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Avaya Goes Vertical with Proactive Outreach
The company's new outbound messaging offerings will first target financial services and healthcare industries.
Posted Nov 13, 2008
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Keeping cost-savings and efficiency in mind, many company executives are looking for ways to automate processes in all aspects of their organizations. Basking Ridge, N.J.–based contact center solutions provider Avaya is directing that mindset specifically at the customer service department, unveiling a set of new verticalized proactive outreach products, aiming to help streamline company operations, save money, and at the same time enhance customer experiences.

Geared for the financial services and healthcare industries, the new solution is tailored to deliver benefits that are specific to each of those two verticals:

  • Financial services: the offering enables organizations to use outbound self-service to handle functions across a customer's entire life cycle, including acquisition, retention, and collections.
  • Healthcare: Hospitals, doctors, and other related businesses have the ability to automate and improve patient-care interactions, including payment recovery, reminding people when installments are due, and offering instant automated options.

According to Caroline Co, senior manager of professional services at Avaya, the underlying intent for the offering is to put worthwhile information in the customer's hands, not unsolicited telemarketing messages. "The fundamental core of the proactive outreach solution is delivering valuable notifications to the customers...alerts that are actionable and interactive," she says.

Co goes on to explain that a mere notification isn't good enough. What really matters, she says, is the ability for an end user to act upon that message immediately. "Being connected to an agent or an [interactive voice response system] so you can actually do a self-service transaction is key," she adds. "Given the economic conditions, there is a demand and need around this [service]."

Michael DeSalles, strategic analyst for information and communication technologies at San Antonio, Texas–based research firm Frost & Sullivan, believes Avaya is hitting a major pain point. "This outreach solution is the right solution at the right time," he declares.

DeSalles says his opinion is founded on two points: The first has to do with the initial verticals that Avaya has chosen to target. He says that the financial services and healthcare industries are both early adopters for this type of technology. Second, he says, customers actually want to get personalized, targeted messages. "[Individuals] welcome outbound messaging...if they sign up for it," he points out. "If you get a timely call from your local CVS store, or a reminder call from Blockbuster [Video], you'll be appreciative."

The fact that Avaya is largely an on-premises vendor also plays well with these verticals, according to DeSalles. "Financial services companies are conservative by nature about data leaving [their] four walls, and if they can control that messaging without going to a hosted provider or outsourcer, [these companies] will be much more comfortable," he explains. "This is also the case for healthcare, with the government regulations they must abide by" -- a reference to laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, that regulate the use of personal data.

Avaya has not immediately made clear which other industries the company plans to target with future releases of its verticalized proactive outreach offering, but company executives do stress that others are in the works.

To DeSalles, while Avaya's new offering doesn't completely connote the maturity of the automated outbound messaging space, the release does send a clear message to competitors. "[Avaya] is sending a signal to the market that it has the vertical expertise now to make businesses more efficient and profitable," he says. "The company has taken notice that this is a trend and it needs to act on it, innovate for its [clients], and provide them with proactive notification so it can be a competitive differentiator."

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