Microsoft Corp. today announced it has acquired privately owned Colloquis Inc., a provider of conversational online business solutions that feature natural language-processing technology. Microsoft will offer services based on Colloquis technology to businesses with online operations, as well as incorporating the technology into its own products.
No financial terms were disclosed.
Initially, Microsoft will offer a managed service called Windows Live™ Service Agents based on the existing Colloquis Automated Service Agent offering, which has been implemented by companies such as Cingular Wireless, Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc., Panasonic Corp. of North America, Time Warner Cable Inc. and Vonage Holdings Corp. Windows Live Service Agents provides businesses with a hosted Web-based customer service application that interacts with end users in conversational language, combining the ease of traditional online support with the valuable insight of natural language logic. Windows Live Service Agents will augment Microsoft’s existing contact center solution, Microsoft Customer Care Framework (CCF).
Xbox will be the first group within Microsoft to use Windows Live Service Agents. Colloquis technology will be a strong contributor in enabling Xbox customers to rapidly find helpful information related to their support needs. The conversational tone and ease of use of the product will offer customers another approach with which to address commonly asked questions, providing quick resolution to customer issues. The product’s technical flexibility makes it an excellent fit with other self-service options that Xbox plans to release in the fall.
In addition, Microsoft plans to take advantage of Colloquis Internet bot technology in an application called Windows Live Agents, a conversational application that users can interact with via Windows Live Messenger. These “agents” are used to entertain, encourage engagement with products or services, provide a new advertising opportunity for brand advertisers, and drive search and information retrieval.
Messenger bots aren’t new, but until now they seemed to be the province of 3rd parties.
Microsoft Corp. today announced Microsoft® Customer Care Framework 2005, a software solution for contact center operators that delivers consolidated data from core business systems such as billing, customer relationship management (CRM) and order management to the customer service agent desktop. In this release, Microsoft adds features that enable contact center operators to more tightly integrate customer service channels, such as voice, instant messaging and e-mail, and develop better self-service solutions, simultaneously helping to reduce operating costs and improve customer service levels.
The Microsoft Customer Care Framework interoperates with diverse core systems through Web services that seamlessly deliver back-end customer data to customer service agents. The solution provides integration of information through new customer interaction channels: Web chat, instant messaging and e-mail. The added support channels offer contact center operators maximum flexibility to interact with customers without sacrificing service levels.
In addition, Customer Care Framework goes beyond the physical contact center by providing the tools to make customer information available directly to consumers. For instance, through a new SharePoint®-based self-service portal and interactive voice-response system, customers can access account and billing information, order new services, or resolve business problems. Customers can also launch a Web chat or e-mail interaction with a contact center agent within the self-service portal.
More at the CCF home page.
Update: More at Infoworld.