There are important customer experience challenges on the business agenda right now and cloud-based contact centre solutions are key to meeting demand for service excellence, says Janice Rapp, VP Product Marketing, 8x8.
Businesses are placing far greater value on the customer experience, creating ever growing demand for effective contact centre solutions. “The way customers interact with businesses has fundamentally changed over the past two years,” said Rapp. “Customers want excellent service using their channel of choice, while contact centre agents need the right tools and the ability to work from anywhere. As a result, the demand for a seamless, integrated customer and employee cloud communications solution, including contact centre, has been significant.”
No single segment of the market is displaying more demand than the other as the need for contact centre technology and solutions continues to be driven by customers’ ever-increasing sales, service and support expectations. “Regardless of market segment, organisations of all sizes need to connect customers with the right agent or representative to deliver the best possible customer experience,” noted Rapp. “Whether or not an individual business operates a formal contact centre they will be judged on the consistency and quality of the experience. People know what best-in-class experiences look like and as such, regardless of size, they will not waste their time with businesses that do not deliver.”
For the channel, an integrated UCaaS and CCaaS solution presents a major market opportunity to help clients of all sizes meet and exceed customer expectations, believes Rapp. “That is the beauty of XCaaS – clients can decide how they want to approach customer experience and design a solution to address use cases ranging from formal contact centre to informal customer servants and everything in between,” she added.
“Communication is experience, so our entire organisation is focused on the concept of XCaaS and composed experiences. This means the delivery of the right communication tools and applications needed to support the job at hand. It’s not about a job title, it’s about having the right tools at the right time to get the job done. This has far reaching implications for not only the contact centre, but for any customer-facing role within an organisation.”
Some argue that the contact centre market is becoming machine led, with AI and self-serve soon to be de facto. So which elements of the ‘mechanised’, or AI-driven contact centre app stack are gaining traction and how do they raise the customer experience to the next level? “Ultimately, AI and self-service will become the norm for interactions well beyond routine inquiries and engagement,” commented Rapp.
“However, today’s contact centre leaders have realised that this vision of the future requires significant time and investment. I see today’s leaders narrowing their focus and seeking out ways to address specific moments in the customer journey. They realise that they must train and tune these solutions to optimise their investments, and they will want to seek out a platform that is open and can help them integrate their existing solutions for maximum ROI.
"In terms of traction, I see Intelligent IVR and Virtual Customer Agents most widely deployed. Having said that, we should all remember that research continues to validate voice as the channel of choice for most customers when self-service avenues fail.”
The primary contact centre trends influencing 8x8’s approach to the market and its strategic priorities has roots in the way companies faced the challenges brought on by the pandemic. “In addition to new ways of working, we all witnessed the delivery of new sales, service and support models designed to keep buyers safe and engaged at a distance,” commented Rapp. “Obviously, self-service, automation and AI became key elements in delivering those experiences.”
Against this backdrop 8x8 will continue to build on the recent delivery of its Agent Workspace, which through intelligence provides additional agent assist capabilities in real-time. Platform-wide (XCaaS)reporting and analytics is also a high priority since that is the lifeblood of both formal contact centres as well as informal, customer-facing business units. “We will double down on our self-service and digital-first offerings,” added Rapp. “Our native Virtual Agent has achieved significant traction in the UK public sector market in particular so we are focused on working with these customers to help them optimise and advance their operations.”
These developments reflect shifts in where customer value is moving to, which requires the channel to respond to capture that value. “Customer value is moving off legacy on-premises solutions and the channel can secure that value by helping organisations move to the cloud with an integrated customer and employee experience platform,” commented Rapp. “The channel should focus on working with cloud vendors with the right platform, technology and support while allowing them to align to their preferred business model.”