inContact Rolls Out Feature-Rich Cloud Call Center Update
inContact's latest version includes text-messaging functionality -- a boon for both customers and contact center agents. Customers can avoid waiting on hold and being tied to conversations that turn out to be much longer than expected. Agents have greater flexibility and visibility. "It looks very much like a text conversation on a consumer's phone," noted product marketing manager Jennifer Waite.
inContact has released its first cloud contact center software update for the year. Version 14.1 contains a new two-way SMS channel, more refined automated call-routing, deeper integration with Salesforce.com and Oracle, and new APIs that give enterprise users the ability to customize their own applications and do a deep dive into their data.
"No one else in the market provides this many new features in each release and product edition," Jennifer Waite, product marketing manager, told CRM Buyer.
The company currently is in the process of rolling out the new version to its customers. Within a week, its entire customer base will have been upgraded, she said.
The SMS Platform
inContact has added SMS messaging to its platform in the expectation that this toolset will be a major channel for contact centers in the near future. The features allow an agent to send an SMS while conversing with a customer, or in response to a customer inquiry, Waite explained -- functionality that can be used in a variety of situations.
For example, a customer could call into a help center asking for the nearest bank branch in an unfamiliar city. The contact center could text the address plus driving directions in response.
Or a customer could text a question to a service provider, asking when a payment is due. The service provider could respond with the customer's payment due date plus a link to an online payment page.
As long as the customer's phone number is linked to the account, these and other scenarios are all viable, Waite said.
From the customer's perspective, the new channel is a way to cut down on the time that a phone call usually requires, she added. "I am not being tied into a conversation and put on hold for a period of time. I can send a text about a question, take a call for work, for example, look at the text after the call is done, and take care of business when it's convenient."
From the rep's perspective, the customer record is completely visible as these texts go back and forth, providing the information needed to answer the requests. It also allows different reps to pick up the conversation when there is a long lag between questions and answers, Waite said.
"It looks very much like a text conversation on a consumer's phone," she noted. "The agent can see the conversation in the bubbles -- that the company wrote XYZ in response to the customer's inquiry."
Routing tools allow the query to go to a different agent if that particular one can't address the question.
Building on CRM Integration
inContact also is beefing up, or rather tightening, its integration with other CRM platforms such as Salesforce.com, and now, in this version, Oracle.
Others are in the pipeline, Waite added, including integrations with Siebel and Zendesk.
These native integrations give the agents a range of options, such as multichannel routing in Salesforce that includes Personal Connection outbound, chat, custom triggers and proactive prompts.
The Oracle RightNow integration features controls and media bar, voice and work item routing, screen pops, click to dial and call logging.
Full Data Access
inContact's new reporting function, Direct Access, is aimed at enterprise customers that want more advanced analytics and the ability to dive deeply into their own data.
"What we are providing is access to the full schema and full data architecture," Waite said. "It is not for the average business user but for enterprise companies' business intelligence teams so they can create custom calculations and customer reporting."
The feature also comes with new prebuilt reports for companies not inclined to invest so heavily in a data mining and analysis operation.
This release also builds on the company's partnership with Verint, integrating some of Verint's functionality into inContact's new workforce intelligence contact center feature.
This feature allows contact centers to automatically schedule reps based on their improving skills. The app takes data about the reps from the contact center and workforce optimization applications and creates workflows that make automatic decisions based on certain achievements or qualifications.
For example, it can be programmed so that an agent who scores above a certain percentile on quality monitoring is moved up the queue for certain calls or customers, Waite explained. "This is something we will be expanding in future releases."