Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

dvsAnalytics Makes Strong Showing in Workforce Optimization

Posted by Richard Snow 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

New Generation of Recurring Revenue and Billing Inspired from Cloud Computing

Posted by Richard Snow 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

NICE Systems Closes Voice of the Customer Loop

Posted by Richard Snow 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 Richard Snow 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 Richard Snow 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

OpenSpan Makes Smart Agent Desktop Simpler

Posted by Richard Snow on May 3, 2014 11:56:13 PM

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

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

NICE Delivers Customer Interactions with Next Generation Workforce Optimization

Posted by Richard Snow 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

Interactive Intelligence Advances Contact Center Software Portfolio

Posted by Richard Snow 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

Envision Takes Workforce Optimization to the Cloud

Posted by Richard Snow 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 Richard Snow 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 Richard Snow 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 Richard Snow 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

Verint Brings New Business Solutions to Optimize Customer Relationships

Posted by Richard Snow 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

Enkata Optimizes Claims Processing

Posted by Richard Snow on Jul 20, 2013 9:44:21 AM

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

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

SAS Aligns Marketing and Customer Intelligence

Posted by Richard Snow 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

Interactive Intelligence Reveals Ambitious Plans for Customer Service

Posted by Richard Snow 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

NICE Systems Leading Change at Interactions 2013

Posted by Richard Snow 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

Companies Need Smarter Agent Performance Management

Posted by Richard Snow 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

IBM Launches Customer Experience Lab

Posted by Richard Snow 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

Welcome to the 2.0 World of Technology Marketing

Posted by Richard Snow 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 Richard Snow 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 Richard Snow 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

Cisco Advances Customer Interactions and Collaboration in Contact Center

Posted by Richard Snow on Feb 21, 2013 10:07:53 AM

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

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

LiveOps Improves the Agent Experience

Posted by Richard Snow on Feb 13, 2013 10:26:52 AM

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

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

OnviSource Joins-Up Customer-Related Processes

Posted by Richard Snow 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

Verint Announces Real-Time Personalized Guidance

Posted by Richard Snow 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

Cisco Finesse Provides Innovative Agent Desktop

Posted by Richard Snow on Jan 17, 2013 9:10:00 AM

My recent benchmark into the unified customer service agent desktop shows how critical the agent desktop is to improving agent satisfaction, meeting key customer-related metrics and enhancing the customer experience. The typical agent desktop contains multiple systems that allow agents access to multiple communication channels, business applications, messages and performance dashboards. The result is that the desktop is cluttered with systems, frustrating agents, driving up average interaction handling times, and impacting the customer experience as agents search for the information to resolve interactions. The research shows a direct correlation between implementing a unified or smart agent desktop and agent satisfaction, with the direct result that more satisfied agents are twice as likely to meet key metrics such as customer satisfaction, net promoter and customer effort.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Customer Experience, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Cisco, Contact Center, CRM, Upstream Works, Workforce Force Optimization

2013 Direction of Technology for Customer and Contact Management

Posted by Richard Snow 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 Richard Snow 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

Verint Advances Integration and Interactivity for Workforce Optimization

Posted by Richard Snow 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

Zeacom Enters the Growing Enghouse Interactive Contact Center Solution Empire

Posted by Richard Snow 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 Richard Snow 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

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.

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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

Enghouse Interactive Contact Center Products Offer a Range of Capabilities

Posted by Richard Snow 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

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.

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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

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.

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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

Interactive Intelligence Embraces Business Process Management

Posted by Richard Snow 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 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:

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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 Richard Snow 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

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.

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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 Richard Snow 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 Richard Snow 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

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%).

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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 Richard Snow 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

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