Avaya bolsters contact centers, integrates Nortel technology

Avaya says software upgrades can cut contact center costs, improve customer satisfaction

Avaya is overhauling its contact center software with features designed to boost productivity and also to demonstrate that the company is brimming with innovation it hopes will attract new customers, and keep those it acquired along with Nortel's enterprise division.

The smorgasbord of upgrades and new products being announced by the company include contact-center, workforce-optimization and outbound-calling software that Avaya says can cut costs and improve customer satisfaction in dealing with businesses via their contact centers.

Nortel and Avaya Essentials

Some of the upgrades being launched include the blending of Avaya products with products it acquired when it bought Nortel's enterprise division last December and that may help draw customers of that division permanently into the Avaya fold. After the acquisition, Avaya promised it would act quickly to integrate Nortel gear and rapidly generate new products. "That's why all our focus and commitment to a year of innovation -- or a future of innovation, quite frankly -- is crucial," says Avaya CEO Kevin Kennedy, "but maybe the proof point is that this is our fourth launch this year … and more later this year. They weren't just words at the start of a relationship with a new customer base."

The big new offering is Avaya Aura Contact Center that mixes Nortel Contact Center features with Avaya's main SIP communications server Avaya Aura. The result is a SIP-based contact center designed to let call agents find out how the customer is connected -- phone, instant messaging, SMS, e-mail and so on -- and the customer's history with the contact center. Data about the customer's current session is stored centrally and is accessible via SIP to agents even if the call is transferred or an expert is conferenced in, relieving the caller from having to re-enter the same data over and over as new experts are brought into the conversation, Avaya says.

Contact Center agent software lets agents handle a voice call plus five other communications sessions via e-mail, Web chat, SMS and so on, enabling them to deal with more than one customer at a time or to use other modes of communication to seek help for the customer on the phone call. Avaya says an agent can handle 20% more interactions than without these features.

Avaya Aura Workforce Optimization is a new product that integrates Avaya management into WFO software licensed from Virent, which previously was sold separately to Avaya customers as complementary platforms. This brings a tighter link between analytics and WFO so customers can react faster to issues that arise via contact center interactions. For example, analyzing call recordings can rapidly identify that a single product is the subject of a large number of complaint calls, and the contact center can take steps to fix the problem by reaching out to customers.

An upgrade to Avaya IQ contact-center analytics software adds full reporting capabilities that until now were exclusively in Avaya's Call Management System. Before, customers that wanted both analytics and reporting had to buy both products.

Avaya IQ 5.1 has the full set of both platforms and will be targeted at new customers that haven't bought either yet, Nortel says. The new IQ platform also boosts capacity to handle reporting for 900 simultaneous users.

Avaya has also added interactive voice response capabilities from Nortel into its Voice Portal and renamed the product Experience Portal.

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