National Association of Call Centers

Interactive Intelligence Interactions 2013 Impresses

The InformationWeek 500, published annually by Information Week magazine, is a list of the nation’s 500 most innovative users of business technology as determined by the editors of the magazine. As a provider of business technology for the contact center, it appears that Plantronics (www.plantronics.com) practices what it preaches because it has earned a spot on the InformationWeek 500 list for 2012. Plantronics has been recognized for its adoption of a cutting edge workplace strategy called “smarter working.”

Smarter working is a relatively new approach that places people over place and delivers flexible solutions that allow people to cooperate and collaborate across work environments. For a global company like Plantronics the ability to work with customers, partners and employees across time zones and geographies is critical to success. Employees can now effectively communicate with each other regardless of where they are located or which type of communications device is being used.

I had the opportunity to visit Plantronics’ headquarters in Santa Cruz, CA this past June and saw the construction of their new work environment in progress. Although not technically in Silicon Valley, the Plantronics work environment should, and probably will, put to shame the work environments in what most of us think of as progressive high tech companies. The physical environment in the workplace is as important as the work process for those who adhere to the principles of smarter working.

At Plantronics, the workspaces are flexible and open, encouraging collaboration and communication. The cube farm has been replaced by a friendly collection of work areas where it is apparent that employees share energy as well as ideas. The beneficiaries of the smarter working initiative are not only the employees – Plantronics’ customers will benefit as well. Here’s how.

Plantronics makes headsets for the contact center industry. Contact centers are noisy, busy places. With the new Plantronics open work environment, part of the “buzz” is due to the fact that employees are talking to each other more frequently, creating a workplace environment that is very similar to the typical contact center. As a result, Plantronics has just become a test bed for its own headsets.

Despite its industry leadership position, Plantronics continues to innovate in more ways than one. With the new smarter working strategy in place the employees win, the customers win and, for the icing on the cake, Plantronics gets an award. Plantronics continues to prove that its industry vision extends well beyond the world of audio communications.

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Business Process Mapping Part 4

Business Process Mapping Part 4
May 20, 2012
By: David L Butler, PhD
Executive Director, National Association of Call Centers
www.nationalcallcenters.org
This is the fourth post of series. To see the first post in this series go to Business Process Mapping Part 1 on May 10, 2012, the second post Business Process Mapping Part 2 on May 13, 2012,...

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Cisco Wins Contact Center Industry Award the Old Fashioned Way – They Earn It

The 9th annual CRM Magazine Service Awards winners were published in the March 2012 issue of the magazine.  I like these awards.  The reason I like these awards is because no money changes hands before awards are bestowed.  I also like them because there’s only one winner in each category.  Although this may rub against the grain of the Millennials who grew up with a collection of “Participant” trophies lining the shelves in their bedrooms, I think it’s entirely appropriate for the contact center industry.  It’s a good way to recognize exemplary company performance in terms of product offerings and service to the industry.
The CRM Magazine Service Awards is one of the few award processes I’ll participate in these days.   I used to participate in the “Best of Show” award processes many years ago at trade shows like ICCM.  No money exchanged hands there either, except I suppose the money the show organizers received selling booth space.  But when it came to judging it didn’t matter if you had a tiny booth in a dark corner or a two-story extravaganza a la Nortel trade show booths back in the day.  Companies were judged on the merits of their products, not whether or not their check cleared the bank.  CRM Magazine upholds this same standard, which is why I participate and why these awards are significant achievements and not just marketing fluff.
For the second year in a row Cisco has been awarded a CRM Magazine Service Award in the Service Leaders category.  After being named the “One to Watch” in the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) category in 2010, Cisco captured the top spot in 2011.  This is particularly interesting in that Cisco didn’t even place in this category in 2009.
A year or so ago I heard Cisco’s John Hernandez specifically point to IVR as a market Cisco had targeted for industry leadership.  I wasn’t sure how they were going to accomplish this feat but as Cisco’s Web 2.0 strategy, which underlies the Customer Collaboration Suite, became clearer, so did the reasons behind Hernandez’s assertion that Cisco could capture IVR market leadership.
Competition will remain tough for Cisco in the IVR market and there are companies nipping on Cisco’s heels, but the fact that Cisco has made such noteworthy advances in its IVR strategy that it convinced the panel of objective judges to award this recognition is a significant accomplishment in itself. 
The CRM Magazine Service Leader is one of the few industry awards worth having.  Most of the contact center industry awards floating around the industry today aren’t worth the plastic they’re molded out of.  Any company that receives an award given by a panel of unbiased judges has a reason to be proud.  Cisco should be proud to fall into this category.

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