Our benchmark research over the last couple of years confirms what we all instinctively know: Consumers engage with each other and organizations using an increasing number of engagement channels. Indeed, our latest research into the next-generation contact center in the cloud shows the average number of channels organizations now support has grown to almost eight. The same research confirms that organizations now realize the way to compete is to match or exceed customer expectations regarding how these interactions are handled. Summing these expectations up, customer engagement must be easy, personalized, in-context and above all consistent across all channels.
Our benchmark research into next generation customer engagement finds three main challenges confronting organizations seeking to deliver that experience: difficulty integrating systems (reported 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 and associated issues, we believe that organizations must recognize that customer engagement is an enterprise issue and therefore they need to make coordinated people, process, information and technology changes if they are to meet customer expectations.
Under the banner “reinventing customer service,” these themes were echoed at the recent NICE Interactions17 events. During these, the audience learned that NICE teams are working on a new, fully integrated platform that they say will help organizations deliver on these promises. The speakers gave no firm dates as to when a fully integrated version would be available, but a little sooner than expected the company recently announced NICE inContact CXOne, which it describes as “the world’s #1 cloud customer experience platform.” This brings together the products of NICE and its two most recent acquisitions, inContact and Nexidia, to create a unified platform that supports all the tasks associated with delivering an enterprise-wide, omnichannel customer experience.
The NICE inContact CXOne platform consists of five components. The foundation platform includes services to make the system easy to implement, including built-in telephony, integration and customization tools. It is elastic, so it can be configured to meet variable usage requirements, and scalable to meet enterprise requirements. There are also four application components: omnichannel routing, analytics, workforce optimization, and automation and AI. All the components are tightly integrated, which not only makes it easy to share data but also to connect processes that have typically been independent such as analytics-driven quality monitoring.
In parallel with developing the new platform, NICE has created a set of professional services to help organizations gain maximum benefit from the new product by assisting them to optimize interaction handling and the customer experience. It has also created a common ecosystem of partner vendors to support product sales and development, as well as customization and training of new clients.
Our research and conversations with organizations lead me to believe that few organizations understand the full scope of customer engagement and the customer experience. Customers have a relationship with organizations they do business with that extends over the complete customer journey – from marketing to sales, service, billing and support and perhaps to termination. The state of the relationship depends on the sum of all experiences: How easy was it to find product or service information? How easy was it to purchase and get up and running? Were support agents able to resolve issues at the first point of contact? Was interacting with a bot pleasant or not? Organizations must at the very least meet customer expectations at every touch point, and doing that requires an enterprise-wide approach and systems that manage all aspects of customer engagement.
NICE inContact CXOne is such a system and NICE has the experienced professional service teams to help organizations make the people, process and technology changes to gain maximum benefit from it. I therefore recommend organizations looking to improve the customer experience assess how it may be able to help those efforts.
VP & Research Director, Customer Engagement