As many companies start to feel the consumer-credit crunch, being able to recover debt and mitigate risk while at the same time maximizing profit is becoming more important than ever. Bedford, Mass.-based multichannel communications provider SoundBite Communications is looking to deliver the collections industry through this difficult time with its Intelligent Communications Platform for Collections, now generally available.
Mark Friedman, chief marketing officer at SoundBite, explains that his company's enhanced, on-demand offering is coming at the right time, citing the recent announcements that included American Express' declining profits due to worse-than-expected consumer defaults. "The collections industry has lots of opportunity and challenges," he says. "Companies need to figure out how to get the right consumers and ensure they have you as the top-of-wallet card. Interest is certainly peaking at this time."
To meet this need, Friedman explains that with this new release his company's customers wanted a greater opportunity to optimize and maximize agent productivity. New features in the latest version of Intelligent Communications Platform for Collections include:
- Virtual Contact Center Operations -- made possible, according to Friedman, through SoundBite's Agent Skill Group capabilities;
- Hold Queue and FastConnect -- improving agent utilization through increased direct connect success rates and reduced hold times; and
- Visibility into Agent Performance -- using SoundBite's Contact Center Control Panel, managers can have greater transparency into ongoing campaigns with reports, key performance indicators, scheduling, and real-time agent status.
Friedman says that while the largest competitive differentiator is the sum of its new features, he specifically notes as important the new ability to connect contact center agents virtually for projects. "Now we're giving agencies the ability to create skill groups that allow them to combine agents based on appropriate skill sets," he says, giving an example of connecting Spanish-speaking agents located in different geographic regions for a targeted campaign. "Just by providing that skill group capability, agencies can place the best agents on the right accounts. The net effect of that is higher agent utilization and productivity." Friedman adds that all subsequent enhancements to the collections platform will be designed with agent productivity in mind.
The new release "is aimed at providing more control, adding customization to campaign strategies, and making the agent more productive and efficient," says Frost & Sullivan Strategic Analyst Michael DeSalles. "In collections, it's all about maximizing profitability in the recovery of debt."
DeSalles adds that the new functionality in SoundBite's on-demand collections solution is a key reason why Frost & Sullivan believes hosted solutions have the potential to expand, gain more market acceptance, and take share away from on-premises vendors in this market. "[This company] has been a leader in hosted solutions for the collections industry for quite some time now," he explains. "This launch seems to be a natural evolution in [its] hosted offering for this important industry segment and, in all likelihood, will accelerate the move away from premises-based to hosted offerings going forward."
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