Think of the contact center as if it were a giant technological puzzle, with its myriad disparate pieces cobbled together on the back end. Many of these environments are complex, and infrastructure costs can eat up valuable resources that might otherwise be put to use elsewhere in the enterprise. Looking to help solve the puzzle and improve customer service at the same time, Basking Ridge, N.J.–based communications software provider Avaya has unveiled a set of contact center applications powered by a proprietary session initiation protocol (SIP) communications platform called Avaya Aura.
Chris McGugan, vice president of marketing for Avaya's contact center division, explains that, Avaya Aura 's reliance on SIP -- an open, standards-based architecture -- the company can change the way it delivers communications across the different pieces of the contact center puzzle. "It's less about the end point and more about the interaction between the one or many entities that make up the usefulness of the system," he says. "It allows us to decouple applications from the network itself and deploy to users rapidly."
Elizabeth Herrell, vice president at Boston-based Forrester Research, explains that the net result of utilizing SIP-based technology as a framework is a simplifying of systems management. "The primary benefit here is [Avaya Aura's] ability to connect disperse systems across the network," she says. "As opposed to the proprietary nature of many out there today lacking interoperability, SIP connects to multivendor platforms."
The first solution powered by Aura is Intelligent Customer Routing (ICR), which aims to deliver customers and their important information to the right agent using the fastest, most-efficient route possible. Powered by the SIP-enabled Aura platform, McGugan says, ICR can provide the more-integrated interaction demanded by today's consumers. "By using everything we know about communications infrastructure, this is a unique solution that gives better wait treatments, routing, access to expert agents…allowing for a much richer customer experience," he says.
Herrell calls ICR's ability to support call routing to a multivendor environment another point of competitive differentiation. "So, non-Avaya locations can take full advantage of this software," she says.
Another new facet to the solution released by Avaya is Voice Portal 5.0 self-service software. New capabilities in 5.0 include:
- integrated video and voice support, embedding dynamic video-based self-service;
- increased scale capacity, up to 5,000 (from 2,500) concurrent sessions or voice calls via the Voice Portal; and
- new measurement tools, providing certain employees or divisions with the tailored data necessary to assess the effectiveness of a self-service program.
McGugan says the enhancements there are also aimed to provide a superior customer experience. "We're really moving beyond solely transactions," he says. "Hopefully, this will provide a higher quality of interaction but also, from a cost-of-ownership perspective, a more-simplified method for using existing equipment and interacting with the customer."
This is just what the cost-conscious executive suite ordered, Herrell says. "Organizations are not willing to rip-and-replace all of their equipment to have a unified communications experience," she points out. "Avaya now supports a simplified solution to help companies better manage the complex communications environment that exists."
Looking at the entire breadth of Avaya's new developments, Mary Wardley, program vice president of CRM and enterprise applications for Framingham, Mass.–based research firm IDC, explains the importance of ensuring that current and prospective clients saw the contact center stalwart not resting on its laurels. Avaya, she says, is "regarded as the leader in the market with a well-established installed base of solid products. However, in market transitions to new technologies…that's when former market leaders are exposed -- they need to not only stay current, but also innovate. This continues to deliver on the footprint Avaya has been espousing for several years with core technology that enables it."
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