2013 Contact Center/Back-Office Application Shopping

By Donna Fluss

It’s been a tough few years for businesses. Technology investments have been constrained since the financial crisis first hit in 2009, creating a great pent-up demand. This demand has been fueled by a new generation of highly innovative, actionable, and surprisingly practical solutions delivered by contact center and back-office vendors.

Here is DMG’s list of nine new or greatly improved applications and solutions that enterprises should consider investing in, due to their highly compelling value proposition. Each of these solutions can help contact centers or back offices enhance the overall customer experience while improving staff productivity, which are two top enterprise goals for 2013.

Application CategoryBenefits
Proactive customer careFacilitates all types of outbound communications with customers, constituents, students, etc. These multi-channel servers can change the cost dynamics and perception of an organization by communicating useful information at the right time using the right channel.
Speech analyticsA change agent, it structures phone conversations and identifies customer insights, needs, and wants to help companies identify staff, process, and system trends and issues that need attention. Newly emerging real-time speech analytics solutions can alter the outcome of conversations.
Analytics-enabled quality assuranceAutomates the traditional quality assurance process, enabling companies to cost effectively review 100 percent of their calls and identify issues that require management intervention.
Text analyticsThe “killer” application for social media. Similar to speech analytics, but it structures and finds the meaning and insights in written communications such as emails, SMS, social media tweets/comments/posts, agent notes, etc. This enables companies to rapidly identify and address customer issues and uncover trends that require remedial intervention and resolution.
Dialing solutionsImproves the ability to reach a targeted list of customers, prospects, donors, etc. These solutions, which were ignored by vendors for close to a decade due to do not call (DNC) limitations, are being rejuvenated. The newly enhanced generation of dialers enables organizations to reach their target audience cost effectively.
Desktop analyticsProvides transparency and visibility into 100 percent of employee (front- and back-office) desktop activities, enabling managers to identify training, operational, and systems issues; eliminates manual processing by providing workflow and desktop automation; delivers real-time-guidance and next-best-action recommendations to agents during calls.
Contact center performance management (CCPM)Remains the most underappreciated application in contact centers, despite its great value. This solution collects and quantifies the performance of the contact center, teams, and agents, and it functions as the primary system of record. CCPM solutions institutionalize the change process by identifying issues and partially automating the change management process.
Predictive analyticsThis is the future of contact centers. These solutions gather and present agents with the information they need to optimize every customer contact. This is an emerging application area that is attracting investment dollars and being delivered on a “one-off” basis via professional services engagements.
Back-office workforce optimization (WFO) suitesDeliver work allocation and management functionality, workflow automation, workforce management, and quality assurance to back offices, assisting them in optimizing staff performance. These emerging suites enhance the customer experience, improve staff productivity, and greatly reduce rework and complaints to contact centers.

There are quite a number of applications, such as workforce management and surveying/voice of the customer, that are not on this year’s list. These are still important, but the vendors have not delivered enough innovation in the last few years to qualify for this list.

You’ll notice that this list does not include cloud or hosted solutions. This is because most of these solutions can be purchased on a premise, cloud, hosted, or managed service basis. DMG recommends first selecting a solution and then working with your finance department (CFO or controller) to determine the most favorable acquisition method for your company.

Just one word of caution: There remain substantial differences among the vendors’ offerings, particularly in newer IT sectors.

DMG is a vendor-independent research and consulting firm that dedicates thousands of hours to analyzing contact center and back-office technology and best practices. They use this information to help enterprise and contact center leaders build their servicing strategies and select the right solutions for their environments. Please contact DMG via email at donna.fluss@dmgconsult.com when you’re looking for help.

[From Connection Magazine March 2013]

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