Food For Thought
Philip Fuller, President
We’re wrapping up a busy and eventful 2nd quarter with the expansion of our Account Management team, which David Baker discusses in more detail in his article, expanded functionality in the Envoy™ product line, and tighter integration of our expanded speech practice. Our Solution Services team has made great strides with improved project documentation and our partner‘s solution portfolios, as well as our own VEXIS Envoy™ product line with the introduction of the Envoy™ Soft Phone (ESP), the Envoy Portal, and improved Envoy™ Call Analyst.
With our recent large scale deployments of the Envoy™ products, we’ve had the chance to demonstrate how effectively Envoy™ supports the integration of web and voice channels to reduce overall service time and costs, enhance agent productivity when assisted service is needed, and increase customer satisfaction. We’ve also shown how our Data Driven Design™ provides meaningful input for analytics and reporting – a critical area of investment for most call centers today. From this I want to present three interesting but serious business challenges that many companies and possibly yours, may be facing right now.
To set the stage for our three scenarios it is important to point out the differences in the time, money, and energy which are spent on live agent and web self-service channels than on the voice self-service in the contact center environment. For live agents companies often deploy systems such as quality monitoring and reporting as well as scripting tools to help train and improve the live agent interactions. The Web self-service is often viewed more favorably by senior management because of the perceived cost per customer transaction/interaction is lower than any other service channel and often includes complex reporting and analytics. Voice self-service channels, both touch tone and speech enabled, are most commonly deployed as customer facing solutions designed to augment or replace agent-assisted calls. However, very little if any of the annual budgets are spent on quality monitoring for voice self-service and the metrics used to measure the effectiveness of the voice self-service channels are typically antiquated and do not keep pace with the changes being deployed on the live agent side. These are important points to remember not only as you read this article but also as you look to your budget process and initiatives for your contact center.
First, your website may actually be driving traffic to your call center and unknowingly increasing your operating costs. What happens when a web transaction can’t be completed? This could happen for a number of reasons: the loss of a user’s network connection, an issue with application friendliness or functionality, or an offline server in your data center. But no matter the cause, the user’s reaction is usually to phone your call center and choose the ‘agent’ option. For both you and your callers, this usually means starting over, often with one or more transfers, which is expensive for you and frustrating for them. Just imagine the combined benefits of cost savings and customer satisfaction that could be realized by leveraging real-time transaction history – including truncated web sessions – to route and handle calls. It’s possible and affordable today with the VEXIS Envoy™ Portal.
Next, while you may know that agent-assisted calls have increased, do you know what triggers the choice of assisted service over web or voice self-service? Actionable results depend on meaningful input, especially when it comes to resource allocation. You may be adding agents when improved automation or routing would be better for you and your customers. The Data Driven Design™ of the VEXIS Envoy™ Call Analyst provides a strong foundation with pre-built and custom analytics and reporting systems. Investing in analytics and quality monitoring for your self-services channels makes incredible sense not only in a bad economy but a good one as well. Without the proper insight and information to help guide your investment dollars for customer service and customer experience initiatives you may continue to waste precious resources on ineffective channels that do not provide any actual return on the investment.
Finally, the proliferation of IP networks in the call center has created new opportunities to reduce costs both onsite and through the utilization of remote or home-based agents. But if new components from multiple vendors don’t integrate naturally with your existing hardware and software, the transition is harder to justify and achieve. Envoy™ is designed to unify disparate environments with a variety of plugins for the framework, including our own Envoy™ Softphone (ESP) application for agent desktops. The softphone can be one the easiest solutions to deploy in conjunction with a CTI server to improve agent productivity and improve management’s visibility in to the agents performance.
I truly appreciate the opportunity to present these topics to you and I am hopeful that you will read all of the articles that we have prepared for this issue. Our goal with the VEXIS Voice is to provide you valuable information that you can take advantage of each quarter. Thanks as always for your time and consideration of VEXIS Systems and we look forward to hearing from you all soon.
VEXIS Expands Account Presence &Coverage
David Baker, Vice President of Sales
As part of our second quarter news letter I am excited to have the opportunity to introduce to you our newly expanded team of Account Executives and our newest Solution Engineer. These new hires bring a combined experience of over 60 years working in the contact center space with a depth and breadth of solution knowledge that spans all vertical markets from Financial Services including Insurance, Carrier Telecommunications, Utilities and Government. Let’s meet the new team members:
Peter Freshman: Peter comes to VEXIS from Convergys (formerly Intervoice) where he was a Sales Engineer primarily focused on working with their largest customers and key accounts. As a VEXIS Solutions Engineer, his experience in helping customers identify and implement cost saving strategies that provide the greatest end user experience is a welcome value add to our team and to “you” our Customers. Peter also brings vast experience from both a developer’s background as well as an engineering background, working with a wide variety of contact center solutions including Genesys, Convergys/ Intervoice, Nuance, Cisco, Nortel and Avaya. This allows him to work closely with your VEXIS Account Executive to design the right solution/s to meet your complex needs. Peter brings 10+ years of industry experience with him to VEXIS. Peter can be reached via email at email@example.com or by calling the VEXIS Speech Attendant at 918-663-8080 and just ask for “Peter Freshman”…too easy.
John Slauson: John most recently comes to VEXIS from Syntellect but prior to that he spent 3 years at Envox Worldwide where he was the Eastern Regional Sales Manager. Given his strong customer focus and his years of experience with contact center solutions (IVR, CTI, & Speech Applications), John was the top producing account manager at Envox. With 13 years of experience focused on delivering unique and complex contact center solutions to his clients, we are excited to have John working with our Customers as the Eastern Regional Account Executive. John will be located in our regional office in Boston, MA and he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the VEXIS Speech Attendant at 918-663-8080 and just ask for “John Slauson”…you know like it sounds (Slaw-Son).
Joe Arnet: Joe most recently comes to VEXIS from Voxify but prior to that he spent 4 years with Genesys Labs as a Regional Account Manager. Joe brings 20 years of experience providing contact center solutions for Fortune 50 Enterprise environments. Joe is ready to leverage his knowledge and experience with the Genesys product suite (namely CTI and intelligent call routing) coupled with his recent success working with Customers to provide a state of the art hosted speech solution, to begin assisting VEXIS Customers with their contact center needs. We encourage you to leverage Joe’s persistence, foresight, and depth of knowledge to help you find the right solutions to fit your needs. Joe will be located in our regional office in St. Louis, MO and will be responsible for working with our Customers as the Central Regional Account Executive. He can be reached at email@example.com or by calling the VEXIS Speech Attendant at 918-663-8080 and just ask for “Joe Arnet”…that’s (R-Net) to you.
Cameron Reid: Cameron comes to VEXIS from Gold Systems where he has spent the last 10 years working with enterprise solutions. He brings over 20 years of industry experience working with his Fortune 1000 and government clients to develop their contact center solution strategies. Cameron has a wide-ranging telecommunications background including call center agent systems, CTI, speech recognition, and IVR/CRM solutions. He is also well known in the industry as someone who builds trust with his customers through credibility and integrity and we are proud to have him working with our Customers as the Western Regional Account Executive. Cameron will be located in our regional office in Boulder, CO and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the VEXIS Speech Attendant at 918-663-8080 and just ask for “Cameron Reid”…its “Reed” not Red!
We are very excited to welcome these individuals to our team and we invite you to welcome them as well. The new Account team will be working to contact the Customers in their respective regions to introduce themselves over the next few weeks, so please provide them with a warm welcome and ask them how VEXIS can help your organization with its contact center solution needs. Remember, like everyone at VEXIS, Your Account Executive team is here to help you, and we all look forward to continuing to earn your business. Enjoy your summer months!
Data Driven Design™ – Empowering Your Customers With Personalized Applications
Jacob Martin, Vice President of Operations and Solutions Services
Interactive Voice Response systems are a prime topic of discussion for customer complaints and dissatisfaction. For every well-thought out and easy to use IVR deployed in the marketplace, there are likely dozens of systems that are frustrating and difficult to use, and seem incapable of providing the information and completing the tasks that the caller needs. There are many causes of this frustration, but a key factor for lack of usability is the “one size fits all” approach to designing a voice user interface. Your customers are diverse, each with a different set of products and services provided by your company. By subjecting them all to an identical IVR user experience, you have no choice but to tailor the options for some while making task completion more difficult for others. A user experience adapted to each caller’s needs based on what you know about them ensures that they can get the information they need quickly and efficiently. Enter Data Driven Design™.
The essence of Data Driven Design™ is that data from across the organization and information known about the caller provides the basis to define the business logic and call flow of an IVR system. In effect, your IVR is no longer a static set of menus and options, but rather a dynamic and flexible tool that allows your customers immediate and easy access to personalized self-service options.
Here are just a few examples of the advantages of Data Driven Design™:
Experience based on products and services – Whether your organization provides services, products, or both, the data you already have available about your customers can be used to customize their IVR experience. For example, a banking customer with only a car loan would no longer be forced to traverse menus, options, and announcements regarding checking and savings accounts, money market or CD accounts, or home loan options. Only the information and options that are applicable to his or her product or service would be presented. By reducing the “clutter” of inapplicable choices and presenting the most relevant options first, the user can quickly and efficiently find the information they need.
Experience based on call history and preferences – The data collected from detailed logging and tracking of each customer call can be used to tailor the user experience for future calls. If a customer continually traverses the IVR menus to reach the option to make a payment, that option can be automatically moved up front to be his or her first choice.
Experience based on specific customer conditions – Does your customer have an upcoming scheduled service appointment? Chances are he or she is calling about this, and the IVR can direct the caller to this information and applicable options such as canceling or modifying the service appointment quickly.
Experience based on external customer interactions – Your customer may have recently attempted to logon to your website to obtain account information, and his or her password was rejected. The IVR system would know this based on their web account access history and immediately offer your customer the option to reset his or her password or speak to customer service.
As you can see, data is the key to this approach. Data Driven Design™ is made possible through a combination of the VEXIS Envoy™ solution and our voice user interface design expertise. Envoy™ integrates, consolidates, and transforms data from many disparate sources into meaningful information that is used as the foundation for the voice user interface design.
Data Driven Design™ empowers your customers to access specific options quickly and efficiently, resulting in shorter call duration, fewer transfers to a live agent, and greatly increases the customer confidence and satisfaction of the automated voice system. The customer experience is improved while telephony and contact center costs are reduced. Contact your VEXIS Systems Account Executive today to find out more about this and other proven methods for getting the most value out of your contact center investment!
Envoy™ Updates – Envoy Client Software Development Kit (SDK)
Richard Wolff, Director of Software R&D
In this issue we will introduce the latest enhancement to the Envoy™ framework – the Envoy™ Client Software Development Kit (SDK). The Envoy™ Client SDK enables any custom application to quickly leverage the power of the Envoy™ Server’s Plugins. A “Plugin” can add communication to backend systems, centralize business logic, provide CTI functionality, manage pooled resources, or enable monitoring of virtually any enterprise resource.
Application Programming Interface (API)
The SDK exposes a standard set of methods to the calling application – regardless of the Envoy™ Plugin that is being accessed. The SDK’s Application Programming Interface (API) is based upon XML so it is easy to adapt into any current or new programming effort and consume without worrying about any special data types. By standardizing the API, the user of the SDK does not have to learn new API methods every time functionality on the backend (or in the Plugin) is added or changed. Once an application incorporates the SDK, the “Envoy™ enabled” application can access all of the functionality within any existing EnvoyTM Plugin. And any new Plugin added to the Envoy™ Server – at any time – is also immediately available to the application using the SDK without adding any new API function calls.
Versatile Programming Interfaces
The SDK is extremely versatile and flexible as the same code base is available to any programming language by extending three different programming interfaces; a Win32 standard C/C++ API, a component object model (COM) API, and a managed code (.NET) API. The C/C++ interface can be called by virtually any programming language but the convenience of the COM API is also available to support Visual Basic or any other COM-aware languages. If applications are deployed with any of the .NET languages such as VB.NET or C#, the managed code interface can be used.
Connection Management and Optimization
The Envoy™ Client SDK can be deployed in any number of environments in a vast array of applications ranging from single agent desktop applications, to an enterprise wide server application such as an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, to an application hosted on a web server. In addition to adapting into many application models, the Envoy™ Client SDK also provides multiple transaction oriented network connection options. The secret to this “adaptable connectivity” relies on the fact that the SDK has built in socket management and optimization. Multiple physical connections can be opened by any application using the SDK, but a single connection can also be used to support any number of “logical” connections. Consider the use case of a 96 port IVR system – rather than opening 96 physical network connections, the SDK is capable of using one physical network connection – with a set of managed “logical” connections – one logical connection available per IVR port This strategy uses less system resources on both the client side and server side applications.
Push Model Programming
The SDK supports the concept of event notification. This means that any logic running in a Envoy™ Plugin can notify the “EnvoyTM enabled” application of any “events” (changes in monitored state) that the application may be interested in monitoring and / or managing. The SDK has the ability to “callback” to the application using the SDK to “notify” it to “events” received. By delivering the changes happening on the server side in real-time to the application using the SDK, the “push” model can be implemented. The push model is a much more efficient way to design applications as it does not produce extra overhead by “polling” for changes and / or events.
Stay tuned for additional “Envoy™ Updates” in the next issue of the VEXIS Voice.
VEXIS Customer Portal – Web Enhancements
Brian Smith, Director of Strategic Initiatives
At VEXIS Systems, we continually strive to offer our customers the very best in self-service solutions for their business. The same holds true for our own self-service options that allow you to get fast and effective service and support. We are proud to announce the rollout of our newly-designed web-based Customer Support Portal. This portal allows our support customers access to a number of tools for viewing ticket history, interacting with the support team, and obtaining service.
Upon logging into the Customer Support Portal, you will be provided with a list of your most recent support tickets. You can also submit a new support ticket, or search your ticket history for specific key words:
A detailed list of your support ticket history (both closed and currently open tickets) allows you to sort by any criteria (date opened, status, urgency, area and type of issue, etc.) By clicking the Ticket ID, you will be provided with the same level of detail previously available only to VEXIS Systems support technicians:
Options are available to check the current status of a support ticket, including the problem and resolution notes, and even re-open recently closed support tickets:
You can also add comments to open support tickets, and upload attachments directly from the Web interface. This is a convenient and secure way to provide additional information to the VEXIS Systems support technician to be used in resolving your issue:
You can access the VEXIS Systems Customer Support Portal at https://www.vexis.com/trouble-tickets. Be advised that you will need a user ID and password in order to access this new system. If you do not yet have a user ID for the portal, please contact the VEXIS Technical Support team at email@example.com or by calling 918-663-8080 and toll free 888-58-VEXIS.
We look forward to continuing to add value to your VEXIS Systems Support Agreement.
Contact Center Technology – So What!?! Let’s Talk Benefits! Let’s Talk CTI!
Andrea McCasland, Senior Project and Quality Assurance Manager
So, as of the last issue, you’ve realized there are a lot of contact center technologies to choose from AND you’ve had your VEXIS Assessment! Now you want to know the “so what” of it all. What does it all mean to me and my business! What are the benefits to my contact center and, subsequently, to my customers?
Well, the most important benefit starts with “In today’s economy…” In today’s economy, cutting costs means real impact to the business bottom line. Implementing contact center technologies is an excellent way to cut costs. If your business is not in a “conscious” cost cutting mode, implementing contact center technologies is a great way to add real dollars, or “hard” dollars, to the bottom line. Some of those hard dollars are in the form of reduced agent talk time; reduced toll free numbers fees, and greater customer service and satisfaction (a “soft” dollar savings) which ultimately results in customer retention and referrals.
Everything we’ve discussed so far sounds logical, so let’s talk about a contact center technology that VEXIS recommends in the VEXIS Assessment. One excellent option in contact center technology is expanding the functionality and automation options of your IVR with CTI, or Computer Telephony Integration. This is a contact center technology heavy hitter! CTI can be as simple as enhancing call routing using call attached data such as customer information. Some examples are customer’s phone number, or ANI, preferred language, customer value, or if they have a past due account. CTI can also be as sophisticated as providing a “screen pop” of customer information and allowing phone control via a soft phone. If you really want to see “bang for your buck” and if you have a multi-channel contact center, utilize CTI to integrate your email, web, or fax functionality. Now we’re talking benefits!
Now, you’re really saying “So what?” Well, let’s take it one benefit at a time. You’re IVR is working it’s magic taking calls from the PBX, playing messages, menus, or prompts, asking for data from your back end system, playing it back to the customer, and maybe, if the customer requests it, routing the call to a customer service representative (CSR). Most of this IVR magic is by customer selection, either by DTMF (pressing buttons on the telephone keypad) or by speaking into the phone (Speech – another great Contact Center Technology to be addressed in a later article). What if the IVR could immediately route your callers to the best place in the IVR based on call attached data provided by CTI? What if your caller could go directly to their language of choice without having to make a selection? What if your caller was past due on a payment and was routed directly to the payment application of your IVR or to a collections agent? Think of the potential reduction in 800 numbers that could occur with this type of smart routing. Reduction in 800 numbers means direct reduction in costs and per minute charges, which directly translates into hard dollar savings to your business! The best part of this call attached data that “smart” routes your customer, is that if the customer needs to be transferred the call attached data transfers with the call resulting in additional agent talk time savings. Two times the savings for one call!
Now, let’s assume the customer could not take care of his or her business via the IVR and HAD to transfer out to a CSR. How much time would it save your representative to have all the pertinent customer data “pop” to his or her workstation at the same time they receive the call? Would it be 13 seconds, 17 seconds, maybe up to 23 or 30 seconds if they have authenticated in the IVR and your representative received a flag to his or her desktop stating the customer had authenticated. Multiply that by the number of calls to your CSR desktop and for a “back of the envelope” calculation of cost savings and dollars to the bottom line! Another great feature VEXIS recommends is to utilize the call attached data to reinsert the caller back into the IVR where and when appropriate to complete a transaction. The call attached data also transfers with the call to the IVR so the customer does not need to re-identify or re-authenticate themselves again.
I’d like to discuss one other important use for CTI and “screen pop” and that’s in the credit and collections department. A reduction in agent talk time in the credit and collections department means more through put to your credit representatives resulting in additional monies collected in any given day. I always think of this as a great example of productivity. In one installation I had a credit / collections representative say to me how excited he was because he had collected more money in one day than ever before! That was the best testimonial to the benefits of CTI and screen pop when it comes straight from the representative.
One final, and very important, benefit of CTI is the satisfaction of YOUR CSRs. Turnover of representatives causes additional training dollars so employee satisfaction is a very important component. CTI can help with that satisfaction by enhancing the customer experience in the IVR prior to getting to the CSR so the CSR receives a satisfied customer. Also, CSR satisfaction can be realized through the “screen pop” of customer data so the CSR knows who they have received on the call, knows whether or not they have been authenticated, and can more productively handle the customer with the information provided.
This information just scratches the surface of CTI benefits. VEXIS will work with you to determine which solution is best for you to realize the full suite of CTI and screen pop benefits. Watch for the next VEXIS Voice discussion of Contact Center Technology which will talk about speech enabling your IVR.
This newsletter is designed to provide you with useful support, technical and key topics of interest to you in a fast and efficient manner.
Let us know what you’re interested in seeing future issues. The goal is to make the results you get reading this as worthwhile as possible for your time.
How to Reach Support
Call 918-663-8080 and say “Support”.
How to Reach Your VEXIS Account Manager
Call 918-663-8080 and say “Sales” or email firstname.lastname@example.org