Magazine article CRM Magazine

WFO Hears the Voice of the Customer: Workforce Optimization Suites Broaden Their Focus beyond the Company

Magazine article CRM Magazine

WFO Hears the Voice of the Customer: Workforce Optimization Suites Broaden Their Focus beyond the Company

Article excerpt


CUSTOMERS TODAY are more demanding and knowledgeable about the companies with which they do business. With a few taps on their smartphones, they can search companies' Web sites for product and pricing information, patrol product review sites, and read opinions from peers on social media. All that information is available in an instant and without much effort.

So when customers contact a company for any kind of support issue, they expect that same kind of instant gratification. Customer service reps should be able to provide accurate, detailed answers quickly to questions ranging from a simple billing discrepancy to a complicated technical support issue.

These customer dynamics are putting extra pressure on customer service reps to be as up-to-date as possible on every aspect of their companies: products, promotions, technical support issues, and more. Yet, contact center managers cannot draw a complete picture of all that goes on during a typical customer interaction because they lack the resources to know which agents are meeting or exceeding customer and company expectations and which ones might need extra help to fall in line.

As the contact center industry advances in this always-connected, I-want-it-now environment, a blending of workforce optimization (WFO) tools--which are largely focused on the agents, with voice-of-the-customer applications that are, by their nature, more customer-centric--is already starting to happen.


Driving this effort further is the inclusion of speech applications, which can monitor agent performance and customer satisfaction levels, in WFO suites. Currently, only a handful of vendors--notably Verint Systems, Nexidia, and NICE Systems--can provide these speech analytics and WFO solutions entirely on their own. Many other contact center solutions providers, including Calabrio, TelStrat, CallCopy, KnoahSoft, OnviSource, and CSI, have introduced product suites that incorporate phonetics-based speech analytics technologies from Aurix (see table on page 29). "By bringing in speech analytics as an integral component of a much larger solution, you're creating a single point of entry for users and a single interface," says Paul Stockford, chief analyst at Saddletree Research. "You do not have to toggle between applications."

Bundling applications also means that data from the applications flows into a single data warehouse, which users can customize for their own reports, spread-sheets, and scorecards. "You can build your own custom reports, and any reports can be brought into a common dashboard," explains Diego Lomanto, principal marketing manager at Verint.

That's probably where the most innovation in both speech analytics and WFO has already occurred and will likely remain. Vendors continue to enhance the flow of data between modules. One example might be tying quality assurance output to coaching so an automated workflow can schedule an agent for an appropriate coaching or e-learning course after speech analytics has caught a slipup.

"When you log on, it's one database that covers every app," Stockford says. "If you are in the quality-monitoring app and you want to schedule an e-learning [program], they are all running on your screen. It's all right there."

Stockford takes the relationship a step further. "In terms of packaging speech analytics as part of a WFO suite, it makes sense," he says,"because workforce optimization depends on call recordings and analysis. They go hand in hand."


For many of the vendors competing in this area, though, expanding their offerings was more a matter of supply-and-demand, which has sometimes pushed vendors outside their comfort zones.

"We are responding to market demands" for such solution suites, says Jeff Schlueter, vice president of marketing and business development at Nexidia, provider of the Enterprise Speech Intelligence (ESI) suite. …

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