Much is said about the commercial customer service market-but at times, the 9-1-1 centers many take for granted often fall by the wayside. With inquiries that can range from getting cats out of trees to life-and-death situations, these public safety answering points (PSAP) also have to stay current with the latest contact center technology. Looking to fill a reportedly underserved market, Melville, N.Y.-based workforce optimization provider Verint Systems unveils its newest industry-specific solution, Impact 360 for Public Safety Powered by Audiolog.
According to Kristyn Emenecker, director of solutions marketing for Verint, there were several reasons why the company decided to bring a tailored solution to the public safety industry. First, PSAPs were starting to talk about the need for training and more quality assurance due to state mandates and consumer demand for the same level of service they expect in the commercial sector. Combine that with increased media coverage of mishandled 911 calls and the need to cater to multimedia including picture, text, and video messages, and a perfect storm was created. "After looking at all of that, we realized this is what we've done for years in the contact center market and felt the need to really differentiate ourselves in public safety," Emenecker says.
Emenecker cites the fact that after the acquisition of Mercom, and consequently its Audiolog product, it has already been selling into public safety so there is already an entry point. However, there was a need to build upon its current offering in order to provide more insight into calls, reconstruct incidents, and help further investigations. "Right now, many 9-1-1 centers have to manually go back and search for a call after a tape pull request from a [district attorney] by date and time," she says. "With this solution, you can tag calls with incident ID numbers, which makes everything else so much simpler because you don't have to listen through a block of calls to find the right one."
Other features included in Impact 360 for Public Safety include:
- multimedia recording, capturing telephone and radio interactions along with related data including phone numbers and locations;
- quality assurance, enabling efficient call review and scoring to ensure proficiency;
- incident reconstruction and analytics, using application event triggers to tag calls with information such as computer-aided dispatch incident identification or call taker name;
- e-learning and coaching, delivering education and timely communication to agents' desktops, addressing skill gaps;
- performance scorecards, empowering call takers and dispatchers alike to see their production levels in relation to agency goals; and
- citizen survey, sending outbound surveys as follow-up to citizen calls.
Ken Landoline, vice president of research for Reno, Nev.–based analyst firm Synergy Research Group, says that while a lot of these capabilities have been in the commercial space for some time, PSAPs have a lot of catching up to do. "The reality is that the public safety environment is 15 to 20 years behind the customer care contact center world," he says. "Lack of planning and budget ... contributed to the lack of development."
Landoline explains this also benefits vendors as well that are trying to find different industries to tap into as the recession grips many companies' budgets. While he admits PSAPs investment capabilities are not immune to this economic climate, Landoline believes these outlets will make it a priority. "The ultimate realization is that just logging and recording calls is not enough for this marketplace," he states.
The vendor's contact center piece along with its offerings in video and security makes it well-positioned to make inroads into the PSAPs, according to Landoline. "Speaking of public safety, there are more cameras going up around cities, shopping malls, and other places," he says. "With the convergence of multimedia in this space, video is going to be big. A company like Verint with security and contact center technology can have real strength in this marketplace going forward."
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