ShoreTel on Tuesday released version 8 of its contact center platform for enterprises.
The upgrade goes out to licensed users for free. For partners, that means no direct opportunity for more revenue. Any chance at additional money would come from using the new edition of Enterprise Contact Center (ECC) to connect with customers and find out how else they may need help, ShoreTel said.
There are some key differences in ECC release 8, compared to its predecessors. First, version 8 sits on top of ShoreTel's UC infrastructure, so the contact center is an app. Next, ECC 8 features improved web and email chat so consumers may use their smartphones and tablets to communicate in ways other than voice. Finally, ShoreTel improved the reporting functions.
When it comes to email support and web chat, both capabilities have been available in ECC for a while, "but they're significantly enhanced with release 8," said Steve McElderry, ShoreTel's director of product management for contact center portfolio.
For example, the agent interface now makes interacting with emails easier, McElderry said. Agents can reply with a single click, in many cases. Email routing to the right agent also is better than in older versions of ECC. And improved reporting gives supervisor more insight into how quickly emails are being answered and how much back log exists, "analogous to how you handle a voice phone call," said McElderry.
In terms of web chat, supervisors now can manage multiple agent discussions at the same time. They can see the conversation, for instance, and coach an agent if needed.
"It's analogous to the ability to silent-monitor a voice phone call," said McElderry.
Additional new features include callback, so customers don't have to endure long wait holds.
Finally, for partners, ShoreTel has simplified ECC installation. In the past, resellers had to deactivate some of the ECC system when adding capacity. Now, they can add capacity online without taking any part of ECC out of service. ShoreTel's aim there was to "make sure this thing is as easy as possible to sell and deploy," McElderry said.