Part 1 of our 2 Part Series “An Interview With Nick Flaminio”
Nick tell us a little bit about your personal background
AI was born in Toronto, grew up in Guelph, which is a community just outside of Toronto, but a 100 kilometers away. Went to school in Hamilton at McMaster University, graduated a Bachelor Science Degree. Started working in Toronto in manufacturing, telecommunications, consulting which landed me here in the Call Center space.
Give us a little background on Xentrax
AXentrax started around mid 1980s and was providing as a service Telecommunications Reporting. Basically it was a service bureau, if you will. There’s no real technology that they would sell on premises. Basically technology that resided at Xentax’s facilities, they would provide MIS reporting on telecommunications usage, how many people were calling, how often they were calling, how long it was taking to do the call, etc.
Eventually as that technology started to mature, the cost of it started to go down and became affordable for customers to start purchasing it and putting it on their premises. We began selling that technology as an on-premise offering. Around the early 1990s, we started to narrow our focus towards the Call Center. If you think of Telecom as a broader industry, Call Center is just one small part of that. Certainly a fast-growing part of that, and we jumped on that in the early 1990s. We partnered with a company out of Michigan and started providing user-friendly Windows-based Call Center Reporting, so what customers were used to before we basically… unix-based reporting which was very not user-friendly. Nonetheless we started selling that product. We became successful with it. Around the mid-1990s, we started to specialize even further in the Call Center space, going into work for optimization. Check for Hertfordshire IT Support Services for the best support team.
We became the first partner for the first company who built a purpose-built Workforce optimization solution, that was Technicon Info Switch.
The product was called Auto-Quality and P&Q review. We also partnered, at that time or shortly thereafter, with a sister company of theirs, who was in the workforce management, so forecasting and scheduling. They manufactured forecasting scheduling software for Call Centers. Those were our primary products with the Technicon Info Switch technology, which was called Auto-Quality and P&Q review. We’ve basically dealt with quality monitoring. When you call into a Call Center it says Your Call May Be Monitored for Quality Purposes, that’s the underlying technology that provides that. Then there’s the workforce management application, which was manufactured by IEX, and the brand was TotalView. Since the mid-1990s we’ve been marketing, implementing, training, and supporting those technologies. They’ve changed hands since that time, but ultimately those technologies are what we still provide. We have almost over 20 years of experience in those technologies.
We look at how many calls are coming in,
we forecast what resources you’re going
to need in order to get the right resources
that you’re going to need, in order to handle
those calls, so that the calls are picked up
quickly, and they’re handled properly
That’s a long time for them to develop those technology suites too. They are very mature at this point?
AAt the time, certainly there was a larger market for those technologies. Our focus was on the larger enterprise. Since that time the technology has advanced mostly through suggestions from the customer base. As the features have grown and the application, also what we’ve seen is as the product begins to mature more, the customer base, in terms of size, has gone down. What I mean by that is, at one point, in order to build a business case for this technology needed, perhaps 500 agents and above, in order to build a strong business case. That number has gone down. Now we see customers in the 50 agent range, we’re looking at these types of technologies.
Did that come down to the cost, everything is under control?
AIn the Call Center by far, the greatest expense is here in human resources, your people. Typically it could be 60%, even up to 80% of your costs, your annual costs in the Call Center, are going to be your people. What these technologies do or they target is optimize those resources, whether it be through quality monitoring, which is essentially, we call it Quality Monitoring. But it is essentially a coaching tool. Optimizing how they handle calls, interact with agents to ensure perhaps key metrics like First Call Resolution, or the first time the person calls into the Call Center. You want the issue, for which they’re calling, to be resolved that point. You don’t want them calling back. First of all, you’ve got an unhappy customer if they have to call back. The second, it’s more resources on your side in order to handle that second caller, third caller, etc. Our tool helps Call Center Management understand what’s happening in the Call Center.When those types of metrics are not being met, they can institute a plan to correct them. Workforce management is much more obvious. We look at how many calls are coming in, we forecast what resources you’re going to need in order to get the right resources that you’re going to need, in order to handle those calls, so that the calls are picked up quickly, and they’re handled properly, or quickly as well. Both of those technologies are in the optimization side. The technologies have advanced. Now we get into things like Desktop Analytics, eLearning, Customer surveying and Speech Analytics, or even Multimedia Analytics. The suite has grown. We actually have two products. I mentioned earlier, the Technicon Info Switch. The Technicon Info Switch is now called Qfiniti. It was originally called Auto-Quality, but now it’s called Qfiniti. It’s more of a suite of solutions for everything from workforce management to quality monitoring, the analytics and all that stuff.
Call Center solution, thats Qfiniti?
Absolutely. Think of it as Microsoft Office. You can purchase just Word, if that’s all you need. Certainly you can just purchase Word to start, and then you can grow it afterwards to add some of the other suits, excel, etc.
We also have a solution from NICE Systems, which is competing products but they offer… There are advantages and disadvantages to the different products and we can offer both. We have expertise, we were certified in both products.
Can you describe NEC as a great product, but with a lower presence and lower perception in the North American market vs. Avaya?
ANICE has certainly a big presence. They worked hard to build that presence. They’ve got a great product. OpenText does not have the market awareness that the NICE product has, but there are certainly advantages of the OpenText as well. Depending on the customer, they’re may be a better fit for the OpenText solution, which is rock solid. It goes in easy and it just works. There’s a lot of features set in it that, the smaller, maybe SMB space, small to medium business, would be able to take advantage of.
OpenText, is that the company out of Waterloo?
AOpenText prior to Qfiniti product has actually changed hands a little bit over the last couple of years. They went from HP, they were recently acquired by OpenText, that asset if you will.
How about a brief elevator pitch for Xentrax?
AOur approach, what differentiates us from the manufacturer, or even the Big Box Telecom companies, who will market this type of technology. From the manufacturer’s perspective, I think our strength is definitely on the service side. Manufacturer specializes in creating the product, but they don’t necessarily provide the boutique type of services or white-glove types of services, that I believe we do. I think our customers appreciate that. I think the manufacturer is focused on building the most advanced technology that they can. We market that technology.
I think, where we fit in is our ability to service, provide that white-glove or boutique type service, that they wouldn’t otherwise have from the manufacturer.
From the Big Box side, for instance the Telecom, certainly you can buy your ACD and your IVR and your Workforce optimization solutions from that single vendor, but you’re not going to get the expertise that we have. We specialize in that area, our people are certified in those products. They are dedicated 100%. They spend all of their time on those applications. Unlike perhaps someone who is a marketing IVR NWFO, it doesn’t have the focus that we bring.