You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2011.

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. 

Operations management is split into two areas. One application allows systems administrators to set up all the parameters and data used by all the other applications. The other provides extensive reporting, which includes real-time operational reports and reports that agents can use to self-monitor their performance. 

Agent management is an applet that pops onto the agent desktop and allows agents to change their status (such as idle, on call or carrying out after-call work), transfer calls to another extension or phone number (including outside the contact center), set up conference calls so the agent can collaborate on resolving a customer’s issue, and gain access to their personal statistics.

Media and call management includes four components: a software-based IVR, call monitoring, call recording and a “jukebox” that can store call recordings. Each of these provides key capabilities. Call monitoring and recording, for instance, has a feature that allows administrators to schedule when different plans come into effect using an Outlook look-alike calendar. One feature I can only describe as sad: Employees responsible for call monitoring can vary the number they use to monitor calls, so they can, for example, listen in to calls while they are driving home from work! The system works by delivering a call to an agent, and if the monitoring rules are satisfied, it routes the call to the person set to monitor that type of call.

The final group of products, routing and queue management, gives Transera a competitive edge. Global queue management is a multichannel, single-stack queuing application that allows companies to route calls, email and fax to agents based on a single set of rules – and Transera plans to add instant messaging in the next release. The product supports three levels of routing: skills-based, which is similar to other such products, and scorecard and service-level routing, which go beyond what most other routing products can do. These allow users to set up rules based on agent and operational performance metrics; for example, an inbound sales call could be routed to the agent who has the best track record of closing sales. The rules can be configured so that all calls don’t end up being routed just to one person or queue.

All the products are cloud-based and so can support distributed centers, dispersed agents (such as at-home workers) or companies that want to have interactions routed to a third-party outsourcer. The user interface is no better than average, and the features I saw were relatively to use. 

The product is focused on the communications and agent management aspects of running a center. Its main differentiator is the scorecard and service-level-based routing. At a time when the customer experience has become paramount, the capability to route calls to the most qualified agent to handle an  issue can help produce the desired outcome for both customer and company. The Transera product supports companies in their efforts to do this. Companies looking to improve operational performance and the customer experience should look at what it can offer.

Have you implemented, or are you considering, routing other than skills-based? If so please tell us more and collaborate with me on social media.


Richard Snow – VP & Research Director

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.

Quick Spin includes all the communications in the cloud capabilities (PBX, auto-attendant, presence, conferencing, desktop call control and unified messaging), call routing (ACD), on-demand call recording, basic IVR, real-time speech analytics, reporting and other analytics. These capabilities are all accessed via the Web, and companies can use them for a limited time to see whether the service is for them.

Setting up Quick Spin is a six-step process. Users define up to five agent skills, such as language spoken or call types handled and profiles of up to 10 agents who will be involved in the trial. Next they create work groups (which many centers call queues), for example, technical support or complaints, and then assign agents to these groups. Then they create some simple IVR messages in text form, which the system converts to voice responses depending on what number the caller dials. In the next step users input five positive phrases and five negative phrases to be monitored using real-time speech analytics, assigning a rating on how likely each is to produce false-positive ratings. Finally Interactive Intelligence assigns an in-bound call number for customers to use, and agents are allocated extension numbers to which their calls will be delivered. At this point the company is up and running with a contact center of limited scope but that will operate in almost the same way as centers running full-function systems. Mangers can change skills, work groups or people engaged in the trial as they might in a fully operational center. The real-time speech analytics raises alerts if the phrases are spotted, and the reporting and analytics produce reports and analysis of how the trial performs, so at the end of the test period companies have a realistic sense of how a center would work using the complete Interactive Intelligence product suite.

Interactive Intelligence realizes that some companies are reluctant to use cloud-based systems, with security and fear of the unknown as major concerns. However, today for many companies there are several pressing reasons why they need to upgrade their contact centers, among them to reduce operating costs, to provide multichannel customer service and to support home-based and mobile users. This trial version from Interactive Intelligence offers companies a chance to overcome some of their fears and gain hands-on experience of how a cloud-based center would work. It also offers the chance for companies to improve interaction-handling, and so I recommend that those uncertain about utilizing a contact center in the cloud give it serious consideration.

Have you adopted any cloud-based systems for your contact center, or are you in the processes of evaluating potential suppliers? If so please tell us more and collaborate with me.


Richard Snow – VP & Research Director

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