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January 08, 2010

Keen Insight into the Optimal Contact Center: ITEXPO East 2010 Speaker

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

As the excitement mounts in the smartphone market, the intensity in competition is keeping pace. The key players include the Apple (News - Alert) iPhone and the RIM BlackBerry with stiff competition emerging from the Google Android (News - Alert). Will any of these choices emerge the clear winner?

According to Mike Burke, vice president of business development for IQ Services (News - Alert), Apple is and will continue to be the clear leader. Burke recently spoke with TMC CEO Rich Tehrani in an interview, printed in full below.

Looking ahead to 2010, Burke anticipates innovation in Mobile CRM. The challenges of 2009 included a number of layoffs, which helped to boost demand for self-service and Outbound IVR. Burke expects this demand to continue on through 2010. If Burke were to assume the role of president of the United States, he would focus his efforts on carbonless energy to create a hydrogen-based economy. When asked about market growth in the near future, Burke pointed to UC, Mobile apps, video self-service, Quality Monitoring, Customer Experience Management and social media tools.

Scheduled to speak at a session called What does IP Communications Enable in the Contact Center? at ITEXPO East 2010, Burke will explore the customer satisfaction and technology advantages of IP telephony in the contact center, as well as the best performance testing methodologies to ensure performance. If attendees are seeking to get questions answered, they aren’t likely to be disappointed.

Their conversation follows:
Rich Tehrani (News - Alert): Smartphones continue to rise, find their ways into offices and homes alike. Who will dominate that market and why?
Mike Burke (pictured below): The Apple iPhone (News - Alert) dominates and is in a position somewhat equivalent to that of Windows in the PC world. I expect Apple to retain that position for the same reasons that Windows holds onto its position. Once you’re comfortable with a device, know the user interface and it gets 85 percent of what you want done, then why change? Apple may lose market share, but I don’t believe Apple will lose its lead. Plus, just like everyone’s got a novel in them, everyone’s got an iPhone app in them just dying to get out there. Apple makes it easy to realize those dreams.
RT: What’s the most innovative product that’s going to hit the market in 2010, from a company other than your own?
MB: Something to do with Mobile CRM.
RT: We entered 2009 in a recession and now we’re seeing signs of the economy picking up. How did the slow economy affect demand for your products and services and what are you anticipating in 2010?
MB: As we all know, the slow economy resulted in many layoffs. This put a bigger burden on companies to handle customer communications faster and more efficiently with technology. So we saw a bump in demand for self-service and Outbound IVR. For 2010, we anticipate seeing even more companies working on technology projects that were put on hold in 2008 and 2009. We haven’t seen that turn around in the employment numbers, so we expect companies will continue to focus on delivering the best possible customer experience they can with self-service and Outbound IVR. In addition, we expect to continue seeing an increase in IP Telephony and voice quality engagements.
RT: If you were president of the United States, what tech-friendly policies would you enact?
MB: I’d go for world peace and commit to carbonless energy, i.e., a hydrogen-based economy. I’d fund R&D in that arena to the same degree we’re funding hostilities and the DoD. Once we’ve cracked the code and moved to hydrogen, we won’t need to devastate the planet to extract oil, coal and gas; we won’t be poisoning the next 20,000 years with nuclear waste; and we’ll be able to share our bounty with the entire world. Then, and only then, can we turn our attention to worldwide cultural evolution in whatever form is locally preferred while still asserting universal truths such as all people are truly equal and deserving of an education, lifestyle and future of their own choosing. And we’d be able to do it without coercion or fear. 
Short of that, I’d go for a national high-speed rail network equivalent to the interstate highway system started by Eisenhower in the 1950s.
RT: What are some of the areas of market growth in the next few years?
MB: UC, Mobile apps, video self-service, Quality Monitoring, Customer Experience Management, anything that helps companies better leverage social media.
RT: I understand you are speaking during ITEXPO East 2010 in Miami, to be held Jan. 20 to 22. Talk to us about your session or sessions. Who should attend and why?
MB: The session is called “What does IP Communications Enable in the Contact Center? So you should attend if you are concerned about or responsible for making sure contact center technologies perform and do not disrupt the customer experience. 
We’ll explore the customer satisfaction and technological advantages of IP telephony in the contact center and the best performance testing methodologies for making sure everything is not only properly configured in your contact center, but also working as you expect. It’s really important to test at the top of the stack! We’ll talk about techniques anyone can use to answer questions like the following and more:

Do unified queues follow your business rules?
Is FIFO observed under unified queuing across channels - inbound calls, e-mail, web chat, even callback and faxback?
Are priority customer handling and skills-based routing properly configured and delivered across channels?
What is the impact of an increase in traffic in one channel on the performance observed in another channel — particularly when there is a common back-end data feed, a web service perhaps, that responds to both a voice browser and a Web browser?
Are outbound calls placed at preferred callback times, whether initiated from an IVR queue or a click-to-call feature on a Web page?
How does the system perform during simulated failure modes and during recovery?
Can you efficiently add agent workstations to respond to a sudden increase in customer activity?
Can you shift agents from processing e-mail to taking inbound calls? 
RT: Please give me one outrageous prediction pertaining to our markets for 2010.
MB: Multi-modal customer service will enter the mainstream. Between smartphones in pockets and VoIP services extended to softphones and videochat clients at home, the multi-modal experience will become an expectation, not just a gee whiz demo. 
To find out more about Mike Burke and IQ Services, visit the company in booth 130 at ITEXPO East 2010. To be held Jan. 20 to 22 in Miami, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. SPEAKER is speaking during “What does IP Communications Enable in the Contact Center.” Don’t wait. Register now.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Amy Tierney

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