Views from the contact center C-suite: how enterprise comms a springboard for digital services

Back in 2020-21, contact centers felt the pressure of customer demand and had to step up to the plate or lose customers through poor service.

As a result, demand for advanced contact center software deployments will remain far beyond the pandemic rush, with analysts projecting the market will grow from $30.74 billion this year to over $78 billion by 2029.

This is creating opportunities for vendors, developers and their extensive partner ecosystem to innovate, add value and refine digital offerings to ensure organisations of all sizes can push their CX strategies to new heights. Cees de Jong, new CEO of ContactCenter4ALL, looks at the global landscape for contact center software and their enterprise communication platforms, and identifies powerful integrations from artificial intelligence and APIs to engaging chatbots that will unlock further customer-facing value.

The popularity and use of Microsoft Teams skyrocketed during the pandemic and has only continued to trend upwards. Indeed, the latest data indicates there are 270 million monthly active Teams users, with 80 million making active use of telephony features within the platform. While the pandemic presented many organisations with a business case for immediate digital adoption, many of these new deployments are now proving their extended, long-term value in taking customer experiences to the next level.

Beyond Microsoft – enterprise comms platforms offer an opportunity ripe for the taking

Microsoft Teams is a natural candidate for layering dedicated contact center software on top of an enterprise comms platform. Its sustained success, popularity and digital innovation is what made Microsoft and its Teams platform a natural technology partner of choice for CC4ALL. We were able to quickly develop native contact center functionality essential for our contact center customers for the Teams platform, in line with Microsoft’s own development roadmap.

While CC4ALL is currently a pure-play Microsoft specialist, there is plenty of scope to broaden this in future, bringing dedicated contact center capabilities to other enterprise communication platforms. This broadening is likely to take place in the next 1-2 years as platforms continue to mature and make APIs available. Let me explain.

New markets, new solutions, new geographies

The geographic and industry demand for such solutions is broadening. We’ve seen strong demand for digital contact center capabilities from digitally mature markets such as Germany, the Benelux, UK and US – and we now see popularity rising on a broader global scale from less mature markets as companies seek to maintain their digital transformation momentum post-pandemic.

Goodbye to on-premise: The only way is SaaS

We’ve seen customers where migration to Teams and Microsoft telephony has also enabled these organisations to transition away from costly and outdated on-premise hardware, in favour of a SaaS deployment. The benefits are clear: Full access to communications, files and contact center capabilities from any location, at any time – in a highly cost-effective model.

Flexibility and scalability is in-demand for organisations of all sizes, helping them react quickly to emerging customer requirements and peaks in demand. Much of this can be provided by embracing an all-in-one enterprise comms platform – putting messaging, telephony and other collaborative features into a ‘single pane of glass’. For example, adding CC4Teams into the mix allows the full contact center operation to be brought into this single unified platform, to simplify IT operations and improve ease of access for users.

A strong partnership ecosystem is key to take digital contact centers to the next level

Regardless of industry or sector, enhanced CX is the main focus for businesses and customer service leaders alike, and that means contact center software is high up the business agenda worldwide. Indeed, 87% of surveyed senior business leaders identified CX as the top priority to drive business growth. To rise to the challenge of these shifting customer – and consumer – expectations, close industry collaboration is absolutely vital.

We need to optimise existing business partnerships and grow the partner ecosystem with Value Added Resellers (VARs), integrators, technology partners and established distributors. There is also great value in attracting and onboarding new, forward-looking partners with alternative approaches to address CX challenges for businesses.

Working together, we can better develop dedicated solutions and services to solve customer pain-points – but trust partners are required to add value, drive growth, and bring their own regional expertise and targeted consultancy to the table.

For example, we are seeing the API integrations within Teams and similar platforms are allowing contact center specialists to develop directly linked, complementary SaaS solutions for real-time, data-driven service capabilities.

Bringing IT all together with powerful integrations

At the heart of close collaboration with partners and vendors is the ability to natively integrate our solution and contact center features directly into platforms such as Teams – transforming them into a true digital contact center for the future while ensuring employees still comfortably operate in their usual trusted Teams environment.

Pursuing native integrations will help solution vendors provide capabilities and flexible deployment options in as open and seamless a manner as possible – APIs such as the Graph API provided by Microsoft for Teams underpin this. By working with partners, this helps provide powerful features such as advanced data analytics, recording for regulatory compliance and rich services to improve both the employee and customer experience.

As digital transformation of organisations continues at pace worldwide, contact center solution providers are uniquely poised to directly add new dedicated capabilities to core communications platforms. They can add a new layer of customer-centricity by providing greater opportunities for omnichannel self-service and linking together channels such as email, instant messaging and social media – plus introduce more seamless customer journeys and skill-based routing.

Case in point: Industry veterans meet customer-centric capabilities – from AI to chatbots

At CC4ALL for example, everyone in the company has an extensive background in contact center solutions, meaning we’re well-placed to build customer intimacy and tailored customer interactions into these platforms. This could be integrating service features for channels such as email or instant messaging chatbots alongside the ever-present and popular voice channel, or it could mean providing different pathways and workflows to satisfy differing customer requirements in industries ranging from healthcare to the public sector.

Our strategy to develop an ecosystem of partnerships and integrations will be crucial in bringing emerging digital capabilities such as artificial intelligence (AI) and more engaging chatbots to the contact center. Because in doing so, contact centers can quickly analyse text and speech to provide essential unique insights into customer contact and drive agency efficiency.

Time to look to the CX future

It isn’t always possible to anticipate how customer service expectations will evolve over time, but establishing a strong digital framework to allow organisations to react in a rapid, flexible manner is vital to sustained service excellence.

Enterprise communication platforms such as Microsoft Teams, already in widespread internal use among organisations worldwide, represent an ideal candidate to layer on dedicated contact center capabilities.

As major tech companies continue to develop, enhance and update these platforms, the opportunities to use them as a framework to deliver first-class customer experiences will only rise further.

About the Author

Cees de Jong is CEO of ContactCenter4ALL. We are a team of contact center experts with a shared goal; to connect the world, shape the industry, make an impact, and connect people. You could say that we are the ambassadors of conversations. To have a meaningful conversation, you need to connect, companies with their customers, schools with their students, hospitals with their clients, you with us… With CONTACTCENTER4ALL, it is easy to connect and have a conversation…on any channel, anywhere, anytime.

Featured image: ©ViDi Studio

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