Witness watches Web customers help themselves

Witness Systems Inc. this week is expanding its line-up of customer service monitoring tools to include self-service transactions. Now its enterprise users can gauge not only how well customer service agents communicate with callers and online customers, but also how effective their automated systems are at sharing the workload of live agents.

Witness’ core software records call centre agents and their voice, e-mail and Web chat communications with customers. Its eQuality suite also includes modules for performance analysis and agent training.

New to the suite is eQuality Discover, which monitors Web self-service transactions.

eQuality Discover automatically records and stores visitors’ Web sessions based on user-defined rules. A company might opt to capture any sessions during which a visitor accesses the “Contact us” page, or any visits during which a shopping cart is abandoned or an e-commerce transaction is cut short with an error message.

The software will automatically send a pager or e-mail notification to designated users when it initiates a recording. Through a browser-based interface, users can review problem sessions to see where Web site content or design could be improved. A playback feature displays the path taken by a visitor in a slide-show format. Thumbnail summaries of recorded Web visitor sessions also are available.

Automobile maker Saturn has used Witness software since 1997. It started with eQuality Balance for recording voice conversations and eQuality Evaluation for measuring agents’ performance. In 1998 Saturn started using eQuality Balance to track the data being accessed and input by agents.

Today, at Saturn’s Spring Hill, Tenn., call centre, agents’ telephone and e-mail transactions with customers are recorded at a rate of roughly two transactions per week, per agent, says Steve Fort, who co-manages the 100-agent centre. Fort is an account manager for consulting firm EDS, which Saturn hired to run its call centre.

Using the data gathered by Witness software, Fort and his team realized agents often had to access multiple directories to retrieve information for customers. In response, they rolled out a corporate intranet last year to consolidate Saturn resources for the agents.

Fort says Saturn plans to add a Web chat component, linking agents to site visitors, in the first half of next year. Self-service functionality is “something we’ll look at,” he says.

Customers often call in with a question about Saturn’s online car-configuring process, for example, he says. eQuality Discover could help pinpoint the stumbling blocks that prevent visitors from completing the process.

Available later this month, eQuality Discover runs on Windows NT and Solaris and supports Apache and Microsoft’s Internet Information Server Web servers and Oracle databases. Pricing starts at US$65,000 for one Web site address.

Next year, Witness plans to fill out its self-service offering with tools to monitor other automated systems, including telephone-based, voice-recognition and interactive voice-response systems.

Witness can be reached at http://www.witness.com.