Independent analysis of software rates technology providers on products that address key elements of agent management within contact centers across seven product and customer experience evaluation categories.

BEND, OR, September 06, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — Today Ventana Research released its 2023 Buyers Guide for Agent Management, a quantified, research-based report evaluating technology providers and products. The Buyers Guide assesses 12 vendors’ products using our Ventana Research methodology, called the value index, evaluating software in seven key categories that are weighted to reflect buyers’ needs based on our expertise and research. The Buyers Guide evaluates the sophistication of vendors and products in agent management within contact centers.

Agents are the foundation of the contact center processes that impact every customer’s experience. These processes, and the customer service function, must be able to operate from any location, at any time, and agents must be able to respond to customers via any communication channel for any request. Optimized contact center processes feature agents who are empowered to act on behalf of the customer and who are supported by technology that supplements, guides, and extends the productive capacity of the workforce. During challenging periods, contact centers must be ready to operate across all communication channels in a scalable way to meet spikes of inbound demand.

Agents’ ability to provide memorable, personalized experiences to customers often is hampered by technological limitations. Legacy agent desktop and CRM systems are still in use at many organizations, and this creates challenges for today’s contact centers. Modern desktops should provide a single point of access to the several applications used in interactions with the customer, but in most cases, agents need to use many applications with the agent desktop to resolve customer issues.

Providing agents with the tools they need to improve the customer experience can improve the agent experience. Agents who feel empowered by their tools rather than at odds with their technology are more likely to deliver better customer experiences and will be less frustrated, fatigued, and burned out. Furthermore, modern systems can provide performance analytics to deliver up-to-date information to the agents on their performance and suggest areas for improvement.

This Buyers Guide for Agent Management examined vendors that provide agent management systems both independently and in packages that include contact center routing features. Most of the independent vendors concentrate on the agent experience without offering interaction routing or any of the communications/telephony aspects for operations. In fact, many of the vendors that offer complete platforms use these specialists to provide their capabilities in white-label or OEM relationships to contact center providers. It is more likely a contact center vendor with a routing platform will be using a third-party’s agent management tools whether they know it or not. Buyers should take care to investigate which agent management vendor is aligned or is being embedded within which contact center routing vendor.

Our research had specific product evaluation criteria for capabilities in agent management that included workforce management (primarily scheduling agents and forecasting volume), quality measurement (interaction recording, agent evaluation, coaching, and performance measurement), agent experience and feedback, agent performance management, and agent desktop. Beyond that, we also evaluated features related to agent guidance and assistance, gamification, collaboration, and much more.

“The tools for managing contact center agents are an interesting mix of old standbys and brand-new technology,” says Keith Dawson, VP and Research Director for Customer Experience at Ventana Research. “Since the pandemic put the focus on remote work and better retention, vendors have had to invest in innovation in agent management to a degree that we haven’t seen in many years.”

The Buyers Guide for Agent Management evaluates a subset of the overall vendor pool that offers dedicated agent management platforms: 8×8, Alvaria, AWS, Calabrio, Content Guru, Five9, Genesys, LiveVox, NICE, Playvox, Talkdesk, and Verint.

The research finds NICE first on the list, with Calabrio in second place and Genesys in third. Companies that place in the top three of any category earn the designation of Leader. Calabrio and Genesys have done so in six of the seven categories; NICE in five; Verint in two; and LiveVox and Content Guru in one category.

The research places vendors into one of four overall categories: Assurance, Exemplary, Merit, or Innovative. This representation classifies vendors’ weighted performance overall in Product Experience and Customer Experience. The vendors awarded Exemplary are Calabrio, Genesys, NICE, and Verint. The vendors awarded Innovative are Content Guru and Talkdesk. The vendors awarded Assurance are LiveVox and Playvox. The vendors awarded Merit are 8×8, Alvaria, AWS, and Five9.

This Ventana Research Buyers Guide for Agent Management is the distillation of over a year of market and product research efforts. It is an assessment of how well vendors’ offerings will address organizations’ requirements for contact center software. The index is structured to support a request for information (RFI) that could be used in the RFP process by incorporating all criteria needed to evaluate, select, utilize, and maintain relationships with technology vendors. An effective product and customer experience with a technology vendor can ensure the best long-term relationship and value achieved from a resource and financial investment.

Ventana Research has designed the Buyers Guide to provide a balanced perspective of vendors and products that are rooted in an understanding of the business requirements of any organization. Utilization of our research methodology and decades of experience enables our Buyers Guide to be an effective method to assess and select technology vendors and products. The findings of this research undertaking contribute to our comprehensive approach to ranking and rating vendors in a manner that is based on the assessments completed by an organization.

“The necessity of agents who engage with customers has been seen as a utility and not for what is needed to engage and have the joint experience with a customer on the interaction between parties and the answer or resolution required,” says Mark Smith CEO and Chief Research Officer at Ventana Research. “Agents are people and not a generic workforce and need to be enabled so contact centers can manage them for the best possible outcomes. This enlightening market research and Buyers Guide examines the requirements and vendors for any contact center to be effective in using the applications and technology in agent management.”

The Buyers Guide for Agent Management is neither sponsored nor influenced by technology vendors and is conducted solely in pursuit of Ventana Research’s mission to provide value to business and IT (Information Technology) through the Consulting, Advisory, Research, and Education (CARE) portfolio of services. Ventana Research’s goal is to help guide organizations to optimal efficiency in their use of technology investments for business and IT. To learn more and to read the Buyers Guide for Agent Management, please click here.

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