboodle was acquired by Sword, a marriage that apparently didn’t work out because Sword, a predominantly services company, didn’t make the necessary investment in the Ciboodle products to keep them competitive. Kana, looking to expand its portfolio beyond service experience management, spotted that Ciboodle, with its customer experience management portfolio, provided a good, complimentary set of products – so hopefully this ends up as a happy marriage.

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

Journey Maps Enhance the Customer Experience

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 17, 2012 10:22:52 AM

My research into customer experience management shows that companies are increasingly aware that the customer experience has a profound impact on business success. In almost equal numbers, participants said it determines the loyalty of customers (21%), the propensity of customers to recommend the company to others (21%), the amount of additional purchases they make (19%) and their general level of satisfaction (19%). Furthermore, companies also realize that good experiences save money, because customers complain less (11%) and contact them less frequently (9%).

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Vendor(s), Workforce Force Optimization

Agents Performance Management is Hot for Successful Customer Interactions

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 16, 2012 12:23:42 PM

Our benchmark research into agent performance management shows that the majority of companies are not very mature in their use of people, processes, information and technology in handling customer interactions. Companies are most mature is their use of information, but even in this area they are hampered by their failure to use the latest technologies available to support their efforts.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Analytics, NICE Systems, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, VPI, Call Copy, Enkata, Envision, Genesys, KnopahSoft, LiveOps, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Workforce Performance, Call Center, coaching, Compensation, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, OnviSource, Training, Verint, Workforce Force Optimization

Callminer Expands Into Text and Social Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 12, 2012 9:10:42 AM

Callminer is best known as a vendor of speech analytics software. Along with its own suite, its products also are embedded in those of several other vendors to provide speech analysis. During a recent briefing, I learned that the company has not only expanded into text and social analytics but also that its latest release includes more features and a friendlier user interface, two requirements that my research shows are essential in persuading companies to more widely adopt analytics for customer-facing processes.

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

Social Dynamx Enables Social Customer Service

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 25, 2012 10:58:01 AM

I hear a lot of talk about  the impact of social media on customer service and the contact center. My research into customer relationship maturity shows much of this is only talk. The research shows that while many companies have rushed to create a Twitter handle and a Facebook page and put video on YouTube, most are struggling to integrate social media into their customer service or more broadly their customer engagement strategy and processes.

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

SAS Expands Business Relevance in Using Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 18, 2012 12:22:08 PM

After the SAS analyst event last year, I wrote that it is hard to keep track of everything SAS has to offer because it had so many products and developments in the pipeline. Back from this year’s event, I can report that 2011 was successful, its revenue and worldwide presence are up, and SAS continues to expand its channels to market. On top of everything I saw last year even more products and developments are in the pipeline, but the theme and focus remain the same: enabling business analytics.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Management, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Contact Center Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Vendor(s)

Vitria Aims To Boost Adoption of Operational Intelligence

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 8, 2012 10:01:12 AM

Ventana Research was the first analyst firm to cover operational intelligence, and a while back I wrote how the products of Vitria support proactive customer service by using event data to anticipate likely impacts of operation issues on customer service. Our research into the use of analytics shows that while more mature companies have begun to adopt OI, they are mainly early adopters. In an effort to speed up adoption, Vitria has developed what it calls operational intelligence apps and it has opened up a trial program for companies to explore how they can help improve their operations using these new applications.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Vitria, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Information Applications, Operational Intelligence, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics

Jacada Supports Mobile Customer Service

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 5, 2012 9:13:52 AM

Jacada pioneered what I call a smart agent desktop when in 1990 it created the tools that allow companies to develop a desktop application that follows the process of handling a call, hides applications behind a simple-to-use interface and automates access and updating of systems. This smart agent desktop enables agents to answer calls more efficiently and effectively and to focus on the customer. The product includes tools that allow developers to map the process of handling different call types, build the user interface to match those processes, interface with applications and report on various aspects of how calls are handled.

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

Echopass Demonstrates Value of Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on May 31, 2012 11:09:24 AM

Our benchmark research into the contact center in the cloud shows that almost all companies now support multiple communication channels to engage with customers. Most of them also involve multiple business units in handling inbound and outbound interactions. More companies now support at-home agents, and contact centers are becoming more distributed. These scenarios are a good fit for cloud-based systems, and the research finds that the top three ways organizations said they can meet these challenges, and thus improve the way interactions are handled, are to improve training and coaching, adopt applications in the cloud and adopt communications in the cloud. It also shows that organizations have high expectations of cloud-based systems, expecting them to require less capital expenditure, facilitate innovation in interaction handling, lessen demand on in-house resources, including IT and better support home-based agents.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Echopass, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Information Applications, Workforce Performance, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications

Cloudforce UK Shows Salesforce.com at Its Best

Posted by Ventana Research on May 24, 2012 11:13:56 AM

When the Salesforce.com marketing machine rolls into town, you have to sit up and listen, and that’s what 14,000 attendees did at the latest Cloudforce event in London. The company took over a vast portion of the ExCel London Exhibition Centre to accommodate the keynote speech, lots of side events and meeting rooms and an expo floor where attendees could see demonstrations of every product and service, including many from partners showing what they have to offer.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, LiveOps, NewVoicemedia, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Information Applications, Workforce Performance, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics, Vocalcom