Infosys launches AssistEdge to improve cross-channel customer service experience

Multiple channels has been a mixed blessing for customers and business leaders. Consumers want access to new channels like chat, mobile, social, etc. as they become popular. And enterprises encourage this to reduce costs and (if done right) build loyalty.

Yet, it’s the “if done right” part that’s been the bugaboo of the CRM and contact center industries for as long as I can remember. Complexity has caused both customer and agent frustration. I continue to see industry studies that report customer annoyance with starting over when they switch channels.

  • In my 2009 consumer study, I found this friction in service experiences has a substantial negative impact on customer loyalty. Consumers that had to interact with companies suffering from “touchpoint amnesia” were 50% less likely to recommend that company.
  • A 2010 ClickFox study found the top customer frustration (reported by 41% of respondents) was “Having to speak with multiple agents and starting over every time.”

So the problem is real, and largely still unsolved. That’s why Infosys leaders believe the time is ripe for a new solution that’s designed from the ground up to support a “seamless” multi-channel customer service experience, according to Gopal Devanahalli, the firm’s VP of Products, Platforms and Solutions.

Today Infosys announced a new software solution called AssistEdge which includes:

  • Multi-channel support to ensure the smooth transitioning of consumers from one channel to another, without suffering from what I’ve called “touchpoint amnesia”
  • Intelligent routing to get support requests to the right expert and improve first call resolution
  • An intuitive design that should make life easier for both customers in self-serve and agents when they are engaged.

All this sounds good, but other vendors like Oracle (via RightNow acquisition) and Salesforce.com (Service Cloud) claim similar capabilities. What’s unique about Infosys’s approach with AssistEdge?

Gopal says “customer service modernization is a big opportunity” due to changing consumer behavior, smart phone usage, etc. And, despite all the talk about multi-channel solutions, it hasn’t happened yet for most companies. Infosys sees good opportunities in its own global client base, built from outsourcing and other IT services over the years. And more generally, expects to target mid-sized to large enterprises with 200+ agents and a complex customer service process in terms of channels and products.

The AssistEdge launch came as a bit of a surprise to me, because I’ve always thought of Infosys for outsourcing, development or other IT services. It turns out that business software, a strategy which Infosys launched about 18 months ago, will be an increasing part of the mix going forward. Gopal says over time they expect software to contribute about 1/3 of their revenue. Already they offer more than a dozen software solutions including Finacle for the banking industry, which has been around for some 15 years.

This sets up an interesting dynamic with other software companies that have been Infosys partners until now. Gopal stressed that they don’t intend for AssistEdge to compete with full CRM solutions from Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, etc. Still, I can’t help but think the enterprise software industry will be watching Infosys closely in the coming months to see if a serious new competitor is being born.

AssistEdge is homegrown Infosys product, built on a .NET and J2EE platform. It is available now as licensed software and a hosted solution.

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Disclosure: This post is part on my independent coverage of technology industry developments. No endorsement is implied. Infosys has been a CustomerThink sponsor within the past year. Please visit our sponsor page for information on companies that have supported the CustomerThink community.

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