Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement shows the telephone is far from dead as a channel of customer engagement. Although the research shows other channels are likely to grow more quickly over the next two years, nearly half (46%) of organizations said they expect to see significant or some growth in the volume of calls they need to handle. So, as well as supporting additional digital channels of engagement, organizations must ensure the way they handle calls meets customer expectations. Primarily this means that there are no delays, voice quality is good and customers get consistent responses no matter who they engage with.
To help organizations keep up with these demands, Five9 recently announced the summer release of its global engagement center. Five9 was founded in 2001, releasing what it says was the world’s first contact center in the cloud. Since then it has added a steady flow of new capabilities to create The Five9 Cloud Contact Center Solution: advanced IVR, blended inbound and outbound call management, the first version of its integration with salesforce, predictive dialing, advanced call routing, reporting, speech recognition for IVR, a mobile app for supervisors, enhanced multi-channel capabilities and an agent desktop – an impressive list. The summer release brings several more enhancements and additions, including a focus on supporting global telephony management, adopting a micro-services architecture and integrating contact center, unified communications, workforce optimization (WFO) and CRM.
To provide high-quality global telephony, Five9 has teamed up with multiple telecom service providers in different regions. By using in-region points-of-presence (local technology to connect to the telephone network) and a single ACD it can route calls optimally to any agent, in any center, anywhere in the world using the best voice path. The system has also been enhanced to support multiple languages.
Similar to a few other vendors, Five9 has adopted an overall architecture for its summer release that is based on using microservices – one built using small, modular components that execute specialist tasks and exchange data with each other using REST APIs. The system can be deployed in either a private or public cloud. In the latter mode, it initially will run using Amazon Web Services, but the company plans to make it available to run with other cloud services vendors as well. Using this type of architecture will provide a product that is highly resilient, reliable, scalable, and elastic (can be easily scaled up and down), that can be set up in weeks rather than months or years. This structure also allows Five9’s customers to build out capabilities at a pace that suits their business plans.
To support a full engagement center, Five9 has been working with partners to integrate with their CRM products, collaboration tools, and WFO suites. It is working with salesforce to integrate with Salesforce Lightning and the two companies have created an “omnichannel agent desktop.” This allows agents to handle interactions on any channel using a single desktop. It also supports Skype for Business, which allows agents to find and share information and collaborate with back-office knowledge experts in the resolution of customer issues.
As well as providing integration points with the products of several workforce optimization vendors, the company is working closely with Calabrio and Verint to produce more tightly integrated packages that support employee-related tasks associated with providing omnichannel customer engagement such as quality management, workforce management and coaching.
Overall this release provides a good example of how a vendor can work with partners to provide systems that extend its core capabilities into other areas associated with interaction handling. I have written several times that no one system can support all aspects of interaction handling, so this approach has allowed Five9 to supplement its core telephony management capabilities with collaboration, WFO, CRM and an agent desktop.
Over the last few years, customer engagement has changed dramatically, moving from largely being face-to-face or through letters and the telephone to include the corporate website, email, text messages, chat, social media, video and mobile apps. Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement shows supporting all these channels gives rise to three main issues: difficulty integrating all the systems (in 49% of organizations), each channel of engagement being managed in isolation from the others (47%) and customers not receiving consistent information across all channels (33%).
To overcome these issues, it is essential organizations move toward implementing what is commonly called a customer engagement hub or platform. This is a set of tightly integrated systems that manage all assisted and digital channels of engagement and all employee-related tasks associated with handling interactions, providing collaboration capability so employees can work together on the resolution of customer issues, analytics to help monitor and assess the success of interaction handling and integration points with business applications such as CRM to share data. Five9, with its partners, have created such a hub so I recommend all organizations looking to improve interaction handling assess how it can help with those efforts.
VP & Research Director, Customer Engagement