ShoreTel beefs up email, web chat features with latest contact center product

ECC 8 moves enterprises from traditional voice-based contact centers to multi-device, multi-channel options
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Unified communications (UC) provider ShoreTel (Nasdaq: SHORreleased on Tuesday its Enterprise Contact Center 8 (ECC 8) product with enhancements to the email and web chat channels for contact center agents, enabling consumers to use smartphones and tablets to communicate with the enterprise.

The product upgrade provides enterprises with the ability to move from traditional voice-based contact centers to multi-device, multi-channel options for agents, the company explained.

ShoreTel ECC 8 provides greater insight to the enterprise on customer experience through interaction reports and real-time reporting for email and web chat interactions as well as voice conversations. "We are reporting end-to-end across the entire contact center to all channels types, inbound and outbound voice, email, and web chat to make sure the managers of that contact center have the data they need," said Steve McElderry, director of product management for contact centers at ShoreTel.

The ShoreTel contact center offers both agents and supervisors consolidated capabilities through ShoreTel Communicator, the unified, intuitive desktop interface. The contact center integrates with existing customer relationship management (CRM) applications such as Salesforce.com and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Dynamics CRM.

"Our contact center leverages the inherent robustness of our distributed [unified communications] architecture. And it allows the contact center to be integrated into the rest of the enterprise. The entire enterprise now serves the end consumer. The distinction between the contact center and the rest of the enterprise is crumbling," McElderry told FierceEnterpriseCommunications.

With ECC 8, ShoreTel has simplified the agent interface for email by enabling agents to respond to an email with a single click, improved automated responses and email routing and enabled the flagging of bounced back emails for follow-up by a manager, explained McElderry.

While ShoreTel's contact center product leverages its premise-based UC system, there is a growing movement toward cloud-based contact center systems. This enthusiasm for the cloud was reflected in cloud-based contact center startup NewVoiceMedia's recent funding round.

The U.K.-based company was able to raise $20 million in its second funding round held at the end of last month. The startup added Highland Capital Partners Europe and MMC Ventures to its existing investors Notion Capital and Eden Ventures. It plans to use the proceeds to expand its business in North America.

NewVoiceMedia said it has been growing by more than 200 percent per year and serves 8,000 agents in 30 countries. Its ContactWorld product integrates with Salesforce.com's Service Cloud and Sales Cloud platforms.

Cloud-based products do not require enterprises to spend money on equipment and provide the latest technology on demand, although they do require a monthly fee for the service. At the same time, premised-based systems provide robust capabilities that the enterprise can customize and control. The choice for enterprises depends on their size and their requirements.

For more:
- check out NewVoiceMedia's release
- see ShoreTel's release

Special Report: The hybrid solution: Enticing enterprise UC customers through social media integration

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