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Aspect Software

Aspect Software to be acquired by Vector Capital

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Aspect Software has entered into a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by Vector Capital, a private equity firm specialising in transformational investments in established technology businesses.

Under the terms of the agreement, Vector Capital will invest more than $100 million of equity capital in Aspect’s business, which provides customer engagement, workforce optimisation, and self-service omni-channel solutions.

Aspect’s existing lenders will continue to support the company by providing Aspect with a new credit facility at closing.

The transaction is subject to standard and customary closing conditions including the receipt of regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.

“We are excited to partner with Vector Capital as we continue to accelerate Aspect’s strategic transformation, execute on our growth plans and refine our go-forward strategy,” said Chris Koziol, Aspect’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Vector Capital brings substantial operational and financial resources as well as a proven track record of helping enterprise software companies invest in new products, accelerate innovation, and build market leading businesses.”

“We are thrilled to partner with the team at Aspect Software, which has established, market-leading product offerings and an exceptional blue-chip customer base,” said Andy Fishman, a Managing Director at Vector Capital. “We believe Aspect is well positioned to capitalise on the tremendous opportunity in the growing Customer Engagement Centre market.”

“We have always been impressed by Aspect’s strong business and leadership team,” continued Sandy Gill, a Principal at Vector Capital. “We look forward to backing Aspect during its next stage of growth and helping the Company accelerate its development through both organic initiatives and strategic acquisitions.”

Jefferies LLC and DCS Advisory served as Aspect’s financial advisors. Aspect’s legal counsel was Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. Vector Capital’s legal counsel was Paul Hastings LLP.

Aspect Verify 17 launches in the UK

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Banks and payment services providers are set to benefit from new identity verification functionality in the latest major version release of the trust platform, Aspect Verify version 17 from Aspect Software.

The software has been designed to offer heightened support for multi-factor identity authentication for internet payments, while maintaining a seamless and secure user experience.

Aspect Verify supports the multi-factor authentication process for online and mobile payments by enabling banks and other payment services providers to perform imperceptible security checks via the customers’ mobile phone. The latest major release increases the number of checks that banks can make on a transaction to increase the probability of identifying and resolving suspicious activity.

Keiron Dalton, global program senior director at Aspect Verify, commented: “The increasing need for two-factor authentication of internet payments in response to increasingly sophisticated fraud techniques will require a lot of providers to rethink their current models. Many providers are increasingly using one-time passwords (OTPs) via soft (SMS) or hard tokens (small plastic devices) to complete transactions. Unfortunately, although it is popular, SMS is easy to compromise when used in isolation, with sophisticated fraudulent techniques like SIM Swap taking significant advantage. The challenge is that users are driving their experiences and expecting speed and convenience as they go about their digital lives. This adds multiple, complex layers of security that can run the risk of introducing friction to the experience, which can leave customers frustrated.”

The biggest addition to Aspect Verify 17 is Proximity. Verification requests in Proximity leverage user mobile data to check the geo-location of the customer making the transaction, combining it with known customer information to confirm the user is in a trusted location, such as home, work or a bank branch. Proximity not only reduces the risk of false positive identification of fraud, which can lead to innocent customers losing access to their accounts, but increases completion rates and reduces efforts for escalations. The use of trusted locations, supported by all of the UK’s major mobile networks can ‘soft verify’ transactions where other red flags are raised.

Aspect Verify 17 also features Automatic Risk Assessment of the concluding risk score, which takes into account all available security check results, including SIM Swap detection. Advanced reporting enables organisations to provide more insight into statistics to enable the identification of trends and sudden developments. To date, Aspect Verify has been used to secure 1.5 trillion financial transactions globally, and has saved one major bank upwards of £10m per annum in associated costs of fraud.

Aspect Verify also significantly helps organisations to meet the requirements set out in the EU’s Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2), which will become law in all Member States by 13th January 2018, and will remain part of UK law after the UK leaves the EU in 2019. PSD2 rules state that the two or more methods of authentication must be independent so they cannot be compromised by each other.

“Aspect Verify is ideally suited to help organisations resolve this challenge because it requires almost zero effort from the user to authenticate an identity, but boosts the levels of fraud prevention. The platform works in harmony with primary factors such as passwords, PINs, and increasingly, different kinds of fingerprint and Touch ID on mobiles, because it doesn’t require anything to be memorised or for the user to have a hard token on their person. Imperceptible checks like these make use of what is already publicly available – i.e. mobile data – to offer extra protection to both the customer and the bank,” Dalton concluded.

Other new features in Aspect Verify 17 include flexibility, allowing the user to orchestrate the increasing number of available security for each API lookup, as well as a user interface.

Are industry professionals missing out on key cloud opportunities?

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While the majority of contact centres are using cloud technology to some extent, adoption for many is ‘relatively superficial’, according to recent conducted by Aspect Software.

Surveying 100 UK-based senior contact centre professionals, data indicates that even though the industry is ‘moving in the right direction’, Aspect believes the benefits of the delivery model for agent productivity and customer engagement will only be unlocked when contact centres ‘migrate more of their operations to the cloud’.

Research found that 78 per cent are currently using cloud to some extent, with the channel most likely to have been migrated being email in 60 per cent of cases.  However, adoption of cloud technology in other channels remains low – 27 per cent manage their mobile apps in the cloud; 23 per cent have migrated SMS to cloud; 13 per cent have deployed cloud-based web chat.

Stephen Ball, SVP Europe and Africa at Aspect commented: “It’s clear that cloud is gaining ground in contact centres and that contact centre operators are increasingly comfortable with cloud delivery models, which is very positive. But at the moment many have only migrated a handful of applications and channels – what you might call the low-hanging fruit – and that doesn’t seem likely to change much over the next year. Even partial cloud adoptions can bring about positive changes within your organisation, but we’ve seen that the really interesting things only start to happen when bigger portions of the IT estate have been migrated.”

Analysts predict that this is unlikely to change over the next 12 months, as just 27 per cent of respondents claimed they will integrate new cloud-based solutions into their contact centres in 2017.

Guest Blog, Steve Ball: The 8 things millennials really want from customer service

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Struggling to understand what makes your millennial customers tick? Here’s what they really want from your contact centre.

It can sometimes be difficult to understand what constitutes a great customer experience for the millennial generation. We know about their lofty expectations, their habitual use of technology and their willingness to vote with their feet if a brand disappoints them. But what really drives them, and what do they really want from customer service?

A lot of brands still seem to lack the answers to these questions. According to Aspect research from last month, some 42 per cent of millennials would rather clean a toilet than reach out to a contact centre – an increase of ten percentage points on 2015’s figure.

Millennials are clearly unhappy with the current state of customer service, and it won’t be long before this translates into lost business for brands that fail to accommodate their expectations.

So what is it that millennials really want from customer service? At Aspect, we’ve come up with a list of requirements – the “now consumer” expectations – that we think shed light on the matter. These are as follows:

1. Know me

Millennials want their interactions with brands to be not just convenient, but personal. This could be as simple as not having to repeat themselves when switching from one channel to another, such as a web chat conversation to a phone call, or being able to pick up on an incomplete transaction at a later date via whatever method makes sense at the time.

2. Make it mobile

A simple one: millennials expect customer service to be accessible via mobile. According to Ofcom, nine in ten Britons between the ages of 16 and 24 own smartphones, and 61 per cent describe themselves as “hooked” on their handsets. Mobile has become a more common means of getting online than the laptop, making it an important touchpoint for brand interactions.

3. Let me do it

Millennials have an appetite for self-service, too. According to our 2015 research, almost three in four consumers (73 per cent) believe they should have the ability to solve most product and service issues on their own. Reaching out to an agent should be a last resort.

4. Make it social

Millennials are fluent in social media, and expect brands to be the same. They also like to use Facebook, Twitter et al to vent when something doesn’t go their way. It’s vital that brands are able to assist and guide customers via these channels, and to do so at the time it matters most.

5. Fit into my life

One of the consequences of the rise in mobile, self-service and social media-based customer service is that millennials no longer want to suffer lengthy call queues or phone a contact centre at a particular time of day to solve a simple problem. Convenience is key – if a solution can’t be accessed at any time via any channel that counts against the brand’s customer experience.

6. Save me time

Speed is equally important. Millennials don’t want to repeat themselves or sit through a long-winded process on the phone that would be quicker to complete with a self-service or co-browsing solution.

7. Make me smarter

Millennials like their brand interactions to be empowering. Rather than just solve simple problems, a contact centre should be able to furnish customers with information that will improve their experience of the brand’s services in the long run. In turn, these customers will be able to use their newfound knowledge to support and empower their peers.

8. Help me discover

Along the same lines, a contact centre should be able to create value for customers outside of their immediate wants and needs. So, for example, it could deliver personalised advice and recommendations to an individual based on its knowledge of their purchases, queries and pain-points. This step, along with the one above, will turn millennials into committed brand advocates who discuss their positive experiences with peers and in social media.


Learn about customer experience solutions from Aspect

Modern ‘consumer-like’ software tools make happier customer service agents…

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A new study conducted by Aspect Software – an industry leader in providing fully-integrated consumer engagement and workforce optimisation solutions – has determined that a more desirable software user interface can greatly improve agent performance.

In association with Pelorus Associates, ‘The Aspect Agent Experience Study’, which polled 400 contact centre executives ranging from manager to CEO status, found 87 per cent of contact centre managers agree agents would be more satisfied if they were able to use software that had the ‘look and feel’ of the consumer technologies used outside the workplace. In addition, 82 per cent who claim their agents are either ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ also report placing a ‘strong emphasis’ on building and maintaining strong customer loyalty.

Senior vice president and general manager of Workforce Optimisation at Aspect, Mike Bourke, said: “We know that as the first point of contact with a company, the agent is the face of the brand. The research we did with Pelorus Associates further illustrates that happy agents lead to happier customers, ultimately improving loyalty and the overall customer experience. Key to engaging with contact centre agents is providing the tools they need to be more effective and empowered in their work.”

To conclude, 74 per cent of contact centre bosses believe the introduction of better software across the board improves agent morale; and 70 per cent of executive officers think access to contact centre software via mobile devices is an important element to developing ‘agent effectiveness’.

Contact centres define omnichannel integration as a ‘challenge’…

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Respondents to research conducted by the contact centre solutions provider, Aspect Software, have determined that the biggest ‘challenge’ currently facing the industry’s customer service development is integrating a text-based customer engagement service alongside other channels.

Widely considered to be an essential element of the modern customer service strategy, the survey of Europe-based industry professionals found that 90 per cent said are already supporting either a Facebook or Twitter service; 74 per cent have implemented email channels to support customer service and 34 per cent use SMS. Despite 42 per cent claiming that the introduction of a text-based messaging platform described as a challenge by many, 90 per cent stated that the channel will become imperative to their strategies within the next two years.

Senior vice president Europe and Africa at Aspect, Stephen Ball, said: “From our research we know that many in the industry find integration of text-based messaging a challenge, but if they can rise to it, there are fantastic opportunities for their businesses. Technology can offer easy-to-deploy omnichannel solutions to meet this challenge, but companies need help from trusted partners to pinpoint the root cause of their own integration difficulties. Only then can they benefit from text options for customers.”