Future-Proofing Customer Engagement Infrastructure

Victor Fetter, CIO and Managing Director, LPL Financial

Victor Fetter, CIO and Managing Director, LPL Financial

While it may seem counterintuitive for Genesys to provide commentary in a publication devoted to celebrating the ecosystem of a direct competitor, we live in strange times and the fact is that we—all of us—are engaged in a common battle.

Today, our technological capabilities are evolving more rapidly than at any other time in history. And regardless of organizational constraints, past partnerships, or provider preferences, pretty much everyone in IT is struggling with the shockwaves accompanying the digital transformation.

“Customer preference and expectation have also changed to adapt to the new technologies”

Customer preference and expectation have also changed to adapt to the new technologies. So regardless of a company’s size, industry or geography, the truth is that, legacy contact center infrastructure cannot support the omnichannel way customers want to communicate.

As a result, we see companies migrate at an accelerating pace from traditional and siloed contact center infrastructure to more broadly applicable customer engagement platforms. These new solutions are quick to market and enable cost-effective operations thanks to the use of open technologies, independent of premise-based ACD or PBX proprietary platforms. The omnichannel experience is the new battleground in communications.

Keeping pace with this revolution obviously introduces challenges. Luckily, it also presents a great opportunity for improving resource utilization and efficiency to the benefit of both the company and the customer experience. The trick is in acknowledging the realities of our new playing field and advancing a future-proof strategy.

Most companies completed the shift from a traditional TDM environment to an IP-based one for voice communications many years ago. They have also added digital channels piecemeal. This was partly a reaction to customer demand for different channels, such as email, web, and chat. Another reason was that many legacy voice-centric contact center infrastructure vendors were not able to meet the new needs of their customers, who then turned to point product vendors for each of their various digital channels. However, voice communications and digital interactions can no longer be treated separately.

Companies need to capture context and enable multimodal conversations combining voice, video, text, and other emerging digital channels in one ubiquitous experience. The most successful companies leverage omnichannel customer experience using one engagement platform from one vendor, with capabilities fully integrated and natively integrated for both voice and digital channels, workforce optimization, engagement orchestration, and reporting and analytics.

Customers are now mixing and matching their means of interaction and expect companies to be able to handle all these as a single conversation. That means that agents or any other resource handling interactions need access to a total picture of previous interactions so that conversations can be continued seamlessly over different media types and over time. Providing that picture requires standardization and integration of all the inputs and touchpoints. This is at the heart of delivering the modern omnichannel experience and can only be done with a “best of suite” single platform from a single vendor.

Companies also need to consider platforms that are both interaction and voice centric. The queue-based and sequential distribution model that prevails in legacy ACD systems needs to be redesigned with a new dynamic interaction model, enabling context-driven routing and reporting. The platform should be built to accommodate and anticipate any channel, including channels that are not mainstream or known, especially given the increasing introduction of new channels such as social media-based messaging, chatbots, or yet-to-be-imagined augmented reality interfaces.

To truly future-proof a customer experience platform, companies need to consider these criteria when evaluating vendors:

• Equal level of support for both traditional voice-based channels and newer digital channels
• Maturity and richness of the platform’s features, including its native digital and analytics capabilities
• Vendor’s best-of-suite architecture and applications that reduce complexity and cost of operations, and instead increase operational efficiency, scalability and reliability
• Vendor’s customer reference proof points and track record of delivering technologies that address market changes
• Vendor’s migration strategies and flexible delivery models—on-premises, hybrid and full cloud
• Vendor’s financial security and potential to be a long term partner

When implemented well, the right platform and the right vendor will simultaneously deliver compelling business benefits as well as opportunities to provide memorable customer experiences.

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