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UCaaS

Q4 is upon us, and we’re entering the home stretch for the year—and the decade. Businesses of all sizes are looking back on 2019 to audit crucial infrastructure and evaluate performance and cost-effectiveness to inform both their short-term organizational investments as well as long-term planning.

The adoption of cloud computing will sustain its acceleration through the new year as organizations continue to explore and fine-tune the mixture of on-premise and managed cloud services and applications that work best. In the past year, an increasing number of businesses have opted for multi-cloud and hybrid IT environments as a way to leverage the strength of various cloud solutions and deployment models based on data and application requirements as well as cost, compliance, performance, and future sustainability.

Flexera reports that 45% of enterprises deployed some sort of hybrid solution in 2019, and 31% utilized public cloud. (31% public; 9% on-premise private cloud; 6% hosted private cloud.) Last year, 30% of all IT budgets are being allocated to cloud computing and by 2020, 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud (Forbes).

Nearly 90% of businesses predict their IT budgets will grow or stay steady over the next year. Over $20 billion was reportedly spent in one quarter in 2018; companies are spending on cloud solutions to improve customer experiences, drive operational efficiencies and improve employee productivity. Cloud communications solutions such as CCaaS and UCaaS, for example, are not just tools for communications; in fact, streamlining communications—even with true omnichannel capabilities—is only a small portion of the collection of benefits organizations see. Other benefits include reduced IT workloads and scalability and enhanced analytics. Forrester reports nearly 7 out of 10 IT managers feel that improving the experience of their customers is a top business priority, and PricewaterhouseCooper reports “nearly 80% of consumers say that speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service are the most important elements of a positive customer experience.”

Innovation on the horizon for cloud communication solutions includes the increasing maturity of artificial intelligence and its ability to interpret large quantities of unstructured data. For example, a contact center might field thousands of calls in a given day; AI can analyze every interaction and, based on trends, potentially identify opportunities in real-time. Be it quick fixes or new product features, AI can reduce the lead time it takes a business to adapt and deliver value back to the customer.

Similarly, IVR (interactive voice response) will continue to make headway in 2020—powered by AI, of course. With the ability to interpret accents and tones with better accuracy than traditional speech recognition software, intelligent IVR is one of the major contact center trends for 2020. AI-powered IVR systems can also benefit customers who are hesitant to wait in a call queue by assigning the caller to specific agents or departments on a case-by-case basis.

Again, in deference to customer experience, surveys have shown that customers have a strong preference for self-service solutions over agent support. As such, self-assist tools, including FAQs and tutorials that help customers to self-troubleshoot generic issues, have gained favor from consumers because they can quickly resolve the majority of simple concerns before a live agent needs to be involved. A rise in the adoption of self-assist tools is predicted in 2020, as most organizations are working to free up their agents to focus on more time and resource-intensive tasks.

Lastly, more organizations will be looking to leverage high-end message filtering technology that reduces the number of error messages and misinformation without impacting customer experience or experiencing loss of time or money. The utilization of message recall technology is a major milestone for call center business. While message transmissions can be delayed by a couple of seconds, the result could be worth millions of dollars in savings annually, depending on the size of the organization.

MarketsandMarkets reports that UCaaS will grow to over $28 billion by 2021. The market is only 16% penetrated and cloud-based contact center is growing at 25.2 CAGR resulting in a 20.9 billion market by 2022. 

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UCaaS
The cloud can help you meet the changing, and often critical, needs of your customers, helping to keep them happy while using your product or service. As more companies begin their migration to the cloud, enabling them to provide superior customer service, don’t let your competition and your customers pass you by. What are you waiting for?

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UCaaS
Although unified communications as a service (UCaaS) systems and contact center solutions have previously been thought of as separate entities, cloud technology has increasingly facilitated collaboration between the two. The Cloud removed the restrictions of on-prem hardware which enables the contact center solution’s remarkable versatility and fluidity – both crucial strengths required to provide the increasingly personalized and convenient services demanded by customers in the digital age.

CCaaS (Contact Center as a Service) solutions are gradually being recognized as valuable tools to help modern businesses provide exceptional customer service, as evidenced by the CCaaS market’s expected rise to an estimated nearly $16 billion by 2021. Any organization that prioritizes customer experience should take advantage of CCaaS functionality to improve customer engagement and satisfaction.

For organizations that currently have a UC solution in place, augmenting the foundation of cloud communications with a CCaaS solution (an actual contact center is NOT required!) can substantially increase the benefits of both solutions, increasing productivity and improving overall customer service. UCaaS is able to integrate different mediums of communication into a single focal point accessible by any department, eliminating dialogue gaps between them.

CCaaS functionality like intelligent routing and CRM sync make it so customers can transition between departments without changing their mode of contact or initiating interactions more than once, and various employees are able access any relevant data before being connected with that customer. Customers themselves have grown to expect brand experiences that are both effortless as well as seamless—no matter the location, time or touchpoint. 84% of customers are dissatisfied with their contact center experiences, so there is plenty of room for improvement across a broad range of verticals and business types.
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UCaaS
This article was written by ATI partner Zane Long, SVP Global Channel Sales, RingCentral

Today, engaging with customers over digital channels is crucial to business success. Almost 70% of the North American population is online. Social media, internet surfing, mobile and desktop messaging apps have woven themselves into our daily lives. In as little as five years, a customer’s options to communicate with businesses have increased significantly. Long gone are the days when you called a company, left a message, and never received a response. Nowadays, customers expect to communicate in a way that is most convenient for them.

With the world going digital, companies have no other option but to step into their customers’ preferred communication channels to engage with them. Furthermore, for contact center agents, the ability to have all streams of communication unified in a single platform is an absolute game changer.

There’s No Substitute for Knowledgeable—and Human—Service

According to Harris Interactive, 75% customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent. Customers expect quality service in real time and through their channel of choice. The need for communication services and multimedia support will only increase as technology becomes more complex and expectations for customer service continue to rise. In short, there is no substitute for a live agent addressing a customer’s needs quickly and efficiently. Sorry, but the pre-recorded message no longer cuts it.

An Omni-Channel Digital Customer Engagement Platform

Companies need to engage with customers on multiple channels, but typically these different channels are supported through different tools. Over time, systems have become more sophisticated, and markets have adopted the concept of “omni-channel” customer engagement. An omni-channel digital platform allows agents to use one tool to support customers across all digital channels. This enables companies to focus on customer engagement depending on the customer’s need (through skills-based routing), without agents being limited to a single communication channel.

That’s why RingCentral Engage Digital is a must-have for enterprises. Engage Digital empowers agents to efficiently manage customer interactions across all digital channels via a single interface. With this new world-class product, businesses can resolve customer issues quickly and efficiently—all while providing a seamless experience. By leveraging our AI-based smart routing engine, agents will have the ability to elevate their real-time messaging communications, leading to faster resolution of customer issues.

Contact centers are among the front line of customer experiences, but really it’s a win for everyone. A complete contact center speaks to the satisfied customer who can reach their vendor or business partner efficiently and effectively.

This article was written by ATI partner Zane Long, SVP Global Channel Sales, RingCentral
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UCaaS

Article by ATI partner Gayathri Krishnamurthy of Nice inContact

We are entering an experience economy where exceptional customer experience (CX) is a true competitive differentiator; more than product and price. Today’s customers are not just looking to get assistance, they are looking for an experience that is immersive, engaging and proactive. With exceptional CX, customers stay longer with the brand, buy more and bring more customers via word of mouth, all resulting in a direct revenue uplift. But what does it take to go from where you are now to delivering CX your customers expect?

Here are four simple steps for transforming your CX:

1. Set a CX goal; work on incremental and continuous improvements

Improving CX is an iterative and incremental process. Start by envisioning your goal; what best in class looks like, and then follow a maturity model to move one step at a time. Contact center is definitely a critical piece in achieving CX since it facilitates and impacts customer interactions across the buyer journey.

2. Orchestrate people, process and technology within the contact center

Focus on the prime CX influence; contact center. Delivering exceptional CX involves aligning key aspects pertinent to contact center—agents, customers and real-time operations. Create personalized experiences across channels that matter the most for your customers. Happy agents make happy customers. Ensure agents are engaged and empowered with the right tools and that there is a continuous measurement and monitoring of customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and KPIs to drive correlated actions and next steps as it relates to CX.

Lastly, think about the right technology platform that can help achieve these with ease.

3. Build for the future

  • Choose a technology to build for the future, one that is open, extensible and scalable. Cloud native outweighs other cloud options here.
  • Designed for scalability and agility, companies can quickly adjust to changing customer needs in real-time without expensive, complex upgrades to an on-premises solution
  • Open architecture provides flexibility and future-proofs your technology investment.
  • Open application programming interfaces (APIs) enable easy application extensions, spurring innovation and driving business success

4. Build a business case to invest more in contact centers

Today’s contact center executives have a larger role to play in driving revenue and market share, not just optimizing costs. Contact center remains the epicenter for customer interactions, all through the customer journey from awareness, purchase, service and advocacy. Build a strong business case for investment in a robust contact center and quantify values of CX improvement through automation, migration to new technology and better KPI all of which not just drives costs downs but improves CX. Improving CX is not a big bang approach. It involves continuous planning with incremental improvements focusing on your frontline employees, customers, effective operations, right processes and technologies. A future-proof cloud native CX platform proves to be a critical and foundational element in achieving and exceeding your CX goals. NICE inContact is the cloud contact center leader with the world’s #1 cloud customer experience platform, CXone.

Article by ATI partner Gayathri Krishnamurthy of Nice inContact

Learn more about a Contact Center deep dive analysis here.
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UCaaS
Article by ATI Partner Tiago Paiva, CEO – Talkdesk

It’s an exciting time to be a part of the contact center industry as organizations are increasingly looking to use their service experience as the competitive differentiator.  At Talkdesk, we’re glad to see this shift happening for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, this is elevating the role of frontline agents to be more strategic and influential in providing a great customer experience. The highly repetitive and monotonous tasks are moving to self-service and artificial intelligence, which is enabling the people who provide live service to do more impactful work. We expect this trend to increase over time as Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes the lead in making service interactions easier for consumers while providing more robust data and business insights back to contact center leaders. Eventually, customers should be able to receive service that happens without any need for human intervention, if that’s what they really want. It will be up to companies to design the best blend of AI and human assisted service for their future customer experiences. This is just one of the many reasons that we’re excited about the release of Talkdesk iQ.

Second, it’s forcing organizations to streamline their processes and procedures by eliminating redundancy or reducing complexities. With many organizations focusing on improving the customer experience, they must look across their operations to find the most effective way to deliver service. In many instances, this is driving more ownership and authority to places like the contact center, field service representatives, or brick and mortar customer service employees. This is a problem for many companies, however, because their existing tools and processes are very disconnected and unable to support a mobile workforce. At Talkdesk, we just see this as an opportunity to empower these employees with the tools and resources that enable them to do their job anywhere, anytime. We developed Talkdesk Mobile, a solution that’s unlike anything else in the market, to enable people like sales and service representatives to access everything that they need to connect with and service customers right from their mobile device.

Lastly, this shift to focusing on the customer experience is driving a change in how organizations look at their metrics. Many of the contact center’s metrics are focused on efficiency (cost per contact, average handle time, etc.), which are important but do not tell the whole picture of the customer experience. As a result, there is an increased focus on other operational, customer satisfaction, and strategic value metrics. One thing that is essential to ensuring that the customers, employees, and business are satisfied is system uptime. When the system goes down, nothing else matters. For this reason, we recently announced an 100% Uptime SLA. We haven’t seen anyone else who’s willing to demonstrate their commitment to the industry in this way. For us at Talkdesk, we believe that it’s important to show our customers that what matters to them also matters to us.

As I look ahead to the future of the contact center, I see tremendous opportunities for organizations to use their frontline agents and tools like Talkdesk to deliver great customer experiences. The biggest challenge will be whether or not companies can move past the old perception of the contact center as a “cost center” and realize the possibilities of combining the best platform with their people and processes.

Article by ATI Partner Tiago Paiva, CEO – Talkdesk

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UCaaS
Article by ATI partner Michelle Burrows, CMO – Serenova

Forrester Research found that revenue can increase significantly when contact center index scores rise. According to the research, a 10-percentage-point improvement in contact center can translate into more than a million dollars in increased revenue. On the other hand, contact center missteps mean risking damage to reputation and bottom line. As organizations learn that reality the hard way, it leaves those getting it right at an advantage. Based on the article, 3 Customer Experience Mistakes You’ll Never Make Again, here are three common CX pitfalls. 

MISTAKE ONE: Failing to Connect Metrics

Some contact centers get so caught up in measuring performance that it negatively impacts contact center. Metrics like average handle time (AHT) are important measures of productivity, but they become problematic if not considered with an eye toward contact center. For example, if your customer’s first contact resolution (FCR) metric declines in line with AHT, the contact center effect is negative. Rather than track efficiency and customer satisfaction separately, contact centers should consider them together. DMG Consulting recommends identifying Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that measure customer satisfaction, agent effectiveness and agent productivity. You can deliver unique value to your customers by encouraging them to rethink their metrics and ensure their data directly measures and improves contact center.

MISTAKE TWO: Multi-channel Instead of Omnichannel

Consumers expect to interact with brands seamlessly across multiple channels, including web chat, click-to-call, SMS and social messaging. However, according to Nemertes Research, fewer than half the organizations it studied support these channels. In the rush to connect across channels, many organizations are not integrating interactions into seamless, omnichannel experiences. The result is customer frustration when agents lack the information and context to effectively deliver optimal service and resolution.

By offering your customers a fully integrated omnichannel contact center solution rather than one that simply handles multiple channels, they can give their customers a consistently outstanding experience regardless of channel—and can even pivot between channels while keeping that consistent experience.

MISTAKE THREE: Not Simplifying Agent Experience

How are you helping your customers enable agents to handle channel proliferation? If agents are struggling with multiple systems that don’t connect, the effect on contact center is negative. If critical contact center components are not integrated, agents must switch between multiple screens and applications to find customer data. This negatively impacts metrics such as AHT and can increase customers’ frustration over wait time.

A commitment to contact center means your customers also must elevate the agent experience. A smart approach is to empower agents to resolve problems quickly by integrating the contact center solution with the agent’s CRM. This means agents can easily drill down for details across all channels. Connecting to complete customer interaction data eliminates switching between applications while improving efficiency and delivering winning contact center.

Sign up for a no obligation Contact Center review today.


Article by ATI partner Michelle Burrows, CMO – Serenova
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Voice

The New 8×8 X Series

The New 8×8 X Series transforms the customer experience by providing the enterprise with the ability to intelligently and quickly collaborate across any channel and easily access the company’s most critical data, analysis and experts.

With customer and employees interacting in one system of engagement, enterprises can now optimize valuable moments of engagement with one system of intelligence. X Series accelerates your company’s ability to innovate, respond and serve customers and results in an exceptional experience for both employees and customers.

8×8. The experience is everything. Learn more about 8×8 here.

The New 8×8 X Series also includes an all new Collaborative Contact Center, Transition from “I don’t know” and customers repeating information they’ve already provided to a collaborative contact center that drives speed to resolution through simple collaboration and complete context.
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