Contact center agents have a very difficult, complex job to handle. Simultaneously handling calls, emails, chats, and keeping tabs on myriad products and services -- all the while carrying the expectation of delivering a quality customer experience -- is no easy task. Not surprisingly, being able to tie together business processes and automate tasks, a dynamic agent desktop, could be just what the contact center supervisor ordered.
Following through on two years or work, a new graphical workflow highlights RightNow Technologies' August '09 release, in addition to analytic functionality for its recently launched Cloud Monitor.
According to Andrew Hull, director of product marketing for RightNow, the graphical workflow is not only the key feature for this release -- but it also helps fill out the company's final vision of how to provide a fully dynamic agent desktop via the software-as-a-service model. "This capstone element allows us to quickly and easily tie all the desktop capabilities -- including agent scripting, guided assistance, and contextual workspaces - together," he says. "Business analysts and contact center managers can connect business process flows together through a drag and drop interface."
Chris Fletcher, research director at AMR Research, explains that by providing line of business users the ability to map out on a screen the workflow they want an agent to follow in a particular customer situation, it takes as much guesswork out as possible. "By making the scripting and flow of call more straightforward for the agent, it allows them to respond to changes much better," he says.
The other new functionality highlighted in August '09 is analytic capabilities to derive more information from social networks via Cloud Monitor. The new features include:
- Key Contributors, enabling companies to automatically identify social influencers -- both advocates and detractors -- on Twitter;
- SmartSense Trend, providing insight into how customers feel about a company, brand, or product; and
- Cloud Links Analytics, offering a deeper analysis of links -- number of clickthroughs and unique views -- to social network sites included in personalized surveys and outbound emails.
Hull says that this gives RightNow customers of Cloud Monitor the ability to gain more insight as to what is happening in social media channels. "We wanted to provide some post markers for the contact center, and give them a general idea of how well they are doing in the social world," he says. "There are so many different avenues we can take the product, but we are putting feature enhancements and requests through the lens of how it will improve the customer experience and allow an agent to take action on it."
Natalie Petouhoff, senior analyst at Forrester Research, explains that giving the ability to measure and analyze is key for many organizations to jump onto the social CRM wagon. "It's really important to measure ... deploying only operational CRM and not analytical CRM is in part why CRM didn't reap the benefits everyone expected," she says. "What we don't want to do going forward is repeat the mistakes of the past. We need to know why we are deploying software, what the benefits are supposed to be, and measure it in an ongoing fashion so we can run our businesses with the data."
Hull says the latest release can both attract and expand relationships with large contact centers requiring this level of functionality, but "want the speed and ease they are used to getting with SaaS." "The workflow is one of those elements that isn't always sexy on the surface, but the functional enhancements allow us to definitely go deeper with larger contact centers," he adds. "By delivering it in an on-demand fashion, it is easier and quicker than in the past with older client and server architecture."
Fletcher, who described the August '09 release as a heavy release with regard to functionality, believes that this shows RightNow is generally going after larger contact centers. "In the past, the sweet spot was somewhere between 50 and 250 agents," he says. "Now, we know of several customers with as many as 1,000 agents out there. It shows me that the product can scale and, more importantly, scale across multiple locations."
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