Fortegra and SandCherry Team to Deliver Speech-Enabled Customer Service Solutions

LYNCHBURG, VA and BOULDER, CO - Fortegra Inc. announced that the company has joined forces with SandCherry Inc. to provide speech-enabled customer self-service and workforce management solutions. The initial offering will focus on customers in the utility and energy industry, leveraging Fortegra's knowledge in CIS/billing and customer contact center applications. The solution will allow for routine transactions such as start, stop and transfer of service, finding payment locations, account updates, payment arrangements, scheduling service personnel, and reporting outages, to be handled by customers using either the Web or phone. Implementing technology solutions to assist customers with these transactions can improve customer satisfaction and offloading routine transactions from call center staff can significantly reduce operating costs. "Currently, many service-based companies build and maintain separate applications and integrations for call center, phone/IVR, and Web to service customers. This redundancy substantially drives up the cost of building, integrating, supporting and maintaining applications, and increases complexity for adding new applications," said Kevin Chase, principal at Fortegra. "By using a common Web-based infrastructure for the automated customer contact channels, one that allows different technologies and applications to be integrated more seamlessly, the total cost of ownership is substantially reduced while customer service is significantly enhanced." The solutions will combine Fortegra's customer contact consulting and integration experience with SandCherry's SoftServerT software platform. The SoftServer platform, an applications and media resource broker, provides the ability for Web applications to access speech and telephony components for phone (voice and touch-tone) and multimodal (data+voice) users. "Today, companies are faced with the challenge of finding innovative solutions that provide a competitive edge, while still attracting and retaining customers," said SandCherry CEO Charles Corfield. "By utilizing a common integration with back office systems for both Web and phone users, SandCherry and Fortegra provide the scalable, open solution needed to quickly adjust to varying changes in system demand, while reducing integration, support and maintenance costs." Speech is growing in importance as enterprises with sophisticated contact center operations add automated speech and call processing technologies at an increasing rate. According to Dan Miller, senior analyst of the Zelos Group, 20 percent of new, automated phone-based customer service resources will use speech recognition by 2007. Fortegra and SandCherry are currently implementing the solution for their first joint customer, one of the largest energy providers in the country. The first phase of this system will be in production in Q3 2003. Fortegra will exhibit at the CIS show in Nashville, May 31 to June 3, 2003, in booth No. 224. Representatives from Fortegra and SandCherry will be on hand to provide more information about the partnership and solution.
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