Technology doesn't get you very far without a cogent strategy as a foundation, or without the knowledge of how to effectively use a new solution. Recognizing that this was a concern in the workforce optimization (WFO) space, Melville, N.Y.-based Verint Systems recently released its Impact Services. The new professional services offering, according to information provided by the company, is designed to enable customer success in WFO from both a technology and process standpoint while at the same time achieving the common goal of customer centricity in the enterprise and beyond.
According to Ryan Hollenbeck, Verint's senior vice president of marketing, Impact Services is an extension of the December 2007 announcement regarding the company's self-described "next-generation" Impact 360 software capability -- including speech analytics. "Verint is both a software and [a] services company," Hollenbeck says. "We believe [the latter] is an important component to ensure the customer is successful. [Success requires] a lot more than just installing some software."
Hollenbeck says that four components are essential to any full-featured services portfolio:
- implementation services: to install, configure, and integrate the software within a customer's operations;
- customer support services: including both telephone- and Web-based access to technical experts, online resources, and software upgrades;
- training: available on-site, online, or at a specialized training facility; and
- consulting services: various levels of engagement -- including large consulting firms (such as Accenture and Deloitte) and boutique firms (such as Powerhouse Consulting) that prioritize customer experience -- all focused on providing customers with targeted help as needed.
Hollenbeck says the reason that the rollout of Impact Services is so far removed from the launch of Impact 360 is due to Verint's desire to ensure partners and internal employees all completed certification processes. However, the idea of Impact Services, he says, originated when the company began the process of widening its platform. "The timing now is really about the extended portfolio, and around having a wider platform to begin rolling out something specific and calling it 'Verint Impact Services,' " he says. "That way, we had a definition around what all [these services] mean."
Hollenbeck says that providing professional services to the WFO space -- and consequently the contact center space -- is just as critical as doing so for other areas of CRM, such as sales and marketing.
Paul Stockford, chief analyst at Saddletree Research, goes a bit further, saying that WFO needs professional services from vendors and consultants alike. "Especially now, with Verint adding speech analytics and performance management, those types of...solutions really cry out for professional services," he says. "[Implementations are] doomed to failure if there isn't some sort of support."
He goes onto explain that the introduction by Verint of enhanced professional services -- along with similar recent news from Amdocs -- is indicative of a cyclical move in the CRM industry over the last 20 years. "There have been peaks and valleys where professional services were very much in vogue -- and as technology matures, it sort of fade[s] away," he recalls. "Now we're seeing another surge period [due to solutions] like speech analytics. You can't just drop one of these [offerings] on [the] desk of your customer and walk away. Too much of that has happened, which I think is part of the problem with the CRM industry as a whole."
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