Avaya Wins Global Omnichannel Contact Center Award

Here at Avaya, we’re proud to make the world’s best customer engagement hardware and software, relied on daily by the world’s best-known brands. While we’ve helped guide our customers on their journey toward 21st-century engagement, up until a few years ago, our own customer engagement was stuck in the past.

As late as 2011, Avaya’s Global Support Services organization was still inextricably tied to the telephone, with the bulk of our agents busy picking up the phone, answering common questions, picking up the phone, answering common questions, picking up the phone, and so on, day in and day out.

For the past three years, Global Support Services has transformed itself into a model of omnichannel customer engagement.

The results speak for themselves: Customer satisfaction scores are up and time-to-resolution is down. Roughly 85 percent of our customers now use the Web to initiate their personalized service experience. Customers are using our online tools to answer their own questions–in fact, an average of 46,000 issues get resolved each month without human intervention. Some 85 percent of chat-based service requests are resolved in less than an hour.

Today, we’re proud to announce that Avaya Global Support Services has won this year’s ICMI Global Contact Center Award for Best Use of an Emerging Channel.

What makes this award so special is that it recognizes the hard work so many Avayans have undertaken since 2012 to transform Global Support Services around a truly omnichannel experience for customers.

This omnichannel support ecosystem includes Web access to traditional support request models integrated with virtual assistant, chat (unusual in a B2B technical support environment), voice over the Web and–never before seen in the industry–video. These channels were built with full inter-channel continuity to provide one comprehensive experience (hence “omni”-channel and not “multi”-channel) for all support needs. Behind this tool is the ability for agents to work from any channel and for workflow and resource management to support all channels, including process and operational conditioning to provide support by multiple agents at once, also known as “swarming.”

The implementation was envisioned, designed and driven by the Global Support Services organization and executive leadership, led by Mike Runda, who had recently joined the company. IT, Corporate Strategy and others were all integral to the drive.

The evolution of Avaya Global Support Services is more than a technological advancement in and of itself. It is not just a website; it is a fully-integrated omnichannel customer experience. This new omnichannel means of communication will revolutionize the customer service experience in 2015 and beyond.

Continued progress in enhancing the customer support experience is good business and a win-win for both customers and Avaya. It benefits customers by accelerating the time-to-system optimization and issue resolution. Both are key drivers in ensuring customers get the most out of the Avaya engagement solutions that underpin business outcomes, such as revenue and margin growth.

For Avaya, this technological advancement ultimately leads to improved customer satisfaction, better Net Promoter Scores, and increased loyalty (which is directly linked to future revenue growth), while also improving profit margins.

Gone are the days when a customer’s only way to interact with a company is the telephone. Customers can now use two-way video to show the agent a problem instead of describing it, leverage a swarm of agents dedicated to delivering out-of-the box solutions, access online knowledge databases that are continuously updated in real-time, or let Ava (the avatar who already knows their search history) direct them to the right answer.

Industry studies have consistently shown generational differences in preference for the way people like to engage support resources. As industry leaders, we remain committed to leveraging omnichannel methods to satisfy future generations of customers longing to communicate in the form best suited to their needs.

Thanks to our customers and dedicated staff, much has been completed and this ICMI Global Contact Center Award belongs to all of them. This award marks an important milestone to a journey that has just begun.

What communication channel do you prefer when you need customer service? What new communication channels do see coming on the horizon?

Follow me on Twitter at @pat_patterson_v

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6 Developing Communications Services Trends to Watch in 2015

Is it 2015 already?? It is, if you are an IT manager in the final stages of budgeting and allocating. With a new year comes a new opportunity to begin again.

As always, we strive to help our clients begin again and plan ahead. We do this by anticipating what trends will soon be on the proverbial radar of our clients and the vendors that serve them.

In 2008, we decided to go one step further by convening a panel of experts, known by many as the “Avaya 5.” This year, our “Avaya 5” includes:

  • Mike Runda, senior vice president and president, Avaya Client Services. Mike oversees revenue, regional execution and global offers for Avaya’s holistic suite of support and managed services.
  • Linda Hartig, vice president, Avaya Global Support Services. Linda manages delivery operations on a global basis for Avaya Client Services.
  • Jenna Stanley, vice president, Avaya Cloud Services. Jenna leads the managed and hosted service delivery practice for Avaya Public and Private Cloud solutions.
  • Richard English, director, Avaya Strategic Consulting. Richard leads the company’s North American consulting teams, which deliver full lifecycle consulting engagements for global enterprise clients.
  • Stéphane Lamarre, senior director, Avaya SME Segment Marketing. Stéphane helps serve the needs of midmarket businesses — companies with between 200 and 2,000 employees.

The following is a summary of the Avaya six trends for 2015, identified by our panel and featured in our white paper, “Communications Services Trends for 2015 — Transformation Takes Hold.”

#6: The high-accountability support model emerges.

Individual support personnel will retain ownership of the customer experience and use techniques such as collaboration and “swarming” to break down the barriers of the traditional “tiered” support organization. This approach will drive a better experience for customers and ultimately make for more efficient resource utilization in support organizations.

#5: Support services transparency: Customers like what they see.

Mobility will be a growing factor, contributing to more seamless and transparent interactions that give customers instant access to rich information about their relationship with your company, your company’s products and services, and support tools and status.

#4: Social media and crowdsourcing: Are you really engaging your customers?

It will be imperative to bridge the gap between simply monitoring social platforms for conversations about your company and doing something about them — i.e., capturing, routing and responding to those conversations within your contact center and/or broader enterprise, as well as encouraging customer-employee interaction through crowdsourcing, which is often carried out in private forums.

#3: As omnichannel support matures, Web chat plays a pivotal role.

Even as video gains momentum as a high-touch channel (see Trend #2), companies will continue to use Web chat as the relatively low-expense way to initiate the customer experience from a website, to triage that experience, and to direct customers to the appropriate support channel and other support resources and tools.

#2: Video support reaches an inflection point — if you snooze, you lose.

At the end of 2013, Amazon.com became the first company to offer one-way video customer support. In 2014, Avaya became the first company to offer both one-way and two-way video support options for customer engagement. Now companies in many industry verticals are adopting—or at least piloting—some form of video. Businesses that haven’t begun to make the move to video will be challenged to catch up with their competitors.

#1: The cloud takes shape.

The market is about five calendar quarters into an eight-quarter transformation from a mindset that favored on-premise, owned equipment, to one where executives think of cloud solutions first as they consider new and upgraded communications capabilities. The hosted cloud solution will need to drive a differentiated support services experience in which users can click from within the application to get timely help.

So, what do you think? Let the debate begin… and welcome, 2015!

What trends will you be watching in 2015?

What trends did we miss?

Follow me on Twitter: @Pat_Patterson_V