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Aspect Software Beefs Up Quality Monitoring
Pundits say the company's latest release tightens competition in the QM space.
Posted Dec 1, 2009
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As contact centers are increasingly tasked with customer retention, it's more important than ever that customer service representatives properly handle all interactions. Any agent not handling particular calls correctly needs to be identified and targeted for additional coaching -- a task well suited for quality monitoring (QM), one of the pillars of workforce optimization (WFO) suites. Looking to bring productivity and efficiency back to contact centers, Aspect Software has unveiled its latest offering in this arena, PerformanceEdge Quality Management 3.0.

According to Kathy Kalita, Aspect's QM product manager, the release was developed around two themes borne out of direct customer feedback and the vendor's product roadmap:

  • increasing end-customer satisfaction; and
  • bolstering compliance, security, and QM management.

"We've been hearing from our clients that they want greater insight into the quality of the interactions coming through the contact center and into monitoring agents' performance, in order to help increase customer satisfaction and agent effectiveness," Kalita says. "Especially in the financial services industry, [users] are also increasingly concerned with the security of their recordings and compliance."

New features in PerformanceEdge Quality Management 3.0 include:

  • security and payment card industry (PCI) compliance capabilities, including enhanced encryption for secure transmission of recordings over the network and in storage, autogeneration of encryption keys and customer-provided key input, audit-trail reporting, and automatic pause/resume functionality;
  • scalable architecture for enterprise contact centers, enabling the recording and monitoring of multichannel interactions in addition to a multisite option for centralized searching and adminstration;
  • "cradle-to-grave" recording of customer interactions, including not only agent-customer conversations but self-service as well;
  • enhanced agent-management capabilities, possessing live agent monitoring, one-click ad-hoc recording, and streamlined creation of targeted coaching packages and agent scoring; and
  • new integrations to third-party platforms and back-office recording, leveraging the recording of calls, screens, emails, and chats outside the contact center.

"A differentiator for Aspect," Kalita says, "is that we have an easy way of tying interactions together into a complete experience, so we can relate multiple interactions -- for example, interactive voice response and live agent calls…. That way, the supervisor can easily go back and forth between the agent recording [and] IVR."

Donna Fluss, president of consultancy DMG Consulting, suggests we are now seeing the fruits of Aspect's April 2006 acquisition of QM provider SophistiCom. "It's taken until this year for Aspect to make the necessary investments in order to make it a more sturdy product," she says. The 3.0 release represents a more sophisticated and advanced solution, she adds, and delivers several attributes --  PCI compliance, redundancy, and real-time monitoring via live recording and scorecards -- that Aspect needed to remain competitive. (The crowded field includes players such as CallCopy, Envision Telephony, KnoahSoft, Nice Systems, Verint Systems, and VPI.)

"Aspect is hands-down playing catch-up," Fluss says, adding that, despite Aspect's status as a leader in workforce management, Aspect's customer base for quality assurance is relatively small. Aspect's sales have been mostly limited to that base, she says, because those users were the only ones able to gain the benefit of integration with Aspect's other pieces.

Kalita says the company is including features such as live monitoring and IVR recording as part of its core QM offering, rather than pricing them as additional capabilities. "That's compared to other vendors with additional fees and packaging different features with IVR, monitoring, and encryption," she says. "Aspect is proving that this should be part of core recording and QM functionality."

Fluss says that Aspect needs to change the market's perception that the company only sells within its customer base, adding that Aspect is working toward this aim with "aggressive pricing" for not only its QM offering, but its other WFO pieces in its set of so-called Productive Workforce solutions. "The only way to do that is to extend out and do it…and come on strong," she says. "[Aspect] has an advantage in its name, but if [it] wants to be a player it must establish that it is one. The company has done a lot of catch-up, and is now in a position to move forward."

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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