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

My first direct contact with NewVoiceMedia was at the London Call Center Expo in 2011. There, to my astonishment, five minutes after stepping into its booth, I had been set up as an agent on its contact center in the cloud and was receiving support calls on my mobile phone. This was something that had taken days, if not weeks, on centers I had helped to build. Earlier this year, it went one step further, and using the latest versions of its products, it now can create a complete multichannel contact center in a matter of hours.

This new funding allows it to accelerate the company’s international expansion, develop its portfolio of true cloud solutions and strengthen its infrastructure, sales, marketing and professional services capability in North America, Asia Pacific and EMEA. All of these are important for the company to continue its financial success and compete in what is now a highly competitive market. At this year’s Contact Center Expo in San Diego, there were 16 vendors demonstrating contact center in the cloud services, and  several more were not at the show. Not all of them offer the same services, but all position themselves as offering contact centers in the cloud.

NewVoiceMedia now offers two products, ContactWorld for Sales and Marketing and ContactWorld for Service. These support similar capabilities that have been extended from the original call management and routing to include call recording, click-to-dial, pop-up screens, outbound caller identification, dynamic routing based on caller ID or CRM data, ContactWorld Connect and reporting. ContactWorld for Service also includes post-call customer surveys and has been expanded to handle multiple channels of communication. From day one, NewVoiceMedia has had a close relationship with salesforce.com so it not surprising to see that some of the latest funding came from salesforce.com. The two companies continue to work closely together to provide tight integration between the two products, including Salesforce1 mobile integration, and joint sales efforts, which going forward are likely to help it win more sales.

vr_CCC_actions_to_improve_customer_interaction_updatedOur benchmark research on next-generation customer engagement shows that two of the biggest problems companies face in providing consistent multichannel customer engagement are that communication channels are managed separately (by 47% of companies) and there is little coordination between business units (in 33%).Our research on the contact center in the cloud also shows that a large percentage of companies plan to address these issues by adopting applications in the cloud (63%) and communications technology in the cloud (44%). There is no doubt in my mind that consumers will keep changing their communication habits, so more companies will need to ensure they provide superior multichannel customer engagement. This will expand across the enterprise, and more business units will need integrated management of multiple types of interaction. This demand is beyond the capability of on-premises centers and bodes well for companies that offer cloud-based services. The latest round of funding should help NewVoiceMedia invest in new product capabilities that meet market expectations and expand its global presence. If you want to examine contact center in the cloud applications, take a look at NewVoiceMedia.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

vr_NGCE_Research_01_impetus_for_improving_engagementOracle has a large and diverse set of products and now has most of its business applications operating in the private and public cloud. However, some recent acquisitions have enabled it to focus on cloud-based-products for managing the customer experience. Our next generation customer engagement research has found that customer experience is the top impetus for improving customer engagement as found by almost three quarters (74%) of organizations. Oracle has created a customer experience suite that includes marketing, commerce, service, sales, CPQ and social cloud. In particular the acquisition of RightNow has become the foundation of Oracle Service Cloud.

Service Cloud is a collection of products built on a common platform : Web Customer Service, Cross Channel Contact Center, Knowledge Management and Policy Automation. Each of these also has several components; for example, Web Customer Service is made up of Web self-service, Social self-service, E-mail support, Live chat, Virtual Assistant, and Smart engagement.  Self-service enables companies to build self-service Web pages which can be accessed on a laptop or a mobile device and can have embedded access to live help (a chat session) if customers need it. Virtual Assistant goes one step further and uses a rules-based engine to initiate a chat session based on the customer’s profile and data entered into the website, in order to provide more contextual responses. It can also be set up to automatically send a link to a document or send out a survey. All three cases make engagement more proactive and potentially more relevant to the customer.

Social self-service supports Facebook-like capabilities that enable companies to collaborate with customers, share information, or create and operate a closed social forum to, for example, gain input for product improvement initiatives. Live chat and Oracle RightNow Cobrowse Cloud Service provides extensions to Virtual Assistant and allows the agent and the customer to browse Web pages together. E-mail support provides standard email management capabilities but is linked with Virtual Assistant to provide more personalized responses; it also includes escalations and workflows to ensure that any required actions are carried out. Smart engagement pulls many of these capabilities together so companies can build guides that walk users through resolving issues, modifying the steps in real time as data is entered.

Oracle has built most of these capabilities on the original RightNow products. According to Oracle, customers can choose only those they need, which means customers and prospects have to understand exactly their business needs and carefully evaluate which products meet vr_NGCE_Research_09_plans_for_customer_engagement_systemsthose needs but there are so many products making it hard to find what you are looking for and understand all the capabilities. And Customer Service is only one-quarter of the customer experience portfolio. Cross Channel Contact Center is not a contact center in the usual sense. Its focus is systems to manage the operations of a contact center, as opposed to managing communications. Cross-Channel Contact Center does include integration capabilities to these technologies; it can, for instance, collect records of interactions that can be used in subsequent analysis and processes. It consists of nine components: Case Management, Guided Resolution, Social Engagement, Customer Engagement, Analytics, Telephony Control, Unified Agent Desktop and Mobile Desktop. Case Management is not for managing service cases but provides intelligent management of interaction queues; for example, it uses rules to route interactions to the agent mostly likely to meet a customer’s expectations. Guided Resolution enables development of scripts and prompts to guide agents through the process of resolving issues. Social Engagement allows companies to monitor social media activities and proactively reach out to help customers find information or resolve issues. Customer Engagement is what many people think of as customer feedback management; it uses rules to solicit customer feedback. Analytics provides canned reports and analysis, and capabilities that allow users to build their own to gain insights from a variety of customer data including across channels of interactions. Telephony Control provides integration with on-premises or cloud-based telephony management systems so that agents can manage calls from their desktop. Unified Desktop has development and integration tools so that companies can build a unified desktop that enables agents to access systems from a single desktop. Finally Mobile Desktop untethers the desktop from a laptop and allows any authorized user to access contact center systems from their smart devices. Mobile was one of the top areas planned for improving customer engagement (41%) as is analytics (38%) that can operate across channels.

Knowledge Management basically supports the end-to-end process of managing creation, distribution and access of content so the same content can be used by all the other systems, and Policy Management basically supports the end-to-end process of managing a company’s policies.

vr_NGCE_Research_08_systems_to_improve_customer_engagementThe Oracle CX portfolio consists of many products that support a very wide range of capabilities. It is true that customer experience management is not simple and requires multiple capabilities. My benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement shows that to improve customer engagement companies have invested and today use a variety of systems; chief among them are CRM (48%), performance management (44%), business process management (43%) and Web-based self-service (39%). The same research also shows more companies looking for cloud-based systems (29%) and mobile systems (63%). My concerns about the Oracle portfolio is that it might be too broad and too complex for any but large organizations to understand; smaller companies with fewer resources might get lost trying work out exactly what they need. This is most likely a consequence of Oracle having to bring together various products from acquisitions. I suspect the same is also true in the naming of some of the products. For example, Web Customer Service doesn’t adequately reflect the capabilities it supports and Cross Channel Contact Center isn’t what many companies think of as a contact center. Companies that make the effort to work through these concerns will find many capabilities that are required to support what I call the omni-customer experience in which customers find it easy to engage with the company and receive personalized, contextual and consistent responses no matter what channel they use or who they interact with. Oracle has a robust portfolio of applications and technology for customer experience, just might take you a little longer to assess the portfolio and approaches.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

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