In the hubbub surrounding social media, video, and other burgeoning communication channels utilized by the populace, text messaging has taken a backseat.
But the advent of smartphones and increasing preference to use them for making purchases and conducting business would make one thing organizations would be taking advantage of the channel, but many have not -- until now. SoundBite Communications is looking to help companies utilize this channel and help further the customer experience with a pair of announcements: SoundBite Engage Platform and SoundBite Contact Center Text Messaging Solution.
"Large B2C organizations need to communicate with customers throughout the lifecycle of the relationship," says Alan Berrey, vice president of market development for text and mobile messaging at SoundBite. "Whether it is about marketing, customer care, payments, collections, or risk management, they have communicated rather reactively in the past. We're replacing that today with more of a proactive customer communication."
Everything stems off of SoundBite Engage, which is the vendor's multichannel communication platform. The latest enhancements enable automated and agent-assisted interactive customer communications via the text messaging channel. The new features include:
- SoundBite Dialog Engine, supporting fully automated interactive text messaging conversations implementing custom business logic; and
- SoundBite Agent Text Portal, enabling agents to jump in and handle particular text messages according to customizable business rules.
Noting that any single interaction can have both automated and agent-assisted texts, Berrey says SoundBite is providing a more robust conversation that can improve the customer experience. "The combination ... gives enterprises the tools needed to fully utilize the text messaging channel in the B2C community," he says.
Based on these two new features in SoundBite Engage, the company also released a contact center-specific offering, Contact Center Text Messaging Solution. Berrey says this enables contact centers to reduce telephony costs and improve the productivity of agents that can monitor several text conversations, all the while giving the consumer control by no longer having to be placed on hold.
George Peabody, director of the emerging technologies advisory service at Mercator Advisory Group, explains SoundBite made a smart decision to offer these solutions standalone or assimilated into a computer telephony integration system a contact center may already employ. "Integrating into an existing contact center platform could take time, but now you could start with the standalone application and pilot with a smaller customer segment," he says. "Then, after some time and proof it works, you can make the next effort and integrate."
Berrey believes that SoundBite can deepen its footprint with the release whether an organization is looking for a pure-play text messaging solution or a multichannel offering. "As an ongoing distinction, servicing all of the [communication] channels in a blended mechanism is really important," he adds.
Multichannel is important, but Peabody says this goes to show SMS is not just for teenagers and college students anymore. "For SoundBite, its model is all transaction-based, so when your model is that way you want to get people to use the platform as much as possible," he says. "Particularly with the contact center solution announcement, it is really taking the Web chat kind of experience and using SMS -- which is in the hands of everyone almost all the time -- as opposed to Web chat itself, which is far more limited in terms of application. It should drive more interactions than previously."
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