IoT Might Turn Outsourcing Inward Again

August 27, 2015

The current thinking in technology is that with IoT, everything will eventually be connected to everything else. The idea is to remove a lot of human contact so that people can basically do all their tech troubleshooting on their own. But one area where human contact might actually increase is in the contact center.

That’s the notion put forth by John Cray, VP of Product Management at Enghouse Interactive (NewsAlert), in a recent opinion piece on TelecomReseller.com.

“From Skype to Google Talk to federated UC mobile apps to browser-based voice or IM communications, the number of communications-enabled devices and application endpoints on the Internet is increasing dramatically,” Cray notes. “And, not surprisingly, contact centers are paying attention, because any one of those endpoints is a viable gateway to customer service.

Cray adds that while the IoT will simultaneously increase productivity while reducing human interaction, ironically one area that will see increased interaction is in the call center.

“Think about the implications for customer service when devices, systems, and appliances can report their own faults — the pump or piping system that reports a drop in pressure, the security system that alerts on a difference between two captured images, the HVAC system that communicates a rise in temperature, the home appliance that fails one of its periodic system checks — the list is endless,” Cray observes. “The power of this interconnectedness is indisputable.” But he adds that such “connectedness” means that eventually, a human being will more than likely have to intervene at some point.

“A reported fault may begin with an automated alert, and then escalate to a live contact with a person who is physically next to the system that requires diagnosis and reconfiguration,” he says.

Most contact centers are focused on providing service to customers who own a product or have purchased a subscription from your company. “How will you respond when your contact center traffic includes support requests for ‘things’ that are connected to your products and services,” he wonders. “Will your company find a way to extend its helpfulness to this new wave of requests?”

Cray raises some excellent questions. The time to start thinking about answer is now, before the IoT gets so big it’s unmanageable.

To see John Cray’s complete post and share his thoughts, click HERE.

No Matter the Client, Dissecting Customer Calls Pays Off

August 27, 2015

We’ve all heard the term, but unless you’re actually involved in implementing it, how much do you really know about speech analytics?

It’s a topic that Gerald Sinclair, WFO practice manager at Uptivity, an inContact Company, addressed in a recent blog post, and he made some salient points worth sharing.

“Speech Analytics is one of those solutions that sound great, and we are so excited to try on, but eventually lead to being placed in ‘the back of the closet’ because it loses favor,” Sinclair said. “This occurs mainly because we have forgotten how to … utilize it.”

Speech Analytics is a tool that can cost-effectively transcend your organization and enhance your customer journey by analyzing your interactions, identify trends and help your organization make decisions based on data that was once unavailable, he added.

To that end, Sinclair listed some steps needed to get a speech analytics program up and running in your company:

Assemble Your Dream Team: “Speech Analytics is a solution that requires a cross-functional team to input, participate and maintain in order to achieve optimal results and to keep the solution relevant,” he said. “This cross-functional team should consist of members of the operations department and, ideally, should also include representation from the executive level.”

Taking Speech Viral Across Your Organization: Make your whole organization aware of its existence and functionality, he advises. “Making Speech Analytics results go viral across your enterprise is a great way to increase product awareness.”

Use it to Its Best Advantage: Achieving ROI with Speech Analytics is dependent on how you utilize the product. “Have your dream team represent the organization; brainstorm the challenges from various departments and white board them,” Sinclair suggests.

Rifle or Shotgun? “Many organizations use a ‘shotgun’ approach and try to tackle all the challenges at once,” he notes. “This is not ideal for Speech Analytics as it is more of an art than science and takes time to optimize and analyze reports to make sure you are getting back relative data. We recommend that you start with a more narrow approach; focusing on one or two areas first.”

With a little exercise and consistency with these practices, you will be at the forefront of Speech Analytics and become the example of success with analytics, Sinclair concludes. “Set the trend that others follow by purchasing or removing their own solutions from the closet.”

To see his full blog post and more suggestions, click HERE.

Cloud Customer Service Solution Triumphs

August 20, 2015

Taxpayers traditionally hate seeing their local government spend money, but one recent instance is sure to pay dividends and keep residents happy.

InContact, a leading provider of cloud contact center software and contact center agent optimization tools, has announced that a major county government is replacing its premise-based contact center system with the inContact cloud solution.

This specific county government – which, according to current inContact protocols was not named — will reportedly implement inContact’s cloud platform with 300 agents up front, with the expectation of expanding operations and customizing its contact center system to provide “optimal customer service to their growing resident population,” according to a statement.

“We are seeing an increase in government agencies moving to the cloud and transitioning from expensive capital investments to the flexible, pay-as-you-go billing model available with cloud solutions,” noted Paul Jarman, CEO at inContact, in commenting on the project. “The public sector is placing a premium on excellent customer service and it is more important than ever for government contact centers to leverage the benefits of scalable solutions that can quickly meet their evolving needs.”

The county’s transition from its current aging premise system will center around inContact’s customizable cloud system. The Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) aspects of the systems are the core building blocks of the inContact cloud platform, with skills-based multichannel routing to ensure citizens’ needs are addressed by the ideal agent in the most efficient manner. “The flexibility provided by inContact’s cloud platform will enable its new customer to add agents, including the ability to reduce operating costs by employing at-home agents as well,” the company said

The customer also selected a customized suite of Workforce Optimization (WFO) solutions designed to boost agent productivity and overall operational efficiency. The move was reportedly made as the county government is planning ahead with inContact’s scalable cloud platform to meet the demands of its fast-growing population.

Many Solutions Cited in Contact Center Recognition

August 19, 2015

Affirming what many in the industry already knew, inContact — a leading provider of cloud contact center software and contact center agent optimization tools – has been recognized for its overall contribution to the multichannel cloud contact center industry.

Leading research firm Ovum (NewsAlert) recognized the company in its “Ovum Decision Matrix: Selecting a Multichannel Cloud Contact Center Solution, 2015-16” report. Ovum gave inContact top scores in the categories of Market Impact, Execution and Technology Assessment. In addition, inContact also got high marks in customer satisfaction, reportedly for its “ease of implementation and deployment, flexibility to make changes, and its advanced capabilities,” according to a release.

“The results of the Ovum Decision Matrix confirm that multichannel cloud solutions enable enterprises to deliver the highest levels of customer service within a scalable, reliable, cost-effective infrastructure,’ noted inContact CEO Paul Jarman, commenting on the distinction. “We are honored by Ovum’s recognition as a leader in this progressive market and owe a great deal of thanks to our customers who contributed their results and substantiated the services we work hard to deliver.”

The Ovum report’s “Strengths Analysis” pointed to inContact’s workforce optimization (WFO) solutions and the company’s ability to provide enterprises with WFO options of varying sizes from a cloud platform. “Having these essential contact center tools in-house rather than relying on best-of-breed partners is beneficial to inContact’s customers that want a fully integrated set of monitoring and performing capabilities,” it was noted in the report.

The solutions “meet the needs of customers looking for a reliable set of multi-tenant, multichannel cloud tools that can be deployed quickly,” said Aphrodite Brinsmead, Ovum’s Principal Analyst. “Highlights of the vendor’s portfolio include a user-friendly agent interface, multichannel routing, and Web collaboration,” she added.

The report further noted that “400,000 U.S. call center agent seats are now provisioned by cloud service providers, and Ovum expects this number to more than double by 2018 with similar expectations for the European and Asia-Pacific regions. These estimations further validate that enterprises of all sizes are moving to the cloud faster than ever before.”

Canada Could Capitalize on Nearshoring Trend in Coming Years

August 14, 2015

While Atlantic City can certainly attest that the United States call centers are starting to look at staying at home rather than reshoring, Canada is taking a new angle when it comes to seeking a low-cost location. Canada considers itself a near-shore option when it comes to American companies that are looking to be located somewhere other than the United States.

The Philippines is typically the first go-to place when a company in the United States wants to go somewhere other than home. Still, Canada was once considered a low-cost haven for these kinds of companies and it seems as though it is starting to build momentum again. At the same time, Near Shore Americas points out that this is still the early days of the comeback and no one can be sure the Canadian comeback is going full force.

If Canada can make a comeback, it would be quite impressive indeed. One recent survey has found that when it comes to the percentage of Canada’s third-party workstations that are serving customers in the United States, the number has fallen to just 13 percent; it was sitting at 50 percent just a decade ago.

The biggest reason the number went down, and could go up again is what the Canadian dollar has done. Over the last year, the value of that dollar had been going up, it’s coming back down now and making Canada attractive again. While a recession, like the one Canada is going through is generally not good news, it could serve as a positive for U.S. companies looking to move north. A recession means that more people are looking for jobs and would be more likely to take an entry-level call center position. In short, Canada’s struggles could be companies from the U.S.’ gain. In the long run, that could also be a big positive for the Great White North as they attempt to recover from an economic downturn.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

InContact in Focus with New Chief Strategy Officer

August 10, 2015

It’s been said that you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. And for inContact, the leading provider of cloud contact center software and contact center agent optimization tools, they’ve been someplace interesting: the forefront of the contact center industry.

So it makes sense that the company would create a position for a new Chief Strategy Officer, to make sure they stay ahead of the competition and keep doing what they do best. To that end the company has just announced the appointment of Rajeev Shrivastava as senior VP and chief strategy officer. In this newly created role, Shrivastava will be responsible for company strategy, leadership of the inContact partner product ecosystem, business development and product management.

“We are excited to expand our deep and talented executive team with the addition of Rajeev Shrivastava,” said Paul Jarman, CEO at inContact in an announcement about the appointment. “Rajeev brings a strong track record of success in the cloud software marketplace with his proven leadership to create and implement innovative corporate strategies and successful technology solutions.”

According to the company, Shrivastava is an experienced executive with nearly two decades of comprehensive business expertise in products, marketing, alliances, partnerships and management, most recently with Rackspace (NewsAlert). During his time there, he was responsible for developing and delivering go-to-market strategy, positioning, messaging and execution for Rackspace Product, Solutions and Services portfolio for the $1.8 billion business. He led the company repositioning as the No. 1 Managed Cloud leader and created differentiation in the crowded Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) industry.

Prior to that, he held executive level roles with P&L, and responsibilities at Satmetrix, SupportSoft, BeVocal, Siebel, VirtualSoft, GT Associates and HCL. He has helped both venture-backed companies and public companies accelerate revenue growth and increase profitability.

“With my deep experience in both the cloud and the contact center industries, I recognized the great opportunity with inContact, which is leading the Cloud Contact Center as a Service market,” he said. “I wanted to be part of that winning team.”

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

Even Outsourced Call Center Staffers Know Your Business Well

August 07, 2015

Looking at the average consumer company today, who knows the company best?” Chances are pretty good that it may be the people who work in the contact center. After all, they are the workers on the front lines. They spend their days talking to customers, listening to complaints, smoothing speed bumps, solving problems and answering product and service questions.

This fact prompts an interesting question: is the contact center the best possible place to train for more senior-level jobs in a company? Quite possibly, according to a recent article by Forbes’ contributor Blake Morgan.

“Working in the contact center is not easy,” wrote Morgan. “The contact center is a place where flaws in the product are identified. The company can gather valuable feedback on how to improve products and services. This is the place where the company gains an understanding of the persona of your most valuable stakeholder; your customer.”

Think about it: according to sales, advertising and marketing, everything about the company and its products and services is rosy. It’s a bit like learning about real life while visiting Disney (NewsAlert) World. Marketers are seldom exposed to people who didn’t like the message they sent out. When users don’t like a product, they seldom pick up the phone to call the sales department. They call the contact center to air grievances, make suggestions or demand solutions. Effective contact center workers must find a host of ways to placate customers and retain their business, and they need to work off knowledge they’ve already gained helping other customers through similar scenarios.

At least a few Fortune 100 executives would seem to agree. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos once famously said, “Everyone has to be able to work in a call center.” Bezos revealed in an interview in 2013 that he asks thousands of Amazon managers to attend two days of call center training a year, and he attends them himself. The goal is to really understand where customers are coming from, what they want, and what they expect in the future. There’s a reason call center turnover is often very high: the jobs are often poorly paid, but the work is also very arduous. If you have contact center workers that have logged years with your organization, consider tapping these people for promotions and deep insight into your organization.

“In the contact center, from the beginning you are at the bottom of an arduous hill you need to climb,” wrote Morgan. “Every day you get on the phone, Twitter (NewsAlert), email, chat, or in person, and you know there will be people who are unhappy about something with the product. This is the harder route. However bad the bad days are in the contact center, there is nothing that will teach you as much about your products and services.”

Report: Call Center Outsourcing Growing in Latin America

Report: Call Center Outsourcing Growing in Latin America

August 03, 2015

A new report points to Central America and the Caribbean as places that are seeing massive growth in the call center outsourcing market. This is especially true when talking about companies that are servicing foreign clients, rather than domestic markets.

Frost & Sullivan (NewsAlert) reports that the Latin American contact center outsourcing (CCO) markets hit revenues of nearly $11 billion in 2014, about a one percent increase over the previous year. At first glance, that growth might not seem entirely impressive but it should be noted that the growth in revenues is going on, even while Latin American currencies are seeing declines against the U.S. dollar.

One trend we have seen in the call center market in general is a renewed interest in customer service. The days of getting through as many calls as possible, with no regard for the success of those calls is officially at an end. Contact centers all over the world are finding new ways to make sure they are reaching customer service Nirvana. One of the best ways of attaining this Nirvana is by having those who contact the centers feel as though they are talking to an operator that literally speaks their language.

This is seen in the growth of the Latin American CCO market as well, because Frost & Sullivan says there has been an uptick in Latin American call centers serving as the outsourced provider of contact center operations for companies in another Latin American country. Most importantly, the report shows that CCO and outsourcing in general is being looked at with more positivity in the Latin American region these days. This means that companies in the area are working harder to make it easier for CCOs to operate in the industry and that will further spur quicker growth in the long run.