Last week I spent several days in Las Vegas attending the Aspect Customer Event (ACE). The event featured Aspect clients, partners, and company executives as well as industry analyst peers. Among the top questions many attendees had in their mind at the onset of the event was the recent announcement made by the company about its plans for financial restructuring. We had the opportunity to speak with several Aspect executives, including the President, Chris Koziol, CFO, Bob Krauker, and CMO, James Freeze. The message delivered by all these executives was consistent and in line with what we learned at the time of the announcement — the move to restructure financials was primarily made to reduce the debt burden.
With the question of why Aspect restructured its financials answered, we then asked several questions about the company roadmap. This is when Joe Gagnon, General Manager Cloud & Chief Consumer Strategy Officer, shared the company vision in three main pillars:
- Enabling organizations to move beyond addressing customer requests to enabling clients to resolve their own needs.
- Empowering the agents to drive better customer experiences.
- Supporting companies in making the transition from operating in a ‘business-to-buyer / consumer’ mindset to ‘buyer / consumer to business’ mindset.
The three roadmaps noted above are in line with the general shifts we’ve been reporting to our readers over the past several years. On this topic, to catch-up on reading related to the first point, please see our recent Voice of the Customer report. For information on the second pillar, please see our Agent Experience study. And for information on the third pillar, please see our Customer Experience Management report.
Another important takeaway from the meeting was the announcement of Aspect Via. This is a new product that serves as a customer engagement center – bringing together capabilities like workforce optimization, self-service, and interaction management. These capabilities are provided through native applications within Via. The company will still continue to support its dedicated cloud contact center offering, Zipwire, as well as other solutions such as interaction management. However, Via will serve as a ready-made package allowing companies to fulfill multiple needs based on the level of subscription.
One of the interesting sessions of the event was the discussion about Aspect’s partnership with Facebook in delivering automated support through chat bots. The concept is that a consumer would be able to communicate with virtual agents through Facebook messenger to seek support. The agents would be designed to identify the context of the issue based on the text included in the message, its ordering, etc., in order to deliver the client a response. Virtual agents are not a new capability, but the notion of incorporating virtual agents within an environment that enables a continuous stream of messages is important. To this point, Aberdeen Group’s Customer Messaging study notes that this capability supports organizations that make the move to change their focus from managing interactions to broader relationships.
In short, the few days I spent with Aspect executives last week was helpful to get a closer look at the company’s roadmap as well as gain deeper insights from its customers and partners. The launch of Via, in my opinion will bring several key pillars of modern customer experience management within a single platform. However, it’ll be important that the company will continue serving its clients across other products such as Zipwire. Striking the right balance will be instrumental in keeping current buyers happy and supporting expansion plans.