Lennon and McCartney, peanut butter and jelly, movies and popcorn (or Netflix and chill) – these are good on their own but even better together. The newest perfect match is cloud-based unified communications and contact center, or UCaaS and CCaaS. No longer viewed as totally separate entities aimed at different user groups, UCaaS and CCaaS platforms and their capabilities are merging to help organizations and contact centers improve the customer and employee experiences.
This isn’t a new topic — as many readers know, I’ve been waving the banner for integrated UC/contact center for years
. What is new is that almost all UC/UCaaS providers now offer and promote their converged offerings, with tightly integrated contact center capabilities becoming a must-have for any UC vendor. Case in point: When Zoom announced Zoom Phone, many of us immediately asked when it would introduce a contact center offering. While Zoom’s attempt to acquire CCaaS provider Five9 ultimately failed
, most industry watchers noted that Zoom validated the single-vendor approach to UCaaS and CCaaS, and we should expect Zoom to either develop its own contact center offering or acquire a different CCaaS provider.
Additionally, Microsoft, considered by many as the leading UCaaS player, was late to the game but recently introduced Voice Channel for Dynamics 365 Customer Service, promoted as an all-in-one digital contact center, built on the same platform used by Microsoft Teams. At this point, it would be difficult to name a UCaaS vendor that doesn’t have its own CCaaS offering or a tight integration with a CCaaS provider to provide a seamless solution.
It’s not just UCaaS vendors either; CCaaS providers increasingly understand the importance of an integrated solution as well. Talkdesk is clearly on board with this concept, as evidenced by its introduction of Talkdesk Phone, a business phone system natively built on Talkdesk’s cloud contact center platform. Edify came out of the gate as a unified platform, promoting the idea that “combining contact center, unified communications, and API functionality unites the contact center with the rest of the business because customer experience is everyone’s job.” Expect to see other CCaaS providers follow suit and either introduce their own telephony offerings or tighten existing relationships (e.g., Five9 with Zoom and Nextiva, NICE CXOne with RingCentral, Genesys with Microsoft and Zoom, etc.).
CX for Everyone
One key driver behind the convergence of UCaaS and CCaaS is the increased focus on customer experience (CX). As I wrote in a previous No Jitter article
, 2022 will usher in the beginning of CX for Everyone (CXE), breaking down the barriers and silos of UC and contact center. CXE will lead to new ways for organizations to engage with both internal employees (or internal customers) and external customers, enabling customer-facing workers to access UC capabilities such as video and team collaboration, while back-office knowledge workers will take advantage of traditional contact center capabilities. “Customer engagement and customer experience capabilities will be available to everyone in the organization, creating better experiences for customers and employees,” I noted in the article.
While I don’t expect to see Katie in engineering or Pete in finance answering customer calls and becoming de-facto contact center agents, I do expect to see subject matter experts assisting agents and customers when necessary and appropriate. With today’s collaboration tools, including team workspaces with chat capabilities, along with file, document, and video sharing, it’s easier than ever for the right individuals to come together to help solve a customer’s issue.
On the flip side, informal contact centers or groups of workers that receive a significant number of calls and interactions can leverage contact center capabilities to better serve customers and employees. Help desks, benefits departments, payroll, and other teams can take advantage of routing, screen pop, and additional contact center capabilities to improve efficiency and the employee experience.
Additional benefits of integrated UCaaS/CCaaS solutions include more comprehensive and holistic views of the organization with unified reporting and access to technology and innovations like AI, allowing enterprises to use them across UCaaS and CCaaS applications.
What’s Real, What’s Hype
- What does it mean for UCaaS/CCaaS to be truly integrated? Does it require both front-end and back-end integration?
- What are the key use cases for integrated UCaaS/CCaaS?
- What are the best ways to extend the customer service function outside the contact center?
- What benefits have customers realized, and how has end-user productivity and performance improved?
- How can informal contact centers access the tools to help them be more effective, and what do organizations need to consider?
- Do you need a single vendor solution to make this a reality, or can a tightly integrated UCaaS/CCaaS solution do the job? What are the pros and cons of each approach? When does best-of-breed come in to play?
- What are some best practices for integrating UCaaS and CCaaS?
- Who should be part of the decision-making process? How can you get the different buyers or influencers within an organization to work together?
I hope you can join me on Monday, March 21, from 9:00-9:45 a.m. to learn more about why you should consider integrated UCaaS and CCaaS solutions to enhance employee and customer experiences. I can’t guarantee PB&J or popcorn, but I’ll throw in some Lennon & McCartney references.
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.