Cloud-Based ACDs and Dialers Come of Age
Cloud-based contact center infrastructure (CBCCI) vendors have spent most of the last 20 years playing functional catch-up to the leading on-premise vendors. But this is no longer the case. DMG just completed our annual research on the CBCCI sector (see the Abstract for our most recent report on this IT segment), and we are impressed and excited about the enhancements and changes to these solutions. The value proposition is no longer to buy a CBCCI solution just because of the many benefits of using a cloud-based solution; beyond the proven advantages of the cloud, these solutions are compelling because the vendors are delivering outstanding and differentiated capabilities, either natively or by integrating with best-of-breed providers.
It’s undeniable that contact center platform vendors are having a highly positive disruptive impact on the pace of innovation in the CBCCI sector. The “platform as a service” paradigm, which essentially leverages application programming interfaces (APIs) to build out functional capabilities, makes it easier to build your own solution (BYOS). And the fact that these customized contact center solutions can be built quickly using standard development languages is a game-changer. Some of the vendors who have traditionally been “solution providers” are now starting to position their offerings as both a product and a platform.
An inbound contact center solution (often referred to as an automated call distributor (ACD)) is valuable for enterprises of all sizes, and many organizations will benefit from outbound calling functionality. This has been the case for the past 40 years, but now the vendors are adding analytics, big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) to help companies work smarter instead of harder.
In the recent past, ACD vendors specialized in bringing in or sending out interactions, and it was considered a differentiator if the solution offered omni-channel capabilities. Today, omni-channel functionality is a “must have” (although there are still some CBCCI solutions that do not offer this capability), and the differentiation is coming from the more effective ways that enterprises can route or issue the interactions. In some cases, CBCCI vendors are able to evaluate an incoming interaction in any channel, and based on information previously collected about the individual, get it to the agent or advisor who is ideally suited to handle the transaction. This means higher sales rates, larger collections and much improved customer service. This is and always has been the top goal for organizations, and is a perfect (and real) example of working smarter, not harder. But there is so much more going on today. Imagine an inbound contact center where agents receive appropriate guidance and recommendations along with each interaction, instead of having to spend minutes researching the background and context. These solutions are also HIPAA and GDPR compliant, addressing essential regulatory issues. Moreover, they empower the agent/advisor and are effective in helping customers the way they want to be assisted during their journey. These innovations are game-changers for companies and the industry in general.
RPA is also finding its way into the contact center world. To date, so much of the work performed by agents/advisors is done to comply with two-factor authentication and to meet the needs of the company. Of course, customers care about the security of their information, but they are not thrilled to be burdened with meeting authentication requirements, and surely do not care about the processes that agents/advisors have to follow to get a high quality-assurance score. For example, a customer does not want to wait while an agent/advisor types up their notes or copies and pastes data in multiple systems. Freeing agents/advisors to spend their time on customers’ issues (instead of enterprise requirements) will change the entire sales, service and collections experience by enabling them to do what should be a fun and interesting job.
The worlds of interaction management and customer relationship management (CRM) are coming together. Instead of fighting to “own” the customer, CBCCI vendors are either offering their own CRM functionality and/or making it easy to cleanly integrate to a third-party solution like Salesforce. Once this happens, enterprises and small companies alike will be able to take advantage of the full functionality and intelligence that comes along with the CRM system. It’s not just vendor promise or hearsay, but a real opportunity.
These are just a few of the very practical and high-value capabilities that are making their way into the current and next generation of CBCCI solutions, and there is a great deal more already available in the market. For companies that have not looked at their ACD or dialer in the past 5 years, DMG recommends reviewing some of the leading CBCCI offerings in the market and considering replacement of their existing solutions with ones that position them to do what their customers expect – delivering an outstanding experience throughout the journey.
DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in unified communications, contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. Learn more at www.dmgconsult.com.