Aspect Blooms under New Management
A deal to host Southwest Airlines' contact center technology represents a big win for the company.
A year ago, I wrote The New, New, New Aspect about yet another re-start at the contact center software company. Most of the management team had been replaced. I ended the piece saying, "All of the new executives have their work cut out for them but perhaps none more than CMO Jim Freeze." Why? Because the good things that were happening at Aspect were not being communicated to the market, and it would be marketing's job to fix that.
There is perhaps no better proof point of Aspect's new success than today's announcement that Southwest Airlines has inked a multi-year contract to move their contact center and workforce management operations to a fully-hosted environment with Aspect. It highlights that the company has made advances on several fronts.
* Regaining the trust of existing customers: Southwest Airlines has been a customer of Aspect's for 12 years. Southwest Airlines knew they wanted to do a complete refresh of their customer care technology and they began entertaining proposals from Aspect's competitors. Aspect management admits, "Nine months ago, we were out of the running."
In the end, Aspect beat those competitors. CMO Freeze describes the new Southwest Airlines contract as, "A good example of a deal we couldn't have won a year ago. It's a manifestation of the changes that have been made."
* Raised the visibility of Aspect cloud-delivered solutions: With this deal, Southwest Airlines will transition from CPE to an environment fully hosted by Aspect. Though it's not widely known, Aspect began adding multi-tenant capabilities to its flagship Unified IP as early as 2006 to support partners who wanted to host the solution, and has enhanced those capabilities steadily over the years. They went on to announce a self-hosted offer, Aspect On Demand, in 2012.
Today, Aspect has more than 60 customers running its solution in the cloud, either directly or through partners. Its recent acquisition of Voxeo brings stellar self-service applications as well as a global infrastructure that will make it easier to deliver hosted services not just in the US but around the world. It also brings a new VP of Product Management, John Amein, now responsible for the entire Aspect portfolio.
* Broadening the portfolio: Southwest Airlines will be implementing an expanded set of Aspect capabilities in the new hosted environment. In addition to upgrading the existing contact center, workforce management and quality management applications already deployed, the airline will be adding newly developed speech analytics and "Interactive Tiles." Think of tiles as a KPI dashboard for agents, giving them visibility into individual metrics, intraday task changes and schedule management.
In an industry analyst update this week, CEO Stewart Bloom and other members of Aspect's management shared this announcement as well as a broader financial, go-to-market, and product update. While most of those details were shared under non-disclosure, the overall message was one of a management team and company that can be proud of the success they've achieved in the past 12 months.
For those who may be wondering, Aspect is still committed to its partnership with Microsoft. It's just not part of the Southwest Airlines win nor a significant part of the past year's success.