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TelStrat is a company with a long history. Founded in 1993 it initially resold products of Nortel, Cisco and other telecom equipment vendors. The first product it developed and brought to market was a call recording system deployed on the customer’s premises.  It expanded its portfolio over the years, and today its product suite Engage offers all the key pieces of workforce optimization: call recording, desktop capture, quality management, workforce management and speech, text and desktop analytics. TelStrat built this portfolio through a combination of in-house development and partnering with other vendors. It has achieved considerable business success, having more than 3,300 installations in 55 countries, most of which are delivered through a global ecosystem of some 330 channel partners. Engage is available in three models: Unity is an on-premises, single-server version that supports up to 250 users; Enterprise is an on-premises, multiple-server version that supports unlimited numbers of users at multiple sites; and Cloud is a hosted product that supports unlimited numbers of users and is available through a perpetual license or subscription. The company attributes its recent success to the Cloud version, which it supports through multiple data centers in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. This and its longstanding team of call center experts and partners prepares TelStrat to help organizations of all sizes improve contact center agent performance.

In whatever configuration Engage includes five products. Engage Record can capture all calls, including those outside the contact center. It can record calls from a variety of PBX systems, is highly scalable, has watermarking for security purposes and includes 256-bit AES encryption. It can be configured to record all calls or capture calls based on defined rules or on demand. Record includes an advanced capability called Conversation Save that supports multiple options to store very large volumes of call recordings and includes disaster recovery. Advanced search capabilities enable users to find and listen to specific call recordings, and it includes flexible reporting that can be customized to individual requirements. There is also an option for authorized users to listen to live calls and make notes about what they hear. Overall Record provides comprehensive recording capabilities that should match most organizations’ requirements.

Engage Capture complements Engage Record by creating video records of how agents use their desktop systems to handle interactions. The videos are linked to the relevant section of the call recording so quality managers can see what agents were doing as they listen to the call recording. This added perspective of agent performance helps quality managers assess, score and recommend follow-up actions such as coaching or e-learning.

A third module, Engage Quality provides a full suite of agent quality management capabilities. Users can create evaluation forms for specific call types, select and complete agent evaluations and trigger actions based on the outcomes. It also has capabilities to create coaching and e-learning materials, which can include selections of embedded call recordings so agents can hear what they said and understand where they need to improve, schedule coaching and e-learning sessions, and monitor the outcome of those sessions. Its reporting capabilities can point out sessions agents should take, note the sessions they actually took and assess impact of taking the sessions on their subsequent performance. In total these capabilities support the end-to-end quality management process, from assessing performance to driving change.

In the fourth area, workforce management, rather than develop its own products, depending on the model selected, Engage Manage is built on either the Pipkins or the Teleopti product. TelStrat is a development partner of each of them and embeds their products in the Engage suite, develops tight integration capabilities and customizes them to suit its customers. It also provides end-to-end customer support, which means from a customer perspective that workforce management seamlessly integrates with the other TelStrat products.

TelStrat has taken a similar approach for its other product, Engage Analyze, which combines in-house products and third-party systems, notably from CallMiner for speech analytics. The speech analytics component can analyze call recordings using phonetic indexing to index calls, find words and phrases, and display maps of common words used within calls. An advanced version uses a dictionary to understand languages, the context within which words are used and the emotional state of the speaker. Using it in conjunction with capabilities that convert speech to text, users can analyze every word in every call, text message, chat session or social media interaction. The desktop analytics component can be used to insert controls into call recordings; it can, for example, pause and resume recording based on desktop event, censor sensitive data, pinpoint recordings from desktop data, and tag call-related activities with the recoded session. TelStrat also supports interfaces with common CRM systems so call recordings can be tagged or supplemented with other customer data. An advanced version of the desktop analytics enables users to analyze desktop activity and visualize processes through timelines and heat maps.

In our benchmark research into next-generation workforce optimization, more than three-quarters (78%) of organizations said it is vr_NGWO2_06_use_of_agent_workforce_applicationsvery important to improve agent performance so that customer interactions are handled as efficiently and effectively as possible. To this end the majority have deployed one or more of the core workforce optimization products: the three most common are call recording (78%), quality monitoring (70%) and workforce management (59%); these options are especially common in large companies. I believe that companies of all sizes can also benefit by deploying such systems, and choosing cloud-based products such as those available from TelStrat makes this technically easier and more affordable than doing so in-house. Companies that have deployed such systems have on average realized five benefits, chief among them improved agent coaching (66%) and improved customer satisfaction (52%). However, our research also shows that companies are likely to achieve even greater benefits by using an integrated suite of workforce optimization products; nearly half (48%) of participants said it is very important that these products are fully integrated. This not only makes them easier to manage but allows organizations to connect processes they have been disconnected; for example, they can use speech analytics to uncover coaching needs and raise alerts and workflow items to schedule the required coaching. The cloud-based services from TelStrat help organizations achieve this and similar objectives, so I recommend that organizations seeking to improve their end-to-end agent performance management processes evaluate how its suite can help.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

 

I have been involved in the contact center, CRM and customer engagement business for more than 25 years. Yet only in the past few years have I seen much change. Until recently nearly all organizations focused on handling customer interactions as efficiently and inexpensively as possible; few made much effort to manage customer relationships over the complete customer life cycle. However, over the last 18 months, the scene has begun to change very rapidly, and I expect that to continue and even accelerate during 2016.

What is driving that change? The simple answer is customers. They have changed the way they interact with each other, and this has impacted how they want to engage with organizations. Competition to win and retain customers has gotten fiercer, and with business easily available online, customers can change suppliers at the click of a button. The Internet, and the emerging Internet of Things (IoT), will connect more devices and are generating vast volumes of data that open up the possibility of organizations understanding their customers better and proactively influencing their decisions and behavior. These technologies also enable new business models, as what were physical products, such as music, video or software bought on a disk or printed photographs, become digital or Internet-based services that are paid for through different methods.

With these issues in mind our Customer Technology Research Agenda for 2016 will focus on three primary themes:

The Contact Center Revolution

Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement shows that customer engagement is an enterprise and multichannel issue. New research in 2016 will examine how companies are adopting cloud computing to support integrated channels of engagement and make access to all related systems possible from almost any location, including for employees handling interaction on mobile devices. It will also take into account how companies are deploying a new generation of self-service systems and digital channels of engagement that enable customers to serve themselves more easily and if necessary transfer to assisted service and agents without having to repeat tasks. It will examine the need to deploy integrated quality management systems that can connect all quality management processes and link agent-related tasks to the customer experience. Furthermore it will investigate the adoption of collaboration systems that allow any employees handling interactions to collaborate with expert colleagues who can help them resolve customer issues at the first point of contact.

Innovation in the Customer Experience

Much of the consumer research I read shows it is no longer sufficient for organizations to maintain the status quo in the way they engage with customers, which is largely reactive and conducted through a limited number of channels that the company determines. Rather they have to innovate by allowing customers to choose the channel of engagement of their choice, making it easy for them to use those channels and, when speaking to an employee, making responses personal and consistent. In short they need to become proactive in understanding and reaching out to customers, or they risk losing business. The first step is to gain a better understanding of their customers, including why and how they prefer to engage, and this requires advanced technology. Our research will examine how companies are using big data and multidimensional analytics to produce deeper analysis of all customer-related data and to visualize the outputs in more meaningful ways. This trend will extend to using predictive and cognitive capabilities so that the outputs can drive continuous improvement and new business opportunities.

Transforming Commerce and Subscription Processes

The software industry leads the way in using the Internet to change how people and organizations purchase and use technology. Many vendors have moved away from on-premises deployment and one-off pricing to provide services accessed over the Internet and invoiced on a subscription basis. Other types of business are following suit, providing for example music, video and healthcare consultation as on-demand services paid for on a usage basis. The old adage that “80 percent of a company’s profits come from 20 percent of its customers” is no longer relevant as it has become harder and more costly to win and retain customers. Our research will examine how organizations are adopting subscription-based services and billing systems that not only invoice on a more flexible basis but can help increase customer lifetime value.

Each of the above efforts will take into account how organizations are making use of innovative technologies such as cloud computing, big data, business and social collaboration, mobile computing, wearable devices and the Internet of Things, which connects various devices to each other digitally. As usual we will seek to identify both best practices and barriers organizations face in adopting new processes and systems to improve customer engagement.

Our extensive research over the last 10 years indicatesvr_NGCE_15_supporting_multiple_channels that none of this will be easy for organizations. For example, our research into next-generation customer engagement shows that organizations most often struggle to integrate systems (49%), manage communication systems in an integrated manner (47%) and provide consistent responses (33%) at all touch points. Successful change must be driven from the top of the organization and will require coordination of people, processes, information and systems across all business groups.

Perhaps most importantly it will require organizations to break down the barriers between business groups. Marketing will need more innovative ways to attract potential customers, sales will have to pay more attention to what it sells, and customer service and the contact center will have to do more than just respond to customers, instead becoming ambassadors for the organization. I believe organizations will have to pay more attention to customer lifetime value because winning and retaining new customers has become such a challenge. Customer experience again will be key, as any number of reports show that one bad experience can lose a customer. I expect this to be a challenging but exciting year, so please stay connected to keep track of developments.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow – VP & Research Director

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