Five9, inContact Releases Target Salesforce, UX
Back-to-back releases from these two cloud-only contact center providers hit on two market trends.
One of the oft-touted benefits of cloud-based applications is regular software updates, including new features. On that note, two of the best-known names in cloud-only contact center -- Five9 and inContact -- this week announced new releases of their solutions. With the announcements coming within 24 hours of one another, it is natural to compare and contrast the two.
Five9 refers to its Virtual Contact Center update as the Freedom release. Freedom refers to agent freedom... from complex applications, frustrated or angry customers, monotonous workflow, and irrelevant information. Five9 addresses these issues with Agent Desktop Plus, a new agent desktop built on HTML5 and REST APIs.
inContact describes this week's release, its first for 2015, as driven by customer needs within enterprise service operations and the increasing importance of unified customer journey management. Note the word "enterprise" -- as inContact goes up-market, it is focusing on enhancing its application to meet the more demanding needs of bigger and more sophisticated contact centers.
Common Emphasis on Salesforce
The word "Salesforce" jumps out from both press releases, and why not? Salesforce is the leader in cloud CRM and its customers a natural target market to switch to cloud contact center as well. Tight integration with Salesforce can only improve a cloud contact center's chances of being chosen to replace a legacy premises-based implementation.
- Combined with Five9 Connect (from the Spring 2014 release) Five9's new Adapter for Salesforce is able to add context such as issue topic and customer insights such as sentiment analysis. The enhanced adapter also can integrate with Salesforce Knowledge.
- inContact has delivered a multichannel interface with inContact Agent for Salesforce, supporting inbound and outbound voice, voicemail, email, and inContact chat interactions.
Different Approaches to Agent UX Redesign
Five9 and inContact have each undertaken a complete redesign of their agent desktops. User experience design (UX) is a hot topic, and both companies are working to make sure that the agent desktop meets agent and supervisor needs.
- InContact engaged the world-renowned design group, frog design, to help in the design of the new My Agent eXperience (MAX), which is slated for general availability in the fall but is now in an early adopter program with six customers currently using the solution in production. In designing MAX, inContact and frog conducted extensive real-world testing and prototyping with contact center agents and supervisors. (Of note, frog also worked with Unify on Circuit and Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise on the OpenTouch Conversation client.)
- Five9 opted to hire an in-house designer rather than using an outside firm. Its preference was to have a designer who could work side by side with developers on a daily basis and understand the company's and the solution's DNA, said John D'Amour, senior director of product management, during a briefing. Five9 also has been conducting extensive user interviews and performing usability testing. The new desktop will be available in the third quarter, Five9 said.
Arguably Five9 and inContact have had some catching up to do in terms of enterprise features. But without naming names (although I could), several of the traditional contact center leaders have limped along on the same release for years (with the occasional dot release that is often more fixes than features). The difference cloud can make is clear.