Thursday, 19 August 2010 13:04

Genesys addresses channel integration, social media


Have you ever become frustrated by organisation's inability to handle multiple communications channels properly? Do you think anyone at your bank is listening when you tweet about an excessively long queue or an ATM that's out of action for the third time in a week?

You're working through a web-based transaction - perhaps a travel booking or transferring funds between bank accounts - and you run into a snag. Perhaps you need more detailed information than provided on the site, maybe you need to know how something relates to your personal circumstances, or perhaps the web site simply crashed.

So you phone the company concerned, and even after identifying yourself the agent has no idea why you're calling until you explain from scratch. Tedious.

It's also increasingly common for people to turn to online forums as an initial source of help rather than using vendors' own customer care services. (That could be because they've become frustrated with help lines that keep them on hold for excessive periods before suggesting things they've already tried before resorting to the old standby of reinstalling the operating system and other software.)

Financial software vendor Intuit has found that 70% of customer service questions are being fulfilled by other customers via social media, said Eric Tamblyn, vice president, product marketing, contact centre solutions, in Alcatel-Lucent's enterprise division.

Even where a forum is operated by the vendor concerned, answers are usually left to fellow users. But wouldn't it be better if the company was alerted if a satisfactory answer hadn't been received within say 48 hours?


"Service and support could be the only way you can differentiate from your competition," said Mr Tamblyn, noting that self-service success rates fell from around 50% in 2003 to less than 40% in 2009.

Alcatel-Lucent's Genesys operation thinks it has a solution for these and other problems. Genesys 8, released earlier this year, is a major rewrite of Genesys' flagship product for customer service.

With more than 30 million lines of code, Genesys 8 has a modular structure to allow the one underlying product to serve the needs of contact centres (Genesys' traditional market), back office, and self-service.

Its features include Conversation Manager, a component that makes data collected in one channel available to others. "It's like a state engine," explained Mr Tamblyn, adding that it doesn't require web developers to do anything differently as it is XML based. There has been "very strong acceptance of Conversation Manager," he claimed.

Genesys used its G-Force user conference in Melbourne this week to reveal a new strategy designed to allow its clients to bring social media into their  broader customer communication workflows. The idea is that external events such as forum posts and Facebook or Twitter messages will be pushed into the Genesys router and processed along with more traditional events such as an incoming phone call.

"Most enterprises are only using social media to advertise," said Mr Tamblyn. Instead, they need to listen to social media, prioritise what's heard, engage with relevant individuals, and integrate social media with other customer interactions.

Genesys isn't the first supplier to address this issue. Earlier this year, RightNow announced a new version of its customer experience suite that included the ability to monitor social networks.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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