In 2013, Ventana Research carried out groundbreaking benchmark research into contact centers in the cloud. It revealed that customer pressures have forced companies to support an increasing variety of channels of interaction. This research investigated the systems companies were using then or were planning to use, particularly cloud computing, to manage these channels. The research uncovered three major challenges: integration of systems, channels of communication supported as silos and customers receiving inconsistent information across channels. We found that to overcome these challenges, companies most often were planning to improve agent training and coaching (73%), to deploy contact center applications such as CRM and workforce optimization in the cloud (63%) and to adopt communications management systems in the cloud (44%). Further benchmark research shows continuing changes. The number of channels customers use continues to grow, and in particular more customers prefer to use digital self-service channels such as chat, visual IVR, voice-activated virtual agents and social forums. On the business side more employees across the organization have become involved in handling interactions, including finance and HR departments, mobile customer service and home agents. As channels proliferate more companies have realized that they need a single, comprehensive view of their customers that includes a history of their interactions, the channels they used for those interactions and likely actions they might take as a result of the outcomes of those interactions.
We continue to track these trends and organizations’ responses to them. I noted in my 2015 customer technology research agenda our intent to conduct updated benchmark research into how organizations support or plan to support the various types of interactions. It will include examination of the systems they currently use and those they plan to deploy to support these activities, with a focus on deployment in the cloud. This new research, called The Next-Generation Contact Center in the Cloud, has begun, and we urge you to participate. It will identify, explore and quantify the ways in which organizations use people, processes, information and technology to manage customer interactions. The research will identify additional communication channels (to support assisted service, self-service or both) that organizations are deploying to improve customer engagement, their reasons for doing so and the approaches they are likely to pursue. It also will explore the issues of developing and maintaining more interaction channels and the impacts of doing so on enterprise-wide processes, information requirements and people-related issues such as training and quality monitoring.
As part of its next-generation focus the new research will explore the value of using collaborative and mobile technologies to improve customer satisfaction. Similarly it will assess organizations’ understanding of the need to map the customer journey across channels to resolve issues. It will measure the extent to which customers switch from one channel to another to resolve issues and the impact this has on the customer experience and the business outcomes of interactions. It will assess companies’ satisfaction with their existing approaches and their requirements in creating a business case for change. The research will compare the benefits of varying approaches to deployment including on-premises, cloud-based and hybrid solutions and will determine what potential buyers expect from new investments.
The Next-Generation Contact Center in the Cloud benchmark research will uncover the best practices companies use to interact and engage with customers, how they measure success, the challenges they face and how they intend to improve their situations in the coming years. It will assess the performance of organizations by size and industry through application of the Ventana Research Performance Index Model®. Applying the buyer-oriented Ventana Research Value Index as well, the research will provide insight into buyer requirements and how well the market currently satisfies them. In short this research will be a thorough examination of the current state of contact centers and customer engagement, and its foreseeable future.
In particular, it will examine:
- Current levels of understanding of using cloud computing to support multiple channels of customer interaction
- The reasons for adopting cloud computing to support intergated channels of customer interaction
- The impact of customer communication expectations on technology requirements
- The role of analytics in next-generation interaction management
- The importance of the customer experience in interaction managment
If you are in any way involved in managing actvities which involve interacting with your company’s customers, either from the business or IT side of your organization, we would like your input and opinions. Please visit the research landing page to learn more about the research and click through to take our survey. In appreciation of the time you spend helping us gather data, we will provide you with a report on the research results, which should help your organization determine where it stands and find suggestions and best practices for how to proceed.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director