I have to admit I experienced creeping uncertainty when I got word about the management changes at Aspect a couple of months ago.  Not only were the new managers unfamiliar names, they were for the most part not from the communications industry and one of the new execs was an M&A guy.  Would Aspect be broken up and sold in pieces or was this going to be a wholesale sell-off to the highest bidder?

 

Turns out it won’t be any of those things if I can base my assessment of Aspect’s future on the words I heard from the new executive management team this week.  In a fairly atypical industry occurrence, Aspect executives gathered this week with a small group of analysts in an all day, no-holds-barred meeting to make clear the company’s commitment to corporate growth and industry influence in the future.  I left the meeting a believer.

 

When I say the meeting was no-holds-barred, I mean that the discussion was frank and honest, not peppered with the usual flowery marketing drivel.  Mistakes were made in the past and admitted to.  The much-hyped Aspect relationship with Microsoft was put into perspective and I finally understood where it fits into Aspect’s growth strategy.  While it makes sense from a market perspective, I hope Aspect tones down the marketing perspective.  Contact center professionals simply aren’t that enamored with Microsoft, at least not to the degree that some other industry professionals are.  Aspect’s relationship with Microsoft doesn’t do anything to win the heart and mind of the customer service professional.

 

What does win friends and influence people in the contact center industry are innovations in technology solutions that industry people know they need, like workforce optimization, mobility solutions and social media management tools.  Without giving away secrets, I’m convinced that Aspect is on the right track to win new friends.  To back up the talk, they’re walking the R & D walk with significant new investment in this area in dollars for both people and technology.  I see this level of commitment in product development as a strong proof point that Aspect as we know it is here to stay.

 

Financially, Aspect is in a relatively strong position.  Just this week they paid down another $50 million in debt leaving their outstanding debt, by order of magnitude, about a tenth of Avaya’s debt and around half of Genesys’ debt.  I discovered that Aspect’s new CFO is a fellow grad school alum, so that subjectively boosts my confidence in the company’s fiscal responsibility.

 

There are very few companies in the contact center industry that have the confidence to put their top executives in front of analysts to answer questions without a marketing or PR buffer.  Aspect is now part of this elite group and I believe the confidence Aspect has shown in itself will translate to strong and responsible growth for the company.  Aspect is well-positioned to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012 15:54

Contact Center Social Media Stalls

While social media applications become pervasive in virtually all aspects of everyday life, the adoption of social media in the contact center has stalled.

 

Saddletree Research just published a research report that updates the 2010 survey of contact center professionals that was undertaken in conjunction with the National Association of Call Centers (NACC) at The University of Southern Mississippi.  The results reveal that even though interest in social media as a customer service tool continues to be high, there has been no significant increase in the use of social media in the contact center since 2010.

 

In the 2010 survey, 18 percent of respondents reported that they were actively using social media in the contact center.  Despite the fact that 18 percent of respondents in 2010 indicated that they were planning to add social media to their customer communications channel mix in the next year, the growth failed to materialize.  The 2012 survey revealed that 18 percent of respondents were actively using social media in the contact center.  Growth in the use of social media over two years was virtually non-existent.

 

I believe the problem lies in uncertainty concerning the management of social media once it is put into use.  It is clear that existing contact center customer service rules are not relevant in the world of social media.  For example, does a posting on a company’s Facebook page that says something to the effect of “I hate your company” deserve the time and consideration of a response, or does the business risk ignoring it and seeing the poster launch some sort of viral anti-company phenomenon that takes weeks or longer to fix?  Does the rant of a 15 year old who hates his/her cell phone warrant the time of a customer service representative and the effort of a response?

 

While attending the Verint Driving Innovation user group meeting in New Orleans last month I met someone who seems to have a unique understanding of how to handle social media channels in the contact center.  Kym Banks, Social Media manager at Telvista, has a good grip on the process of filtering the good from the bad and the ugly when it comes to social media postings.  Watch for my column in the September issue of Contact Center Pipeline magazine and read about the lessons Kym and her team have learned as they travel the social media learning curve.

by D. Daniel Ziv, Tuesday, December 21, 2010, 9:04 AM

 

Paul Stockford, president of Saddletree Research, and I recently conversed on the changing face of customer experience management. This is what we learned:

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Wednesday, 01 December 2010 10:22

Social Media Exec Summary

Published in Executive Summaries

SiloBreaker - Published Dec 27 2010 by CRM Guru

 

Paul Stockford, president of Saddletree Research, an organization that gauges industry change trends, notes that the changes of customer experience management will continue an upward movement in social channels. Interestingly enough,...

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Customer Think - Posted by Cheryl Hanna on Dec 27, 2010

 

Paul Stockford, president of Saddletree Research, an organization that gauges industry change trends, notes that the changes of customer experience management will continue an upward movement in social channels. Interestingly enough, the social trends since 2008 have grown exponentially. In 2008, social media and customer service were not even on the radar;

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Published in Publications