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The Rise of Cloud-based Omni-Channel Customer Contact

  • December 2013
  • 19 pages
  • Frost & Sullivan
Report ID: 1922966

Summary

Table of Contents

Companies are Moving to Serve Customers Anytime, Anywhere Including Inside Stores

Today’s customers expect companies to provide a consistent and high quality Customer Experience, regardless of channel, including walk-in retail. “Omni-channel” strategies that integrate the Web, contact center, and retail channels (and subject matter experts), are becoming increasingly prominent in pursuit of a quality Customer Experience. The dividends are greater wallet share from enthusiastic customers who become brand advocates on social media, attracting new clientele.

Introduction

Today’s customers expect companies to provide a consistent and high quality Customer Experience, regardless of channel, including walk-in retail. Customers also generally expect companies to know who they are if they have previously done business with them; those customers will assume the contact center and self-service systems will have recorded the information of all prior interactions. Customers will not have to repeat themselves on each interaction or when switching channels.

“Omni-channel” strategies that integrate the Web, contact center, and retail channels (and subject matter experts), are becoming increasingly prominent in pursuit of a quality Customer Experience. Such an omni-channel strategy also uses customer analytics and integration with CRM and social media in order to gain insights on customers, and links to back office systems to track customer issues. The dividends are greater wallet share from enthusiastic customers who become brand advocates on social media, attracting new clientele.

Advent of Versatile Hosted Multichannel - ACDs

At the core of executing the optimal omni-channel Customer Experience are cloud/hosted multi-channel ACDs. These on-demand solutions connect customer with agent at a lower total cost of ownership, and with greater flexibility and scalability, as compared with on-premise installations. Hosting also enables companies to upgrade to new solutions more easily than the traditional “rip-and-replace” method of changing on-premise software. It also provides companies with strengthened business continuity/disaster recovery capabilities through the locating of applications and data off-site in protected facilities with multiple voice, data, and power backup.

The hosted ACD platforms now include IVR and outbound dialing. They also increasingly provide chat, mobile, SMS/text, and social media support, along with customer analytics, call recording, and workforce management (WFM) software, referred to by Frost & Sullivan as agent performance optimization (APO). In addition, hosted ACDs often have integrations with CRM solutions. Vendors have also paid careful attention to ensuring the reliability and security of cloud delivery.

As a result, the hosted value proposition is proving to be so strong that for the first time, Frost & Sullivan estimates that the combined 2013 annual revenues of hosted ACD, email, and chat, or inbound contact routing (ICR), have surpassed on-premise ICR. Frost & Sullivan also forecasts that the gap will widen, from $X million in 2013 to $X billion in 2017 for hosted ICR solutions and from $Xmillion to $X million for on-premise ICR solutions.

Market demand has driven more on-premise ACD OEM vendors to directly offer their solutions in the cloud, as opposed to their past approach of selling solutions to third-party hosting firms. Indeed, over the past 18 months, Aspect and Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories (Genesys) have joined Interactive Intelligence and Noble Systems in going to the cloud. In addition, Genesys has acquired third party ACD firm Echopass, which uses the Genesys solution. At the same time, more technology dealers, like value-added resellers (VARs), have begun to offer cloud ACD solutions.

This is not to say that hosting is the best delivery method for every company. Most contact centers will continue to have on-premise ACDs for some time. But when these on-premise applications become obsolete, more likely than not, on their way out they will meet cloud-based replacements.

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