Friday, July 15, 2011

Avaya's New Social Media Manager Integrates Facebook and Twitter

avaya150.jpgEarlier this week Avaya announced new contact center products that integrate with social media. Avaya, one of the descendants from Ma Bell, supplies telephony hardware and software to some of the largest enterprises and telecommunications companies in the world, and they are getting seriously Facebook'd.

It isn't all that surprising, really. Avaya isn't some old fuddy-duddy phone company. It has been a huge user of social media for its own purposes for quite some time.

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The company has a dozen very active Tweeters who post several times a day, and another 100 that are less active. There are 24 branded Avaya Twitter accounts, many for different geographic regions and native language support of their respective countries. They have more than 40 Facebook groups and five different fan pages and 12 LinkedIn groups too. They leverage SocialCast as their internal microblogging platform after starting with Yammer. And their external corporate blog has more than a dozen different regular authors, complemented by more than a dozen internal blogs and a corporate wiki.

The announcement concerns the new version of Aura Contact Center v6.2, which is used by call center agents, and integration with its Social Media Manager add-on module. You can see a cute demo here, although the example of a customer refinancing their mortgage is somewhat unrealistic (who can these days).

When a customer calls to resolve something, the agent can search on particular experts and see if they are available to enter the call. Agents can also search and respond to Facebook and Twitter messages. Agents can set up monitors of particular keywords so they only see the relevant messages that need replies. Tweets can also be scored on particular metrics to identify real-time trends, and the system even provides suggested responses that can be personalized.

Besides Facebook and Twitter, which Avaya can access directly using each API, Avaya can pull in RSS feeds produced by blogs and other sources such as YouTube and LinkedIn and third-party "listening engines," if a customer already has something scouring the social Internet postings.

You can filter and classify these results by actionable categories as well, such as new sales or customer inquiries. The software will show a customer's last ten Tweets for example, for further guidance. What Avaya is trying to do is put together a powerful tool that can pull as much information as possible from all kinds of sources -- besides social media, the corporate CRM system and other internal customer-oriented databases -- so the call agent can act accordingly in real time with the customer on the phone.

avaya contact screen.jpg

Customers of older Aura software can still take advantage of some of these social media features, but the new 6.2 version will offer a single unified screen to manage particular actions, as you can see from the screenshot above.

"There is a new generation of customers and agents that are very comfortable with social media, so having the right tools and services to maximize it are essential," says Higinio Sanchez, Chief Executive Officer of Motiva, one of the early users of Avaya's social media tools.

Software for the Social Media Manager solution starts at approximately $30,000 base price plus $1,500 per agent.

Avaya is also stepping up their social media consulting service practice area, and announced this week that it will help their customers integrate social media channels into their customer's own support and sales efforts. Consulting packages start at $12,000. Given their internal experience with these tools, this could be a very worthwhile direction to go if you have the budget.

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