Outsourcing to Building Contractors, inContact Plans Big Utah Campus Expansion

December 23, 2014

inContact, a leading provider of cloud contact center software and contact center agent optimization tools, is known throughout the industry for its rapid expansion and growth. As such, the company is emphasizing that good news with the announcement of its latest project, a nearly 350,000 square foot campus and headquarters in Sandy, Utah.

“inContact’s explosive growth during the past two years, which has seen the company double in size to almost 1,000 employees, along with the expectation of similar expansion in the near future, is the primary driving force behind inContact Center,” the company noted in a release. According to published reports, Raddon Development and Workers Compensation Fund will begin building the campus in early 2015, with an expected completion of the first structure by March, 2016.

“In the last year, inContact grew the employee base by 28 percent in Utah, and by 65 percent overall throughout the U.S. and the world,” noted Paul Jarman, CEO at inContact. “With the construction of inContact Center, we plan to create a world-class employee experience with room to grow into the 2020s.”

The new campus will begin with a 125,000-square-foot building with plans to include two additional buildings for a total of more than 350,000 square feet of office space throughout the project. To accommodate the influx of new people to the area, inContact Center, as it will be called, will feature a four-story parking structure with 1,093 spaces in addition to street-level parking lots and spaces.

News of the project was greeted with enthusiasm by city leaders.

“We could not be more pleased to welcome inContact as a key corporate partner in our recently unveiled city center, The Cairns,” said Tom Dolan ( – ), mayor of Sandy City. “The corporate headquarters of inContact will provide much-needed and well-paying jobs in a development that will be a true live, work, and play atmosphere with a variety of retail and restaurant choices, ready access to transit, residential options and outdoor amenities, all within walking distance of their front door.”

Avaya Hybrid Cloud Solution for Contact Centers to be Powered by Spoken Communications

One of the more interesting developments of the past year has been while much of the headlines in the cloud contact center business has been focused on organizations of all sizes moving to the cloud, another big trend has been the positioning of all of the vendors in the community to make sure they give contact center customers options.  And, by options what is meant is to provide enhanced contact center functionality that is a function of where any given customer is in transforming their contact centers and what their unique circumstances are regarding such issues as what might need to remain on premise versus possibly moving everything to the cloud.

Indeed, the hybrid solution option has emerged as a popular one and that is a trend that is more than likely to grow into 2015 and beyond. An illustration of this was the announcement that Seattle, WA-based cloud infrastructure provider , which specializes in contact center virtualization solutions, signed an agreement with leading contact center solutions supplier to offer a hybrid cloud Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solution.

Avaya Cloud Services powered by Spoken entails a multi-tenant cloud platform that enables companies to seamlessly transition to next-generation contact center capabilities. The cloud platform is designed specifically to support hybrid situations so that companies can use existing premises-based infrastructure while evolving to a full suite of native cloud-based contact center applications.

The announcement of the partnership highlighted that Avaya and Spoken will cross-sell the virtualized capabilities of the Avaya Cloud Services powered by Spoken. Customers will have three options for adoption which are as:

  • Discrete cloud applications
  • Pure cloud
  • A  hybrid cloud offering

The partners note that each application is available for integration à la carte, eliminating the need for any enterprise to discontinue its current applications such as call recording or Computer-Telephony Integration (CTI).  They add that the platform’s flexibility extends to call recording and screen capture applications, which customers can customize to partial percentage or 100 percent capture. In short, there is no need to as the saying goes, “throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

 “Clients are seeking ways to transition to the cloud while maintaining their legacy infrastructure and applications,” said Spoken CEOHoward Lee. “The fact that customers can integrate anything from a single application such as cloud call recording to the entire application stack gives customers the flexibility they’ve been asking for while offering a low-risk place to start.”

“Contact center customers will benefit from the security, scalability and pay-as-you-go pricing model of Spoken’s hybrid cloud service,” said Joe Manuele, Vice President of Global Service Providers, System Integrators and Cloud at Avaya. “We believe this cloud solution offers customers the level of data security and flexible scalability they need as they transition to cloud.”

The latter citation hits on an important point. Data security concerns about the hosting of sensitive customer data has been an obstacle for any type of cloud consideration by many contact center administrators. The ability to host sensitive customer data such as call or screen capture recordings locally on the client’s premises via a hybrid solution addresses these concern which is why such solutions are popular.  And, the other reason for the popularity is the benefits of the going to a services model.

It will be interesting to watch the industry analysts reports as to how much traction hybrid gets as a total of contact center solutions revenues this coming year.  It will also be interesting to see just how everyone fills in what may be missing pieces in their offering portfolios.

It should also be noted that if you wish to see and hear more about what is going on with Contact Center Solutions you can join the industry conversation at , being held January 28-30 at the convention center in beautiful and warm Miami Beach, FL.

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Cloud-based SIP PBX Highlights use of WebRTC for Contact Centers

For those who are visit the Cloud Contact Center Channel often you are likely getting used to the items that discuss how WebRTC and SIP are perfect together, particularly for use by contact centers as they work to become omnichannel-enabled.  ” It is a big trend that will continue to grow in 2015.

An example of this was the announcement this week from SIP software developer that they now support WebRTC on their new version (v3.4) of Brekeke PBX.  In short, WebRTC’s ability to transform multiple media and multimedia real-time interactions really is getting traction across the broad expanse of communications solutions. SIP is becoming a crucial part of the equation and contact centers are the low-hanging fruit.

Brekeke is a name many in the industry may not yet be familiar with. Founded in 2002 and headquartered in San Mateo, CA, the company has focused on helping make SIP happen.  For example, It’s the Brekeke PBX is a SIP-based, IP-PBX software that creates telephony systems for enterprises and service providers. It comes in three editions: Single-tenant, Multi-tenant (MT) and Contact Center Suite.

As the latest release website owners can not only provide communication capabilities for WebRTC clients but they can also connect them with existing SIP-enabled telephone networks. And, as so many having highlighted this means previous barriers to setting up and having high quality real-time video conferencing is not only made much easier but the reach of being able to do so has been dramatically extended thanks to being able to include anyone with a WebRTC enable browser.  

Another area where ease-of-use and extending reach has become a WebRTC attraction is for omnichannel contact center experiences.  This has been a hot target of opportunity for WebRTC as website owners can now receive customers’ calls directly from their website to their contact center without requiring any additional action from customers.

“I believe WebRTC is the biggest news in years for SIP communications. Just as SIP opened up more affordable and less brand-dependent communications, WebRTC will accelerate open communications among various platforms and devices,” said Shin Yamade, Brekeke’s CEO. “Our contact center providers and their customers are excited to add another communication method that they can use. Convenient access to contact centers will improve the effectiveness of customer service and, as a result, increase revenue and customer satisfaction for their businesses,” added Yamade.

WebRTC, SIP and Contact Centers really are starting to look perfect together.  In fact, there is little doubt that 2015 is going to demonstrate just how perfect.

Want to hear and see more about WebRTC, SIP and Contact Centers?  You can by attending , being held January 28-30 at the convention center in beautiful and warm Miami Beach, FL.  We hope to see you there.

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Outsourced Call Centers Feeling the Holiday Heat

December 18, 2014

The holiday season is here, and that means that call centers are busier than ever. Customers are on hold for longer, calls are being dropped and more complaints are submitted. While the holiday season means more sales, it also means more customers need assistance. A study done by shows that more than 40 percent of retailers have hired extra help for the holiday season. So while all of this seasonal business is increasing sales for retailers, it is also increasing stress in call centers.

There are a few ways that you can make your call center more effective during this busy time, including making adjustments to your staff, adding extra customer service reps, or helping the consumer by creating additional channels of customer support. The following are a few tips suggested by industry website Business 2 Community on how to make this busy time a little less stressful:

Learn from your mistakes: The holiday season is something that happens every year, so it should come as no surprise when things start speeding up. Be proactive, look back at what you did well last year and stick to it — and correct the areas that weren’t as strong. Addressing problems before they arise is the best way to make sure your team is as prepared as possible.
Adapt to the holiday season: The holidays can be stressful, for you and your customer. Make sure that your personnel are trained and ready to deal with some hectic holiday calls. Customers may take their own holiday stress out on your customer service reps. Reviewing how to deal with difficult customers can prepare your workers and leave the customer feeling like their concerns have been heard.
Make sure all representatives are prepared: Customers often feel very frustrated when contacting a call center and different agents have access to different information. All call center representatives should have access to the relevant information needed to assist customers. If the company is unified, customers will have their problems solved more efficiently and feel more loyalty toward your brand.

Use scalable virtual call centers: Many companies look to the option of additional employees during the holiday season. This can be an easy addition if the seasonal employees are trained properly, and you take advantage of the cost-effective virtual call centers. Employees have the ability to work from home, and as an employer you don’t have to worry about additional equipment costs.
Utilize online FAQS: One of the easiest ways to keep call volume manageable is by making sure your company’s FAQ page is up to date. Many times simple questions can be answered by visiting these pages. Having answers readily available to the consumer will save your call center a phone call.
Is your call center prepared to tackle holiday shoppers? Make sure you have all the above areas covered to give your customers they support they need. 

Call Center Agents Need Updates on Healthcare Issues: Report

December 16, 2014

If you run a contact center in the healthcare field, don’t skimp on education. That’s the findings of a recent industry survey.

Healthcare contact centers can ill afford to operate with undertrained staff because the Internet has made every healthcare consumer a lot savvier.

With consumers now more informed about medical issues, healthcare contact centers also must step up their game to help these callers through information that is not readily available online.

That’s the finding of a recent survey by Cutting Edge Information, a pharmaceutical business intelligence provider.

The survey, which talked with medical information directors, revealed that healthcare contact centers now need to fill in the data gaps that callers have from their Internet searches. Often this means information pertaining to real-world outcomes, information that is in higher demand within the shifting healthcare environment.

“To help build responses to more complicated questions, medical information groups spend more time communicating with teams in other countries than they have in the past,” said Jacob Presson, senior research analyst with Cutting Edge Information, in a statement.

He added that information sharing among different teams can help facilitate this response to increasingly complex questions.

“The groups share questions, responses and data sources to better serve customers,” he noted. “While each team still concentrates on their own region and operates their pharmaceutical call centers independently, sharing information is beneficial to everyone involved.”

The findings of the study also point to the need for better contact center knowledge-base solutions, so agents have better access to the information they need to answer these questions.

It is further important for healthcare contact centers to have software solutions that can properly route calls to the proper agents best able to handle questions, and for agents to consult each other during a call to draw information from specialists on staff.

The Internet has made for a more informed consumer, so the contact center needs to keep up. This is true for just about every industry, but specifically for the healthcare field.

Netop Live Guide Chat Software Enhanced for the Holidays

For those running contact centers we all know the arrival of the holiday season means a virtual tsunami of traffic has and will be heading your way. What it also means is that there is an increase in the amount of internal contact center communications to better manage workflows to help manage the waves of customer interactions. And, while customers know that their interactions increasingly involve the use of chat for interacting with contact center agents instead of a phone call, chat is also an integral part of assuring internal operations running smoothly as well.

There is news on the chat front as interaction solution provider Netop has released a new version of , its popular live chat software used by customer service and technical support teams. The SaaS-delivered software combines text, audio and video chat in a single platform providing:

  • Routing
  • Reporting
  • Remote assistance tools
  • Co-browsing modules

The web-based chat solution which includes support for mobile devices has been enhanced to provide filters for operators in the administrator console, enabling companies with large customer service organizations to more efficiently manage teams of operators. Other enhancements include the ability for administrators to add and edit categories of calls in the chat history which Netop cites as a tool for providing improved reporting functionality and more accurate statistics.

“FedEx and UPS are forecasting record holiday shipments this year, and with that will come record numbers of customer service inquiries,” said Kurt Bager, CEO of Netop. “We’ve designed the new version of Live Guide to help companies meet the challenge of providing personal service that is efficient and effective, even at times of peak demand.”

Multiple media chat, including the growing need for video and collaboration tools are emerging as an integral part of contact center transformations to full omni-channel capabilities, and along with the real-time interaction functionality the information generated for compliance and getting a deeper understanding of customer requirements is critical as well.  Such capabilities as Netop points out are aimed at helping front line employee interactions to be more efficient and effective by improving site conversions, call resolution rates and customer satisfaction. And, like so many contact center tools chat is now available via the cloud.

For those interested in hearing and seeing more about contact center omni-channel developments , January 28-30, 2015 in Miami Beach, is a unique opportunity to see the latest capabilities in action and get your questions answered.  

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Interactive Intelligence Recognized as One of Best Places to Work in U.S.

The end of the year is the time when there typically is a lot of industry recognition announced.  In this regard, Contact Center Solutions Community host Interactive Intelligence is on quite a roll. Not only was the company recently by the Indiana Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals as its 2014 Philanthropy Award for Outstanding Corporation of the year,  but the Indianapolis provider of software and services for communications, collaboration and customer engagement, has received a as one of the Best Places to Work in the U.S.

In fact, this is the second consecutive year Interactive Intelligence has won the award. It achieved a ranking of #44 among 50 award recipients in the large company category. This is to say the least a nice feather in Interactive Intelligence’s cap as the Employees’ Choice Awards program, now in its seventh year, relies solely on the input of employees who elect to provide feedback about their jobs, work environments and companies via Glassdoor’s anonymous online survey.  In short it is validation from those really in the know about how much they appreciate their work environment.

For those not familiar with the Glassdoor company review survey it is rather comprehensive. Respondents are asked to rate their satisfaction with the company overall, and key workplace factors such as career opportunities, compensation, benefits, work/life balance, senior management, as well as culture and values. The final list is compiled based on Glassdoor’s proprietary algorithm, and takes into account quantity, quality and consistency of reviews.

Plus, employee participation in the survey is also indicative for their feelings about their employer. For employers to qualify for an Employees’ Choice Award in the large company category, they must have at least 1,000 or more employees and have received at least 50 company reviews from U.S.-based employees during the window of eligibility.

The statistics from the survey are impressive. Interactive Intelligence received a 4.3 rating out of a possible 5.0 score. In addition, 90 percent of employees indicated they would recommend Interactive Intelligence to a friend, and 98 percent approve of the company’s CEO.

“I want to thank every team member who took the time to evaluate our company on Glassdoor,” said Dr. Donald E. Brown, Interactive Intelligence founder and CEO. “The main way we make Interactive Intelligence a great place to work is to give our people a chance to make a difference. We set out to revolutionize business communications twenty years ago, and to help organizations around the world turn customer service into a competitive weapon. That’s a mission worthy of the sort of people who join Interactive Intelligence, and it’s what makes most of us happy to walk in the door every morning.”

“Millions of employees around the world are turning to Glassdoor each month to share their work experiences,” said Glassdoor co-founder and CEO Robert Hohman. “It’s this type of authentic feedback that helps others find jobs and companies they love, and enables us to honor employers who stand out for their efforts to provide an enjoyable work environment and culture.”

Here is a link to view the of the 2015 Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award winners. Interactive Intelligence is clearly in some very impressive company.

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Outsourced Call Centers Starting To Come Home

December 09, 2014

The holiday season brings more than just lights, parties and too much food; it also brings conversations about calling customer service when you need help. Such conversations often lead to a recap of having to deal with someone with an accent too strong to understand, yet claiming to own the name “Bob”.

A conversation over the turkey dinner at Thanksgiving had a similar ring, yet with an added dash of frustration. My cousin has been out of work in his field for a few years after he had to train his Indian counterpart, in order to receive his severance. There’s nothing quite like getting downsized and still bearing the responsibility for your replacement to carry on the work.

The strategy proved fruitful for a number of companies seeking the healthier bottom line. After all, workers in India were willing to do the job for a lot less money. The problem is these companies didn’t always anticipate the reaction they would get from their U.S.-based customer and those that maintained the U.S. base dominated in their industries.

For others, the strategy has changed and they’re aiming to bring jobs back to the states. Drivers behind the new strategies include changes in technology, the rising cost of overseas labor and continued language barriers. Damaged company images and the desire the turn the tide toward the positive are also contributing factors. A recent Business Facilities post examined the trend.

TeleTech ( – ) Holdings is one company with an eye on local expansion. The provider of customer engagement solutions has announced plans to hire 300 people for call center services at its facility in Melbourne, Fla., as well as another 300 for its Hopkinsville, Ky., location. This announcement came after the company opened a center in Sherwood, Az., that created 250 new jobs and a second site in Jonesboro, Az., that created another 150.

Rio Rancho, NM, is about to see new jobs, thanks to a planned expansion by S&P Data LLC. A planned expansion in Troy, Mi, will create as many as 420 new jobs, thanks to new acquired contracts with two major mobile companies. In McDonough, Ga., TSYS, a global credit card processor, plans to open a new facility that will employ as many as 450 people.

These announcements just brush the surface of the opportunities popping up throughout the U.S. market as companies seek to bring jobs back to U.S. soil. And while it may be a while before we no longer need to struggle to understand the accent on the other end of the line, at least these companies are paying attention to the demands of their U.S. customers and making the necessary investments in bringing call center services back home. 

Zultys Mobile Communicator for iPhone has Contact Center and Voice Mail Enhancements

Sunnyvale, CA-based unified communications (UC) solutions provider Zultys has released . Available for immediate download on the Apple App store, if you are an Apple iPhone user you may wish to check this out. The reason is that in its latest release users of Zultys Mobile 4.0 will enable iPhone users to access contact center and Visual Voice Mail functionality from their mobile devices.  

“With so many employees constantly on the move, the option to access high level unified communication capability from a smart phone has become paramount when choosing a new office phone system,” said Steve Francis, chief sales and marketing officer at Zultys. “With the new Mobile Communicator 4.0, Zultys improves productivity and makes employees more accessible to contacts both inside and outside the organization regardless of where they are currently located.”

The good news for contact center administration and agents is freedom from their cubicles. Agents with the app will now be able to make or receive contact center calls from their personal devices. At a time when innovations in routing interactions to the right people at the right time are becoming key to increasing both productivity and the user experience, this is not an insignificant capability.  This is particularly true in having the ability to give remote and mobile agents the full functionality they have at their desktops.  

It is also of note that Zultys Mobile 4.0 also provides iPhone users with full access to their voice mailbox including visualization. In fact, the Visual Voice Mail feature is designed to make it easy to sort through and listen to incoming messages for both the user’s personal extension and for Contact Center extensions for agents.  Plus, incoming messages can be saved, deleted or forwarded on to another employee along with a personalized pre-amble message.

Mobile is not just about when working remotely when it comes to contact centers. It is about being available even when in the office but not at a desk and having the full capabilities to be found and be responsive.  It really is coming down to being about the app. 

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ComputerTalk Provides Contact Center Enhancement to Sprint Complete Collaboration Service

The desirability of giving organizations contact center functionality and UC capabilities everywhere, including accommodating the explosive growth of mobile devices by employees, partners and customers, has caused the cloud-based UC market to see intense interest both from customers and from vendors of all types seeking to enhance their functionality.  It is why the announcement that  service provider Sprint, through its unit, is teaming with contact center solutions provider to integrate robust contact center capabilities into with Microsoft Lync is of note.

An enhanced comprehensive offering

As Sprint says, the goal is to provide a one-stop shop for companies seeking to enhance their UC needs, and the partnership with ComputerTalk demonstrates what they mean about one-stop shop.

ComputerTalk offers a native contact center solution called ice. It is characterized as an all-in-one, software only, cloud-based contact center that has been built and integrated into the full Microsoft stack.  Features include:

  • Contact routing and distribution
  • Full Interactive Voice Response (IVR) designer
  • Call recording and historical reporting
  • Real-time monitoring and skills-based routing
  • Media-specific interactions
  • “UC Workflow” designer for building self-service and complex routing apps
  • Instant Messaging (IM), voice, email, Web chat and Twitter
  • Ability to route calls to any end point that Lync knows (e.g. mobile devices, landlines and common area Lync phones)
  • Ability to route IM to public IM clients

“Sprint is offering the first Microsoft universal communications suite with a native Lync contact center that offers enterprise grade capabilities,” said Mandle Cheung, chairman and CEO of ComputerTalk. “This will allow Sprint customers to quickly and effectively move to a cloud-first, mobile-first, enterprise solution for communication and collaboration while enhancing the business customer experience.”

Sprint is noting that its solution set includes enhanced mobility and SIP Trunking integrated for every user, and that this means the ability for customers to have an end-to-end UC platform with a consistent experience across all collaboration tools, operating systems and end points.

 “Arming employees who have a wide variety of communication needs and workstyles with the right technology will unify them, promote stronger collaboration, and help businesses grow faster,” said Mike Fitz, vice president for Enterprise Commercialization, Sprint. “Enhancing Sprint Complete Collaboration with contact center features enables businesses to provide a consistent UC solution for all employees while adding capabilities for certain work groups, like the unique tools needed to directly support customers. Businesses can rely on Sprint as a one-stop shop for this integrated solution that will easily scale and adapt to their business needs.”

With UC the foundation of communications as a service (CaaS) offering in general, and bringing contact center functionality across not just the organization but ultimately to its entire value chain, the pace of industry players to enhance functionality, particularly with integrations with existing services and enterprise customer experience systems like CRM and ERP is going to be a major industry trend in 2015. Sprint’s teaming with ComputerTalk is indicative of just how important this trend is going to be.

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