Over the last few years, despite the investment in self-service tools and technology to help drive proactive, predictive and pre-emptive service, live, and asynchronous, customer support channels have remained solidly important, especially when a customer’s issue is urgent, concerning or complex.

These interactions often carry heightened expectations of a swift and positive resolution, especially if a customer has tried and failed to self-serve or has had to wait for any length of time. Moreover, these interactions can make or break a customer’s relationship with a brand if handled poorly.

An additional complication is that urgent, concerning, or complex customer queries often require somebody in the middle office, back office, or another team to do something to help solve their problem or resolve an issue. That can introduce problems into the process due to a lack of intra-organisational connectedness and coordination. And, no matter how good the initial engagement is, the ultimate result is a poor customer experience.

Large organizations tend to implement different platforms for each of these scenarios, i.e. a contact center platform for their sales and support teams that deal directly with customers and a unified communications platform for internal communications. Increasingly, these systems are cloud-based, with many contact centers moving to contact center as a service (CCaaS) platforms for their customer support teams and unified communications as a service (UCaaS) platforms for internal communications, data sharing and collaboration.

Organizations then work to integrate these platforms to achieve the required breadth of functionality and deliver a connected, timely and seamless experience. However, stitching platforms together is fraught with problems, including disparate data sets, lack of access and siloed behaviour.

However, the competitive importance of customer experience is pushing the technology space forward, and we are now seeing the emergence of unified platforms. These platforms aim to support and enable the agent in the moment but also connect them to the broader organization to help them solve the more complicated queries they increasingly face.

That does not surprise Zeus Kerravala, the founder and Principal Analyst with ZK Research, who, in an interview, told me, “Early in technology cycles, people tend to buy best-of-breed solutions, but over time the market moves towards suites.”

One company leading the way in this space is Dialpad, which has just released their new Ai-Powered Customer Intelligence PlatformTM, bringing together contact center, sales, voice, meetings and messaging with integrated real-time Ai capabilities to analyze conversations, automate workflows and deliver predictive insights that drive greater speed, efficiency and improved business outcomes.

Craig Walker, CEO and Founder of Dialpad, describes what they are doing as ‘TrueCaaS’ and believes it is very different as it combines three very different facets:

  1. He says that they are using automation to provide information, suggest answers or accurately update systems, all in service of helping employees around the organization do their jobs better.
  2. Their coaching element helps contact center agents provide better customer service through suggested responses, real-time coaching, and automated compliance.
  3. Their insights element is about understanding interactions (customer satisfaction scores or CSAT), optimization, revenue predictions, and engagement across the business.

The real kicker here is that all of the data used to power the automation, coaching and insights all sit in one place rather than in disparate databases, as often happens when organizations use different platforms for different functions.

Dan O’Connell, Chief Strategy Officer at Dialpad, explained in an interview that when “you suddenly have analytics that are consistent and that anyone can access, then you can start to do some really interesting things with the analytics around predictions. This ultimately helps a business play better offense through understanding topics and trends in the moment, and I think that’s a big shift. So suddenly, your service centers can be playing offense with customers, driving a lot more revenue, and being ahead of churn prediction instead of constantly being behind the eight ball.”

However, they are not stopping there and in December announced a $50 million investment into the continued research and development (R&D) of artificial intelligence (AI) related technologies. The investment will allow them to accelerate the development of cutting-edge features to automate business processes and provide predictive insights. It will also, through the creation of Dialpad Ai Labs, allow them to experiment with their clients and further push the boundaries of the application of AI for business.

Their customers see the benefits of this approach too. Kenny Schnell, Senior Director of Customer Support at ESO, an early customer, told me, “Our vision is to facilitate the collaboration between pre-hospital through Emergency Medical Services and Fire Services, in-hospital and post-acute environments and provide seamless integration so our customers can focus on improving patient outcomes. And that’s one of the main reasons we have partnered with Dialpad and their unified platform. We wanted an interconnected story that can drive improvements in patient care, quality, and performance and allow our customers time to focus on their response to emergencies, and that’s what Dialpad helps us deliver.”

The one big challenge that Dialpad may face is that UCaaS and CCaaS systems are typically bought by different parts of an organization, and, as such, they could face procurement headwinds. But, as Kerravala suggested, the market is likely to bend towards suites and unified platforms as opportunity allows and the benefits become apparent.

Many large organizations’ experience vision is that self-service or automated solutions should largely address customers’ simple, straightforward and frequent queries and that customer service agents handle the more complicated queries. However, given their very nature, these more complex queries will often require input from or access to another system or part of the organization. Dialpad has built a unified platform that both enables agents to do great work and goes a long way to eliminate the “messy middle of customer experience.” That is a step in the right direction and puts them in a good position.

This post was originally published on Forbes.com.

Image by WOKANDAPIX from Pixabay

Adrian Swinscoe
CX Punk | + posts

Described as an experimental CX thought leader and visionary, Adrian Swinscoe is a best-selling author, Forbes contributor, speaker, investor, advisor and aspirant CX Punk. He has been growing and helping develop customer-focused large and small businesses for over 25 years now.

His clients have included brands such as Sky, NowTV, Apple, ING, KFC, Philips, Cancer Research UK, Talk Talk, Gazprom, Intercontinental Hotel Group, Olympus, Harper Collins, the UK Gov’s Crown Commercial Service, Microsoft, Pearson and Costa Coffee as well as numerous tech vendors and many smaller and medium sized businesses.

Adrian is a frequent writer, podcaster and speaker on all things related to customer service and experience. He published a best selling book in 2016 called How to Wow: 68 Effortless Ways to Make Every Customer Experience Amazing (Pearson), published an exciting new book: Punk CX in 2019 and has just published an exciting follow up: Punk XL.


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