Pity the poor contact center vendors—they have it rough, with competitors coming at them from all sides. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain their market positions in the face of increasing competition. While challenging for the vendors, this increased competition is great news for customers with more choices than ever before – and tougher decisions to make. With so many new contact center options to choose from, organizations are now in the driver’s seat and can select the vendor and service that’s right for them—whether from a traditional contact center vendor, a customer relationship (CRM) vendor, a unified communications (UC) provider, or even a public cloud provider.
Here's a quick run-down of the various options available.
Specialized Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) Providers
Pureplay or specialized CCaaS vendors
offer enhanced contact center capabilities, including advanced routing, multichannel or omnichannel interactions, AI technologies, and much more. Leading vendors include Five9, Genesys
, NICE, Sharpen, Talkdesk, Thrio, UJET, and others. While many of these vendors offer integration with other providers, including unified communications as a service (UCaaS), CRM, and workforce optimization (WFO), their primary focus is CCaaS.
Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) Providers
The hottest trend right now is the integration of UCaaS and CCaaS, with almost all UCaaS vendors offering integrated CCaaS capabilities. In many cases, the UCaaS vendors offer their own CCaaS capabilities (these include 8x8, Cisco, Dialpad, Edify, GoTo, Intermedia, Vonage, Zoom, and many more), while some provide tight integration with select CCaaS vendors (such as RingCentral and NICE, Nextiva and Five9), and some do both (Zoom and Genesys and Five9; 8x8 and Genesys). Even Microsoft is making noise about its own contact center capabilities, although most of us are still scratching our heads about what the new Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform is all about and how it fits with Microsoft Teams.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Providers
Within the last few years, leading CRM players like Salesforce and Zendesk have added contact center capabilities to their CRM offerings. While the initial capabilities focused on digital engagement – web chat, messaging, etc. – these companies have also added voice capabilities for contact center interactions. For the most part, they don’t have the sophisticated routing and enhanced capabilities of the CCaaS vendors, but their capabilities will meet the needs of a segment of contact center customers looking for basic functionality.
Workforce Optimization (WFO) Providers
Some traditional WFO vendors are also expanding to CCaaS in order to expand their offerings and provide more complete contact center solutions. NICE transitioned from a leading WFO and workforce engagement management (WEM) player several years ago when it acquired inContact and became a leading CCaaS player. More recently, Verint expanded from its WFO roots and added a Customer Engagement Cloud Platform featuring digital interaction channels for digital-first engagement, along with chat bots and AI capabilities for self-service. Will Calabrio be next?
Mega Cloud and Other Providers
Mega cloud providers Amazon Web Services (AWS)
, Google, and CPaaS player Twilio have shaken up the CCaaS market by adding contact center capabilities to their portfolios. Twilio has been enhancing its Flex CCaaS offering and is incorporating its Segment customer data platform into Flex. The company recently announced its largest Flex deal ever with a Fortune 100 retailer.
AWS has also been busy, adding workforce management, call transcription, conversational AI, case management tools, proactive outreach, and other capabilities to its Amazon Connect CCaaS platform. Its consumption-based pricing model has garnered a great deal of attention from both customers and competitors.
The most recent entrant is Google. At Enterprise Connect 2022, Google introduced Google Contact Center AI Platform, based on UJET’s CCaaS technology. By leveraging UJET technology, Google can enter the market quickly with an extremely scalable cloud-native, mobile-focused, multichannel solution. Google also partners with many CCaaS providers who use its AI technologies, creating more co-opetition in the market.
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, Avaya
, and Mitel provide on-premises, private cloud, and hybrid cloud solutions for customers who aren’t ready for public cloud/CCaaS offerings.
Customer Choice and Considerations
With all these vendors and solutions available, organizations now have many options and choices and must carefully decide which solution makes the most sense. Here are some things you’ll need to consider:
- Which type of cloud solution works best for your particular needs – public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid? That narrows the field a little.
- Which vendors are you currently working with and have deployed in your organization? Are you a Google or Microsoft shop, or do you currently use AWS? Who is your UCaaS provider? Looking at vendors you’ve already worked with and deployed is a good starting point.
- How mission-critical is your contact center - do you need basic or enhanced functionality? For mission-critical operations with advanced functionality—a pure-play CCaaS vendor or an integrated UCaaS/CCaaS provider may be the best option.
- How large is your contact center and how large do you need to scale? Some CCaaS platforms are more scalable than others.
- Does the vendor support the interaction channels you need, and do they provide seamless integration between the channels?
- Do you have third-party applications that need to be integrated and supported, such as CRM, vertical applications, etc.?
- How much customization do you want/need? Do you have developers who can build a solution that meets all of your requirements? If so, consider Twilio and AWS, as well as companies like Vonage that also provide CPaaS capabilities.
- Think about geographic needs and your country and language requirements to ensure that the vendor supports the locations where you operate.
- Is the user interface intuitive and easy to use? Can it be easily modified and adapted to meet your agents’ needs?
Of course, there are typical considerations such as pricing, security and compliance, reliability, geographic redundancy, service and support, and so on.
With all these choices, organizations have some tough decisions to make when moving to a CCaaS solution. Fortunately, with so many vendors and offerings to choose from, there’s bound to be a perfect match for your business.
This post is written on behalf of BCStrategies, an industry resource for enterprises, vendors, system integrators, and anyone interested in the growing business communications arena. A supplier of objective information on business communications, BCStrategies is supported by an alliance of leading communication industry advisors, analysts, and consultants who have worked in the various segments of the dynamic business communications market.