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Verint is an established vendor of workforce optimization products that was the top-ranked vendor in our 2015 Workforce optimization Value Index. However, like many other large vendors in this category, its product portfolio vr_wfo_vi_hotvendor_2015and capabilities extend beyond workforce optimization; indeed, from a glance at its home page it is not immediately obvious that workforce optimization is a main part of its portfolio. The portfolio includes actionable intelligence, customer engagement optimization, security intelligence, and fraud prevention, risk management and compliance. Workforce optimization is a key component of customer engagement optimization, as are process automation and an employee desktop system, both of which can make interaction handling and associated processes more efficient. Recently the company announced two new products that enhance these capabilities: Verint Robotic Process Automation and Verint Process Assistant.

Verint Process Assistant helps resolve an issue contact centers have struggled with for years: how to ensure that agents follow best practices and to resolve interactions as efficiently as possible while at the same time ensuring that both agent and customer are satisfied with the outcome. This issue arises because in many cases agents have to access vr_db_impact_of_agents_accessing_multiple_systemsmultiple systems when trying to resolve customer interactions. Our benchmark research into the agent desktop shows that this often increases average call-handling times (said 65% of participants), degrades the customer experience (49%) and reduces agent satisfaction (31%). Over the years companies have tried several solutions: agent scripting, an agent desktop that supports point-and-click access to systems, and most recently a smart agent desktop that guides agents in what to do and presents information as needed. The major issue with these desktop systems is that they typically require a lot of integration so data can be pushed and pulled from systems and presented to the agent in a “friendly” format. Verint Process Assistant takes a different approach. In essence it is “smart” software that sits behind the desktop and advises the employee on what to do next, for example, look at this field, enter data here or say this. The software makes no changes to any system, nor does it require integration with them; through predetermined rules it merely generates short messages that pop up on the screen to guide the employee on what to do. Process Assistant has tools to build the rules, which can include following different processes depending on the data entered. This technique is less disruptive than forcing agents to learn a new system, but it directs them to navigate between fields and screens, follow prescribed processes and capture the correct data; used properly it helps provide  customers with consistent information and satisfying experiences.

Robotic Process Automation, the other new product, applies a similar approach to back-office processes. Users program the smart software to follow a process and execute tasks without any manual intervention. Here also the tools enable authorized users to create processes, embed decision points based on collected data and notify employees that they need to do something when a task or process is completed or that manual intervention is required before the process can complete. Typical processes are to collect data from one system and post it to another, complete a claim form, and replicate data across multiple systems, for example, name and address changes. This automation can make processes more efficient, reduce data entry errors and labor costs for carrying out repetitive tasks and increase compliance with regulations . Its reporting tools show organizations how well processes are working and enable changes where needed.

Robotics is a hot topic at the moment, but that’s not quite the same as what Verint calls robots. There are no machines running around carrying out tasks; instead, it is all software – smart, programmable software. Both Process Assistant and Robotic Process Automation run in the background and make sure tasks are carried out when and as they should be, in some cases overcoming time-consuming issues that have existed for years. Both can make operations more efficient and help deliver desired outcomes; Process Assistant can facilitate satisfaction in both agents and customers. I therefore recommend that all companies involved in customer-related tasks assess how they could benefit from using one or both products.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director, Customer

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Much is written about omnichannel customer experience, and various software vendors now claim to focus on the customer experience. With various degrees of credibility they range from providers of communication channel management to workforce optimization, voice of the customer, self-service, analytics and even CRM. This bandwagon raisesvr_NGCE_Research_12_all_current_channels_for_customer_engagement the question of what  omnichannel customer experience really is and how companies can achieve it. Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement shows that consumers now engage with companies through as many as 17 channels of engagement though companies on average support six. The research also shows that every business group, with the exception of IT, engages with prospects and customers at different times during the customer life cycle. Customers today, we know, are more demanding than ever. They want to choose the channel and time of engagement. They want the process to be easy, and they want to be recognized so responses can be personal to them. They expect consistent responses regardless of channel and not to have to repeat actions if they change channels. They want agents empowered to resolve an issue at the first try. Finally, at the end of the interaction they want to feel good about how it went and the outcome.

All this goes into the customer experience and providing all aspects of it in a multichannel and multitouch-point environment is no easy task. vr_NGCE_15_supporting_multiple_channelsAnalysis in our research reveals three related issues for companies:

  • They have multiple systems containing customer data, and it is not easy to integrate them or to share data between systems so that, for example, if a customer’s address changes it is reflected in every system containing the
  • They have implemented multiple channels of engagement, but typically they are stand-alone systems managed by different business groups. This fragmentation impedes sharing data collected through one channel with any subsequent channel the customer uses and even makes it hard to see that the same customer is using different channels.
  • Because business groups tend to have their own processes and systems, it is difficult to ensure that customers always receive consistent information. This causes downstream issues; for example, customers may receive marketing information that doesn’t match what they receive at the point of purchase, which can cost the company sales.

Faced with these challenges, I recommend that companies begin their journey toward providing omnichannel customer experience by adopting three types of systems: analytics, an advanced desktop and collaboration.

Analytics – First, most companies need better understanding of how their current interaction-handling processes are working. They need to know which processes deliver the desired outcomes, which employees are performing best, which channels prospects and customers use for particular actions, and what actions they take during and after interactions. From this they can gauge the overall business success of interaction handling. To manage the volume and types of data required to produce such a comprehensive view and then gain insights from it all, companies should deploy advanced analytics systems for data, speech and text that can ingest data from all sources and produce analysis specific to particular users and uses. Such analysis can be used to identify areas in need of improvement and to create action plans.

Advanced Desktop – To meet all of the customer expectations outlined above, employees need access to all the systems that contain data about the customer. The most practical way of achieving this is to deploy an advanced agent desktop system. In general such a system brings everything together in one place to make it easier to handle interactions and mitigate the need to integrate systems. It should make it easy to sign into and use any system, see what interactions need handling in the different channels, and to access current and historical information about the customer. The system should enable changing channels to deliver responses if need be and automate updating of multiple systems with the same latest data. It also should help automate the process of creating responses, for example, by using templated email responses. The most advanced systems include rules-based processing that can guide the employee’s response, indicating other information to collect and which is most relevant to resolving the interaction.

Collaboration – Even when using an advanced desktop system, it is rare that every employee will have the knowledge, skills and authority to resolve all customer interactions. To meet customer expectations of resolving issues at the first attempt, it is vital that employees be able to collaborate with others who can help them. The latest collaboration systems enable this in a seamless way and ensure that all parties are using the same information.

These three tools are not all it takes to deliver experiences that fully meet customer expectations. As for that, I recently wrote about all that is required to provide EPIC customer experiences. However, for companies not in a position to replace several systems or having limited budgets to invest in new systems, these three types of software present a practical way of achieving that goal.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

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