The sure way to make money selling products to banks these days is to peg your pitch to "compliance."

Call center goliath NICE is making hay in that way, targeting a product developed after a recent acquisition as a way for banks to offer real-time compliance reminders and scripts to contact center and branch personnel.

"Because of the huge buzz now around process enforcement, they're packaging it up around that, but it's a fairly proven technology," says Jim Davies, Gartner's UK-based research director covering call center analytics.

In its first deployment, a top 10 North American bank is rolling the Process Enforcement Business Solution out to 25,000 tellers across the country, says Oren Ezra, vp of solutions marketing at NICE. The bank has declined to be named.

The NICE product is intended to provide real-time guidance on the teller's "next best action" and offer procedural guidance to tellers engaged in face-to-face, phone and Internet chat conversations with customers by intelligently monitoring the steps the teller is taking as he or she interacts with multiple desktop systems. It's different from a typical customer relationship management tool in that it makes recommendations in real-time, based on any actions the agent is taking on any systems on the desktop.

The first deployment came when the bank identified a process that was holding up many loan applications: tellers or sales agents neglecting to have applicants sign a credit release form before the customer left the branch. "The bank identified it needed a solution that would prompt employees exactly at the point in time they must obtain the form and have the customer sign it, or else error would repeat itself," says Assaf Aloni, director of product marketing for NICE.

In a breakthrough advancement, NICE will soon integrate real-time speech analytics into the system, allowing it to provide guidance based on phone conversations as they take place. "It's been very hard to intercept an interaction managerially and say, 'Here's what you should be saying to this person,' given the context, and in real time," says Keith Dawson, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan. "That's the holy grail."

The NICE technology, as well as products from competitor Verint, get their power from the way they observe the actions on each teller's desktop. Installed as a desktop client, the software reads the messages as they pass from the screen elements of the application and the underlying operating system. Business rules are written to interpret these actions, and provide the next-best-action guidance.

NICE and Verint's recent advances follow acquisitions. NICE picked up Israel-based eglue for $29 million in June. Verint bought Iontas for $14.8 million in February. The timing was fortuitous, with many banks looking to optimize each customer interaction. Steve Williams, vp of sales for desktop and process analytics at Verint, says the interest in optimization comes as institutions seek to bring the same process uniformity to knowledge work that the Six Sigma process revolution brought to manufacturing. The technology can closely track how each agent performs each activity, find those that are most effective, then script that same procedure.

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