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UCaaS & CCaaS Work Better Together
Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and contact center as a service (CCaaS) have come together to help organizations and contact centers improve their customer and employee experiences. At Enterprise Connect 2022, attendees crammed into Blair Pleasant's presentation "UCaaS Plus CCaaS: What's Real, What's Hype, and What's Next” to hear the overarching theme—the future vision is for agents, supervisors, subject matter experts, and customers to collaborate via voice, text, or video to solve a customer problem and use team collaboration tools to form a virtual team.
A panel of subject matter experts joined No Jitter contributor and COMMfusion president Pleasant to discuss key use cases and benefits of integrated UCaaS/CCaaS. Panelists included: Dhwani Soni, VP product and UX design 8x8; Fabrice Della Mea, senior director product, Dialpad; Jack Nichols, VP product management, Genesys Cloud CX, Genesys, and Sanjay Srinivasan, SVP & chief technology architect, Vonage.
Key Use Cases: Enterprise CX, Internal Collaboration
For a long time, Pleasant explained, a hot topic of discussion was the inability of contact center agents to reach out to subject matter experts. According to Pleasant, contact center agents run into the need for outside assistance on one out of every five calls. “I’ll put you on hold” and “let me call you back” are phrases that don’t necessarily lead to a good experience. However, by combining UCaaS and CCaaS, the agent gains access to instant messaging, can see which subject matter experts are available, and collaborate in a shared space. “Even with the customer, they can share documents, they can share videos, they can exchange information and collaboratively work together to solve a customer's problem,” Pleasant said.
The result is the “collaborative contact center,” as Pleasant calls it—and as she mentioned in her previous No Jitter article, this has resulted in new ways for organizations to engage with internal and external employees (or internal customers). Pleasant elaborated on this during her presentation by noting that more of this collaboration is leading to an increase in first-contact resolution and revenue. “So instead of the agent saying, let me call you back, the agent gets the information they need when they need it.”
Other use cases include informal contact center agents, knowledge workers, people in different departments—whether human resources, sales, or marketing. “All these different individuals can work together to provide better customer service,” Pleasant said. She then described every November and December when human resources and benefits teams get inundated with calls for open enrollment. But explained that they’re not a contact center, so they don’t have access to contact center tools. There are also internal collaboration use cases where the agents and supervisors can work better, collaborate, and share information—especially with remote workers, “they need this type of assistance.”
But why is this integration of UCaaS and CCaaS happening now? Della Mea (Dialpad) attributed it to moving to the cloud and newly existing functionalities, citing artificial intelligence (AI) as an example. Srinivasan (Vonage) attributed the integration to the remote workforce, emphasizing the importance of integrating outside expertise when you have agents in multiple time zones or locations. Nichols (Genesys) emphasized Pleasant’s point about first-contact resolution driving a big part of this integration. “Agents have to get access to more information because customers demand it—quite frankly, none of us ever want to call [into a contact center], and when we do, we expect that first-contact resolution,” he said.
According to Srinivasan, Vonage has seen a lot of incident response use cases, and measuring productivity is important "because customers find benefits there."
Nichols has seen many collaboration-based use cases, specifically how other companies are starting with more of a consultant, bringing a human in on the call or in the chat, and consulting them in back. “I think people are trying to figure out how to leverage that in a controlled manner more and more,” Nichols said.
Soni described use cases resulting from the integration of unified communications (UC) and contact center services, noting that salespeople who use informal contact centers must be contacted through informal channels—and this is the way to bring them into the application.
Benefits: Access to Innovation
Pleasant asked the panelists to describe customer benefits they've observed. Srinivasan kicked off by explaining how in the past, buyers provided different estimates for unified communications and collaboration. UC would have a buying team, and the contact center would have a buying team, but now “they aren’t separate artifacts.” Srinivasan noted benefits from a service perspective and a tech perspective. “If you have to repeat the same stuff over again, especially when the interaction goes through a knowledge worker, that can be irritating and spoil the customer experience,” he said. Another benefit of having these stacks together is the ability to move context from the agent in the interaction to the agent in the back office.
According to Nichols, the benefits of UCaaS/CCaaS integration include identifying if companies are making the customer journey better, resolving incidents faster, and getting customers on that first-contact resolution. That’s because he’s observed agent frustration across the board. “They’re not expected to know everything, they’re able to reach out to experts,” he said. Nichols told attendees, “there’s more to collaboration in your company and that is [creating] a better environment where people feel they can reach out and collaborate with their employees…and it’s not just a contact center worker who feels like they’re disassociated from the rest of the organization.”
Della Mea attributed customer benefits to AI in the contact center and agent productivity—specifically, understanding that everything becomes transcribed and searchable based on topics. Soni touched on how this goes back to sentiment in the contact center and using it to resolve a customer’s problem. “Employee experience also helps operator sentiment on a customer journey,” Soni said.
Pleasant concluded the session by asking panelists for their advice for businesses in 280 characters or less. “I would say AI is the glue that gives sense to UC and contact center,” Della Mea said. “Amazing things happen at the intersection of business technology, Nichols added. For Pleasant herself, “it’s getting better all the time.”