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Webtext: Bringing SMS to the Contact Center

Remember the Blues Brothers movie? One of the best lines from it was, "We're on a mission from God." The fervor of the Cahill brothers of Irish company Webtext reminds me of the line. What is their mission? They want to text-enable the contact center with a cloud-based messaging application.

Webtext is relatively new to the US, but the company has years of experience in Europe enabling large organizations to reach customers and clients using SMS. One example: A curbside recycling program in the city of Dublin sends thousands text messages each day reminding residents what color bin to leave curbside for tomorrow's pickup (e.g., green for glass & plastics, blue for paper, etc.). Another: Hundreds of high schools in Ireland use Webtext to send parents a text by 9:15 a.m. if their child is not at school. And in healthcare, text message reminders to patients about medical appointments contributed to a 30% drop in appointment cancellations at public hospitals and clinics.

Webtext is bringing their enthusiasm to Dallas this week, where Cisco is holding its fifth annual Customer Collaboration Sales Summit for the Americas. The event brings together 700 attendees from key technology, channel and delivery partners, as well as Cisco sales people involved in delivering contact center solutions. Collaboration business lead Rowan Trollope kicked off the event and Chris Botting took the stage as the new General Manager of Cisco's Customer Collaboration group. The former contact center GM John Hernandez is heading a newly formed Market & Solutions Development team, which combines Cisco Collaboration Go-to-Market, Solution Engineering, Technical Marketing, and Product Marketing teams into a single group that will be the one voice of Cisco Collaboration to the market, customers, field, and partners.

On the agenda for the meeting is a session on Cisco's new market messaging for contact center, emphasizing Customer Experience. Another session is Transforming the Customer Experience One Demo at a Time. In the past year, Cisco has beefed-up its remote demo capabilities in Cisco dCloud, the Cisco Demo Cloud. It provides self-service capabilities for Cisco field and partners to offer scripted, repeatable demonstrations. Customer Collaboration is well-represented in dCloud, and the session at summit this week highlighted the various Cisco and partner contact center demos that are available.

Webtext's solution is part of the dCloud demo session. A Webtext gadget was created that that installs on the Cisco Finesse desktop, allowing agents to send outbound SMS messages. In addition to the Finesse and Cisco Agent Desktop integrations being announced today, Webtext earlier built integrations for Avaya's Collaboration Environment and contact center solutions. Several Avaya customers are already up and running with the solution, including an auto dealership and three hotel customers.

Like many boomers, I came late to texting. But for proactive notifications and reminders for several services, from airlines to my dentist, I'm finding it less intrusive than a reminder phone call. I'm looking forward to being able to say more and more to an appropriately- equipped agent, "Text that to me."

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