The Web self-service vendor has rolled out a new product suite that incorporates the basis of its recast customer strategy.
Posted Sep 21, 2005
ATG has unveiled a new strategy and seven applications, representing its latest efforts to capitalize on its acquired Primus technology, and widen its service-and-support reach. The strategy, ATG Wisdom, a standards-based architectural approach that can be delivered via on premise or on demand, is a series of underlying principles and technologies that include content targeting; customer scenarios; and consistency and relevancy across customer the marketing, sales, and service customer life cycle and across all channels. "Wisdom is really the embodiment of a number of technologies that deliver a continuous, relevant, contextual customer experience," says Michele Deziel, vice president of product marketing at ATG. "It will be infused throughout our product set."
The Wisdom announcement helps to remind the industry that this is about good process and practices, not solely about technology, says Tom Sweeny, a principal at Service Excellence Research Group (ServiceXRG). "The bottom line is that ATG has introduced a promising vision backed by reasonable principles, so the what is clear. It seems that the how they are going to help customers realize this vision still needs to be articulated."
The seven integrated applications, bundled as ATG Service Suite, contains ATG Advisor, a decision-tree capability that provides guided problem resolution for agents or Web self-service; ATG Commerce Assist, which enables agents to create and manage orders; and ATG Forum, which allows organizations to create communities that enable peer-to-peer support, which are new applications. ATG Outreach, a service that calls on resources like external events to solve problems before the customer creates an incident, has been revved up. ATG Knowledge, a knowledge management platform; ATG Response Management, which manages inbound email, Web forms, chat, SMS, and MMS; and ATG Self-Service, a natural language processing search engine are products that ATG gained via the Primus acquisition, but have been rewritten.
How a customer interacts with a company and the customer's view of the company must be linked, Deziel says. "But when we bought Primus we were going after a very specific piece of that puzzle: how to enhance our story around the service side. There's definitely a gap in providing a continuity of experience across those channels and as a result, the relevance of information that a customer actually feels when they're interacting with a company [is impacted]."
ATG sees the gap in four main areas: continuity, relevance, knowledge anywhere, and easy and robust functionality. Deziel notes that organizations lack understanding of their customers and how to resolve their issues. Erik Hille, director of product marketing at ATG, says the company's personalization capabilities are part of its efforts to deliver relevance. "Our personalization reflects not only who you were to us historically, but what you're doing with us real time right now." He adds: "The problem most companies face today isn't that they don't have information about the customer or don't have information help to answer a question, it's that they can't get to that information," Hille says. With the knowledge-anywhere architecture, however, "that provides the capability to look inside of a company's documents, things like PDF files, Word files, [and] HTML files for information, in addition to the solutions that were written for, say, a knowledge application."
According to Allen Bonde, president of Allen Bonde Group, ATG Service Suite is the first glimpse at the potential of the ATG-Primus combination. "It might have taken a little while, but this is why we were excited about that merger when it was first announced," he says. ATG Service Suite "is the ATG wrapper in terms of search, personalization, [and] architecture around a number of the components that they acquired from Primus. [But] it's more than just updating the Primus products, it really is a true blending of what we would view as some of the true strengths of ATG."
In terms of the competitive landscape, however, W. Ladd Bodem, a principal at ServiceXRG, contends that ATG needs momentum. ATG Service Suite "might give them some visibility. They need market differentiation."
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