Please Listen Carefully as Our Menu Options Have Changed…
Philip Fuller, President
The title of this article is a particular bittersweet statement that we have all heard in various IVR applications for years and which like so many things often seemed like a good idea at the time because, well there was a change or a new system was implemented that required a rewrite / redo of the system. Unfortunately though, you often hear this statement or others like it for years after regardless of when a last change was implemented. Some of you may be thinking that I am back on my high horse again lamenting the oft forgotten IVR, which far too often is left with a feeling of budget envy as it watches helplessly as more and more dollars are spent on live agent training, quality monitoring, and reporting; while the IVR continues to be the primary customer facing system front ending as much as 80% or more of a Company’s customer interactions. Well you are probably right because as a user of this technology myself, I find it frustrating that I have to hear the same general broadcast informational disclaimers which detract from my user experience and delay my ability to get to the information that is important to me as a caller.
As the President & CEO of a Contact Center Solutions Company I feel a certain responsibility to my fellow users of antiquated IVR technology, especially when I know there is a better way to deliver these solutions. At VEXIS Systems it is our goal and mission to help our customers find a cost effective way to deliver a better customer experience with the best possible ROI. Sometimes these solutions include various speech recognition components but often they are touch tone oriented solutions that encapsulate more forethought in the user interface and design and take advantage of newer technologies and development methodologies that allow features like dynamic menuing to allow callers to bypass certain messages or notices after their first call to the new application. This simple feature is a great first step in creating a “smarter” IVR that has the power to banish the “Please listen carefully…” doldrums and put you and your IVR back on the path of providing a true customer service with an automated voice system.
The foundation of this forethought and development methodology is built on our Data Driven Design™ principles which we have been discussing with many of our Customers for several years and have even presented several articles on the topic here in the VEXIS Voice newsletter. To find out more or to get started planning the future of your Data Driven Design™ solutions please contact your Regional Territory Manager or you can contact our inside sales team either by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by calling 918-663-8080.
As always, I truly appreciate the opportunity to present new and exciting topics in our quarterly newsletter. I am hopeful that you find the information we provide in this newsletter useful and insightful. Thanks as always for your time and consideration of VEXIS Systems, we look forward to hearing from you all soon, and please check out the other exciting topics that we have prepared for your reading pleasure.
David Baker, Vice President of Sales
As we head into the third quarter of 2010 it is important to make sure you schedule time to meet with your VEXIS Account Team. We know the 3rd quarter brings the budgeting season for the coming year upon us and now more than ever it is important to make sure you have included your IVR and CTI solutions in your 2011 budgeting process.
It always seems so far away but September and October will be here before we know it and as you come back from your summer vacation/s it can be difficult to make time to put a proper plan in place for the 2011 self service and contact center initiatives. Now more than ever is the time to take a second look at those dusty IVR applications, many that were written five (5) or more years ago and have only been lightly touched up, if they have been reviewed at all. These applications often have been developed in a legacy IVR development tool and are not capable of taking advantage of newer more efficient development methodologies. Methodologies which allow for a better caller experience like removing those stale broadcast messages similar to the one that Philip spoke of in his article, the dreaded “Please listen carefully…” message. As technology has changed many solutions and applications that were either unavailable or too costly to implement, even just a few years ago, now have the potential to provide additional ROI and benefits to your IVR investment. The VEXIS Data Driven Design™ is an excellent place to start.
While many of our installed base IVR customers are continuing on their current technology path by upgrading to the newest releases of their platforms and/or adding to their current self-service applications, others are beginning to explore their options for more current technologies that take advantage of the latest new industry standards such as VXML and Speech. As your industry experts, VEXIS is constantly evaluating new products and technologies to help provide more objective and “real world” insight to our customers. We have attended key Manufacturer user’s groups and industry conferences to learn more about the latest key updates on various product roadmaps. If you have questions or would like to schedule some time to talk about emerging technologies or just what options you have to convert your existing legacy IVR application/s to the new industry standards we are here to help. Just contact your Regional Territory Manger to coordinate a special “discovery” session to help you learn more about how you and your company could benefit from a Data Driven Design™ application. As one final reminder, we are continuing to build our current upgrade queue backlog and we encourage you to get on the schedule early to ensure that your upgrade is complete before the end of the year. Remember, you can contact our sales team either by e-mail (email@example.com) or by calling 918-663-8080.
2011 Annual Support Renewals Approaching
Jacob Martin, Vice President of Operations and Solution Services
For most of our customers it is 2011 budget planning time. If you haven’t already, make sure to protect your investment by budgeting for continued Software and Application Support coverage of your contact center solution.
Your Software Support agreement with VEXIS Systems ensures that you have access to our highly-skilled, specialized Support Analysts and Developers, as well as assistance from the software manufacturer including access to software patch releases and new releases of VEXIS provided IVR, CTI, and Reporting platforms. Please make sure that your critical systems are continually protected by keeping your support contract up to date. The consequences of an outage to your mission critical contact center systems can have a huge financial impact to your company, overload human resources (CSRs), as well as decrease customer satisfaction. We suggest that the platform support coverage of your contact center platforms (IVR, CTI, etc) be considered a necessity for you and your customers.
Beyond Software Support, it is just as important to protect all parts of the solution including the applications. You can ensure you have Application Support via a VEXIS Extended Application Warranty. Under an Extended Application Warranty, you receive support for applications written by VEXIS or that have been reviewed and approved by VEXIS. Application bugs and discrepancies between the design documentation and the application functionality are included as part of the warranty. By also budgeting for and including the Extended Application Warranty as part of your annual support plan, not only can you ensure your applications are functioning correctly and free of defects, but you can keep your applications up-to-date and properly tuned.
Benefits of an annual Software Support agreement:
- Priority handling of your Trouble Tickets based on your Service Level Agreement
- Three service levels available to meet your needs – Standard Service, Extended Coverage or 24×7 Coverage
- Unlimited access to VEXIS Systems expert support staff for technical and general system questions
- Uninterrupted phone and email support for troubleshooting and problem resolution
- Planning assistance on implementing Microsoft service packs and patches
- 3rd party manufacturer software updates and new releases as they become available, for no additional charge
- Escalation to Manufacturer’s backline engineering support for currently supported product releases
- Access to software patches (Bug Fixes) for currently supported releases
- The “VEXIS VOICE” newsletter which provides timely information about important items of interest
- 24X7 access to the VEXIS Customer Portal to report issues by phone or web
The annual renewal of your Software Support agreement provides the most cost-effective method for supporting your systems and the absolute best method of obtaining software releases to keep your systems current and reliable.
Benefits of an Extended Application Warranty:
- Increased predictability and performance of applications
- Significant reduction of application maintenance costs
- Takes the guess work out of budget planning
- Lowered risks of extended system and application outages
- Faster deployment of moves, adds and changes to existing applications
- Opportunities for new self service applications and technology are uncovered
A VEXIS Extended Application Warranty provides the most cost-effective method for maintaining your applications.
We have many great resources available to you at VEXIS Systems. We are working hard to add new features and tools for our customers in order to provide more value for your dollars and to allow your employees to be more efficient and effective. Please let us know of any requests or comments that you might have. We want to continue to provide you with the exceptional interactions and effective service resolutions you have come to expect from VEXIS.
EVIP 11.0 Overview – Helping You Make Informed Decisions
Brian Smith, Director of Strategic Initiatives
VEXIS Systems has been the long-standing leader in the integration of the Edify Voice Interaction Platform. Through the years, we have led our customers from the original OS/2 Edify platform, to the shift to Windows NT and Edify 6.0, and up through Windows 2003 and EVIP 8.5 through 10.0. With the recent acquisition of the Edify product line by Convergys, we have been monitoring the EVIP product plan closely and have been working with our customers to ensure they are utilizing the most current and reliable Edify platform version available. EVIP 11.0 has been GA for several months now, and we have been working with it in our labs and have also upgraded a few of our customers to this new version. The EVIP Workforce Administrator, Application Builder, and other supplementary tools have remained very consistent throughout the releases. EVIP 11.0 is no different. We have found that applications built on versions 10.0 and earlier recompile, install, and run with little or no development effort. There are, however, many changes to the EVIP 11.0 platform that our customers should be aware of when making the decision to upgrade.
The most notable change for EVIP 11.0 is the shift of core telephony services to Intervoice Control Center 5.2. Pulling core telephony services out of the Edify platform and integrating with Control Center was first introduced with EVIP 10.5 and Control Center 4.1. In EVIP versions 10.0 and prior, TDM telephony boards and HMP VoIP configuration and control was done within the EVIP product. As a part of the product unification efforts by Convergys, the Intervoice Control Center now manages communication with the voice path, configuration of the cards, line types, codecs, and so forth. In fact, very little telephony configuration is done inside the EVIP configuration utility. While this shift has resulted in some advantages such as web-based monitoring and configuration of telephony as well as more prominent support for HMP, several features present in EVIP versions 10.0 and prior have been removed. Here is a subset of features and telephony configurations that are no longer supported in EVIP 11.0:
- Dialogic PSTN Cards
- NMS-specific audio file formats (PCM8M16 and PCM11M16)
- NMS VoIP boards – AG4000 and AG4040 legacy telephony boards
- Get Voice Info, Delete Voice, Open Voice File, and Close Voice File (application operations used in managing voice file recordings)
- Flash-hook transfers (with HMP/MTC VoIP)
- Dynamic Grammars
- Answer mode detection
- ISDN two line transfers
Many of our customers’ applications utilize one or more of these features. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you do not proceed with an upgrade of your current EVIP product until VEXIS Systems has performed a thorough application and environment review. VEXIS Systems is committed to providing our customers with exceptional service using next-generation voice platforms. Please contact your Account Representative today and let us help you navigate your IVR upgrade roadmap.
Envoy® Updates – Building a “Better” Soft Phone, Part Two
Richard Wolff, Director of Software R&D
In the previous “Envoy Updates” article – Building a “Better” Soft Phone, Part One – the feature set of the new VEXIS Envoy® Soft Phone (ESP) was being described and (when possible) compared with the feature set available from most softphone vendors. So far, the topics covered – Event Driven (push model), Event Subscription, Event Actions, Custom Data Integration, and Event Multicast – have centered on backend system data integration and unique ESP performance enhancements through event handling optimization techniques. Now let’s have a little fun and get to some visual and business considerations!
Look and Feel – The user interface of ESP is informative yet uncomplicated. All the call control buttons are grouped together on a tool bar. All controls are in plain sight and intuitive; the concept of “least number of clicks” was a big part of every design consideration as well. One location dedicated to “Session Information” gives the user a view of the current call state, agent state, and all important timers. A single location is used to set the agent mode as well as AUX codes. AUX code, agent mode, and logout codes can all be centrally configured to have custom labels on per agent or agent group level. Speed dial lists (personal, group, and global) can be centrally managed and are shown when the agent needs to dial to allow one click access to numbers in order to save keystrokes. An optional IVR reinsertion list is available to make more efficient use of agent time and lower the average talk time which equates to real dollar savings. Not to mention the fact that you can make your agent desktops reflect the corporate image you would like because ESP can load any number of “out of the box” skins and can even load custom skins designed by your company.
Dynamic Call Data Display – In addition to ESP having great data integration / aggregation capabilities through Envoy® Server, the display of call data (data associated with a call as it progresses through the enterprise) on the ESP user interface is very flexible because the display is dynamically generated. This is a key advantage ESP has over many competitors because this capability keeps the agents efficient and informed and at the same time keeps money in your company’s bank account – a “true” win-win! Anytime a business (or regulatory) requirement comes along where the agent needs a new piece of data – there is a tough decision to be made – either train all of the agent on how to look up that new piece of data or else pay your CTI vendor to modify the softphone to display the new data; both options are time consuming and expensive. ESP can immediately show the new data after a single database update! No softphone code modifications required! No training on a new system to find the new data! The new piece of data shows up in the same application (ESP) that the agents are already using to take calls and assist customers – it just does not get any better or easier. The dynamic data field display of ESP can not only add new data fields, it can re-order them as well through the use of a field priority setting.
Data Type Aware Data Fields – A “really cool” (and from what we can tell very unique) feature of ESP is “Data Type Aware” data fields. The field that displays on the user interface of ESP “understands” the data type it represents and an inline, context specific field editor accommodates the user by “popping up” when the field is entered. For instance, if a field represents an unsigned integer, the field will only allow input of numerical, positive, data that is limited by the constraints of the max allowed positive 32 bit integer (and a “spinner” – to make effective use of the “up / down” arrow keys – is displayed. Likewise, if the field displayed in the user interface of ESP represents a date, only valid date entry is allowed (months 1 through 12, etc) and a calendar control pops up to assist in data entry. Wow! Couple dynamic display of data fields “on the fly” with data aware data field controls and your database administrator is going to be able to sleep at night even when changes are put in place because data integrity is kept intact!
Let’s revisit the original questions presented in the previous article… does that soft phone work as if it were a part of your custom desktop applications? Can you add new call data fields to it with no programming required? Can you embed it in your custom applications? Can you make it “alert” other applications on your desktop about CTI related events from the switch? Can it exchange data with your other applications? Can you continue to use it if you were to move your phone system to another switch vendor?
We will continue to explore the features and functionality of ESP in the next VEXIS Voice “Envoy Updates” article and continue to address the questions above. Hang on to your seats for Part 3 of this article!
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How to Reach Support
Call 888-58VEXIS or 888-588-3947.
How to Reach Your VEXIS Account Manager
Call 918-663-8080 and say “Sales” or email firstname.lastname@example.org