The demand among contact centers for using some form of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery model will only continue to increase -- new Gartner research predicts 75 percent of contact centers will be running a SaaS application by 2013. Looking to expand its footprint into enterprise-grade centers, Santa Clara, Calif.–based provider LiveOps has unveiled the Spring ’09 edition of its on-demand contact center platform.
The main theme of the release, according to Paul Lang, the company's senior vice president of product management, revolves around empowerment and productivity. Empowerment, he says, is about "extending out to our customers' customer in the way they do business with the enterprise." LiveOps, he adds, saw the "need to ensure that the customer feedback loop is built into our product offerings…making the job easier for contact center administrators and agents."
Part of doing so meant adding capabilities that are arguably commonplace in most contact center platforms today -- namely Web chat and email functionality, fostering more of a multichannel interaction. Users of LiveOps' Web chat can now automatically identify customers with the greatest potential to buy, and can send a customized chat invitation based on business rules. The new release also has baked in what Lang calls industry best practices for the number of chats that should be allowed simultaneously for a single agent. "Three to four [chats] seem to be a reasonable norm," he says. "[Less] than that and you're not leveraging the productivity, but [more] than that would cause confusion and poor customer service."
The new email feature includes the following:
- mail history,
- automatic response for inbound email,
- automatic queue distribution,
- the ability to add notes to emails, and
- "send new email" (allowing the agent to compose and send messages in response to a customer service inquiry).
Azita Martin, LiveOps' vice president of marketing, calls these features must-haves in today's enterprise contact center environment. "Our idea was not to develop a chat and email product better than anyone else," she admits. "Rather, it's the idea that it is a capability our customers are asking for."
Lang partially echoes Martin's sentiment, but believes that these two features can be differentiators given the streamlined user interface (UI) that LiveOps is also delivering in this release. Other new functionality includes:
- personalized dashboards for administrators, including real-time performance data and widget-oriented sidebars with quick links to reports; and
- customer-feedback optimization surveys, giving line-of-business users the ability to build out post-call survey capabilities.
"In the past, UIs offered to enterprise contact centers were unduly complicated and almost required a rocket-science degree to manage, configure, and administer," Lang says. "So with LiveOps' history of coming out of the Web side, the desire to deliver a much cleaner interface is at the heart of what we do."
Sheila McGee-Smith, president of Amherst, N.H.–based consultancy McGee-Smith Analytics, agrees. "Look at the agent interface," she says. "It's modern, updated, and inviting when compared to other [competitors']."
McGee-Smith also notes LiveOps' push to gain market share among enterprise contact centers, which she says is underscored by one of the Spring '09 edition's new features: its capability for integration into existing legacy contact center infrastructures as well as VoiceXML-based interactive voice response environments. The new release also includes productized integrations specifically for Cisco ICM and Genesys Telecommunications Labs. Lang insists that additional productized integrations, for use with other infrastructure players, will be coming soon.
"The integration is powerful for LiveOps as it tries to make its way into the market beyond its own [home-]agent force," McGee-Smith says. "This gets them into a certain kind of account -- companies with very large, multisite implementations." The new release, she adds, is indicative of the company's new direction, one that began to take shape with the introduction of former Genesys executives, including Lang and Wes Hayden (now president of LiveOps).
"The company brought in people to really take it to the next level," McGee-Smith says. "This shows the formalization of its product practice and is a giant step forward for the company. It stepped up its game."
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