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Some Really Innovative Customers That Made us Go WOW!

One of the best parts of the Genesys/Alcatel Lucent Enterprise Application Group analyst conferences is the Customer Innovation Awards. The analysts get to hear from a number of innovative customers and judge them on how well they're using technology to improve customer service. Last week I got to hear from four Genesys/ALU customers, and each of them had a great story to tell.Mariano Moral, Customer Care Director of Telefonica Movistar, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world, explained (with great humor and sometimes through a translator) about how the company identified the need to improve the customer experience while optimizing operational performance in order to drive down costs. Telefonica's postpaid clients represents only 5% of the customer base, but have the highest value to the company, so one of its goals was to improve customer satisfaction among post-paid customers, and to "satisfy and delight 500,000 post-paid callers each month."

In order to provide post-paid customers with an innovative service and increase the customer satisfaction rate, Telefonica deployed call steering to its existing IVR platform, Genesys Voice Portal, or GVP, using natural speech instead of DTMF. This helped to differentiate the brand and reduce wait times for routine interactions. Instead of having callers listen to a list of prompts and respond via the touchtone dial pad, the system can simply say, "Welcome...What can I do for you?" to provide customers with a richer experience. Mariano was rightly proud of the fact that Telefonica was the first company to use natural language IVR in Latin America.

The results were impressive - through the speech-enabled self-service solution, the company was able to prioritize the customers that really demand personal attention and thereby increase customer satisfaction, increase first call resolution, better serve its high value customers, and differentiate itself from competitors. The company moved from #2 in satisfaction to #1 compared with its main competitor. In addition, call steering helped the company to streamline the infrastructure and reduce call duration and transfers, and allow routine interactions to be completed in the IVR, thus reducing costs.

Mariano stated that voice is currently king, but other media will play a more important role in the near future, and the contact center will expand to the Web, SMS, social media, and Web 2.0 for customer service.

Next up was Bill Peer, Vice President, Enterprise Architecture, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), who should be a motivational speaker in his spare time.

InterContinental Hotels includes seven brands of hotels, and believes that "service is THE key differentiator. Ensuring guests receive outstanding service and memorable experiences is at the heart of our business." The company is based on a franchise business model, and therefore can't push technology on the individual hotels and properties. Bill stated that "You don't simply push data/information at a guest, you envelop them in the system. They are more than part of the ecosystem, they are its center."

Using technology, the company is taking a customer-centric approach to human-computer interaction with what it calls "Virtually Me," a public broadcast of self-selected attributes and self-described values from the user's personal communication device. With Virtually Me, which Bill expects to be a reality in four years, people transmit and share personal information, such as health information, via their mobile device, which can notify the hotel property to provide information that can help improve the guest's stay. For example, a hotel can identify if a guest is a priority loyalty customer, their musical tastes, food preferences, and more, in order to cater to their specific preferences by presetting room music and ambient temperature for the guest's arrival. Eventually the hotels will be able to provide proactive offers based on guest preferences and location.

IHG uses Genesys contact interaction services technology, including the Genesys CIM platform and SIP server, as well as AT&T Hosted Integrated Contact Services based on contact center software from Genesys. By integrating this technology with business processes, IHG can blend processes, services, and information. For example, IHG lifted out call routing and logic and placed it in the cloud for all system interactions. It built a web browser-based thin client providing access to all of its CRM systems for handling calls. These hybrid cloud-based services, in conjunction with SOA-based services, let IHG set up a contact center any where in the world quickly and easily. The result is faster technology deployment to the hotels, with the ability to shut on/off contact centers with zero disruption, reducing cost to the hotels. All customer interactions are treated the same, regardless of whether they're by voice, email, Web, or IM. Bill claims that IHG has improved the customer experience and optimized customer service, while enabling interaction on the guests' and owners' terms.

The next customer presenter, Ender Durukan, Senior Vice President Call Center of Akbank in Turkey, is a strong believer in Genesys' dynamic customer engagement vision. The bank's goal is to provide fast and easy access to live agents, provide correct and complete information to customers, correctly perform all transactions and process all requests, while providing a high level of security.

Akbank considers its desktop application its most valuable asset; the call center has a single desktop application integrated with customer information, products, transactions, services, security, processes, and technology. All of the agents are universal agents that handle all interactions, regardless of media. Customers call the bank using a single number, and the Genesys routing engine determines the caller's priority and routes the call to the agents who are grouped according to experience, not skills. Agents get screen pops with information about the customer, even when they call from a mobile device. One interesting differentiator is that the agents call back gold and silver customers who have abandoned their calls while being routed/connected to a live agent. This "surprises the customer and creates an unforgettable customer experience."

Ender described several things that the bank does differently from many other contact centers. For example, the agents use natural dialogue rather than reading scripts during the calls so that "they don't feel like robots," which also increases customer and employee satisfaction.

In addition, the IVR system always offers the option of talking to a live agent, and the bank doesn't use IVR to block customer calls the way many other organizations do (if only every company took this approach to IVR!). For cross selling, following the authentication of the customer, the IVR makes proactive product or service offers to customers, including insurance policies, credit card payment protection, etc. The most interesting application that got us all talking is the bank's ability for customers and non-customers to apply for a personal loan using its special IVR service. The caller only needs to enter his/her citizenship number and the amount of the loan, and if the application is pre-approved, notification is sent to the applicant via an SMS message within seconds. The loan is ready at the branch when the applicant visits the branch with a valid ID. WOW!

There are many other innovative services Akbank provides, such as new video service using video IVR and video agents, and SMS branch banking. Voice verification is on the roadmap for 2010-2011.

The results are tremendous: Inbound customer calls were up 89%, with first call resolution at 94%. IVR completion went up 38%, to 55%. Products sold increased 266%, with sales converstion ratio up 144%, and the overall business value added by call center up 293%. This is one really innovative customer.

Last, but certainly not least, Bill Boga, Principal Enterprise Contact Center Strategist for Kaplan University (yes, the folks that helped you prepare for the SATs and have expanded to become one of the world's largest diversified education companies) discussed some way-cool applications that Kaplan has implemented, as well as some on the roadmap.

In 2004, Kaplan embarked on a 5-year journey to redefine customer service, and began working with Genesys to deploy "key customer service technologies to revolutionize service delivery." Kaplan started in 2004 with the Genesys Voice Platform (GVP) using DTMF to identify callers based on ANI to route students to their individual advisors, as well as inbound voice and skills-based routing for lead generation. Other capabilities deployed in year one were Outbound Contact, Voice Call Back, and Reporting. Over time, additional capabilities and applications were added, such as financial aid self service via GVP, and integration of the Orion CRM application with the Genesys solution, adding a Genesys tab to the Orion application interface to help enable business units to easily modify routing rules.

The result was a dramatic increase in collections through outbound contact (resulting in improved financial performance) and improved customer satisfaction based on customer interaction opions such as self- and assisted service and call-back options.

During this time, Kaplan's operation grew from 3 call center locations to 10, from 700 to 3,200 advisors/agents, and from zero to 350 home workers.

Kaplan's use of iWD caught everyone's attention. Bill noted that Kaplan's advisors are more like back office workers than call center agents, and iWD will provide a variety of uses for task management. Kaplan is currently piloting iWD to help the advisors better manage and track student leads, and for the advisors to proactively contact students whose grades get too low, or are missing assignments. Bill sees additional uses of iWD in admissions, financial aid, student accounts, and academic advising.

Going forward, Kaplan has a technology roadmap that will add Genesys SIP Server with advanced routing capabilities, Operational Performance Management, Proactive Web Engagement, İntelligent Customer Front Door, Service Delivery Optimization, and Web 2.0 Channel Integration--pretty much the latest and greatest in terms of Genesys' offerings. The company is also looking to use social networking to improve communications with students. Bill noted that Genesys eService enables centralized routing of social networking interactions for customer service and will allow for automated monitoring, tracking and routing of Twitter or Facebook messages. Other potential applications including using Genesys' Intelligent Customer Front Door to provide a unified caller experience with marketing options and a "Kaplan persona," improved efficiencies and customer experience through natural language speech recognition, and visual IVR for smart phones. As an analyst, I get briefings from vendors on a regular basis. But hearing from customers about what they're doing, the challenges they faced, how they made their technology decisions, and where they want to go in the future, gives us a better appreciation for how the technologies are being used, and how well the vendors' visions are being executed. Keep the customer stories coming...