storm® CONTACT: IM

The Problem

Today’s customers increasingly demand to interact with organisations on their own terms, at any time, from any place, across any device. As a key channel in the recent proliferation of communication methods, Instant Messaging (IM) has become an integral part of many people’s day-to-day lives.

However, although highly effective on a personal level, businesses often struggle to effectively handle IM enquiries. Web chat is typically difficult to integrate into existing infrastructures, creating siloes between IM handling and other channels. Furthermore, installing new solution along with a new agent base can be costly. This creates pressures for companies to outsource their operations, causing problems with consistency, cost and overall quality control. Standard automated IMA responses and agents following scripts cannot produce the high level of service quality your organisation requires. How can you deliver joined-up, efficient IM handling while maximising the value of your existing, trusted agents?


The storm CONTACT:IM deployed alongside CRM integration in the DTA client (IM)

The Solution

storm CONTACT:IM enables organisations to introduce web chat as a cost-effective component of frontline and internal communications. IM requests are handled by iACD® (intelligent Automated Contact Distribution) logic, which ensures that enquiries are always connected to the best automated or live resource. Complex web chat interactions are routed through to high-value agents based on factors such as personality, skills and knowledge, while routine enquiries can be automated through intelligent keyword recognition.

Through storm, these skilled agents can also seamlessly handle enquiries across other channels in a single blended interface, maximising their value and capitalising on their skills. CONTACT: IM’s flexible structure enables it to be easily integrated, as a seamless plug-in or as a standalone application. The platform’s flexible licensing model offers an affordable cloud-based service, which interfaces with back-end systems such as CRM resources, enabling automated identification of contacts for enhanced contact handling.

How it Works

For external communications, the module can be easily integrated into existing websites. Its flexible structure enables CONTACT:IM to assume existing branding and design features to create a cohesive web chat interface, delivered as an accessible extension to the end-user.

Once users connect, CONTACT:IM uses multi-channel iACD® (intelligent Automated Contact Distribution) logic to determine the best available agent to handle each enquiry based on a range of factors. These include contextual data, such as previous browsing history, and also information extracted from IP address identification.

This can be matched against any data collected from previous storm® interactions, such as transactions or even multi-channel behaviour preferences, or against customer records held in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems which are integrated with storm. This enables storm to create a personal profile for each contact, which can be used to determine and continually refine effective routing logic, ensuring that contacts are always matched to the most appropriate agents.

In this way, iACD algorithms calculate how best to connect users to agents, considering factors such as language relevance or specialist knowledge areas. iACD also leverages Mediated Interaction Matching (MIM) principles to evaluate a contact’s personality traits based on all available contextual data and match with a suitable agent.

For the agent, all IM enquiries are easily handled through the secure web-based DTA® (Desktop Task Assistant) portal, which can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. This enables organisations to extract maximum value from their IM deployments by ensuring that enquiries are always routed to the best agent, regardless of geographical location.

Business Impact

When deployed alongside other modules within the storm® CONTACT suite, IM enquiries are treated in a blended queue together with alternate channels such as SMS, voice, social media and email, and are subject to the same logic, enabling web chat to become a seamless additional method of communication. In CONTACT configurations of this size, highly-skilled agents can be given privileges to perform more complex tasks, such as processing calls or viewing case information while in an IM enquiry, or even managing internal chats alongside an external conversation. Alternatively, multi-channel enquiries can be delivered to agents one after another, or they can handle a single channel, with new interactions fed through as soon as the current one has been resolved.

Agents are able to share documents and other files with end-users, or with other agents through internal conversations, through dragging into the DTA interface. The DTA’s secure protocols enable Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing to occur from any location through the web browser, enhancing both internal and external collaboration. Files shared over email can also be accessed through the DTA, enabling agents with appropriate privileges to continue conversations based on documents in a real-time environment.

For multi-party conversations, large IM chats can be rapidly assembled through the DTA, either by a user with operator privileges using the graphical drag-and-drop conferencing manager, or by an agent or supervisor manually conferencing in other parties. Documents can be shared within a group chat, enabling mass collaboration.

Supervisors can also be given permissions to gain full visibility over agent IM interactions, with the ability to listen-in or barge-in and take control of a session in the same way as they would a voice call or email chain. Combining this supervision capability with secure logging and reporting for all enquiries, CONTACT:IM also delivers a powerful Quality Management package, which also enables organisations to demonstrate compliance and auditability across all of their web chat interactions.

By combining web chat logs with reports and records across other channels, administrators are able to view real-time and historical data through unified interaction threads, which can be filtered against individual agents, agent groups, customers or a range of other dimensions.

All administration is carried out through the storm CONTACT web administration portal, which employs the same multi-stage authentication as the DTA to ensure security levels are optimised. Administrators can rapidly configure factors such as agent groups, queue management and even matching rule logic. Agent MIM profiles can also be manually configured, by setting values against personality traits in the User Management menu, which are then taken into account by iACD during the interaction matching process.

CONTACT:IM can be integrated into other storm services through FLOW, Content Guru’s multi-channel Service Creation Environment (SCE), for example as a breakout point in a multi-stage interaction such as debt payment through web forms which allows users to call on an advisor through a pop-up.

“Although internal messaging applications have become increasingly popular throughout many organisations, customer-facing IM, including applications integrated into websites, is still non-standard. When customers are given the option to interact over web chat, they are often routed to outsourced contact centres, and are handled by agents who are simply following scripts and have limited working knowledge of the subject matter.

“Making matters worse, these IM services are not joined-up with other communications channels. A customer could interact over email and then look to speedily resolve an issue through chat – but without any cross-channel intelligence, the customer would have to start from scratch again with the web chat agent. This creates frustration and can make customers reluctant to attempt to communicate over IM.

“By converging IM with other channels and with both interaction history and any relevant customer data sources, storm® CONTACT:IM represents a fully integrated approach to web chat. Through iACD logic, storm treats every IM interaction in the same way as it would any other channel, ensuring that data can be kept consistent across all multi-channel interactions. IM agents are just as informed as are agents on other channels, which enables them to provide improved customer service levels.

“Furthermore, because the DTA interface can be easily accessed over the web, organisations can easily equip their in-house, knowledgeable agents with the ability to handle IM. Instead of having to outsource, highly-skilled agents can process IM alongside other channels to ensure that critical enquiries are quickly and effectively dealt with. This is further enhanced by factors such as MIM, which enables organisations to further increase efficiency and improve customer satisfaction levels.”

Shub Naha, Business Development Director