Will 2021 Be the Year of Ying and Yang in Contact Centers as AI and Automation Take Hold?
Originally published on Customer Magazine
As enterprises continue to try and process the massive disruption, turmoil and uncertainty brought about by the global pandemic in 2020, how they plan and budget for 2021 and beyond – especially in the contact center industry – has taken on a whole new meaning.
Budgeting was easier in a more stable environment ten or twenty years ago. Hire more agents. Add new software security for better compliance. Renegotiate communications services expenses.
When the cloud emerged, decisions got a little foggier, and managers responsible for efficiently operating contact centers started to see the cost savings. But, they were still spooked about security and performance, so started with a few “proofs of concepts” and grew from there.
As the cloud caught on, the decisions got a little harder, as challengers to the legacy vendors (Avaya, Cisco, Genesys, etc.) started to improve the economics so much that the legacy vendors themselves were forced to respond. In fact, “cloud” became a stalking horse and way for enterprises to “negotiate down.”
By 2019, with major moves by companies like AWS, Twilio, and other massively funded cloud challengers, who invested hundreds of millions in platforms including cloud storage, analytics, and APIs, even the most conservative enterprises put in place plans to transform from expensive, complex, and impossible-to-manage infrastructures or BPO contracts that often felt out of control to fresh alternatives that could save money. It also paved the way for highly intelligent contact centers that merged into omnichannel CX.
Based on interviews with a number of experts in the contact center industry, it became clear that investments in digital transformation were moving along quickly as confidence grew in the “new world” of software-defined “Contact Center as a Service” infrastructure and were, in fact, in progress when the world suddenly changed around March 2020.
We caught up with Jeff Tropeano, an executive at Eventus Group, based in Denver, Colorado, to get his impressions, and he shared their story.
“None of us could have been prepared for a global challenge of this magnitude,” Tropeano said. “We had no choice but to act, act quickly, and we did. We were fortunate in that we had already created blueprints for the move to the cloud and to support of remote agents, and because we run contact centers in addition to consulting, we had a deep understanding of the urgency. We had to reset our own contact centers and move our agents and managers, trainers, and analysts, to the work-from-home model. Nothing was more important to us than the safety of our team.”
Tropeano credits the fact that Eventus, a company that established the managed services division that he built and continues to manage today, has an intimate knowledge of what goes on every day in its contact centers.
“Empathy became the word of the year,” Tropeano said, “and while we’ve always distinguished ourselves by providing personalized experiences with great empathy for our clients’ customers, it was next level when the pandemic hit. Everybody was worried, confused, upset – and we were bombarded with not only helping our existing clients but onboarding big new clients who needed experience in transforming to the cloud and CCaaS models.”
Tropeano credits the company’s belief in data science with the ability to adapt quickly and explained that their own platform, IntelligenceHub, created a foundation for change.
“The brilliance of data is that it allows us to pull information in real-time from any number of sources – from nearly every great contact center and software platform out there. We spent a few years building connectors to everything – from Nice inContact to Salesforce to Pega Systems CRM and dozens more – giving our clients their choice of capabilities in a mix that we then harmonize. What we didn’t expect was that clients who weren’t even using IntelligenceHub when the world turned upside down suddenly wanted it.”
While Tropeano could not reveal the names of these enterprises, he did say they were “very big, and very worried. These clients and new clients were the ones on the other end of the conversation, helping people with complex questions about their healthcare, insurance, unemployment insurance, and more, so how could we not work nights and weekends to help them figure out how to serve people better? We had to, we were honored to, and we did.”
“Eventus didn’t start out as a software and platform company,” Tropeano said, “but we saw a wave of hard problems coming, and we decided to get out in front of the data deluge that was starting to happen a few years ago. The evolution of IntelligenceHub, our data management, analytics, reporting, and, most recently, the BI platform has been organic and extremely exciting. Today we are starting to see applications we couldn’t have dreamed of a few years ago.”
Tropeano also noted a “Yin Yang” phenomenon. “Using data, automation, AI, RPA, and APA, we are able to save a lot of money because the software does work that used to be repetitive and frankly mind-numbing tasks. Another enlightenment we’ve seen is that when money is saved, which intelligent BI platforms like ours make almost instantly possible, once our clients see how we can use that data to enhance knowledge across the organizations, they are more than ready to reinvest those savings to become smarter, more competitive and ready for a future of personalization and respectful, individualized support.”
Join us on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, at 12:30 pm ET / 9:30 am PT for our webinar “How Will You Manage? The Contact Center Data Deluge Has Only Just Begun.” Click here for more information and to register.
Do you know how to improve your call center customer service – or if you even need to? Customer expectations have changed dramatically in the last decade. Your first step to improving customer service is understanding what your customers actually expect.
In today’s fast-paced world of on-demand services, entertainment, and products, customers’ expectations have risen in regard to almost every aspect of a company, including the customer experience. All too often, help desk agents, whether in contact centers or manning online chat sessions, become the target of customers who are frustrated when their products don’t work, when their billing is incorrect, when they regret a purchase and demand a return or a refund, and more.