AireContact by AireSpring is Powerful, But Does Have a Learning Curve

Product Review

AireContact by AireSpring is Powerful, But Does Have a Learning Curve

By Rich Tehrani, Group Editor-in-Chief, TMC  |  January 12, 2015

AireContact by AireSpring (News - Alert) is designed to be a cloud-based contact center solution that allows multichannel, blended, cloud-based interactions for agents located anywhere. It is a very powerful product, and it’s user interface helps simplify and make more accessible its enormous potential.

Installation

There are different modules that can be installed. Both agent and supervisor solutions rely on the Microsoft (News - Alert) ClickOnce plug-in, which helps provide a sort of blended web-desktop solution. That gives you the user experience of a typical piece of software with the benefits of the cloud, such as remote storage.

Base-level configuration for agents is a 2GHz processor and 2GB of RAM (News - Alert), while a supervisor workstation should have 4GB of RAM. Agents need 100kbps symmetrical guaranteed bandwidth to ensure they have good quality voice calls.

For easiest installation, use Microsoft’s IE browser. Chrome or Firefox users will have to install an additional plug-in.

Documentation/Training

To get familiar with the system, we spent approximately four hours in company training via webinar, getting familiar with the platform. At the end of this time we felt as if we had learned just enough to design, implement, and manage a sophisticated call center operation using AireContact; still, we could have spent a few more hours with the system, learning even more.

Customers have access to a protected area of the company’s website, which has PDFs and videos corresponding to the various modules supplied with the solution such as simplyTALK, which is a soft client; simplyREPORT, which is self-explanatory; and simplyMANAGE, which allows users to configure the system. In addition, there is integrated help in the form of question mark symbols, which lead to web links which lead to PDF files.

Features

What may be most amazing about this system is what it doesn’t do. It is extremely robust, allowing predictive/progressive dialing, blended calling, and the ability to manage at a high level across groups of agents but also agent by agent. Moreover, they can be given load allowances; for example, they can be allocated two phone calls, three text message sessions, one fax, and five emails at once. Allocating agent load allowances is as simple as selecting agents by checking boxes and entering numerals in the appropriate row corresponding to the media types listed to the left. Also, agents can be set up to deal with various combinations of loads and can be assembled in groups as needed. You can see from the diagram, there are four combinations for the basic group and seven for the advanced one.

We were able to quickly add new agents. We modified disposition codes. We were also able to configure the IVR, which showed warnings when we did something that needed correction. Because the solution has integrated software and service, it is HIPAA and PCI (News - Alert) compliant and can better provide SLAs. Specifically the company has an MPLS mesh network, which is connected to local carriers for last mile connectivity.

Moreover, call center connectivity and service can be isolated from voice calls to the rest of the company to minimize taxing the contact center network. While SMS texting is not available today, it is something the company says it is actively working on. The system provides embed code so you can add chat to a website, and it further allows the monitoring of agents across channels. This could be useful and help you learn that an agent excels in texting but not telephony, for example.

As you would expect, there is CTI support, which ties into the IVR allowing you to query callers and then screen-pop information to agents based upon the information the customer provides.

Moreover, there are two configuration modules, simplyCONFIG and simplyMANAGE. The former gives full control over the system while the latter is used by more than 50 percent of customers who are less technical – allowing them to make changes without damaging the system. In case damage is done, the system can roll back to the last known good configurations to ensure uptime.

Agent call information is also available to supervisors, and there is a simplyVIEW module, which functions as a high-tech wall-board so contact center agents can see appropriate performance metrics.

Supervisors can assign and unassign agents, take them off break by forcing a status change, and route calls according to business rules. The system performed as expected when testing all the above features.

Build/Design

The GUI interface of the software is pleasing to the eye, with lots of white and blue coloring and a good amount of spacing. There isn’t much clutter.

Performance

The system worked quite quickly, but it was tested on a machine that typical call center agents won’t be using – a Core i7, 8GB of RAM with an SSD drive. Having said that, the agent software relies on the cloud for most of the work, which means we believe that if you follow the minimum configuration guidelines, your performance should be fine.

Quality

We didn’t have any crashes or other issues when using the system. It worked as expected and seemed quite reliable.

Differentiation

Out of the hundreds of call center vendors we have seen over the years, few if any have had tremendous levels of differentiation. AireContact, in fact, does have a unique solution, as the company not only is a service provider, it also owns the contact center software, which means it acts as a single point of contact for its customers. As a result, it is able to provide levels of service other contact center providers cannot because it literally sees all the calls going into and out of its own software.

The system can determine which callers hung up and can tell you the circumstances regarding disconnected calls. For example, it could show that a caller who disconnected was in the queue for nine seconds, etc. This enables a user to circle back with people who made these abandoned calls in an effort to solve their problems. Talk about going above and beyond. It should be mentioned that something similar can be done with competitive solutions, but you’d likely have to import the abandoned call details into the system first.

Ease of Use

The system is easy to use, but is powerful, and as a result requires a learning curve. It’s kind of like using Android (News - Alert), there are lots of ways to do things, and as a result you can get a bit lost while trying to remember how to do something. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a product that runs your business and can help increase customer satisfaction.

Support

Our contact with support was answered promptly with the proper answers we needed. Generally our issues were minor – having to do with user logins for the various user and supervisor accounts we tested.

Room for Improvement

One of the benefits of the system is allowing agents to utilize web chat. We hope to see support for mobile devices in the future – allowing agents to engage with customers more easily when they are away from their desks.

As for the screen design, it is intuitive, but the flow could be improved. Each module is a sophisticated piece of code, but if they interconnected more gracefully, the less-experienced administrator would have more confidence when making changes. One way of accomplishing this would be to have pop-ups telling users what the ramifications are of doing certain things. In other words, a message like, “You have just added a new business process to the calling queue, please be advised, this may affect the following systems” would be a helpful addition.

Bottom Line

AireContact is a tremendous piece of software and while it is not required to be paired with the underlying AireSpring network, doing so affords the company the ability to provide better voice service levels and moreover reduces finger-pointing in the case of issues that cross the telephony/software domains. We feel confident in recommending 




Edited by Maurice Nagle
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