Organizations spend just 3% of their revenue on CX technologies, according to Metrigy Research's "Customer Experience Transformation 2020-21" study.
Depending on the technology, nearly 70% of the study's 700 organizations plan to increase CX spending through 2025, while less than 10% plan to decrease spending. Contact center platforms are the most widely used CX technology, and organizations that already use contact center as a service (CCaaS) also plan to increase spending through 2025.
So, what makes CCaaS so ripe for investment? Aside from multichannel communication capabilities, CCaaS trends, like unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and AI, drive this technology's usage.
1. Changing workplaces
Contact center agents began working remotely before the COVID-19 pandemic, but pandemic restrictions accelerated this move. More than 70% of organizations said their agents would continue to work from home indefinitely, either full time or part time.
CCaaS made the remote work shift easier than on-premises contact center services. CCaaS providers, like 8x8, Avaya, Cisco, Dialpad, Five9, GoTo -- formerly LogMeIn -- Nice inContact, RingCentral and Talkdesk, offered rapid deployments and some free services as agents moved to home offices in 2020.
After CX leaders saw deployment speeds and how easily they could add more applications from app stores, they also saw technology hurdles decrease. In fact, 56.3% of organizations said the remote work experience during the pandemic improved their perceptions of working remotely.
2. Integration of UCaaS and CCaaS
Organizations increasingly want to integrate their UCaaS and CCaaS platforms so contact center agents can pull in experts to help resolve customer issues. Other organizations want to give all employees access to contact center resources, such as voice of the customer analytics or streamlined ways to ask frontline agents for customer feedback. UCaaS and CCaaS integrations mean contact centers no longer operate as an island, but integrate into the organization.
Cloud providers, such as 8x8, Cisco, Dialpad, GoTo and Vonage, operate their own UC and contact center platforms. Some providers also have communications platform-as-a-service offerings that promote the value of an integrated service on a common native platform.
Other vendors, including Avaya, RingCentral, Mitel and Nice inContact, have structured relationships with either UC or contact center providers to offer integrated services on different platforms. Contact center vendors, like Five9, Genesys and Talkdesk, offer integrations with UC providers -- giving customers the flexibility to pair their contact center platforms with their preferred UC providers.
As visual engagement takes hold, Zoom has entered the contact center space with an offering that integrates video with basic contact center features and is geared toward smaller businesses.
3. Artificial intelligence
Contact center providers focus heavily on integrating AI into their platforms, with no shortage of apps that AI can benefit. Startup vendors that focus on AI for CX can drive innovation and acquisitions. Many acquisitions have also launched new divisions within companies that use AI for virtual assistants, agent assistance, knowledge management, self-service, natural language processing, etc.
Nearly all CCaaS providers have acquired other companies to enable AI innovation, including the following:
- Nice inContact acquired MindTouch for knowledge management.
- Five9 acquired Inference Solutions Inc. for intelligent virtual assistants.
- Cisco acquired CloudCherry for personalization and predictive analytics.
- Dialpad acquired Koopid and Kare for self-service.
The list will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.
CX leaders can buy AI-powered apps from startups and more established providers. They prefer to use a single provider whenever possible for tight integrations, common UIs and bundled licenses.
Metrigy's research showed average agent turnover will soon reach 32.8%, so successful contact centers need self-service options, which require self-service knowledge. Most CCaaS vendors partner with knowledge management providers -- although Nice inContact has its own service -- and offer virtual assistants to guide customers to resolution.
When customers cannot find what they need through content, knowledge base FAQs or virtual assistants, AI can escalate them to live agents. As self-service becomes more sophisticated, the interactions closed in self-service will continue to rise.
5. The foundation for apps
Although CCaaS providers offer advanced apps for both customers and agents, the apps require a strong foundation to support them -- particularly for emerging visual engagement apps that use video, screen-sharing and cobrowsing to interact with customers.
CCaaS providers typically have redundant global networks with built-in security and management tools. The providers also absorb many day-to-day responsibilities that IT leaders face with on-premises deployments, leaving IT staff to prioritize how the technology can improve the business.