Customer Data

ENTERPRISE SOFTWARE REPORT

Workforce Management Gets Intelligence Boost

Customer interaction analytics specialist Nexidia has announced a new integration partnership with Teleopti, a provider of strategic workforce management (WFM) solutions. The aim of the partnership is to enhance agent performance management by linking Nexidia’s performance measuring applications with Teleopti’s skills-based contact center agent forecasting and scheduling.

“This allows contact center managers to take the intelligence from customer interactions and feed it into a workforce engine,” Jeff Schlueter, VP of marketing and business development for Nexidia, told CRM Buyer. “By integrating the two functions, operations can categorize issues driving calls into the contact centers and create workflow solutions to more effectively schedule agents.”

By way of example, if a center knows there will be an influx of calls on a particular topic, it can use analytics to ensure that the best resources are available for that subject.

“WFM has been around for a long time,” Schlueter said, “but by bringing intelligence to the process in the way of interaction analytics, you can get a lot more value out of traditional WFM solutions.”

Customer interaction analytics adoption has reached an inflection point, contended Schlueter, because of the insight that can now be gleaned from unstructured data.

“We’re seeing more and more companies embracing the concept and realizing they can gain a lot more value out of their contact with customers,” he said.

Customer Interaction Integration

Customer interaction integration was a major focus at the sixth annual inContact User Conference. The event drew customers, industry experts, and partners to explore contact center technologies and opportunities.

“There are a number of big trends in the contact center space that in fact roll up into one big idea of democratization of the customer experience,” inContact Chief Marketing Officer Mariann McDonagh told CRM Buyer. “Customers have more choice and the power to take their business elsewhere. Their conversations about you in social networking can meaningfully change the course of your business.”

This represents a challenge in the contact center industry, but it’s also a significant opportunity, she added. “There are a number of enabling tools that are dominating conversations today. The first is the multichannel contact center and the ability to manage all channels seamlessly in one universal queue. That’s pretty big deal to have everything in the same hopper so you can get the right agent at the right time with the right skills.”

A second major technology push is Web self-service and interactive voice response. “A lot of contact centers are building that into their operations,” noted McDonagh.

The “last big idea” is technology around proactive communications, she said. “That’s when you can blend inbound/outbound functionality based on the right customer profiling, and have seamless connectivity with customer records.”

The Productivity Challenge

Knowlagent, a call center performance management software company, has issued its 2011 productivity survey on contact center management’s biggest challenges and how managers are leveraging technology, measuring productivity and performance, and delivering training.

The study, conducted by Unisphere Research, a division of Information Today, included input from 312 contact center executives across a broad range of industries. Highlights of the study:

  • While social media interactions are increasing, only 13 percent indicate call center staff receive training in this area;
  • Only 24 percent of call centers respond to customer inquiries via social network channels such as Facebook or Twitter;
  • 26 percent of respondents say their companies maintain separate, distinct teams to engage customers through these channels, and another 26 percent say other departments — such as marketing — tend to take up the task themselves;
  • 59 percent of contact center managers see productivity as a major challenge;
  • Contact center agents average 49 minutes of idle time daily;
  • 69 percent said training directly impacts customer satisfaction, and 62 percent said it affects sales.

Study: CEM Under Threat of Extinction

The customer experience management (CEM) industry is at risk of becoming “misunderstood into extinction,” according to a recent Beyond Philosophy Global Customer Experience Management Survey. Among the risk factors cited are failure to take into account customers’ emotional viewpoints and the time it takes to implement a CEM program.

The survey found that 78 percent of CE executives were redeployed with no background in the practice, according to Steven Walden, senior head of research and consulting for Beyond Philosophy.

The term “customer experience” is being used as a buzzword, he added, with many CRM programs simply rebranded as CE.

“Emotions account for more than half the typical customer experience,” noted Walden. “Thus proper CEM must consider emotions in order to deliver any significant value.”

Denise J. Deveau is a seasoned freelance writer based in Toronto, Ontario. She has more than two decades of experience in business- and technology-related subjects.

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