A "Goldmine" of Customer Support Intelligence

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Last week, Verint announced plans to acquire Vovici for about $60 million. I rarely write about industry deals in this space, but this one is worth noting for several reasons.

Last week, Verint announced plans to acquire Vovici for about $60 million. I rarely write about industry deals in this space, but this one is worth noting for several reasons.Vovici is a provider of enterprise feedback management software, including voice of the customer (VoC) tools. Vovici's online survey and customer feedback management software is designed to allow users to better understand customer needs and preferences across multiple channels. Verint, meanwhile, is largely positioned in the contact center space as a provider of text and speech analytics, workforce optimization, and IVR survey software.

The acquisition of Vovici, which is expected to be completed by early August, provides Verint with both a tactical and strategic boost, according to Paul Stockford, chief analyst at SaddleTree Research, a contact center industry research firm. Not only will the Vovici software help to strengthen the VoC analytics platform that Verint introduced in May, the deal also will provide Verint "with an entrée into the rest of the enterprise" beyond the front- and back-office penetration it currently has with its contact center and workforce optimization software, he says.

More important for CMOs and other decision-makers, Verint's play for Vovici also maps with the maturation of the customer intelligence market. Verint is positioned to utilize Vovici's VoC tools to help CMOs and other executives to gather, analyze, and act upon customer support intelligence that's generated through customer interactions via the IVR, with contact center agents, and even through social media comments. Verint licenses a text analytics engine from Clarabridge to analyze customer text from social medial, email, and other written content.

Add it up and the Vovici deal makes a lot of sense for Verint. As Temkin Group's Bruce Temkin points out in a recent blog on the deal, "the contact center is a VoC goldmine. There's a ton of insights about customers that remain locked inside of contact centers." For instance, many companies record contact center calls with customers for quality assurance purposes and to meet compliance requirements. But few companies actually apply speech analytics to analyze what customers are conveying in those interactions, much less act on that information to make improvements to customer support, develop products, or generate more targeted offers.

Meanwhile, the emergence of Chief Customer Officers and Chief Experience Officers as a formal role within enterprise organizations also signifies the growing need for companies to develop a more complete view of customer feedback and analysis for tactical and strategic planning.

"What we didn't have was an enterprise feedback management platform to fit this rising interest in voice of the customer by companies and Chief Customer Officers," Ryan Hollenbeck, senior vice president of product marketing at Verint told me during a briefing on the news. "What some CMOs miss out on are nuances in interactions between call center agents and customers...to gain greater visibility into the effectiveness of their campaigns and strategies," he adds.

A combined Verint/Vovici platform could potentially be designed so users can mine recorded phone and text interactions, as well as social mentions, and then apply analytics and dashboard tools to help draw correlations between customer sentiments and new sales, marketing, and customer support opportunities.

Verint and Vovici will work on providing "common navigation" between their respective platforms during the short-term before developing a more integrated platform over time, says Hollenbeck.

In some industries, such as airlines, customer service reports to marketing, but these functions are often not well connected in most companies, says Hollenbeck. It will be interesting to see how the Verint-Vovici marriage works out and how well its messaging resonates with CMOs and other decision-makers. The use of analytics to evaluate a full range of customer inputs across multiple channels has long been a promising concept whose time may have finally arrived.

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