Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

Call Centre Expo 2012 Reveals Some Surprising Trends

Posted by Richard Snow 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.

Read More

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

Other Side of the Pond Takeaways from Salesforce Dreamforce

Posted by Richard Snow 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.

Read More

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

Companies Should Consider Adopting Contact Centers in the Cloud

Posted by Richard Snow 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.

Read More

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 Richard Snow 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.

Read More

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

The Collaborative Enterprise to Support Customer Interactions

Posted by Richard Snow 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:

Read More

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

Salesforce.com Advances Customer Interaction

Posted by Richard Snow 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.

Read More

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 Richard Snow 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.

Read More

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

Journey Maps Enhance the Customer Experience

Posted by Richard Snow 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%).

Read More

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

SAS Expands Business Relevance in Using Analytics

Posted by Richard Snow 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.

Read More

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)

Make It Simple for Customers To Engage with You

Posted by Richard Snow on May 8, 2012 10:01:01 AM

A recent research project involving 7,000 consumers carried out by the Harvard Business Review concluded that to retain customers and get them to buy more products, organizations must make it simple for people to engage with them, provide information they trust and allow them to weigh their options before they buy. The research found that consumers are bombarded with information and choices, and as a result they tend to go down the easiest route, which often leads them to take a blinkered view: I haven’t got the time and energy to consider options so I’ll take this one.

Read More

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

Customer Engagement Day Reveals New Issues and Opportunity

Posted by Richard Snow on May 1, 2012 11:15:43 AM

I recently attended the second in the series of customer engagement days organized by the Directors Club (GB & NI). The format of the event was the same as the first day that I wrote about and included three keynote presentations and three roundtable sessions where attendees discussed how organizations should engage with customers. As for the first event I chaired the roundtable on perfecting multichannel customer engagement in the contact center and gave a keynote on how social media is impacting the contact center.

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Sustainability, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, NICE Systems, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Genesys, InContact, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Interactive Intelligence, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management, Noble Systems, Verint

A Smart Desktop Enables Customer Service Process Improvement

Posted by Richard Snow on Apr 6, 2012 11:53:55 AM

A desktop or laptop computer is an essential tool for people who carry out customer-facing activities, especially contact center agents. My benchmark research into the use of technology in contact centers shows that agents may have to use eight systems or even more to handle a simple interaction, and I heard of one case where agents had to navigate 50 screens within one application to close a sale. This all takes time, often leads to errors, frustrates the agent and undermines the customer experience as they wait for their issues to be resolved. Aggravating this situation, people now have to handle more types of interactions and have to use different types of technology to handle new communication channels and collaboration software, while the number and complexity of business applications is also on the increase.

Read More

Topics: Social Media, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Workforce Performance, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM, Unified Communications

Expo Shows Maturity of Unified Communications

Posted by Richard Snow on Mar 14, 2012 11:55:38 AM

Like many other observers with a business perspective, I have been skeptical of unified communications, but a day I spent at the recent Unified Communications Expo 2012 went a long way to convincing me that unified communications has entered the mainstream. At this point I think organizations should consider it as a viable option to improve the efficiency of their communications systems, the ability to collaborate internally and with customers, and the effectiveness of their multimedia contact centers. 

Read More

Topics: Microsoft, Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Dell, NEC, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, IBM, Workforce Performance, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management, Nokia, Vocalcom and Zeacom

Research Reveals Challenge of Building Customer Relationships

Posted by Richard Snow on Mar 13, 2012 2:51:22 AM

Businesses have long struggled to build ongoing, profitable relationships with their customers.  Our new benchmark research into customer relationship maturity shows that this is not getting easier. 

Read More

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

Customer Engagement Day Highlights Issues for Companies

Posted by Richard Snow on Mar 9, 2012 10:45:13 AM

My namesake Jon Snow is chairman of the Directors Club (GB & NI), an association for professionals who focus on dealing with customers.Recently he organized the first of a series of customer engagement days designed to bring together senior representatives of U.K. companies to listen to a few presentations about hot issues in engaging with customers and more importantly to share experiences and concerns about key customer engagement issues in roundtable discussions, such as “the rise of the social enterprise,” “listening to the voice of the customer” and “mobile customers require a mobile strategy.” In addition to presenting a keynote on the state of social media in customer service, I chaired a discussion on “perfecting multichannel customer engagement in the contact center.”

Read More

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

The Customer and Contact Management Research Agenda for 2012

Posted by Richard Snow on Feb 21, 2012 11:03:52 AM

In all the years I have spent building contact centers and tracking this market, from both business and technology perspectives many things have not changed. Center managers are still under pressure to drive down costs, customers generally are not satisfied with the way their interactions are handled (perhaps less so), and organizations still aren’t making the most of customer interactions. However, as noted in my predictions for 2012, I am expecting more rapid change in the next couple of years than ever before with the advent of a collection of technologies that are already impacting business interactions with customer or by their actions.

Read More

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

Confirmit Provides Customer Insights through Surveys

Posted by Richard Snow on Jan 30, 2012 11:08:56 AM

Ventana Research believes that to provide excellent customer experiences it is necessary to understand what customers want and their likely behaviors, and one direct way to achieve this is by collecting and analyzing customer feedback. The challenge for organizations in this regard is that most customers are reluctant to complete surveys unless they are provided at an appropriate time, in an easy-to-use format and through the channel of their choice. Confirmit’s Horizons products support collection and analysis of feedback from marketing campaigns, employees and customers. The core survey engine enables design and authoring of surveys, and add-on modules handle collecting data, panel management (of a panel of customers, employees or market segments to help focus business activities) and analysis and reporting. It was built on the Microsoft .Net platform, but the most recent release, version 16, extends support to other environments and browsers. This release also enhances security, scalability and availability so Confirmit can collect hundreds of millions of surveys for customers around the world. The product is available for deployment on-premises or as software as a service (SaaS).

Read More

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, Workforce Management, Confirmit

Clarabridge Advances Customer Experience Management

Posted by Richard Snow on Jan 13, 2012 8:36:58 AM

Clarabridge is an established vendor of text analytics products, which it sells both directly to the market and indirectly through an extensive set of partnerships with companies such as MicroStrategyIBM Cognos and Verint. Recently it has been marketing its applications under the category of customer experience management (CEM). To me, CEM is about personalizing and influencing the customer experience while an interaction is in progress. Organizations cannot do this without the right information about the customer, and text analytics is one of the primary tools that allows organizations to derive that information; in this way Clarabridge fits in CEM.

Read More

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

Customer and Contact Center Management in 2012

Posted by Richard Snow on Jan 3, 2012 11:35:26 AM

After reviewing the benchmark research I carried out during 2011 into customer and contact center analytics, the use of technology in contact centers and the adoption of cloud-based contact centers and systems, I have come up with a list of critical investments that I predict will distinguish customer and contact center management in 2012.

Read More

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

Cloud-Based Contact Center Research Finds Deployment Growth

Posted by Richard Snow on Dec 20, 2011 12:01:03 PM

Cloud-based systems have arrived as an option for how organizations source their IT systems, now and in the future. Proponents of the cloud – of which I am one – will tell you they have several major advantages over conventional on-premises systems. They require little upfront capital expenditure; the major costs come as a monthly “rental” charge for using the service rather than an annual license; they are less demanding on in-house resources; they are quicker, easier and less risky to implement; there is no annual maintenance fee as updates are built into the service charge; and organizations have disaster recovery taken care of by the vendor. With this background I recently carried out benchmark research to discover organizations’ current and likely adoption of cloud-based systems to support their contact center operations.

Read More

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

NICE to Acquire Merced Systems for Excellence in Customer Service and Sales

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 6, 2011 11:45:54 PM

NICE Systems last week announced an agreement to acquire Merced Systems, a provider of business applications for customer service and sales organizations. This acquisition slipped by with little fanfare, but it marks a significant milestone for NICE, a major provider of applications and technology for call centers and a player in their evolution into multichannel contact centers. Building on a good 2010, as my colleague Richard Snow noted, NICE expects to reach almost $800 million of revenue in 2011, which would make it one of the largest companies in its segment. NICE has made multiple acquisitions to build its software portfolio, including purchases of Actimize, CyberTech, eGlue and others mentioned below. It recently won our 2011 Ventana Research Leadership Award in the contact center category with its customer deployment at Alliance Data. NICE Systems plans to have Merced Systems as a foundation of its enterprise systems and a complement to its contact center workforce optimization offering. This purchase builds on its other acquisitions, including FizzBack recently and IEX and Performix in 2006, which helped NICE establish its customer service and back office agent performance management software. That area has not grown as quickly as NICE would like, mostly due to marketing that was not aggressive enough in attracting customers. NICE recently rebranded its NICE SmartCenter for helping agents, as Richard noted, and is leveraging its assets into the back office, which he also assessed. Our benchmark research on contact center technology found that companies’ priorities for future investments match up well with NICE Systems’ focuses on expanding customer service agent applications and analytics applications.

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, Sales, Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Marketing, Merced Systems, NICE Systems, Revenue Performance, Sales Compensation, Sales Force Automation, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Call Center, CFO, CMO, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Sales Performance Management, SFA, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management

Actuate Brings Business Intelligence to Customer Information

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 21, 2011 10:02:43 AM

Actuate, which develops commercial versions of the open source Business Intelligence Reporting Tool (BIRT) technology, recently held a one-day event in London. My colleague Mark Smith covers Actuate’s products, but I was impressed by the simplicity of the company’s message, the core of which is that the ActuateOne suite of products allows companies to extract data from multiple data sources, use one product to analyze it and present the results in multiple formats in response to individual user requirements. A key component of this visualization is how easily it can display the results on smartphones and tablets. Actuate presenters demonstrated these capabilities in a lengthy session designed to show that this is “BI for the layman”; that is, after some from help from IT in setting up access to data sources, users can do everything else through the software’s drag-and-drop capabilities. My recent benchmark research into contact center analytics suggests that such simplicity is critical for more business users to adopt BI; if companies are to move away from using spreadsheets to produce their customer and contact center analyses, in addition to being able to do more the new products will have to be as easy to use as spreadsheets.

Read More

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

Contact Centers Should Align Objectives and Metrics

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 10, 2011 9:58:18 AM

It never ceases to amaze me, when you ask people what their business objectives are and how they are measured, how often the two have little in common. This has been the case consistently in the research I have carried out over the last eight years into customer service and contact center performance. The main objective for contact centers is to improve customer satisfaction, but the key performance metric is average call-handling time. Despite hours of contemplation and discussions with colleagues, I still can’t see how one relates to the other.

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, 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, Workforce Management

Despite Recession, Acquisitions Continue in Contact Center Market

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 2, 2011 12:42:36 AM

It has been a busy year for relationships among vendors in the contact center market and despite tough economic times, it doesn’t look like things are slowing down. For example, early this year Salesforce.com acquired Radian6 to strengthen its position as a supplier for what it calls “the social enterprise.” This is not a term I particularly like, but there is no doubt CEOs are interested in understanding what customers are saying about them on social media, and so this looks like a smart move. Just how many companies fully understand social media and the implications for their business is another question, but social media is not going to go away so I expect more companies to develop plans for it in 2012.

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Workforce Performance, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management, [Vendor references]

Transera Delivers Contact Center Interactions in the Cloud

Posted by Richard Snow on Oct 31, 2011 11:22:25 AM

Throughout this year we have seen more vendors begin to offer a contact center in the cloud. The latestis Transera, which offers an integrated set of products that focuses on enabling interactions for customer service agents. It has four main groups of products: operations management, agent management, media and call management, and routing and queuing. 

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, 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, Workforce Management, Transera

Interactive Intelligence Offers Trial Access to Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Richard Snow on Oct 25, 2011 11:08:10 AM

Cloud computing offers companies opportunity to innovate in the ways their contact centers handle customer interactions. Systems vendors have been gradually moving call and other interaction management to the cloud, along with some of the core applications required to operate a contact center such as call recording, workforce management and analytics. Interactive Intelligence is one of the front runners in this market with its Customer Interaction Center. To approach potential customers that aren’t convinced of the virtues of cloud-based systems, Interactive Intelligence recently launched a new service, Quick Spin, a trial version of the its suite.

Read More

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

Moments of Truth in the Customer Experience

Posted by Richard Snow on Oct 21, 2011 12:06:10 PM

I find that customer experience management (CEM) means different things to people. Recently I attended a seminar organized by Rapide, a U.K. technology vendor that specializes in helping companies improve their interactions with customers. The seminar included talks from speakers I don’t normally associate with CEM, and they opened up a new perspective that revolves around a concept I first explored while working at Price Waterhouse Consulting: Moments of Truth.

Read More

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

New Customer and Contact Center Technology at Call Centre Expo

Posted by Richard Snow on Oct 15, 2011 3:33:21 AM

I have spent the last two days at the U.K.’s largest contact center trade show, which this year moved to London Olympia from the NEC in Birmingham. While the overall number of visitors seemed to be down, some exhibitors told me there were more high-level attendees with serious intent to purchase.

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, SAP, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Call Copy, Enghouse interactive, Enkata, Genesys, NewVoicemedia, Nexidia, ShoreTel, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Workforce Performance, Call Center, Cisco, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Interactive Intelligence, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management, and Verint, cTalk Ltd, Noble Systems, Digital Technology

Interactive Intelligence Advances Cloud-Based Contact Center

Posted by Richard Snow on Sep 30, 2011 1:43:38 AM

Interactive Intelligence recently released version 4.0 of its Customer Interaction Center (CIC). CIC provides companies with integrated communications and contact center functions that can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud or in a hybrid environment divided between them. 

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, 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, Interactive Intelligence, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management

Verint Will Acquire GMT To Extend Workforce Management

Posted by Richard Snow on Sep 29, 2011 12:58:27 PM

Recently Verint announced its intent to acquire GMT, a provider of workforce management products. My initial reaction was that Verint was primarily interested in acquiring GMT’s customer base to extend its already large share of the workforce management market. In a briefing Verint confirmed this but said there are other reasons behind its move as well.

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, 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, Workforce Performance, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management, Verint

NICE Acquires Fizzback for Customer Feedback Analytics

Posted by Richard Snow on Sep 29, 2011 12:20:50 PM

NICE Systems has agreed to acquire Fizzback, a specialist vendor of customer feedback management software. On first read this appears to be another acquisition to gain market share, as NICE already provides a customer feedback tool; however,  Fizzback’s customer base is much smaller than NICE’s, so this looks unlikely. Representatives of NICE explained to me that the acquisition is part of its long-term strategy to enhance its customer feedback management capabilities and to build a stronger voice of the customer.

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, NICE Systems, 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 Management

Salesforce.com Presents the Social Enterprise

Posted by Richard Snow on Sep 23, 2011 10:01:39 AM

As he opened last week’s Cloudforce 2011 conference in London, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff declared that companies “must become social or die.” He reiterated the message in answer to a direct question I put to him during lunch with the media and analysts. I have heard several of his keynotes, and reviewed my colleague analysis from recent Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. and this one had a distinct change of emphasis. Benioff seems to feel that the cloud argument has been won, his big CRM competitors have been overcome and it is time to focus on helping companies grasp the changed business environment they now exist in. Dare I say it, there was even a hint that the answer is software – specifically, software to enable what Salesforce calls the social enterprise.

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, Salesforce.com, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management

Merced Customers Apply Analytics and Metrics To Improve Agent Performance

Posted by Richard Snow on Sep 20, 2011 10:59:12 AM

Ventana Research’s benchmark research into agent performance management shows that most companies recognize the vital role contact center agents play in creating good customer experiences and thus good business outcomes. The research also shows that only the most mature companies have put in place processes and metrics that encourage behaviors that deliver such business outcomes. Furthermore, the research shows that companies are held back from adopting more customer-related metrics because they don’t have performance management tools that can help them create such metrics; instead most rely heavily on spreadsheets. Thus I was encouraged to hear during a recent roundtable discussion sponsored by Merced Systems from two customers that have used the Merced Performance Suite to institute a more rigorous, metrics-driven approach to improving agent performance.  

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Merced Systems, 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, Workforce Management

For Dovetail CRM Means Customer Service

Posted by Richard Snow on Sep 6, 2011 10:13:44 AM

LinkedIn’s CRM experts group is hosting an active discussion about what are the top three CRM systems. Along with the blatant promotion of certain well-known products, you can’t fail to notice that the term means different things to people, and that systems gathered under this acronym may cover a range of capabilities. A closer examination of the discussion shows that a majority of discussion participants associate CRM with sales force automation, fewer with customer service and the fewest with marketing. Dovetail Software belongs in the second group, positioning itself as specializing in “support and service software.” 

Read More

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

Salesforce.com and the Big Picture from Dreamforce

Posted by Richard Snow on Sep 3, 2011 9:36:48 AM

Even here in the U.K., we are well aware that Salesforce.com’s annual event Dreamforce is happening this week in San Francisco. Unfortunately I couldn’t be there, but a contingent of the Ventana Research team is there, and from what they are telling me it is quite a show. I have written before that Salesforce has the best marketing machine in the world, let alone the software industry, and it seems to have topped previous events. The company undoubtedly has changed the way many companies think about software, forced many vendors to change their delivery models and is impacting the way consumers think about communicating and running their lives. But let me make a few long-range observations.

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, Sales, Salesforce.com, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Workforce Performance, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management

Alpineaccess Supports Home Agents and Cloud Communications as Outsourcing Alternative

Posted by Richard Snow on Aug 29, 2011 10:17:30 AM

In the past companies had two basic choices in how to provide call center services: internally or by outsourcing the service, typically to a company based where labor costs are low. Recently some companies have supplemented their in-company resources with home-based agents, and a growing number of providers offer outsourcing services in-country, for example, in North America. From a technology perspective as well, companies had two choices: on-premises or the outsourcer using its own technology. Here also a third option has opened up as technology vendors provide their systems “in the cloud,” housed at the vendor’s premises and accessed by users over the Internet. One of these is Alpineaccess, which offers an alternative to third-party outsourcing through home-based agents and cloud-based technology. 

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, 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, Workforce Management, [Vendor references]

Echopass Enables Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Richard Snow on Aug 19, 2011 9:44:06 AM

In the past year various vendors have begun to offer some or all of the systems required to build and run a contact center through a cloud-based service. I recently came across another one, Echopass, which has a different operating model than I am used to. Its core services are provided by products from two vendors that as yet don’t provide their products in the cloud: Genesys, which supplies call routing, intelligent front-door and intelligent back-office workflow, and Verint for workforce optimization (WFO). Echopass supplements these with other vendors’ products, such as Voxify’s speech platform, speech engines from IBM and Nuance and Microsoft .Net and SQL services. Along with a number of in-house developments this array enables Echopass to offer what is in effect a best-of-breed suite that is integrated to create a unified offering. 

Read More

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

Envision Closes Quality Monitoring Loop

Posted by Richard Snow on Aug 17, 2011 8:27:01 AM

Envision is an established provider of workforce optimization (WFO) products and last year was rated a “Hot” vendor in the Ventana Research Value Index for Agent Performance Management (APM). Its suite of products includes recording, quality monitoring, workforce management, coaching, e-learning, performance management and speech analytics. The WFO market is now quite competitive, and along with other vendors, Envision recently announced some product improvements. As well as a number of technical improvements – such as support for more Microsoft products, performance and scalability – the main improvements center on quality monitoring and training of contact center agents. 

Read More

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

OpenConnect Enables Process Improvement

Posted by Richard Snow on Aug 11, 2011 11:24:20 AM

It has taken me a long time to recognize that companies function through a series of processes, mostly executed by people (employees) and supported by information and systems. I was familiar with process maps that show activities happening in sequence and branches caused by certain conditions, but these were mainly paper exercises; my working assumption was that people “just get on with things.” But looking closely reveals that getting on with things happens in processes. To help make this clear, OpenConnect provides a product designed to create process visibility of activities, variances and metrics, with the goal of improving performance.  

Read More

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

Vitria’s Operational Intelligence Enables Proactive Customer Service

Posted by Richard Snow on Aug 8, 2011 9:36:38 AM

Vitria is one of a small group of vendors offering a type of analytics called operational intelligence. The term is not widely known, although Ventana Research has defined and tracked this market for many years and researched. We define operational intelligence (OI) as “a set of event-centered information and analytics processes operating across the network that enable people to take effective actions and make better decisions.” For its part Vitria defines OI as “a new type of real-time, dynamic analytics that delivers visibility into business operations.” Marry the two and you begin to see what differentiates OI from other forms of analytics. 

Read More

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

Salesforce.com Customers Demonstrate Tactical Success

Posted by Richard Snow on Aug 5, 2011 9:14:39 AM

Salesforce.com (SFDC) brought five customers to a recent U.K. analyst event to talk about how they used different SFDC services to solve what turned out to be down-to-earth business issues. SFDC of course would have us believe that moving to the cloud is the only way to purchase IT systems (in its parlance, services) and that it has all the services to solve any issue concerning CRM, sales management, customer service, contact center, social media or software development. Only individual users can judge how successful these services are in their organizations, but the five chosen customers all seemed happy. I want to share with you some observations I gleaned from listening to them. 

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, Salesforce.com, 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 Management

KANA’s SEM Resembles CEM

Posted by Richard Snow on Aug 3, 2011 9:39:49 AM

I’m no great fan of three-letter acronyms, so I wondered what KANA Software means by positioning itself as the leader in service experience management (SEM), which is a term I had not heard. I have thought of KANA as a CRM vendor, but through a program of internal development and two acquisitions, it has transformed itself into something quite different. The acquisition of Lagan in 2010 added additional CRM functionality, enterprise case management and a track record of providing solutions to public-sector authorities. In April of this year Kana announced the acquisition of Overtone, which added text analytics capabilities, with a particular focus on analyzing content extracted from social media. 

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Kana, Lagan, Analytics, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management, Overtone

CallCopy Continues To Refine Agent Performance Management

Posted by Richard Snow on Jul 29, 2011 11:16:07 AM

About a year ago I wrote that CallCopy had emerged as a major vendor of agent performance management (APM) software. Ventana Research has updated its definition of APM to mean the people, processes, information and systems involved in effectively managing the entire workforce that handles customer interactions, and this includes interaction recording, quality monitoring, workforce management, training, coaching, incentive management , agent-related analytics and performance management. Our revised definition recognizes that companies now have to manage more channels of communication and that more people, including home workers, are engaged in handling interactions. 

Read More

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

SAS Helps Optimize Key Business Processes

Posted by Richard Snow on Jul 7, 2011 1:14:21 PM

If you look at the SAS Institute home page it appears easy to identify what it does – “the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market.” My colleague recently assessed them as the multi-billion dollar business analytics supplier which I would agree. However, at the company’s recent analyst event I learned that this description only skims the surface of what it really does; even SAS CMO Jim Davis said he couldn’t be sure of the exact number of products it has (more than 200). Some things, however, are more evident: SAS is successful, with revenues up 6.7% on a like-by-like basis from last year; staff numbers continue to grow (up 2.4% from 2010 and 2011 already showing a 4.9% growth); Fortune named it one of the best places to work; customer satisfaction scores are at an all-time high; and it has enough cash in the bank to be self-funding and able to execute an extensive acquisition program, including companies such as DataFlux, which specializes in data management.

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, SAS, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics

Jacada is Back with a Smarter Agent Desktop

Posted by Richard Snow on Jun 29, 2011 9:40:36 AM

Jacada was one of the first vendors to provide a unified desktop for contact centers. It simplified the agent’s desktop by replacing several application views with a single view that better followed customer conversations. It also interfaced between those applications so agents didn’t have to worry about which fields to update, where to find data or how many applications they had to use. The unified desktop also enabled agents to address customer issues more efficiently.  

Read More

Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Voice of the Customer, Jacada, Operational Performance, Analytics, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM

inContact and Siemens Enterprise Communications Working the Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Richard Snow on Jun 22, 2011 9:15:47 AM

While the contact center business is not the most dynamic market, it is undergoing more changes than I have ever seen. One of the biggest changes is coming about because of cloud computing. This trend was led by salesforce.com, and the impact is now being felt in the contact center market as more vendors start to provide a “contact center in the cloud.” I recently wrote about inContact , one of the first vendors to provide a full contact center in the cloud. Recently inContact announced an important partnership – and it’s not an obvious match. 

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, InContact, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management, Siemens Enterprise Communications

It’s Time for the Contact Center To Change

Posted by Ventana Research on May 3, 2011 9:07:01 PM

Twenty years ago, when I began consulting in the contact center industry, building a call center was a hard, resource-consuming task. Just to begin handling calls required purchasing lots of proprietary equipment, such as PBXs and automatic call distributors (ACDs), as well as software for computer/telephony integration (CTI) and business applications such as case management and CRM – and then spending a lot of time and effort integrating them. Lots of tasks were managed using spreadsheets, and if you wanted anything more than the basic reports available from your PBX/ACD supplier, you would have to budget a great deal more money. Right from those early days, call center managers focused on efficiency and relied on basic metrics such as queue lengths, average call-handling time, hold times and call transfers.

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, SAP, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, InContact, LiveOps, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Workforce Performance, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Interactive Intelligence, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management, Contactual

Content not found