Ted Bray, Senior Voice Product Manager, Edify
Q Last year you talked a lot about Self Service Automation for customers. Is this still a big initiative for Edify?
A Edify's key initiative was and remains providing consistent customer experiences across automated and live assistance channels. Obviously self service automation is a key component to making that initiative a reality. Edify is a leader in providing self service automation across the telephone, e-mail and Web mediums, and we will continue to leverage our strength in those areas. But again, our focus is on the complete, consistent customer experience, and that experience goes from automation to live agent assistance.
Q We hear a lot about how customers are not served when organizations automate customer service, what do you think is the right balance between great customer service and automation?
A There cannot be truly great, differentiated customer service without effective automation. The key to successful customer interactions is in understanding what the customer needs to accomplish, how they want to accomplish it, and giving them the tools necessary to make that happen. This fits into Edify's key initiative of providing complete, consistent customer experiences across all communication channels. Automation might completely satisfy the customer, or it may transition to and support a live interaction with the customer. Complete, consistent customer experiences are essential and automation is an essential part of the solution bearing in mind that not every transaction can be automated.
Q Please describe a recent deployment when a company automated their customer service and what did the company think after implementation. Please provide any benchmark statistics that was achieved.
A Ticketmaster deployed Edify's speech recognition solutions to reduce the number of live agents needed to handle the task of "directing" incoming calls to the right automation application or live agent based on desired event (concert, theatre event, sporting event, etc.). Edify's speech recognition solution for Ticketmaster has fully automated 80% of the incoming calls, allowing Ticketmaster to redeploy 70% of their live agents to other functions within Ticketmaster. Edify's speech recognition solution at Ticketmaster far outpaced the targeted success metrics set forth by Ticketmaster.
Q What are your customers saying to you about speech technology?
A 1. It is critical to their voice self service initiatives. 2. Persona and branding abilities are allowing them to implement more consistent automation approaches across more channels of customer interaction. 3. It takes more than a speech engine - customers demand robust data access, business rules and multi-channel integration - consistency across communication channels is key. 4. Support for standards is key, there is universal excitement with our customers and prospects around Edify's new Voice XML interpreter - an interpreter that is integrated into an existing telephony platform. Edify's Voice XML interpreter allows customers to run Voice XML apps and Edify apps side-by-side. 5. Customers do not want to have to call Edify everytime they need to make a change to their speech application - lots of requests to have grammar and script modification tools available that make the customer self-sufficient after the initial implementation (Edify builds a lot of these tools - high demand!) 6. Enterprise customers have had tight budgets over the past year - all are saying speech is critical but many do not have available capital - however this is starting to improve.
Q What do you mean by 'multi-channel enterprise CRM solutions'?
A This is the Edify initiative of complete customer consistency across all automated and assisted customer touch points including the phone, Web, PDA and e-mail. Edify brings together those touch points in a single platform that has been proven at the enterprise level to deliver integrated customer automation across multiple channels. When customer interaction moves to assisted service, Edify takes the automation history, combined with the customer context, and provides the live agent with easy-to-understand, intelligent information about that customer that enriches the interaction, making that interaction more valuable for both the customer and the organization. The bottom line - Edify helps business attract, service and retain customers through intelligent interactions in automation and assisted service.
Q Explain your new Open Strategies Initiatives. How does this impact your partners and customers?
A Edify is committed to supporting open standards throughout its platform. Edify's software runs on any open system on the Microsoft Hardware Compatibility list, providing our customers with the best scalability and lowest cost of ownership in the market. The latest example of our commitment to open standards is Edify's Voice XML 2.0 Interpreter - a fully functional Voice XML 2.0 interpreter that is integrated into Edify's existing runtime telephony platform. Our Voice XML Interpreter executes Voice XML script side-by side with native Edify applications. This provides our customers with a great Voice XML solution - a solution with mature telephony call control, monitoring, reporting, great scalability, etc. Our Voice XML Interpreter is fully integrated with Edify 8 - opening up our full suite of multi-channel CRM offerings to the Voice XML application. And again, Edify apps can run side-by-side with Voice XML apps, giving the customer tremendous control over their customer service solutions.
Edify and it's Solution Provider Partner community are dedicated to helping customers bring multi-channel CRM solutions to market faster and more successfully than any other software solutions provider in the industry today. They are empowered as an extension of the Edify team, and are provided resources, information and marketing tools to promote and support Edify multi-channel CRM solutions.
We believe that success depends on fully integrated teamwork, as well as a firm grasp of regional and industry-specific issues. Our technology partners, alliance partners, consultants and resellers help deliver the Edify promise of lifetime customer satisfaction. Edify Connects Partner Program provides the solution channel partners with a unique advantage in addressing opportunities currently available in the rapidly growing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) market.
Q What changes has Edify undergone since having new ownership?
A Edify remains a wholly-owned subsidiary of S1 as of February 1, 2003, although S1 is making great progress in completing the sale of Edify. We will continue to focus on our specific goals and objectives as a separately owned business.
Q Is there any particular part of the world that you are seeing an increased technology spend?
A We are seeing some signs of improvement in Europe, Asia/Pacific and North America in technology capital expenditures. However, there is still abundant caution throughout all global markets, and every solution sold must demonstrate clear ROI in a much shorter period than 18-24 months ago. While the ROI time is less, sales cycles have definitely gotten longer during that same time period. Organizations are taking longer to make their decisions - those decisions are now involving more people and are being made higher within the organizational structure, adding to the cycle time.
Q What are your thoughts concerning the various standards that impact speech technology? Does standardization really help customers, and do they demand standards to be in place before they deploy technology solutions?
A Standards are ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL!! Speech will never realize full market potential without the adoption of standards. There are too many examples of this in other industries - standards take the focus from the technology and place it on the solution. This is essential in the world of speech recognition. Customers do not wait for standards to mature before implementing technology. Businesses always look for distinct advantages over their competitors, and technology, standardized or not, can help deliver some of those differentiators. Edify is committed to standards. On the voice side, we fully support Voice XML within our product, and we are an original member of the SALT forum and have architected our platform to support a SALT interpreter as well. This is just the most recent example of how we view the critical importance of standards and their importance in our markets.
Q What can we expect from Edification 2003?
A Don't miss this event!! Edification is our users conference, and the content is squarely focused on our customers. You will hear from many existing customers on how they are deploying Edify solutions. You will hear from independent analysts who will provide their perspectives and recommendations. You will hear from Edify's management team on where we are headed and what exciting products and solutions are coming next. You will hear from our technology engineers and services leaders. You will hear from our technology partners and solutions resellers. And most importantly, you will have the opportunity to network with these people to learn about how collectively they are building leading, innovative customer contact solutions to are making a big difference in how businesses and consumers interact with each other.