Sword Ciboodle and SAS Analytics Intelligent Contact Center: Product Overview




The market for contact center solutions is divided between customer relationship management (CRM) solutions and call center solutions, typically from different providers. On top of that, business intelligence (BI) vendors offer tools and add-ons to analyze contact center data.

This means that if you require “the complete package,” you’ll need two or three different solutions. Naturally, these solutions will not always integrate well together, resulting in extra deployment costs and an increase in the complexity of company activities.

But by partnering with SAS Analytics to offer the Intelligent Contact Center [PDF download], Scotland-based Sword Ciboodle aims to offer all the functionality required to manage and analyze contact center interactions and the data generated by these interactions. This includes CRM functionality such as lead management and campaign execution, intelligent chat and offers, and social media intelligence.

This is part of an overall industry trend to unify CRM and contact center data (e.g., Oracle’s recent acquisition of RightNow) for better customer interaction and easier analytics. We will surely see more partnerships/mergers and acquisitions (M&As) in this space down the track. 

The Sword-SAS alliance is something special though: Both vendors are going beyond the well-established path defined by most players in their space. I’ll explain how, and why this is important for potential software buyers.

What Is the Intelligent Contact Center?

A company’s contact center is the hub through which most customer data passes from and to various systems (e.g., enterprise resource planning [ERP] or CRM systems) and communication channels (social media, communities, e-mail, etc). It involves both internal and external users, including partners, customers, prospects, etc., which add to the complexity of the business processes that revolve around the contact center. Also, the data generated by these systems and channels is often stored in different places, and with different structures, which makes consolidating and analyzing this data a major challenge.

The approach Sword Ciboodle and SAS are taking to simplify this complexity is to offer a unified contact center platform that provides you with a structured (and thus manageable) way to maintain and analyze your contact center data and processes.

Using the Intelligent Contact Center, employees can interact with customers, and respond to their needs and requests. Decision makers can access advanced options for data analysis, such as segmentation or ranking. A unified desktop interface provides users with functionality to perform daily tasks ranging from campaign management and cross-sell/up-sell, to customer service and customer feedback analysis.

How Does It Work?

As indicated in the image below, the logic behind the Intelligent Contact Center is based on a five-step cycle:

  1. Start by mapping all the communication channels used by your company to interact with customers and prospects.

  2. Collect relevant data from these channels.

  3. Align this data with existing profiles for each customer.

  4. Best actions are triggered for that customer or account.

  5. Meaningful interactions are generated for both the customer and the company.


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Here’s an example of how these interactions would be managed by the Intelligent Contact Center:

  1. You customers use social media, e-mail, or portals to communicate with you, but you also have information about them in ERP or CRM systems, or even spreadsheets. All of this information may prove to be important, and you need to be able to know where to get it. Sourcing all of this data from a single data store is important for deriving insight and analysis, as well as maintaining that 360-degree view of the customer.

  2. Now that you know where to source information about your customers, you need to decide which data is really important for your interactions with them. Business data such as purchase history, contact history, and contact preference data is merged with social data such as influence or sentiment score, in order to create a more accurate view of your customer.

  3. The right data now allows you to align your view of the customer with the products and services that will serve your customer better. Next, the actions required to satisfy your customers will be generated based on their needs and their profile, as well as on their position in the customer lifecycle. Intelligent offers underpinned by analytical data will better target the customer as well as making your sales team more efficient.

  4. The best actions are now launched via the customers’ preferred channels, and they can be tracked along with the lead management and campaign execution processes. Depending on the interactions and feedback with the customers, sales or customer service people can prepare the best way to approach the customer.

  5. With proper engagement, you will solve the issue/close the deal/gather the information you need to achieve your contact center goals. In any case, the conversation with the customer continues, and the data, as well as their profile, need to be updated constantly.


As I mentioned above, traditional CRM software vendors do not venture into the contact center space, barring exceptions such as salesforce.com and Microsoft. Likewise, contact center software vendors such as Avaya or Syntellect typically don’t cover much CRM-specific functionality. The largest software vendors like Oracle or SAP will surely find a way to put together packages made of the numerous solutions they own, but they can prove to be very expensive and not easy to maintain.

In conclusion, think of the Intelligent Contact Center as a platform for your CRM, contact center, and customer analytics needs. If you’re a medium or large company having issues with any of these requirements, this solution is certainly worth evaluating. But always assess your needs to make sure that the solution you’re evaluating meets your requirements rather than the other way around.
 
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