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2019 CRMXchange Enterprise Connect Review

CrmXchange

Presented By: CrmXchange



Delivering Detailed Analyses of the Technological Tools Needed to Provide a Superior Customer Experience

Over its nearly three-decade history, Enterprise Connect has been the premier showcase to help businesses achieve transformation via communications and collaboration technologies. While much of the event’s emphasis is on Unified Communications, AI, Cloud Communications, and other issues central to enterprise networks, Contact Center and Customer Experience have taken an expanded role. The conference and expo, which took place March 18-21, 2019, at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, FL, delved into technologies and deployment models for the contact center. Conference topics included what is needed to put AI to work in contact centers, machine-to-human collaboration and applications for deploying chatbots across channels and omnichannel customer engagement.  Suppliers offered solutions to improve the digital customer experience as end users, consultants, and channel partners converged to find new ways to empower businesses to implement new technologies more quickly and cost-effectively.

CRMXchange was onsite to meet with selected Enterprise Connect suppliers representing the CX/contact center space.  Sheri Greenhaus, Managing Partner, discussed how their solutions could help companies increase operating efficiency and improve customer satisfaction. This eBook presents brief summaries of their solutions and discusses what differentiates their offerings in the marketplace.

PLEASE CLICK ON THE LOGO IN THE CHART BELOW TO READ ABOUT THE VENDOR SOLUTIONS

 8x8.jan2018                                               CallN                       Edify                      inference.june2016                    Thrio
Omilia                         ServiceNow smartaction.nov2017 Symbee  
USAN     Verbio Zailab  Speechmatics  
         

 

 

 

Read the full write-up below:

 

8x8.jan2018

CLOUD CONTACT CENTER

8x8 

A leading worldwide, cloud provider of voice, video, chat and contact center solutions for over one million users, 8x8 continues to introduce innovative applications. The company announced its integration with Google Cloud’s contact center AI at Enterprise Connect.  As the technology advances, AI takes out the mundane tasks and enables agents to be where they will have the most impact. With the growing trend in contact centers to deflect less complex calls to digital assistants, 8x8 will launch their 8x8 virtual agent the second half of the year. With 8x8 Expert Connect, organizations with both 8x8 Virtual Office and Virtual Contact Center products can break down the barriers between agents and experts to increase first call resolution by as much as 30% or more. Meghan Keough, 8x8’s Global VP, Corporate & Product Marketing, elaborated on the capabilities of the X Series Cloud Contact Center.

How does the X series Cloud Contact Center enable businesses of all sizes to address their specific needs in the most cost-efficient fashion?

8x8 X Series is packaged to enable businesses to select the contact center functionality according to their needs, whether basic, or requiring more advanced capabilities such as quality management and speech analytics. 8x8 X Series platform is cost-effective and enables companies to avoid expensive installation and customization charges. For example, 8x8 Speech Analytics is operational out-of-the-box for immediate time-to-value, whereas competitive solutions often require tens of thousands of dollars of installation and setup work. All X Series contact center packages include reporting and analytics that are easy to customize, enabling companies to quickly create dashboards and custom metrics according to the needs of their business.

All X Series contact center packages include unified communications at no additional cost, enabling full voice, video, meetings and chat capabilities for every person within the contact center.  

In what ways does your solution allow supervisors to better manage teams of agents anywhere in the world while driving improved performance and increased First Contact Resolution Rates?

With 8x8, agents and supervisors can be located anywhere in the world, whether co-located or spread across the globe. Regardless of geography, agents have the same robust set of tools, such as a single agent desktop for handling all channels of customer contact, with embedded access to CRM records and knowledge bases to increase first call resolution.

Tightly integrated quality management and speech analytics tools help supervisors immediately bubble to the top exactly what they are looking for - whether new opportunities or problem areas. Either way, an embedded ability to send a message directly to an agent via @mention, and include a snippet of a relevant call, drives collaborative performance management.

Why do you consider it important to offer team messaging as a native entitlement?

Increasingly, users consider messaging as the front door to their communications activities. Delivering a native team messaging service to business users increases the speed of communications within organizations of all sizes. Providing one place for chat, voice and video allows users to work without switching context; giving them access to all collaboration services from anywhere on any device. Empowering employees with the ability to smoothly transition from team chat conversations to virtual team meetings is one example of how native team messaging can bring cross functional teams together and accelerate workflows.

Can you discuss how your CRM integrations improve the efficiency of sales and service teams?

Customer relationship management is a key for any business, big or small. The market for CRM software is continuously growing. According to Gartner, CRM software surpassed the DBMS market with revenue of $39.5 billion in 2017. Gartner predicts that by 2021, CRM will be the single largest area of spending in enterprise software. However, a considerable number of CRM projects fail every year due to low adoption and delayed ROI. Here are examples of how integration of 8x8 onto a CRM system can improve the efficiency of the sales and service teams: 

  • All data and SME access are in one place for faster, more relevant collaboration - sales reps and agents have all the relevant information at their fingertips, including instant access to subject matter experts
  • Onboarding is accelerated with one user experience - now sales and service teams can quickly get up to productivity using one, well integrated ecosystem
  • Increase the speed of decision making with richer, real-time analytics that matter - 8x8’s unique ability to use data from both UCaaS and CCaaS, combined with our proprietary algorithms, brings new use cases to life that are not possible without one integrated communications platform. 
  • Enhance employee productivity by providing them with multichannel communications within the CRM system. Employees can now engage with customers using their preferred method - voice, video or chat.

 CallN

CALL RECORDING/BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE        

CallN

Founded in June 2010, CallN has accumulated hundreds of active customers from over 50 countries. Its boasts powerful features that enable users to manage, review and gain insights into their call recordings, as well as the ability to provide an easy to use and convenient reporting system. The solutions provide SMBs with the same feature - rich recording capabilities as big businesses at a lower cost.  It is among the easiest to use VoIP call recording and reporting solutions available today, requiring no IT intervention. It’s quick to install, competitively priced and works on almost all VoIP telephony platforms. Their solution provides 17 of the 25 KPIS that contact centers typically require. Bob Dudas, National Sales Manager (Americas) for CallN (which was recently acquired by 1300 Australia Pty Ltd.,) told us more about their scope of activities.

Can you explain how your solution helps to ensure contact center compliance?

CallN Enterprise helps ensure a contact center is in compliance by allowing call centers to enable redaction of sensitive information from calls as well as transcriptions. Compliance is also met by the powerful speech engine that allows you to transcribe every call, search for key topics and then automatically scoring 100% of your calls. CallN also has the ability to encrypt your data while it is at a rested state.

In what ways does your Call Campaign feature and robust reporting capability make it easier for businesses of all sizes to determine how much effort is expended on achieving desired business outcome via the phone?

CallN campaigns allows businesses to tag and track calls made to campaign prospects. With this information, they can retrieve analytics about how successful a campaign was. Our reporting capability allows users to pick from several canned reports or build out custom reports in a matter of minutes. These can be delivered to an email using the schedule report function.

How does your cloud-based business intelligence enable companies to determine and set measurable KPIs for call activity?

Here are several important KPIs that are needed in the contact center that our BI tool provides:

Repeat calls Call completion rate (via call tagging) Call arrival rate
Call success rate (via campaigns)       Average sales per agent (via key word and topics)        First-call resolution
Calls answered in the first minute On-hold (silence query) CSAT (via sentiment analysis and topics)
Cost-per-call Average handle time Call abandonment rate
Call Center status metrics Peak hour traffic Hold time (via queries)

 

 What differentiates your solution from other call recording offerings available in the market?

CallN is not just a call recording solution but it is also a business analysis tool that allows our customers to make intelligent business decisions.

Here are a few challenges the CX and BI tool solves: 

  • Improved employee performance through automated script scoring 
  • Topic and keyword analysis to understand the voice of the customer 
  • Track customer complaints by type and volume 
  • Ensure and manage quality of conversations.

 

Edify

FLEXIBLE CLOUD CONTACT CENTER PLATFORM

Edify

This new entry offers an out-of-the-box solution that will enable managers to get it up and running quickly, but since it is built on a flexible, programmable platform, any developer can make improvements. Edify is being guided to the market by experienced developers and entrepreneurs who maintain they will provide 100% SLA or pay 10X the contract value. What’s more, the first 5 users per company will be free ‘forever’ with a very reasonable per user per day rate offered for additional personnel.

Edify Huddle will analyze customer engagements in real time and highlights the most important coaching and training opportunities. It will make it easy to connect on any channel, giving users the power to do what works best for them. Voice, video, and text are all options available in just a few clicks.

With a drag-and-drop workflow builder, it will be easy to create custom workflows tailored to an organization’s specific business needs. Their AI assistant uses machine learning to execute intent-based routing and enhance customer engagement. Edify co-founder Cameron Weeks brought us up to date on progress. 

Your pre-event publicity states that you have spent the last 10 years refining RTC (video/voice/chat social) tools to improve both customer and employee communications: are you now in a position to elaborate on the tangible benefits of your solution?

Edify is a flexible, scalable and intuitive solution that will fill a major void in today’s business world where customer service, proactive customer engagement and back-office needs are converging. We’re excited to help businesses redefine and elevate the way they manage their customer experience and internal cross-team collaborations. For years, businesses have been forced into a corner, paying millions to maintain legacy on-premise solutions which lack key functionality and the holistic perspective demanded by today's marketplace. Edify offers a new solution.

We believe the communications solution we built has never been done before in quite this way, without middleware and integrations and complex connectors. Our platform combines omni-channel into a single pane of glass, removing the legacy trend of limiting each interaction to a single form of communication at a time. The end result is a platform that leverages ML data models alongside a human workforce, maximizing efficiency without sacrificing quality.  

You and Bracken Fields have been working together for over a decade in developing and launching disruptive customer service platforms: what drew you to this specific project?

We never thought we would end up in customer service and telecom. While studying at Purdue University, a friend reached out asking for our help in buying a new phone system for his company. Touting the Purdue mindset, we asked ‘why buy something when we could just build it? Immediately, we became infatuated with the power of being able to leverage live voice communication, and we haven’t looked back since.

We co-founded our first VoIP company in 2007 while still students, knowing there was a better way for companies to serve their customers and wanting to solve that massive issue. That solution grew to be a major global customer service platform helping organizations worldwide.

I’m now driving the new team at Edify to launch a product that we hope will change the communications industry. There is an incredible amount of information and value contained within day-to-day conversations. We are on a mission to use that data for good, helping people solve problems and, in turn, giving them more time in their day to focus on the truly important things. Gone are the days of waiting on hold. Customer service is a major brand differentiator and people want assistance the way they want it, when they want it. Organizations must meet these demands, or they will lose customers. Edify is here to bridge that gap. 

You also mention that you embrace complex problems: can you give our subscribers any examples of how that approach is being addressed in your building process?

Edify was built from the ground up, enabling us to create exactly what users need without having been bound to any existing technologies or third-party requirements. We had a vision and we brought it to life with this product. And we are confident that once people get their hands on it, there will be no turning back. Edify gives organizations a new and better way to ensure their customers get what they need across all channels.

I firmly believe that RTC and ML are two of the most complex pieces of technology in active development today. Bracken and I share a common belief that the product and the technology should be at the center of the company leading the decision-making process, rather than the traditional sales & marketing-led companies we compete against. We designed Edify using a modern micro-services architecture to ensure 100% uptime, allowing us to provide the industry’s most inclusive 100% financially-backed SLA.

The Edify platform will operate at a global scale from day one, joining an incredibly small list of companies that have the technical ability to deploy a true ‘global queue’, allowing businesses to truly unite their global workforce. 

When it is available, how will your solution differ from others on the marketplace?

Edify launched and showcased its new platform, providing the first public demo at Enterprise Connect. The brand and online materials became available that same day. Customers are now able to request early access to Edify, and we intend to make the platform GA in mid Q2 of 2019. 

Edify's solution unites teams beyond the contact center and unifies global workforces to resolve complex customer service challenges via one, intuitive, intelligent interface. Edify is reliable, fully certified and compliant, working across all mediums to create a single workflow. We also offer a completely new pricing model, a hybrid between usage-based and named users that we believe better aligns with how our customers operate.

 

smartaction.nov2017

VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS 

SmartAction  

As a respected provider of AI-powered virtual agents which leverage natural language processing (NLP) to automate calls, chats, and texts now mostly handled by live agents, SmartAction knows there’s nothing easy about putting the architecture in place for superior customer service. The company’s mission statement drives everything they do… making LIFE LESS HARD. Their Customer Experience experts work very closely with their clients to guide them through the transformation to automation and continue to provide that hands-on experience going forward, Tom Lewis, CEO of SmartAction, provided additional details.

In your opinion, what factors led Frost & Sullivan to recognize SmartAction as the leader in AI-enhanced self-service solutions?

We believe several factors contributed: 

  • Our AI-powered virtual agent solution is ideally suited for companies that plan to adopt AI-powered automation in the near future.
  • With cloud-enablement and a ‘land-and-expand’ approach, SmartAction demonstrates strong value for the price via a simple usage subscription model.
  • Companies can start as small as they want for the lowest risk implementation possible.
  • SmartAction’s Omni-bot™ feature helps businesses put omnichannel CX at the center of their customer support strategies.
  • SmartAction delivers proprietary conversational AI technology as a service through a team of CX experts, so organizations can outsource all their voice and chat automation needs.
  • Frost & Sullivan noted that SmartAction clients have met or exceeded customer expectations for performance. Clients report increased agent productivity and focus on high-value-add tasks, as well as minimized IT effort due to the automation as a service

How do your solutions enable companies to automate conversations now being handled by live agents with AI-powered virtual agents in voice, then scale up to chat and text to create a seamless omnichannel experience?  

SmartAction’s AI-powered virtual agents leverage a centralized, cloud-based AI “brain” that extends beyond the basic capabilities of touchtone IVR, directed dialog, and simple chatbots by mimicking live agent behavior. This means virtual agents are connected to the same data that live agents are connected to, can read and record data just like live agents, can recognize natural language and extract intent over the phone, chat, or text, navigate multi-turn conversations, and even predict why someone might be calling. The process is to implement in the voice channel first where the ROI is the greatest, then scale the same solution digitally to web chat, SMS text, and/or messaging apps in order to create one seamless omnichannel experience.

Can you elaborate on how your pricing strategy makes it easier for companies to adopt conversational AI automation?

SmartAction delivers its AI automation as a service, enabling organizations to outsource all their voice and chat automation needs via a nominal one-time setup fee and simple, predictable pay-as-you-go pricing. We deliver our proprietary AI technology via the cloud, so no hardware is required. A successful transition to automation requires more than the best AI technology. What matters is the customer experience, which is why SmartAction wraps their proprietary technology with services from a team of CX experts who live-and-breathe a process of perpetual improvement until achieving a “perfectly trained” virtual agent experience that makes it less hard for customers to self-serve and less hard for contact center leaders to transition to AI automation.

What sets your virtual agents apart from other offerings on the marketplace?

We make the entire transition to more automation fast, low risk, and near frictionless: 

  • No costly upfront professional services fees – just a nominal one-time setup fee
  • Flat per-min-usage charge to handle calls via the cloud
  • Extend the capabilities of current IVR and Telephony investment
  • Low-risk implementation by starting as small as one call type or chat at a time
  • Go live in 6-8 weeks, regardless of industry
  • Team of CX experts work tirelessly to perfect applications day-in and day-out
  • Automate in voice then scale the same experience digitally for an omnichannel strategy over phone, chat, and text
  • Service model enables you to simply outsource all your voice and chat automation needs
  • Cloud-based solution seamlessly integrates with an IVR, contact center platform, and data repository

 inference.june2016

Inference Solutions

Inference provides an Intelligent Virtual Agent platform that helps businesses automate many routine and repetitive conversations, freeing live agents to handle more complex customer interactions.

It was specifically designed to be packaged and resold by telecommunications carriers and cloud contact center software providers. Service providers can easily configure self-service offerings for resale to specific verticals or at desired price points. Inference is resold by over 35 carriers around the world, including AT&T, Telstra, Vonage, Nextiva, Masergy, Momentum and Cincinnati Bell, to power Conversational AI applications for a wide range of vertical markets including government, retail, travel, enterprise and SMB.

It is also resold by CCaaS and UCaaS providers like Cisco.

Inference’s Virtual Agents offer capabilities that are similar to human service and support agents -- they just never rest or take a vacation -- and they’re substantially cheaper.

 

  • Virtual Agents Have Skills - For example, they can understand human speech in over 120 languages and can respond using text-to-speech that is almost indistinguishable from a human agent.
  • Virtual Agents Can Do Things - They can perform all kinds of tasks to care for customers. They can authenticate callers with voice biometrics, process PCI-compliant payments, look up orders, survey customers and answer all kinds of questions -- over the phone, web or SMS.
  • Virtual Agents Are Employed Like Human Agents - Just like an outsourced call center, businesses purchase Virtual Agents and pay for them for as long as they need them, on a monthly basis.

 

Inference Studio offers an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop development tool that makes it easy for non-technical users to build and deploy self-service applications. It features a comprehensive task library with pre-built applications that organizations can use or extend.

According to CEO, Callan Schebella, Inference is typically used in call center environments to power self-service applications for things like booking hotel reservations, scheduling appointments at doctors’ offices and collecting PCI-compliant payments. It’s also used for non-contact center solutions like routing calls to local stores or departments and serving as virtual hotel concierges. When asked about some of the more unique use cases, Schebella told us that they’ve worked with marketing agencies that are doing all sorts of creative things with virtual agents. For example, one company sold Christmas gift cards that included a phone number. When a child called the phone number, they were able to tell the virtual agent what they wanted for Christmas. The virtual agent then notified the person that purchased the card the details of what the child asked for.

Inference used Enterprise Connect to announce the general availability of Studio 6.0, which integrates the most advanced natural language processing (NLP) and Conversational AI technologies from Google and IBM, helping businesses eliminate complex IVR menus and elevate the customer experience beyond simple speech-enabled, directed dialog systems.

At the event, Schebella spoke on a panel that covered AI in the contact center along with Google’s Adam Champy. Inference also demonstrated their Intelligent Virtual Agents using Google Cloud Speech-to-Text, Wavenet Speech-to-Text and Dialogflow for NLP.

Businesses served by Inference’s partners can now deploy self-service applications using Google Dialogflow to streamline the automated support process by dramatically simplifying the customer interaction. Inference Studio 6.0 also helps businesses reduce costs by increasing the percentage of live agent tasks that can be automated.

Inference Solutions CEO Callan Schebella noted, “Customers no longer want to play a game of ’20 questions’ when speaking with a virtual agent. Studio 6.0 makes it possible to field open-ended prompts such as ‘How can I help you today?’ or ‘Please tell me the reason for your call.’ This more sophisticated interaction greatly reduces the time and frustration associated with traditional automated support, enabling businesses to resolve customer inquiries more efficiently than ever before.”

During the event, one of Inference’s partners, Masergy, a leading provider of secure SD-WAN, cloud communications and managed security solutions, announced that they would package and resell Inference’s latest release as a value-added service to their customers. Inference’s Intelligent Virtual Agents power virtual assistant and chatbot features for Masergy Global UCaaS solutions and serve as the queue callback service for Masergy Cloud Contact Center.

 

 Omilia

Omilia

Omilia’s Omnichannel Virtual Assistant platform provides a seamless human-like conversational experience for self-service across all channels. It enables end-to-end natural language conversations with advanced cross channel continuity and hand off. Based in Greece, the international company is growing 100% year over year with 170 employees.  Omilia has over 20 production call center deployments of true Conversational Virtual Agents in 11 countries worldwide, representing 10 different languages, and serving more than 1 billion customer interactions. It has partnerships with inContact, RingCentral, and Amazon Connect and offers expert packages pre-built for specific industries. such as banking, insurance, and healthcare. Dimitris Vassos, Founder and Chief Architect of Omilia, offered additional background.

On your website, you state that your conviction is that ‘good technology is invisible to the user.’ Can you tell us how you ensure that your solution is easy to implement and easy to use?

There is a misconception in the market that AI technology is all about a clever neural algorithm. It’s not. Algorithms do nothing without data. Data-- not just any data-- but the right kind of data, is what makes the difference between great tech in Powerpoint and a successful deployment within the enterprise.

We believe Omilia is the first AI vendor to integrate the entire AI technology stack into an enterprise-grade platform, and package it along with high-performing, pre-trained industry specific models, necessary for enterprise clients and partners to deliver conversational customer care just using intuitive tools with user-friendly GUI interfaces, getting 90% accuracy, across the entire domain, out-of-the-box.

Omilia’s virtual agents are not just easy to implement in record time; they perform so well that 60% of callers feel compelled to say “Thank you” before hanging up with the system--just like talking to a human.

How does your platform enable enterprise organizations to accelerate the digital transformation of their customer care?

Omilia has created enterprise-grade, easy-to-use, out-of-the-box working resources for fast development of conversational virtual agents specializing in specific vertical and language combinations (e.g. US EN – Banking, US EN - Insurance). These resources, which we call Xpert Packages, allow enterprise organizations to bootstrap highly effective virtual agents and only need to up train them on the delta between the domain and their own business specifics.

But apart from that, when you are deploying in an enterprise, such as a large financial institution, there are other, more mundane factors, aside from AI accuracy: things like PCI-DSS compliance, GDPR and PII. These are all showstoppers if you prove that you support them out-of-the-box. That’s the value of having a Platform, versus having a Technology. There is now one single system that packs all the understanding and works across all channels! Easy to maintain, and at the same time ensuring clients never have to do things multiple times to accommodate different channels.

Why do you consider it critical for companies to be able to conduct conversational customer service interactions across all channels?

The ideal customer experience allows customers to interact conversationally on the channel of their choice, all while maintaining the context of those interactions. Just like talking to a friend. It should not matter if you are talking or texting. The only thing that matters is getting the right kind of response effortlessly and in a conversational manner.

Brands that offer this type of omnichannel customer experience are keeping their customers happy and earning their loyalty. Brands that don’t, pay the price of being absent, because only a friend in need is a friend indeed.

In what ways do your solutions differ from similar offerings available on the marketplace?

The competition has created solutions that target app developers and the wider B2C market with simple and quick to market products/services. Their downside is that their Natural Language solution is trained on a very limited sample of developer supplied example requests that are then used by the system to categorize similar subsequent utterances into intent categories. This approach is best suited for creating impressively fast Proof of Concept grade virtual assistants that fail to scale and satisfy the minimum requirements of enterprise and SMB clients.

By contrast, Omilia trains its Natural Language AI on datasets of millions of actual user utterances for each vertical (Banking, Telco, Insurance, Healthcare) and language combination. We have thus developed and already deployed our proven enterprise grade platform in more than 15 countries and more than 30 enterprise customers. Omilia’s proven enterprise-grade platform allows for real, end-to-end conversational service, that actually exceeds human accuracy; in both semantic accuracy and intent classification.

ServiceNow

AUTOMATED DIGITAL WORKFLOW

ServiceNow

ServiceNow enables organizations to transform outdated, manual ways of working into modern digital workflows by simplifying complexity on a single, enterprise cloud platform. The Now Platform allows clients to predict, prioritize and proactively manage the tasks that matter most. Users can either choose from its native IT, customer and employee workflows or build their own apps which the company claims can ‘turn anyone into a developer’. Holly Simmons, Global Product Marketing, Customer Service Management for ServiceNow, offered additional insight.

In what ways do your customer workflows employ event monitoring and analytics to help businesses provide proactive customer service? 

We’re in the midst of a customer service transformation where service is going from a one-time transaction when a customer has an issue to an ongoing relationship where service is delivered end-to-end digitally. With that, customer expectations are changing, and enterprises need to be able to deliver seamless, personalized experiences, while anticipating and resolving customer issues before a customer realizes there is a problem. 

ServiceNow believes that proactive customer service requires real-time visibility and analytics, a detailed install base with status of customer’s products and services, event monitoring, and artificial intelligence. With ServiceNow Performance Analytics for Customer Service Management, companies get insight into trends and can identify common issues that can easily be resolved or processes that can be automated.  This proactively eliminates issues from affecting more customers and simplifies engagement for customers with common requests, such as changing an address or upgrading software.  

In order to proactively prevent issues, ServiceNow has an operations management solution that provides a “service-aware” install base which knows what products and services a customer has including software versions, devices, assets, as well as the dependences between them.  This provides the foundation for monitoring in order to identify issues proactively.  That data is collected and event management creates notifications, and even cases, when an issue is detected.  Combined with service management, some issues can be resolved automatically without human intervention and companies can avoid service level agreement (SLA) breaches.  While this sounds futuristic, ServiceNow customers are doing this today. 

Not every company can digitize everything needed by a customer.  Sometimes, a phone call is still required.  With ServiceNow, proactive notifications for agents inform them of customers requiring special handling and AI serves up related cases and similar problems to help agents solve issues faster.  Customers can get notifications on workarounds to problem before they realize there is an issue. 

All of this is underpinned by workflow technology.  Companies that leverage ServiceNow have been able to help their companies deliver improved and proactive customer service, resulting in:

 

  • 54% reduction in average resolution time through real-time visibility
  • 80% reduction in incident SLA breaches via enhanced insights   

How does your solution contribute to more rapid resolution of customer inquiries and, in turn, faster issue resolution?  

ServiceNow’s customer workflows enable proactive service that spans from issue to resolution Workflows are mobile, connected, automated to meet customer demand. An integrated end-to-end strategy that combines engagement, field service, service management, and service operations is needed to shorten time to resolution.  Customers can help themselves with self-service and take advantage of the automated service catalog with workflow that allows them to get requests completed without agent interaction.  Knowledge management and communities provide answers from experts and peers.  A virtual agent can answer questions and perform transactions quickly.  And AI categorizes and routes cases from the virtual agent or the service catalog to the most skilled agent for resolution. 

When an agent is needed, the agent workspace, a command center for agents, has all the details to resolve an issue – case details, timeline, SLAs, and AI-recommended solutions.  With event monitoring, cases are created automatically so that agents can resolve them quickly before customers are aware that there is an issue. 

This rapid resolution is particularly important as expectations for CS are changing across every industry, and a major transformation is necessary for companies to stay competitive. In fact, research shows that high customer satisfaction can increase revenue by 2 – 3% and lead to a more loyal customer base. Customer demands have never been higher, and businesses need to be able to resolve complex customer issues end-to-end quickly. 

How does the Now Platform enable anyone to rapidly build, test, and deploy applications that automate work across the enterprise?  

Developers of all levels can significantly reduce time to market and delivery. By offering full‑stack dev power— organizations don’t have to deal with traditional setups and configurations –ServiceNow is ready out-of-the-box. A low code/no code approach is available with the Flow Designer for creating automated workflows.  And the Integration Hub enables easy integration with reusable integration components. 

ServiceNow just released major enhancements to the Now Platform focused on making work mobile first and mobile-friendly. Specifically, the newly introduced ServiceNow Mobile Studio allows anyone to build new apps quickly using a drag-and-drop interface that doesn’t require a single line of code. 

Can you give us details on what features of your new Now Platform Madrid release will help both customers and employees reach a higher new level of digital transformation?  

The Agent Workspace with Advanced Work Assignment and Similar Cases improves the agent experience by providing a one-stop shop with everything needed to resolve customer issues.  Advanced Work Assignment automatically assigns work items to agents based on availability, capacity, and skills.  With Similar Cases, AI identifies cases and resolutions similar to the one being worked to speed resolution. Best practice integration of service management enables the diagnosis and resolution of the root causes of customer issues.  Agents can now initiate a request from service operations, engineering and other teams to resolve an issue. 

In the Now Platform Madrid Release, ServiceNow provides powerful mobile experiences across ServiceNow’s IT, employee and customer workflows, including any custom application that is built on the platform. It features a native mobile user experience (UX) that allows service representatives to resolve customer issues by simply swiping and tapping, in the same way we use consumer apps to shop, hail rides and stay in touch with distant friends.

 

 Speechmatics

AUTOMATIC SPEECH RECOGNITION (ASR) TECHNOLOGY 

Speechmatics  

Speechmatics leverages its advanced speech recognition and transcription technologies to create partnerships that improve quality management, provide better insight into agent performance, help ensure compliance and clarify dispute resolution. Ian Firth, VP of products for Speechmatics, shed more light of the areas in which his company is involved. 

In what ways does your multi-language Automatic Speech Recognition solution enable contact centers to improve service and enhance the customer experience?

Speechmatics’ technology provides our partners with the foundations to intelligently understand conversations and react upon them instantly. For example, Neuraswitch’s ConnexionsCX platform captures all calls, which are transcribed in real-time using Speechmatics’ solution. The platform monitors for keywords providing advice to the agent when triggered and ultimately allowing accurate and consistent responses to be made to the customer.  This monitoring also allows a profile of an agent to be built and combined with the emotional analysis, allowing a full picture to be built of an agent's performance and how they manage the differing types of calls that they answer.  This information is used to provide summary reports that give the call center manager a digestible snapshot of the data.

Call centers can use the data at hand, and the real-time feedback, to improve the relationship with their customer and increase efficiency, but it all starts with a highly accurate transcription solution.

 Can you tell our audience how in-line indexing makes it simpler for organizations to discover and investigate call content while maintaining the integrity of sensitive information?

Speechmatics’ automatic speech recognition technology can help analyze an audio stream by detecting keywords and phrases. Along with the understanding of topics, speech technology enables extraction of key elements supporting decision making and analysis as a conversation precedes. This combined with the ability to serve this function within the customers operational and security boundaries means the data flow can be processed and understood in near real time without the need for any content to be externally processed if required. This real-time discovery of content allows for integration into knowledge bases and supervisory functions to ensure that call center agents get the support they need, when needed, whether its information- based or support from supervisors during abusive calls.  

With GDPR and other regulations becoming more complex, how do your partnerships with Deloitte and Red Box provide you with additional capabilities to monitor interactions and ensure compliance?

We’ve been working with Deloitte on their smart solution, BEAT (Behavior and Emotion Analytics Tool) which combines Speechmatics’ highly accurate transcriptions of conversations with the output from Deloitte’s emotion analytics engine. Speechmatics provides the basis for determining the outcome of customer interactions through sentiment and behavioral analysis, topic modelling and natural language processing.

For Red Box, Speechmatics’ technology provides accurate and timely text representations of audio conversations, including call metadata and different speaker identification. This enhanced audio capture and retrieval can be used to meet compliance needs, but it also makes key data more accessible, which firms can use to improve their training.

With Speechmatics, this processing can be maintained within the organization keeping data ownership and management within the company and allowing them to ensure they operate within their own policies. In both cases our partners can go far beyond just ensuring compliance, building upon the transcriptions to draw valuable business outcomes.

How does your solution differ from other speech recognition platforms on the market? 

Transcription accuracy is the building block for call understanding. It leads to the best analytics and usage of the speech data to support the agents and ultimately deliver the best customer experience possible.

Speechmatics is best placed to offer this because we are deeply embedded in the world of academia with the agility to rapidly apply the latest research, embrace new techniques and thinking as they are discovered. The Speechmatics team has a vast depth of knowledge and experience of having developed speech recognition for over 30 years.

In addition, we have flexible deployment options, support public and private cloud and on-premise in our customers own data centers. This means our customers can deploy wherever their data is or is needed to optimize performance and cost. Our flexible deployments meet compliance and data security requirements as the technology can operate in dark sites without external connectivity. 

 Symbee

CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT/CONSULTING 

Symbee  

Symbee is focused on helping companies take a faster path to digital transformation. Their Customer Engagement Practice is a combination of strategy, business goals, branding, technology and analytics fused together to deliver a cohesive Customer Engagement Solution.  Connect is delivered in a “pay-as-you-use model,” to align with the Amazon Web Services (AWS) pricing model. Deployment Configuration and Management of the Symbee Connect Solutions are made easy via browser-based interfaces and CloudFormation scripting on AWS. Through a series of point- and-click steps, Contact Center Managers can select which features they would like employed in their contact center. Mike Weis, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Symbee, expounded upon their programs and solutions.

How does your team of developers and consultative experts help companies achieve desired business outcomes by improving both the agent and customer experience?  

The Symbee Development team has 90 years of combined experience focusing on developing contact center solutions and improving business outcomes.  A key element of our focus is the customer journey; however, we believe the agent experience/client is equally key to a positive customer engagement outcome.  Our solutions are designed to enable a customer’s journey on the media of their choice with a common experience for both the customer and the agent.  Building on common platforms and user interfaces leads to much higher repeat engagements and acceptance of Next Generation CX Channels. 

Why is it critical for organizations to be able to safeguard legacy investments while transitioning to omnichannel customer engagement applications? 

Customers have invested heavily in custom backend systems, CRM Integrations, predictive dialers and separate digital channel engagement options for customers.  With the migration to Symbee Connect on Amazon Connect, our team takes the approach to build like user experiences to ensure that agents and managers do not have to go through a long learning curve in the migration.  With Symbee Connect Fusions, our CRM and ERP integrations are common structures to reduce the complexity of migration while minimalizing cost. 

Another key element of the Symbee Connect migration process and Omnichannel Solution is that we can run the digital channel in parallel to existing voice only solutions and integrate reporting through our Symbee Connect Analytics Solution. This approach allows customers to migrate specific groups from legacy voice systems to Amazon Connect and then tie the customer journey together in a structured solution, all at their pace. 

In what ways does the Symbee application suite strengthen the connections between customers, businesses and their CRMs?  

The Symbee Connect Suite provides a host of features that make Amazon Connect an enterprise ready OmniChannel Solution.  Built 100% on the AWS infrastructure and deployed globally, the Symbee Connect suite provides customer the ability to reach markets anywhere. Symbee Connect Suite delivers true multi-threading Omnichannel with multi-work item handling, allowing customers the option to choose their own journey to customer engagement.  For the businesses managing Analytics and ensuring a quality experience are key, we build all the digital channels (i.e. Email, Webchat, SMS, Social, etc.) into the same Call-Trace-Record (CTR) structure to normalize the data in tandem with Amazon Connect. This allows our Symbee Connect Analytics to deliver complete customer journey data for all Customer Engagement Channels. 

Can you walk us through your process of determining client needs to apply the most relevant technologies (AI, WebRTC, digital engagement, etc.) where success can be measured through KPI metrics?  

Symbee utilizes a consultative approach to identifying client needs based on gathering and documenting business requirements for customer engagement. Then, based on these defined business requirements, Symbee recommends the most relevant technology solution to support the customer engagement strategy. These solutions will then be modeled against how they will support the desired business outcome. Finally, from those models, Metrics and KPI’s can be developed to measure the business outcome and Customer satisfaction. 

Symbee’s Consultative Process and the Models created can be applied to any relevant technologies in today’s marketplace (AI, WebRTC, digital engagement, etc.) to determine what technology is most relevant to enhance the long-term Customer Engagement Strategy.

 Thrio

AI-POWERED CCaaS PLATFORM

Thrio

Thrio’s born-in-the-cloud, built-for-the cloud contact center suite incorporates Thrio AI, Thrio Digital, and Thrio Voice to drive efficiencies with automations and enrich interactions with adaptive AI-driven software. One central area of focus is immediately getting customers to the right agent on all channels and matching agent and customer personalities for optimal outcomes. The platform also provides a compliance scoreboard which notifies a supervisor when an agent is not following the script so corrective action can be taken immediately. The company’s founders, including CEO Edwin Margulies, have worked in the cloud contact center market for over two decades. starting in 1997 with the founding of Telephony at Work and its CallCenterAnywhere solution. The name “Thrio’ is a shortened version of ‘3-and-0’, referring to the founders won/loss record of success. Namir Yedid, VP, Product Strategy told us more,

In what ways can gaining deeper customer insight help turn service conversations into sales opportunities for businesses of all sizes?

Providing top-notch customer experiences to today's demanding consumers requires enterprises-- and their agents on the front lines-- to collect, analyze, and surface a constantly changing array of information. On the enterprise level, orchestrating these data sources has often required multiple costly, slow third-party integrations and necessitated "bolting on" artificial intelligence providers. On the agent level, navigating upsell opportunities often meant switching between multiple screens and navigating complex conversations without having relevant information in front of them as these interactions unfold. There are numerous efficiencies to be gained in these domains from automation and artificial intelligence. That said, those tools won’t work well if the agents can’t see that information in a simple, clean interface that arms them with the right information at the right time.

Thrio enables enterprise data orchestration and agent presentations seamlessly in a single platform. With our Dynamic Agent Support capabilities, we can surface contextual data and dynamic scripting at every step in the interaction to guide agents to success. With this full view of a customer’s historical interactions, sentiment analysis, and personality insights, agents using Thrio know what makes customers tick and what their pain points might be. Additionally, enterprises can deploy service-to-sales scripts that serve up dynamically generated customer-specific offers right there in the agent display. So, agents empowered for success by Thrio can turn service conversations into sales opportunities in two key ways: improved customer satisfaction and the integration of targeted, contextually-rich offers and promotions specific to each customer.

How does your solution enable companies to automate routine interactions across a variety of channels with bots and virtual conversation agents while handing off to live agents when needed? 

Before we address bots and virtual agents, it’s important to note that Thrio’s automation capabilities go far beyond these two domains. With Thrio, many elements of routine customer interactions that touch an agent involve our automation capabilities. For example, this may mean retrieving customer data from a third-party database via a REST API and serving it to an agent right when the call connects, reducing handle time. It may also include automated multichannel follow-ups that provide customers with sales/marketing collateral. The solution can apply time-of-day automation rules to ring a hotel duty manager’s cell phone at night versus a front desk phone and then ring a deputy’s phone instead of going to voicemail. Since every interaction within Thrio passes through our workflow engine, we can apply automation rules at every step in an interaction.

A distinction between bots and virtual agents is the level of complexity of the interaction. At Thrio, bots handle tasks like customer intent detection, FAQ response presentation, and knowledge base queries. These bots can deflect interactions that would have otherwise gone to live agents via customer self-service. Virtual agents within Thrio handle more complex interactions like negotiation, scheduling, and sales qualification. The AI workflow engine means that an enterprise using Thrio could even perform a handoff from a simple bot to a virtual agent automatically before involving a live agent.

In terms of handoffs, Thrio enables a rich array of possibilities. An enterprise using Thrio could detect that a customer is on their fifth attempt to search the knowledge base and pop a chat to a live agent immediately to help that customer and reduce frustration. Or, it may deploy a virtual agent for negotiating a payment plan and hand off to a live agent when that virtual agent has no more offers available for that agent. In yet another context, Thrio may engage a live agent when a customer adds a high-value item to their shopping cart in order to attempt to upsell or add additional services. This example has a specific application in the travel industry. When the handoff occurs, agents are armed with the full transcript and interaction history, enabling a seamless transition between the bot/VA and human agent. Thrio’s bots and virtual agents can be deployed across all channels, from voice to SMS, chat, email, and social.

What is “attribute-based routing” and how does it match agent and customer personalities to create optimal outcomes?

Thrio’s core goal is to get customers to the right agent, with the right information, right away. Our routing capabilities address these three domains. Whatever channel a customer starts with, Thrio’s routing engines detect intent and start connecting that customer with an agent with the proper skills and access to information. The focus here is to increase first contact resolution, minimizing transfers and any other handoffs. Next, Thrio surfaces context from a customer’s prior interactions across all channels to the agent, presenting in our Dynamic Agent Support tool. This enables the enterprise to show agents personality insights, tone/sentiment analysis, and context-rich scripting in a single display that changes based on the flow of the interaction. Together, this means Thrio guides agents to success in each customer interaction. In terms of behavioral matching, an enterprise may want to pair an agent who our personality analysis indicates is a good listener with a customer who’s quite talkative. The sky’s the limit-- we also have sticky-agent capabilities that connect a customer with the prior agent they worked with, which can also enhance outcomes and increase the chances of swift, successful resolution.

What differentiates your AI-powered cloud contact center suite from other similar offerings in the marketplace?

Three things set us apart. Two have to do with our system itself and the third is in how we offer our customers real optionality in how they use and pay for system access. On the platform side, Thrio has been engineered since day one with twin goals: weave AI throughout the core platform and leverage best of breed cloud technology. Artificial intelligence defines Thrio. The heart of the Thrio platform is a seamless, practical AI decisioning engine that orchestrates microservices to simplify and optimize complex workflows and empowers agents to improve CX. Of course, Thrio’s AI decisioning, Dynamic Agent Support, and Situation Routing run on our reliable, redundant, federated cloud-on-cloud system.

Organizations moving to or expanding cloud deployments can leverage Thrio’s secure, scalable, and reliable software as a complete solution or as an overlay to extend an existing environment. It’s the perfect match for an enterprise that needs to extract value from existing capital expenditures but requires real next-generation capabilities, Additionally, Thrio offers multiple consumption-based pricing models.

USAN

AWS DESKTOP/DIALER SOLUTION

USAN  

USAN, a Standard Consulting Partner in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner Network (APN), a provider of cloud-based customer engagement solutions, chose Enterprise Connect to   announce the availability of Agent Desktop for Amazon Connect and Dialer for Amazon Connect. These solutions, along with Visual IVR for Amazon Connect, comprise the USAN Contact Suite, a set of pre-packaged solutions built by USAN to extend the power of Amazon Connect. 

The USAN Contact Suite is comprised of:

Agent Desktop for Amazon Connect. Agent Desktop unites the power of the AWS ecosystem with the ease and flexibility of Amazon Connect. Agent Desktop allows agents to receive, make, and manage calls on Amazon Connect and supports configurable tabs with context-aware content and embedded websites. Features such as screen pop and call dispositioning, and integration with backend systems, help shave seconds from each call to reduce Average Handle Time. 

Dialer for Amazon Connect. Dialer adds high-touch outbound calling capability to Amazon Connect to help boost sales, increase collections, launch surveys, and more. The TCPA-compliant platform can blend inbound and outbound agent activity, and run multiple, concurrent campaigns to reach different target audiences. The system plugs into the organization’s existing list management and CRM systems, and other on-premises databases. In addition, Dialer supports dynamic, automated list processing, configurable call dispositioning, and advanced retry logic. 

Visual IVR for Amazon Connect. Adds omnichannel functionality to Amazon Connect contact flows to increase self-service adoption rates and improve customer satisfaction. The solution recreates IVR experiences as an optical, mobile application. It extends IVR menus, prompts, flows, and rules in a graphical format, offering customers another option to interact with businesses. 

USAN, one of the first companies to host contact center technology in the cloud, has provided contact center software-as-a-service (SaaS) since 1989. USAN helps companies integrate communications and legacy technology and automate business processes to deliver seamless, omnichannel customer experiences. With more companies using Amazon Connect-- a self-service, cloud-based contact center service that makes it easy for any business to deliver better customer service at lower cost--the USAN Contact Suite enables them to seamlessly add agent desktop and outbound calling functionality to their Amazon Connect infrastructure The solution was developed in direct response to customer feedback while providing Amazon Connect integration and implementation services. 

 “Amazon Connect and the USAN Contact Suite can eliminate the need for on-premises hardware, while customers pay for only what they use,” noted Teri Navin, Director of Product Marketing for USAN. “The solutions require no integration effort and work in tandem with other Amazon Web Services (AWS) products, including Amazon Kinesis, Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).”

 Verbio

AI-POWERED VOICE TECHNOLOGIES 

Verbio  

In a time when too many businesses are neither delivering memorable customer experiences or achieving operational efficiency, Verbio offers a full range of voice-enabled cognitive solutions supporting intent, context, and preference-driven interactions between humans and machines. Verbio’s VoiceAI connections allow enterprises to listen, understand, learn, predict, and engage more naturally with customers and employees alike, putting AI to work to help build context-based, personalized connections. A growing provider with offices in Spain, the USA, Mexico and Brazil, Verbio has processed over three trillion interactions over the past 10 years. Bob Beals, Sales Manager, USA & Canada and Jordi Torres Gomez, General Manager/Managing Partner for Verbio, gave us an in-depth overview.

Why do you consider your mission to use AI to change the way humans and machines interact, to make it less complex, as well as more natural and flexible while allowing for greater personalization?  

Verbio has been developing speech technologies and end user solutions for over 20 years. There are two parallel tracks that have always been key: First, the continual optimization of the underlying technology components; the “speech engines” and the servers that host the engines. The improvements in speech engine performance spurred by the emergence of deep neural networks, new linguistic models, and of course the continual increase in CPU clock speeds and chip architecture innovation. From a user interface perspective, we’ve transitioned from the most constrained grammars (0 - 9, *, #), to saying a predetermined list of specific words, to phrases and short sentences, to now supporting unconstrained conversational speech between a human and machine; all in real-time, without perceptible or unacceptable latency, supporting virtually any language in existence. We can also capture context and intent, all while interacting naturally while riding on a car rental shuttle bus. 

Second, new devices, new channels, new choices for engagement. Speech user interface design experts have emerged-- and become indispensable in developing new applications; Imagining, designing, bringing forth and applying best practices and leveraging known (or anticipated) information about a user - truly approaching an “omnichannel” experience. This is coupled with the ability to deliver a personalized and more natural experience. While we all agree that machines don’t have a brain, the application of AI principals will close the gap and advance what is possible in the realm of human and machine interaction and understanding. Tesler’s Theorem says, “AI is whatever hasn’t been done yet”. At Verbio, we intend to continue to lead in the cognitive space, the human machine interaction space, the creative solutions development space; and continue to do what hasn’t been done before. 

 Can you explain what you mean by “giving voices to machines?  

 “Giving voices to machines” is a reference to Text-to-Speech technology. Historically, when interacting with an IVR, the way to achieve better voice quality was to pay a professional to “pre-record” anything that the machine would ever be anticipated to say. But if a company didn’t have the number, or phrase, or prompt pre-recorded, then that specific function would not work. Every single word had to be pre-recorded either individually or as phrases, sentences, or more. Pre-recorded segments would be concatenated together in real-time to form a complete output element; for example, play a phrase, play a number, play a phrase.  The voice output quality was great, but it was a laborious, tedious, constrained, time-consuming, and expensive process. If a business wanted to enhance the solution with a new feature or had many dynamic names or addresses or product names, it would have to pre-record every single element. 

Text-to-Speech (TTS) capabilities have been around for many years. The upside of using TTS within a self-service solution was that a business could just feed the IVR a text string, however long, and the TTS engine would generate the audio output. No pre-recording required. The text was fed to the TTS engine, the engine provided speech output, the IVR played the output. This approach presented a lower cost model at scale and faster time to market, but at the expense of quality. Over the years, text-to speech output always had a manufactured sound to it, lacking inflection, intonation, or acceptable adherence to even the simplest linguistic characteristics of the language being used. While functional, it presented a very poor user experience. Verbio now offers TTS technology that can be licensed for use within enterprise solutions, made available as a cloud pay-per-use service for both real-time and offline applications, or used within embedded device applications. The voice quality is nothing like the old “computer generated” TTS, either in demos or actual production consumer-facing solutions. TTS output quality is now approaching actual human voice quality and has reached a point where pre-recording messages is almost over, build and support costs are plummeting, and the user experience has not suffered at all. 

To take things a step further, clients are asking us to develop their own, unique Corporate AI Voice as they’ve seen the value in aligning corporate marketing strategies with their service and sales channels. A unique voice which conveys the company’s culture and brand is well worth the investment. Thus, the concept of “giving voices to machines”! 

How does your Natural Language Processing capabilities enable businesses to use appropriate grammar, syntax, semantic and statistical models to understand and generate human language? 

Verbio’s Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities are foundational to our technology stack. Whether a speech project requires speech to text, text to speech, or voice biometrics capabilities, there are underlying Natural Language Processing services required. Our technology components are used to create solutions that solve business problems and enable more natural human machine interactions. 

How does your solution differ from other similar offerings available in the market?  

Verbio develops and owns our technology, offering both cloud and on-premise options, enterprise license purchase, license rental, and transactional pricing models. We maintain and invest in an in-house professional services practice including linguists, speech scientists, conversational speech and cognitive user interface design specialists. We make our products and services available at reasonable market price points, and have a reputation for project execution, flexibility, and responsiveness to client requirements – and are known for being easy to work with. We provide technology and solutions that drive business value for enterprises and interaction experiences that make our lives easier. 

 Zailab

CLOUD-BASED AI CONTACT CENTER PLATFORM 

Zailab  

Many companies struggle to properly scale the customer experience while maintaining rapport and diminishing frustration. The Zailab platform offers omnichannel capabilities, enabling teams to personalize every interaction with no context-switching. The solution makes life easier for customers and agents alike with automatic case-linking and an intelligent ACD that that uses AI to route and reprioritizes interactions from any channel on the fly. The platform is quick and easy to set up and optimize as needed.  Agents have a single ‘waiting room’ for all calls, emails and SMS: the system triages each interaction, based SLA and maximum wait times. Each individual company can set rules to determine the importance of communication. 

Once all the rules are set up for the waiting room, AI takes over. The agent can see everything from a single view. The platform provides detailed conversation histories include interaction details, call recordings, step-by-step time breakdowns, and disposition codes. It is easy for companies to keep it synced with their CRM allowing them to dive deeper into the data with a comprehensive set of reports. 

Zailab’s innovative pricing strategy makes it attractive to implement. “Our consumption-based pricing allows organizations to manage costs with their business needs by paying only for what they use,” said Michael Cibelli, Senior VP of Sales for Zailab. “ Imagine the value to retail-based companies as an example with high contact center fluctuation due to seasonality.” “There are no licensing fees; no commitment, contract or up-front fees.”