Manage Your People, Manage Your Success

Manage Your People, Manage Your Success

March 31, 2015

It can be generally agreed upon that raising the quality of a call center business and its dealings with clients can benefit everyone. Yet when it comes down to how to implement such a program, there are as many ways to fail as there are to succeed. That’s why it makes sense to move carefully when undertaking such a step.

Gerald Sinclair, WFO Practice Manager at Uptivity (an inContact company), recently blogged about just such a program, and laid out some specific steps to follow to assure success.

“The art and science of determining just how good an organization and its front line agents are performing is a process that continues to evolve,” Sinclair wrote. “Today, many organizations have adapted QM [Quality Management] programs for all customer interaction channels.”

Sinclair went on to outline some specific steps a call center can take to assure a higher level of quality in all its dealings:

Decide on What Percentage of Calls Should Be Recorded and Evaluated: “A growing number of companies are using the ‘analytic driven quality’ at 100 percent recording to assist with a needs-based QM program,” Sinclair says. “However, most organizations evaluate less than one percent of an agent’s total monthly calls for quality. That sample size is too small to provide an accurate reflection of how that agent is performing or how your organization is doing.”

Create a Quality Standards Definition Document (QSDD): “A QSDD is a document that outlines and details the necessary information that should be evaluated and focused on when performing an evaluation,” Sinclair notes. “It also should contain the overall guidelines and procedures of the Quality Management program including examples of the positive and negative behaviors to observe during the call-monitoring process.”

Create an Evaluation Form Based on Your QSDD: “Your quality monitoring forms should be in line with the criteria established in the QSDD,” he believes. “Many contact centers have various monitoring forms based off of different lines of business, different customer interaction channels and different objectives such as customer experience, compliance or improving [and] maintaining efficiency.” In short, it’s not one size fits all, but instead what size fits best for your operation.

The basic standards for QM listed above can help provide value to your organization and customers, but consistency is key.

Sinclair sums it up thusly: “Adding these processes to your call center toolbox will ensure better customer experiences, internal integrity and increased accuracy/efficiency with meeting corporate goals.” And isn’t that what everyone should be striving for?

Augmented Reality Could be a Mainstay in Future Gaming, According to Study

Augmented reality (AR) in the form of head-mounted technology splays real-time special effects and interactive virtual environments in any room of the house. Basically, what the film industry has been doing for years in post production now happens in real-time. Developers of head-mounted displays (HMD) such as Microsoft, Google, Seebright and others are already exploring the potential of AR to literally change the way we see the world. As the results of a recent study by Juniper Research, “Augmented Reality: Consumer, Enterprise & Vehicles 2015-2019”, seem to suggest, nowhere will this be more prolific than in mobile gaming. 

The study specifically alludes to the use of HMDs to enhance virtual gaming, which remain the area of greatest potential. But only a small portion of the 420 million annual AR mobile app downloads expected by 2019 will be for HMDs. Most, according to the study, will be for conventional mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Nevertheless, the role AR is expected to play in the mobile gaming universe is significant given there were only 30 million AR app downloads in 2014.

The study goes on to assess just how significant. Despite growing interest in Enterprise AR over the past year, progress has been slow, which Juniper credits to a lack of “cutting-edge” apps that go the extra mile in consumer engagement. Furthermore, graphics are still coming up short for mobile AR apps, most specifically from clogs in image rendering and poor object tracking. Juniper Research suggests that the impasse can be breached through enhanced dedicated circuitry for AR apps, an endeavor that some System on a Chip (SoC) vendors are already pursuing.

Looking forward, much of what AR will allow us to do is needlessly farcical. We can insert explosions over the cars in front of us during rush hour traffic, or slime the school principal during a graduation ceremony. And it is for this exact reason that AR has such great potential in gaming universes. It’s a long way off, but imagine flying the Millennium Falcon around the living room, and shooting down a TIE Fighter that is actually a mosquito, or somersaulting across Hyrule Field via the carpet of the computer den. Could AR function to scale, so that a LEGO city transforms into a gritty, frenetic metropolis? Also, could virtual gaming enter stage right, and eclipse the spotlight on AR apps? Or maybe, real-time environment interaction will be niche enough that AR games won’t heavily compete with virtual environments, sort of how Nintendo’s Wii used motion technology to skirt around direct competition with more graphically inclined consoles. 

The possibilities are endless, but Juniper Research’s new study seems to suggest that AR is on the rise, and that by sometime next decade, HMDs could be the hardware that takes it to new heights.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

Amazon Announces Awesome New Tool or Trolls Entire Internet

In an announcement that seems to be legitimate, Amazon on March 31 declared that it will release by invitation only the Dash Button to select Amazon Prime members. The Button will link to customers’ Amazon accounts and make it possible to order select household supplies with the simple push of a button. Speculation abounds that the whole thing is an early April Fool’s joke, but Amazon says it isn’t. 

The idea is simple and possible, so it’s at least plausible, and if it is a fake, they should go ahead and make it anyway. Interested Prime customers are to go to the Dash site and sign up for an invite. Once they get it, they have one week to respond with an order for no more than three Dash buttons, each of which can be tied to a specific household product. Then, whenever the customer gets low on the detergent or toilet paper or whatever, he simply hits the button and it shows up the next day and the account gets billed.

The Dash buttons are connected to the home Wi-Fi with the Amazon app and linked to the Prime account to make the system work automatically. Amazon sends an order alert to the customer’s phone, so it can be cancelled if it was an accident. And unless he or she elects otherwise, the Dash Button responds only to the first press of the button until the order is delivered.

If this turns out to be real, it could be a big step toward connecting a huge base of homes to the IoT in a concrete way. 

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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Simply Put, Quality Matters in the Call Center

It can be generally agreed upon that raising the quality of a call center business and its dealings with clients can benefit everyone. Yet when it comes down to how to implement such a program, there are as many ways to fail as there are to succeed. That’s why it makes sense to move carefully when undertaking such a step.


Gerald Sinclair, WFO Practice Manager at Uptivity (an inContact company), recently blogged about just such a program, and laid out some specific steps to follow to assure success.

“The art and science of determining just how good an organization and its front line agents are performing is a process that continues to evolve,” Sinclair wrote. “Today, many organizations have adapted QM [Quality Management] programs for all customer interaction channels.”

Sinclair went on to outline some specific steps a call center can take to assure a higher level of quality in all its dealings:

Decide on What Percentage of Calls Should Be Recorded and Evaluated: “A growing number of companies are using the ‘analytic driven quality’ at 100 percent recording to assist with a needs-based QM program,” Sinclair says. “However, most organizations evaluate less than one percent of an agent’s total monthly calls for quality. That sample size is too small to provide an accurate reflection of how that agent is performing or how your organization is doing.”

Create a Quality Standards Definition Document (QSDD): “A QSDD is a document that outlines and details the necessary information that should be evaluated and focused on when performing an evaluation,” Sinclair notes. “It also should contain the overall guidelines and procedures of the Quality Management program including examples of the positive and negative behaviors to observe during the call-monitoring process.”

Create an Evaluation Form Based on Your QSDD: “Your quality monitoring forms should be in line with the criteria established in the QSDD,” he believes. “Many contact centers have various monitoring forms based off of different lines of business, different customer interaction channels and different objectives such as customer experience, compliance or improving [and] maintaining efficiency.” In short, it’s not one size fits all, but instead what size fits best for your operation.

The basic standards for QM listed above can help provide value to your organization and customers, but consistency is key.

Sinclair sums it up thusly: “Adding these processes to your call center toolbox will ensure better customer experiences, internal integrity and increased accuracy/efficiency with meeting corporate goals.” And isn’t that what everyone should be striving for?

Novatel Wireless Acquires Feeney Wireless to Push Toward IoT Domination

In a move that doubled its IoT assets, Novatel Wireless announced March 30 that it bought Feeney Wireless for $26 million in cash and stock in order to further pursue the brand’s journey toward being the brand that offers the M2M industry the broadest, most comprehensive portfolio of product and execution. The deal also stipulates an additional $25 million in payments over four years, based on Feeney’s revenue and profit performance.

Founded in 1999, Feeney makes IoT products, performs systems integration and services for M2M executions. The company makes its bread and butter on cellular-based wireless IoT solutions, and it has a strong base of enterprise and government customers. It’s also got a 250,000 subscriber carrier SaaS (News  - Alert)-based management platform.

“With this strategic combination, we create a new model positioning Novatel Wireless as a total IoT solutions and services leader, from hardware to SaaS to connectivity. This transaction creates a powerful engine for generating immediate and long-term value for our shareholders,” said Alex Mashinsky, CEO, Novatel Wireless (News  - Alert). “[Feeney’s] recently released IoT application framework, Crossroads, is … already being deployed with key anchor customers.”

Including a solid and growing base of recurring revenue, Feeney Wireless plans to generate at least $38 million in revenue in 2015. To listen to the announcement, click here

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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Wheelings & Dealings: Sapiens to Acquire IBEXI Solutions

Wheelings & Dealings: Sapiens to Acquire IBEXI Solutions

March 31, 2015

While insurance sometimes feels like a local or national business to customers, in reality it is very global.  This is particularly true when it comes to those who provide technology solutions to carriers large and small around the world.  An illustration of this comes in the form of new that Holon, Israel-based insurance software solutions provider Sapiens International Corporation, which has announced the signing of a definitive agreement, subject to closing conditions, to acquire IBEXI Solutions Private Limited (IBEXI), an India-based provider of insurance business and technology solutions.  Closing of the acquisition is expected to occur in the second quarter of 2015. 

With revenues for FY 2014 of approximately $4.3 million, IBEXI has 180 insurance and technology professionals.  Its practice is concentrated in Asia Pacific where it services 18 insurers in both the property and casualty (P&C) and life, pension and annuities (L&P) markets.  The company offers IT business consulting services to insurance companies on core insurance and supporting systems. In addition to its own insurance products – business intelligence (BI) and insurance portal offerings – IBEXI also provides implementation services. 

This sale makes sense, as IBEXI has been selling the Sapiens IDIT Software Suite for seven years and providing support for its existing customer base in AsiaPac.  Following the acquisition, IBEXI will manage the Sapiens Asia Pacific domain as a Sapiens regional center.

For its part, Sapiens International software solutions are being used for core, end-to-end capabilities to the global general insurance, property and casualty, life, pension and annuities, reinsurance and retirement markets. The company also has a nice business decision management business and is increasingly focusing on the financial services industry in general with more than 130 financial services organizations as current customers.  Sapiens has over 1,000 professionals who operate through fully-owned subsidiaries in North America, the United Kingdom, EMEA and Asia Pacific where IBEXI will enable it to expand its footprint along with the solutions offered.

“I am proud of IBEXI’s accomplishment as a provider of solutions and IT services to the Asia Pacific insurance industry,” said Ashok Bhavnani, IBEXI’s CEO. “I am confident that IBEXI’s domain expertise, our business intelligence and insurance portal offerings, and proven delivery capabilities will bring great value to Sapiens and its clients.” 

“I look forward to being part of the Sapiens team and sharing my nearly 25 years of experience. With the backing of Sapiens’ resources – its comprehensive product portfolio, insurance and financial services experts, and its strong financial position – we will continue to expand Sapiens business in Asia Pacific with existing and new customers.”   

“I believe that this acquisition will allow us to better serve the Asia Pacific insurance market,” said Roni Al-Dor, president and CEO of Sapiens. “It will expand our product portfolio with complementary solutions and will enable us to better achieve our targets of operational margin expansion.” 

As many reports and executive speeches the past several months have pointed out, the insurance industry globally has been a laggard in adopting new technology.  In fact, many are saying that failure to invest in news solutions that automate claims processes and enhance the customer experience front end to back office could be a ticket to financial problems for legacy insurers.  It is for precisely this reason that the solutions providers are busy beefing up via the M&A route as this deal highlights.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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Industrial Efficiency Improved through IIoT Integrations in Manufacturing and Shipping

Industrial Efficiency Improved through IIoT Integrations in Manufacturing and Shipping

March 30, 2015

A major source of profit erosion and industrial waste comes as a result of operation inefficiencies, some of which could be solved with better information about processes, especially those that aren’t yet automated. To solve the problem, shipping and manufacturing companies are implementing IIoT systems and finding savings that really make a difference.

Global logistics company Weft announced March 30 that it has tapped Skyhook Wireless to help their supply chain clients track assets in shipping lines all over the globe, and predict cargo arrival times. Weft’s patent-pending algorithm uses contextual data collected by IIoT-connected sensors to model activity and predict cargo arrival, and Skyhook says the automated systems are better than the drivers, conductors, and ship captains at making those predictions.

“Skyhook is one of our major partners in location tracking and indoor location, so we can ensure that we know exactly where our customers' assets are — even in areas where traditional GPS falls short,” said Marc Held, CEO, Weft. “Through our comprehensive platform, we are able to capture things like global weather patterns, oil prices, port congestion, news, throughput, traffic conditions, market sentiment, and provide comprehensive route analysis based on proprietary geospatial datasets.”

Closer to the beginning of the supply chain, one can find factories, manufacturing the items which must be sent to market. Mitsubishi Electric is trying to help those factories to find savings by using M2M devices to collect data from the shop floor and link factory sites via the cloud to share and compile information. The solution, announced March 30, is called IoT Factory Controller. It’s in testing now and is expected to reach the market in April 2016.

It will connect Mitsubishi’s automation architecture with the cloud to allow advanced production management. The IoT Factory Controller will allow plant operators to analyze and visualize data graphically, in real time, to achieve greater productivity and quality. It will also provide security against data manipulation, unauthorized access and other cyber-attacks. Mitsubishi has 13 patents pending for the new technology in Japan, and 11 pending internationally.

Both new systems will help close the gap between today’s loss of revenue to waste and perfect efficiency. Shine on, you crazy diamonds. 

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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Five9 & Netrix Bring Out New Cloud Contact Center Solutions

March 30, 2015

Some of the best things in life happen when efforts combine, and the new combination effort between Five9 (News - Alert) and Netrix is no different. Five9's skill in cloud contact center software, coupled with Netrix's ability in cloud-based unified communications (UC) tools means some very big things to come, a relationship that the two companies suggest will yield some “best-of-breed” solutions for the cloud contact center.

The combined effort, according to reports, will bring together both companies' best tools to create a more complete cloud communications system, designed to give enterprise users of all sizes a chance to put the power of cloud-based systems to work. That's going to make it easier for several different sectors of a business to better communicate, ranging from employees to customers.

But the combined effort is really only as strong as its parts, and both Five9 and Netrix are clearly strong players in their respective fields. Netrix brings in a cloud UC offering that offers a full hosted voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) platform that takes a lot of the expense out of the equation while still allowing for excellent performance. Since the system is hosted, that in turn means users don't need to purchase and maintain a lot of hardware to take advantage of the service, rather just a few basics that were likely on hand to begin with, or can be had for little cost. Five9, meanwhile, offers a complete cloud contact center tool, making it easy for even small companies to offer full contact center services. That's an important distinction in the field where customer experience is so important. With Five9's systems, users can easily switch among the various contact types, from social media to voice calling, meaning a full omnichannel experience can be offered with little difficulty.

Five9's CEO and president Mike Burkland refers to the plan as part of a “growth strategy” that calls for the expansion of an “...ecosystem of strategic partners.” Netrix made a great addition to that lineup on the strength of its contact center and UC tools. Meanwhile, Netrix partner James Carroll (News - Alert) noted that Five9 was an “industry leader in cloud contact center solutions”, and as such, made an excellent partner for Netrix's toolset.

This combination of tools should prove particularly welcome to those looking to expand or institute a contact center operation, and have taken the advice from so many to heart about going with an omnichannel experience. Customers these days expect the option to be able to contact a business by several different means and largely with no concern toward time of day, so a nine-to-five contact center only reachable by phone represents almost nothing of what customers want. However, adding things like live chat and social media options, and opening up the hours tends to perk up customer interest, and that can go a long way for those considering whether or not to be repeat customers.

The customer service market has already seen a lot of change, and it's only likely to see more before it's all over. Those who are ready for the changes will likely do the best, and the combination of Five9 and Netrix should go quite a way in making businesses ready.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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Report: Companies May be Holding Back Front Line Customer Service

March 30, 2015

Recent market research reveals that companies openly admit to holding back their front line from providing customers with the best possible customer service.

In its joint report, “Own the Moments! Understanding the Customer Journey,” the International Customer Management Institute and cloud contact center software provider LiveOps (News - Alert) surveyed more than 400 contact center professionals in various positions across multiple organizations. Researchers found that 74 percent of organizations actually admit to holding back their front line with poor training and a lack of access to customer information such as communications histories. Companies are not always giving their agents the attention and information they need to properly address customers.

Justin Robbins, a senior analyst at ICMI, says companies can make a big difference by being honest with themselves and responding to the results of their honesty.

“The first step in understanding, as well as improving the customer journey is honesty,” Robbins said. “Organizations must be willing to be truthful about the state of their centers, and have the guts to stand up for what is right and necessary to eliminate factors that keep them from providing excellent customer service.”

The collaborative report makes note of five types of “Moments” that can define brands. First, the Moments to Empower are the ones that allow agents to own their interactions with customers by driving each customer's initial interaction with a company. As many as 62 percent of respondents to the survey said agents were the most critical touch point in the customer service journey.

Moments to Empower address the needs of agents with regard to their training. Contact centers noted in the survey that they wanted to improve their agent training to empower them and allow them to reach their full potential. The other side of that equation, as a result of poor training, is a set of unmotivated employees who provide poor customer service. Agents can also find empowerment through the information on their dashboards, says the Moments to Excel. Access to the latest technological tools and customer information, such as through modern CRM software, can be the key to customer engagement.

There are also Moments to Enlighten. With empowerment and access to the forefront of call center technology, agents can better complete their jobs. In the same vein, customers can be in control of their own journey as they choose to engage with brands through voice, video, chat, email, and all other manner of communications modalities. Moments to Delight discusses how 80 percent of the survey respondents said their customers were not “extremely engaged” with their brands. This part of the survey results suggests that customers who are engaged will stay loyal.

It is not hard to see the chain of events listed above. Employee training and access to information leads to better engagement with customers. Customers then begin to control their own experiences and feel more connected to their brands. Finally, customers continue to access those products and services because they are attached to the people behind each brand. Companies may be holding back their front line, and one wonders why they would ever do such a thing.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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