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Friday, July 20, 2012

Avaya Moves To the UC Contact Center

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All the major business telephone system providers face the challenge of gracefully migrating their legacy voice-based technologies to a mobile, multi-modal, UC-enabled communications environment. Under it's "Customer Experience Management" portfolio, Avaya recently announced some new UC-enabling capabilities for self service "mobile apps" for premised-based contact center operations under the label of "Customer Connections Mobile."

This announcement included continued support for mobile voice self-service applications using VXML (IVR). Such voice applications, which can be most useful for hands-free applications (e.g., when driving a car), include: driving directions, emergency notifications, voice access to email, voice dialing, and directory assistance applications. VoiceXML has tags that instruct the voice browser to provide speech synthesis, automatic speech recognition, dialog management, and audio playback." 

 Avaya described it's new multi-modal customer service capabilities to me this way:

"Customer Connections Mobile (CCM) has two primary functions.  One is a visual self service menu in which the user navigates through screens to access information.  Should the user require additional assistance or wish to speak to an expert, they can request an agent."  

"If an agent is available, the caller (who started out in self service) will receive assistance from the agent.  If there are no agents available, the caller will see their estimated time to answer (ETA) and will be able to request an immediate callback or a scheduled callback (at a time of their choosing). "

"Customer Connections Mobile does not include a ‘click to IM chat’ element, handle speech recognition (though might be possible), or accommodate text-to-speech.  The ‘click for assistance’ is to speak to a live agent…if one is available or request a callback (as described above).

This announcement by Avaya is evidence of progress in evolving the "UC Contact Center," both as on premise technologies and as "cloud"-based services. Note, however, when Avaya talks about "visual self-services," they mean real-time video chat or "video IVR." Online interactive self-service applications will come from Web portals, but, with appropriate CCM APIs, can invoke the above described flexible access to live assistance.