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IVR - TMCnet's IVR Week in Review
May 21, 2011

TMCnet's IVR Week in Review

By Linda Dobel, TMCnet Contributor

Welcome to TMCnet’s IVR Week in Review for the week of May 16 to 20, 2011. For those of us in the northeast, we sloshed through a wet, gloomy week weather-wise, but on the IVR front, things were much brighter. Two noteworthy products hit the market this week along with IVR educational opportunities and research findings, all good things as companies continue to endeavor to provide better and better customer service while keeping business costs in check.

On the new product front, bank customers who are fans of the convenience of ATMs will be pleased to learn that NCR Corporation, an ATM manufacturer and service provider, has launched APTRA Interactive Teller solution, to allow consumers to video conference with live, remote bank tellers directly from the ATM. TMCnet contributor Deepika Mala reported that the Interactive Teller ATMs help financial institutions extend branch hours by providing teller support from a self-service device.

She quoted Michael O’Laughlin, senior vice president, NCR Financial Services, as saying “Interactive Teller on NCR SelfServ ATMs offers the best of technology -- convenient self-service for simple, typical transactions, and personalized banking for after hours and remote service. Our new NCR APTRA Interactive Teller ATM delivers an ideal solution at a time when banks are looking to improve their customer service while maintaining cost efficiencies.”

Also making news on the new product scene was Pitney Bowes Business Insight (News - Alert), a global leader in customer data, analytics and communication software and services, which announced the launch of the Pitney Bowes EngageOne Liaison self-service solution, a comprehensive set of customer self-service and self-care capabilities that is a new online component of Pitney Bowes Business Insight's EngageOne communication suite,.

Its reason for bringing this product to market it said was its belief that today, many companies have an online business presence but are not providing a personal online customer experience with a combined presentment, payment, billing intelligence, mobile and customer service interactive voice recognition (IVR) portal. As a result, it says customer retention is low, call center costs remain high and companies are missing cross-sell and upsell opportunities. With the release of EngageOne Liaison it said organizations can create smarter bills based on customer behavior and preference. Intelligent e-billing also enables customers to access additional information about their bills, such as utility use, further reducing call center questions and customer churn.

Moving on to education, in an effort to help the contact center community better understand the benefits of transitioning from an on-premise IVR platform to a SaaS (News - Alert) model, IVR provider Angel presented a free webinar on Tuesday that featured a case study of its customer Hughes (News - Alert) Network. The webinar, which was announced by TMCnet contributor David Sims earlier this month, showed  attendees the steps involved in upgrading to a hosted system, and discussed such issues as how to get up-to-the-minute, critical call center performance metrics based on true business intelligence, how to make sure reports reflect caller satisfaction, agent quality improvements and attrition reduction and how to figure your ROI and total cost of ownership improvements.

Also poised to play a role in educating the contact center community on the benefits and use of today’s IVR is Cyara, a pioneer of next-generation solutions for simulating, testing and monitoring interactive voice response (IVRs) and contact center systems. It announced its participation in SpeechTEK (News - Alert) Europe 2011, next week, May 25-26, at the Copthorne Tara Hotel in London, England where it will exhibit and host customer presentations on speech recognition and voice biometrics from The Westpac Group, one of the leading financial institutions in Australia and the country's oldest banking institution.

Cyara customer presentations will focus on how companies are using technology to push the boundaries of customer experience capability and transforming customer perceptions, with emphasis on how to improve user experience and drive business benefit simultaneously.

"Customer satisfaction is extremely strong, return on investment and documented business benefits are ahead of target, and I think the results being delivered here are at the forefront of performance globally," said Sam Jackel, project director, contact center transformation with The Westpac Group. "I look forward to sharing impressive results and our somewhat unique approach that really does give business full control of the customer experience."

Also revealing impressive results this week was NICE Systems (News - Alert) Ltd., which announced key findings of its 2010 Consumer Channel Preference Survey on the communications channels preferred by consumers when contacting business and service providers. The survey reveals that the role of the contact center is evolving to "Tier 2" status, that is - for taking care of escalated service requests that were not addressed by other channels such as the web or Interactive Voice Response (IVR). This change in consumer behavior, it said, reflects the importance and strategic role that the contact center must play as the front line of an organization's person-to-person customer interactions. It also highlights an opportunity for reducing the number of calls that are deflected into the contact center by enhancing web self-service functionality. To do this, however, an organization requires cross-channel insights that are derived from both the web and the contact center interactions.

That’s it for the major highlights this week. Next Friday TMCnet will bring you the latest happenings in the IVR world for the last full week of May 2011. Let’s hope one of those news items is sunshine in the northeast.

Linda Dobel is a TMCnet Contributor. She has been an editor in the contact center space for more than 25 years, and has the distinction of being the founding editor of Customer Inter@ction Solutions (CIS) magazine. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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