Zoom CCaaS a big bet on the future of customer service

Zoom already integrates with the most popular contact-center-as-a-service platforms. So why has Zoom come out with a CCaaS of its own?

When you call your local cable provider because the internet is down and you can't watch Netflix, it can be a struggle to find words to describe what's going on in the back of the modem. Most customers aren't tech-savvy; they don't know a Cat5e from a coaxial cable, and they couldn't care less which is which.

That is the perfect use case for video in customer service. Video conferencing embedded into a contact center agent's dashboard with a simple-to-use customer client enables customers to show, not tell, what the problem is.

Video for customer service isn't just for telecommunications providers, of course. Contact-center-as-a-service technology vendors such as Genesys, Twilio, Five9, Talkdesk, Nice inContact and Salesforce (which partners with AWS to complete its CCaaS offering) have introduced video channels -- including Zoom integrations -- for contact center users of every stripe. That includes small and large businesses, B2B and B2C, and other emerging models such as B2B2C providing goods, services and everything in between.

Zoom itself has entered the CCaaS market in the United States and Canada, which validates the future of video as a viable contact center channel. Zoom's own customer service platform wasn't the video conferencing juggernaut's first choice. Last year, Zoom attempted to buy CCaaS incumbent Five9 for nearly $15 billion, but the deal fell through after Five9 shareholders voted it down.

In an interview earlier this year, Genesys CEO Tony Bates discussed how, as CEO of Skype more than a decade ago, he could see the video revolution coming. It was clear that we as workers and consumers would develop instincts for escalating and de-escalating conversations between text, email and video channels.

What Bates couldn't predict, he said, was how the pandemic would serve as a forcing function to make video conferencing permeate our work and home lives. Now everyone, from young children up to our elderly grandparents, knows how to "hop on a Zoom" at a moment's notice. Before 2020, it felt like a complicated thing; now it's smartphone second nature, like firing off a Tweet or ordering dinner delivery.

Executives at Salesforce and ServiceNow also talk about how remote-assistant technology -- which allows a customer or field technician to send video from a smartphone to a contact center agent or an expert in the company -- is leading to a convergence of field service and customer service.

So while the CCaaS market may already be crowded, there's room for innovation as consumers and business users demand video one-on-ones for customer service.

Video enables businesses to create a more personal, face-to-face customer service experience. That is important for B2B companies, whose customers most likely spend more than $99.99 a month for basic cable, internet and HBO Max. Video also works as a crucial training platform to onboard agents into a customer service team at a time when many contact centers are staffed by remote workers.

So while the CCaaS market may already be crowded, there's room for innovation as consumers and business users demand video one-on-ones for customer service. Zoom is clearly the lingua franca for video. We all know now how to use it.

A November 2020 Vonage survey of 5,000 consumers in 14 countries showed that consumers packed four years' worth of video chat adoption into seven months during 2020. While only 10% of consumers named video chat as their preferred communications channel with businesses and service providers, that was up 67% from pre-pandemic numbers of the same survey. Notably, during that same span of time, interest in voice calls, email and SMS channels decreased, as interest in video surged upward. That shows the growth potential for video as a customer service channel. 

Will a video-optimized Zoom customer service platform succeed, considering that Zoom can be hardwired into competing customer service platforms as well? That's hard to predict. One thing's for certain: Video as a customer service channel is poised take off like a rocket ship. Zoom's betting on it.

Don Fluckinger covers enterprise content management, CRM, marketing automation, e-commerce, customer service and enabling technologies for TechTarget.

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