Shifts in the market due to the pandemic have upended the contact center marketplace, accelerating the inevitable migration of infrastructure to the cloud and changing the way agents are managed. The pandemic also increased the dependence customers have on contact centers in the absence of in-store buying.
Since customer data platforms (CDP) emerged in the marketplace about five years ago, there has been debate about what roles they fill, especially within customer service organizations. They were originally developed by small software firms to provide marketing teams with a comprehensive view of customer records. Those records could be scattered throughout an organization, siloed by system and department. CDPs were an attempt to shortcut integration processes that are long, expensive and often custom-designed.
Verint has recently separated into two companies, one of which is a dedicated provider of software focused on customer engagement and will keep the Verint name. (The other is called Cognyte and focused on security analytics.)
The contact center is still, for most businesses, where customer experience is designed, delivered and measured. And as we might expect, customer experience (CX) tools are migrating from where they started point solutions based on narrow functions into broader suites that encompass multi-departmental functions and reach across customer journeys. The goal is to provide more consistency across interactions, and to provide organizations with deeper insights into customer behavior along with control over the various moments of influence that occur along the lifecycle.
Ventana Research recently announced its 2021 market agenda in the expertise area of Customer Experience. Most organizations have some degree of focus on managing how they interact with their customers, but it is often a disjointed and constrained process. Developing an effective customer experience has become an investment priority in recent years as organizations increasingly recognize the importance of good experiences to profitability, customer longevity and advocacy on behalf of brands.
Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Marketing, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Customer Service, Contact Center, Workforce Management, Digital Marketing, Digital Commerce, AI and Machine Learning, agent management, Customer Experience Management, Field Service
The contact center has long represented the starting point for customer experience initiatives. Now, however, most organizations are finding that they need to invest beyond this singular point of engagement. When organizations look at customer experience holistically, they see the need to incorporate the perspectives of people in other departments and channels of customer engagement. These diverse new points of view come with an interest in deploying CX technology that also meets their needs. As a result, organizations are looking at not just vendors traditionally in the contact center space but those that operate across the entire customer journey, and shifting some of the existing contact center budgets to tools that fill multiple roles.
The pandemic has raised the stakes for self-service in every part of the customer journey. In 2020, the customer service industry underwent a shock to its collective system by pulling up stakes and moving agents to remote work. At the same time, consumers moved away from in-person interactions in stores and branches. This systemic disruption has led to longer call wait times and tougher interactions because collaborating and accessing company data systems from outside the office is difficult.
Teradata is not a name that is commonly associated with the customer experience marketplace, but that is likely to change as customer experience (CX) practitioners wrestle with the problems created by the multiple streams of data thrown off by the many applications and customer touchpoints they have to manage. Teradata’s Vantage CX is a tool for ingesting and managing customer information at great scale, combining the functions of a modern CDP with the analytics that makes customer data actionable.
This has been a dramatic year for contact centers. The underlying technology has been changing for some time, but that change is now accelerating because of the urgent operational shifts forced by the pandemic. When you can’t gather dozens or hundreds of people into a single, open-plan site, you must look at alternative models for staffing and interaction handling. You must also work harder to create positive customer experiences across multiple contact channels.
It’s very exciting to embark on a new chapter of one’s career, so I am thrilled to be joining Ventana Research to lead the practice of expertise in customer experience (CX). Some who know me might remember that I’ve been in this industry since a much younger version of me edited Call Center Magazine in the 1990s and 2000s. Others might have crossed paths in my role at several industry analyst firms. I’ve been around for quite a while, invigorate and help CX emerge as a competitive differentiator in the industry, watching successive waves of technological and operational changes wash over this industry. So what’s special about this moment, for the CX industry, for Ventana Research and for myself?