Review of Niche Technologies in the Call Center

Mainstream technologies get a lot of press. As the backbone of contact center operations, they’re on everyone’s radar and they need to function at peak efficiency. But I’d like to put a spotlight on a few intriguing niche technologies for your consideration:

Desktop Analytics

Desktop analytics—aka Desktop and Process Analytics, or DPA—captures agent desktop activity. It can reveal which applications they used, how much time they spent in them, what process steps they took, what information they looked at, what information they captured, etc. It can be effective for frontline reps or their back office colleagues. It can be used to discover issues and provide visibility into what is really happening in the hundreds or thousands of interactions and processes each day. Improper systems use, process non-compliance or inefficiency, and training gaps or failures can all surface with a good tool and an astute analyst.

Caution: Analytics tools often fail to meet expectations, primarily due to lack of resources and processes to use the tool effectively. So build competency across reporting and analytics, and/or use external experts to ensure success.

Speech Analytics

Speech Analytics (SA) has been around for years and always gets people excited. While pitched as a QM replacement in the early days, today’s offerings focus on QM optimization. For example, some SA vendors have a feature to auto-populate agent scorecards for efficient QM review. Others use it to find the appropriate calls to review—based on length, categorization, statements, actions, etc. On the back end, SA can bring more targeted and complete information into the coaching sessions that result from quality review. So the message that SA can shorten, simplify and improve QM has new resonance.

Caution: Enthusiasts need to either commit resources or ante up for a service. A good option is to consider a company like MainTrax because of the expertise you can gain through knowledge transfer on how to use the tool while you’re getting more immediate and targeted value from the investment.

Context-Aware Applications

Context-aware applications use information (who, what, where, when, how) to create “seamless and integrated” customer interaction journeys across a wide variety of media. Hooks into traditional CRM applications may provide additional data (or context). Applications use this information in targeted routing as well as screen pop of customer information and their interactions. It can be thought of as a kind of a next-generation CTI with data-directed routing and enhanced screen pops. Avaya, Cisco, Genesys, inContact, ININ and Kana (Verint) are examples of companies emphasizing this new direction. Using context effectively can lead to increased agent productivity, customer satisfaction and upsell/cross-sell opportunities.

Caution: Center leadership must engage their counterparts (e.g., IT, Digital Channels and Marketing) to add contacts from all media channels into the information source as well as leverage the full CRM. Beyond technology integration, effective use of context also requires process work and training to use this capability effectively and consistently.


Gamification formalizes incentives and performance management through gaming tools, creating both competition and collaboration. It can create a new focus on and visibility to performance targets. Success yields points which enable people to pursue rewards such as gift cards, but the greatest reward may be the recognition and labels that go with “success.”

Caution: Whether purchased from a stand-alone vendor or incorporated into a WFO/PO suite, make it part of an overall performance management plan with the right metrics, communication and analysis to be most effective.

It’s easy to get excited about the next great thing. In addition to the DPA, SA, contextually aware applications and gamification, we’re keeping an eye on some other technologies on hiring tools, translation tools, security tools, and simplified desktop tools. And while I don’t want to temper enthusiasm, I would be remiss if I didn’t make the case for getting the fundamentals right—specifically, streamlined prompts, accurate screen pops, well-designed agent desktops, effective knowledge management, consistent action on customer commitments, and follow-up/action on bad survey feedback.

Get the basics right and you—and your employees and customers—will get even more out of the next nice niche technology you pursue.