Interview with Partner Advisory Board Member Ryan Hollenbeck, Verint: EFM/Voice of the Customer
TSIA has recently launched our very first Partner Advisory Board, consisting of technology, service provider and consulting partners in the TSIA partner network. This is a great opportunity for us to stay current on marketing and spending trends in other industries, as well as track emerging best practices in our own industry. We have an impressive list of partners on the board; here is a link to view the complete list.
Over the next few weeks, I will be bringing you interviews with our Partner Advisory Board members. This week’s interview is with Ryan Hollenbeck from Verint Systems, the leading provider of Actionable Intelligence® solutions and services for enterprise workforce optimization and security intelligence.
John Ragsdale: I’m very pleased to share an interview with one of our new Partner Advisory Board members, Ryan Hollenbeck, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, Verint. I’ve known Ryan since the late 90s, when he was with Witness Systems, the original workforce optimization provider for call centers. I’ve seen the organization grow over the years, with mergers and acquisitions including Blue Pumpkin, the merger with Verint, Vovici, and most recently, Global Management Technologies (GMT).
Ryan, welcome. My CEO has just published a book, Consumption Economics, that explains how the rush to the cloud is changing everything about the economics of servicing customers. A very central part of the story is the need to better mine customer data for business intelligence. I’d like to start by asking about voice and text analytics. Verint has won multiple TSIA Recognized Innovator Awards for your capabilities in this area. Could you talk about how companies can mine existing customer conversations for insight?
Ryan Hollenbeck: Customer service has changed dramatically since you and I first started working together the late 90s. Back then, customers typically interacted with companies by calling into contact centers. Today, consumers expect to conduct business using a combination of email, Web chat, text messaging, telephone, and social media postings. At the same time, competitive pressures are really pushing companies to do a much better job of tapping into the “voice of the customer” to make informed decisions and avoid costly missteps that can cost them business.
This ups the ante in customer service, since companies not only have to capture the “voice of the customer” across multiple channels, but also need to analyze it and use it for strategic and tactical decision making. It necessitates a very different approach to customer service—one that involves the entire organization, rather than just the contact center. So there has to be a way to capture, analyze, and share customer comments and sentiments across the enterprise.
Voice of the customer analytics solutions do exactly that by providing a platform for detecting, gathering, analyzing, and acting on insights across multiple communications channels. They include speech analytics, social media analytics, email and Web chat analytics, and feedback analytics. They can even be integrated with workforce optimization software and strategies for a truly holistic approach to customer experience management. Voice of the customer analytics solutions offer a practical way for organizations to mine customer comments and sentiments, identify rising trends, determine root cause, and take action quickly.
John: Another hot topic from Consumption Economics is how customers are more active in driving company and product direction. Clearly another Verint strong point is enabling enterprise feedback management. Can you talk about EFM, and explain why this is a bigger effort than just post-interaction surveys?
Ryan: Let’s start with post-interaction surveys, which are surveys that are delivered by the contact center, usually over the IVR, after the conclusion of interactions with agents. They’re almost always focused on the transaction that has just taken place.
Enterprise feedback management solutions expand upon this. They collect data across the entire enterprise, including the contact center, and centralize it so that it can be analyzed and tailored for various internal users. Although EFM solutions can certainly include transactional surveys, they’re also used for relationship surveys, or to recruit survey panel members via social media. The surveys can be delivered over the Web, email, social media, and mobile devices, and text analytics can be applied to them to analyze open-ended questions. EFM solutions offer a practical way for operationalizing a voice of the customer program.
John: While we are on the topic of surveys, could you talk about the Vovici acquisition? The timing of the acquisition was interesting, because we at TSIA had just evaluated multiple EFM vendors and selected Vovici, which we now use for all our member surveys. You picked a fantastic company, amazing user interface, sophisticated reporting, and as a TSIA member, a great service operation! How did Vovici fit into Verint’s strategy?
Ryan: The Vovici acquisition fits very well into Verint’s strategy. By adding Vovici’s enterprise feedback solutions to the Verint Voice of the Customer Analytics platform, we’ve created a single solution set to support voice of the customer initiatives across voice recordings, surveys, email, chat, and social media. We’re also filling a void in the market by enabling organizations to extract tremendous value from this emerging toolset for their chief customer officers. Enterprises can benefit from Verint’s proven speech and text analytics solutions and workforce optimization suite, as well as Vovici’s advanced functionality, including sophisticated survey management, customer profile management, interactive dashboards, and ad-hoc analysis across any customer touch point. Verint can now correlate this information and offer a single-vendor solution for collecting, analyzing, and acting on customer insights, and that’s a compelling value proposition.
John: You and I have talked about a few topics for years now, and one of those topics is looking at productivity in the back office and how it impacts customers. I remember first discussing this with you a decade ago during my Forrester years, when I was getting complaints from support organizations that so many customer issues (account discrepancies, refunds, shipping problems, etc.) disappeared into the back office and never returned, leaving the support agent on the hook for an answer, but no way to get one. Clearly, the customer experience encompasses a lot of back office activity. How does Verint help improve customer-facing processes across the enterprise…including the back office?
Ryan: I remember those early conversations and scratching our heads! The industry has come a long way since then, and Verint remains laser-focused on this issue. Verint solutions offer visibility into the entire customer service chain, from contact centers to branch and remote offices to back-office operations. And in the back office, one of the greatest challenges is capturing activity and performance information across a diverse set of tasks, functions, and teams.
Unlike the contact center, there’s no ACD to provide this critical information. Instead, Verint’s back-office software collects data from any available electronic sources, such as workflow engines, CRM, email, people queue management, imaging, and business process management systems. Since the penetration of those applications is still relatively low, our solution also provides a manual data entry interface and electronically logs volumes and activities into the system as work is processed. This enables managers to predict their ability to meet processing deadlines given resource availability, skills, and equipment/deadline constraints. They can take corrective action proactively, which in turn can help companies avoid a flood of calls or emails into their contact centers.
John: Your most recent acquisition, GMT, expands your customer experience message into banking. It seems that retail banking has a lot of the same challenges as workforce management for call centers: you have customers waiting, limited staffing dollars, and if you don’t have the scheduling right, customers walk out the door, taking loans and deposits with them.
Ryan: Yes, those are all significant challenges in retail banking, along with very intense competition. Banks are under heavy pressure to drive sales, service quality, and customer satisfaction while lowering their costs, enhancing productivity, and retaining staff.
Verint addresses those concerns on a variety of levels. Our retail financial services solutions automate forecasting, scheduling, and quality analysis across branches while enabling banks to predict customer demand accurately, which helps reduce wait times. Our solutions also provide real-time customer and productivity information to regional and store managers for enhanced cost management, customer service, and sales. Managers can track how well employees are performing against their goals and even assign eLearning automatically to staff at their desktops during times when customer volume is low.
Verint has offered solutions designed for retail financial services for years. Yet through our acquisition of GMT, a huge domain expertise in financial services, along with key differentiating functionality, such as robust technology value optimization and sales effectiveness tools, as well as a comprehensive set of consulting services and methodologies.
John: Clearly companies need help getting EFM programs off the ground. In fact, nearly half of TSIA members said they had budget for consulting partners in 2011-2012. I believe the GMT acquisition also expanded Verint’s partner network. Could you talk about your partner ecosystem?
Ryan: Verint has its own highly successful consulting operations, offered by our own industry experts. We have also long maintained partnerships with leading companies to extend the reach of our solutions. From large, distributed consulting organizations with dedicated practices to smaller boutique firms, our customers have many options for ensuring the success of their WFo and VoC initiatives.
As you pointed out, the GMT acquisition has augmented our partner portfolio by adding strong partnerships with leading financial services organizations, including Talaris and Q-matic. It’s all part of our commitment to offering customers superior solutions and outstanding business value.
John: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today.
Ryan: It’s always my pleasure, thanks John. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to serving on the TSIA partner advisory board.
This entry was posted on December 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm and is filed under Best Practices, Consumer Support, customer experience, customer satisfaction, customer support, Education, Enterprise Support, social media, Technology. You can subscribe via RSS 2.0 feed to this post's comments.comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.