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Witness brings surveying to the call center

With the acquisition of a customer intelligence company, Witness may be igniting a trend of bringing feedback management into the call center.

Witness Systems Inc. has added a customer feedback tool to its workforce optimization (WFO) suite with the acquisition of Mountain View, Calif.-based Amae Software.

The addition of Amae's tool to the Witness 360 application will allow call centers to get immediate feedback from customers on campaigns, agent performance and satisfaction levels via IVR, Web and email surveys.

"We've been looking for two years for a product that would fit the standards we have in Impact 360," said Oscar Alban, principal global market consultant with Atlanta-based Witness. "That's where we came upon Amae. The customer controls it."

Amae's CI Suite combined with Witness can be configured by customers on the Web and provide a real-time feedback mechanism. For example, customers can immediately provide anonymous feedback on their experience with individual call center agents following a call. This has been the missing piece of the WFO product, according to Alban.

"Front-line users can change questions, pull reports and see things in the field of battle, if you will," Alban said. "This product allows a customer to drill down to an agent level [to] measure supervisors, centers and the enterprise."

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Earlier this month, Burlington, Mass.-based SoundBite Communications announced a partnership with Mindshare Technologies, a customer experience management vendor that captures customer perceptions and provides actionable reports. SoundBite and Mindshare are partnering to bring their customers together using SoundBite's outbound dialing technology. Companies can immediately follow up an interaction with a survey. In fact, there are a number of partnerships between feedback management systems and call center technology vendors, but Witness is the first to acquire a separate company and bring it in house, said Ken Landoline, analyst with the Boston-based Yankee Group.

"It seems like a great way for contact centers to get verification of what they're doing internally," Landoline said. "It's an outside look in rather than inside out at how customers perceive you. This will probably ignite a trend when other people realize this is a natural fit, and Witness's competitors will seek to offer something similar."

A recent straw poll of Yankee Group clients found that while many companies claim to value customer satisfaction, it's mostly lip service. Only 20 to 25% were measuring customer satisfaction via surveys, Landoline said.

"It seems to me to be a win-win situation," Landoline said. "Like it or not companies will know what end users think about them."

Financial details of the acquisition were not released. The survey product will be available immediately as part of the Impact 360 product.

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