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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.

The latest release from VPI does however support multichannel interaction capture, and its analytics capabilities have been enhanced and the architecture tweaked to support higher levels of scalability and performance. Every module within the suite now has embedded analytics, which deliver more than 150 standard metrics, many of which are produced in real time. They can be visualized as part of the agent desktop to help drive self-improvement, scorecards and other reports, all of which can be customized to individual user requirements. They can also be used to trigger alerts and workflow, allowing companies to link analytics with other processes such as quality monitoring, eLearning and coaching, and thus drive actions and performance improvement through a better understanding of agents’ performance against key metrics. Further analytics enhancements are in the pipeline.

VPI has evolved the product architecture into what it calls a hub and spoke model to make the product highly scalable. Functionality such as call recording can be distributed over several sites; for example, calls to and from branch offices can be recorded at the main office location without the need for servers in each branch.

VPI also continues to grow its third-party relationships, which enables it to provide additional capabilities and support other models for service delivery. The Ventana Research benchmark into likely adoption of cloud-based contact centers shows that companies are looking to this type of deployment to help resolve cost, functionality and integration issues as they enhance their centers. With this in mind, VPI has established an OEM-style deal with NEXXPHASE so that it can provided cloud-based contact center services through the integration of VPI, the Pipkins workforce management product, and intraday day agent management and eLearning from Knowlagent.

VPI has branched out into a new space and is now providing what it calls a virtual call center agent, which is a cloud-based software based service that uses voice recognition to solve customer issues instead of having customers talk to live agents. The system can be programmed to follow a defined process, driven by customer voice input. The beauty of the system is that it follows the same process over and over again, learning along the way, so customer issues are resolved more quickly and consistently over time. I am pleased to report that despite my and other people’s doubts about how customers would react to another type of automated service, VPI told me that it now has several customers, and the system is being accepted by their customers, and is delivering business benefits.

The contact center and customer service markets are developing quicker today than at any other period I have experienced during my time covering the industry. VPI continues to invest in its product portfolio to meet these growing demands as I have noted that VPI is making contact centers simpler to operate. As our Value Index finds, it is a vendor to not just watch but evaluate.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

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.

The product works by monitoring what agents are doing through integration with the telephony and workforce management systems. It aggregates wait time into larger slots which it can then make active by allocating other tasks for agents to carry out. The latest release of the product adds more tasks that can be allocate during these wait times, including handling other forms of interactions (email, text messages, social media), taking online training courses, coaching, after-call work, back office tasks such as updating a customer’s details and collaborating with other agents to resolve issues. As Knowlagent moves forward, its plan is to work with more vendors and integrate with more systems, as well as identify more potential tasks agents can carry out and prioritize them so agents are working in the most effective way to improve the customer experience and deliver targeted business outcomes. A quick look at its website shows it has successfully case studies that show how organizations are making better use of agent time, getting the balance between active tasks and breaks, and most importantly improving customer satisfaction by providing better customer experiences.

Despite the introduction of more automated self-service capabilities, our research into customer relationship maturity indicates that organizations still rely heavily on contact center agents to deliver good customer experiences and expected business outcomes. Our research found that optimizing agent utilization is a top priority for which Knowlagent can help address. Managing their time and the tasks they work on is critical to achieving this success. Knowlagent allows organization to take a more granular and proactive approach to reaching these goals.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

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