The Democratization Of Customer Service Forces Vendor Consolidation

Kate Leggett
Vice President, Principal Analyst
July 10, 2016

Today, customers expect easy, effective customer service which build positive emotional connections.  And they expect this type of service from all companies that they do business with – companies that are both big and small.  

Companies use complex software from different vendors to support customer service operations. They use:

  1. Queuing and routing technologies. They capture the customer inquiry, which can be via voice, digital, or social channels, and route and queue the inquiry to the right agent pool.
  2. CRM customer service technologies. They enable customer service agents to create and work the incoming service request.
  3. Workforce optimization technologies. They record agent interactions with customers, evaluate the quality of these interactions, recommend targeted training based on quality scores, manage agent schedules, forecast future schedules and more.

These technologies must be integrated to provide a differentiated quality of service – integrations that are often complex, expensive and cumbersome to maintain which means that only larger, more established companies can provide real differentiated service.

Companies are demanding a democratiziation of customer service technologies – that is, a simpler, more prepackaged, end-to-end  customer service technology ecosystem that allows companies of all sizes to offer good service.  They want: 1) to better support omnichannel interactions by passing contextual data across channels so that customers do not have to restart conversations when they switch channels in the course of an interaction; 2) consolidated reporting across all channels which can be used to staff and forecast agents to control headcount costs; 3) optimized routing based on current agent skills and success rates for similar interactions for higher first contact resolution scores; and 4) targeted coaching based on quality scorecard results.

Vendors are reacting to this demand. Established vendors in each software category are already making out-of –category acquisitions. For example,  Verint, a WFO vendor, purchased KANA, an agent desktop solution in 2014. Nice, another WFO vendor, announced its intent to purchase inContact, a cloud contact center provider in May 2016.

In addition, cloud contact center vendors — are bundling and selling technologies in this ecosystem together. Vendors like Five9, and LiveOps offer a unified communications infrastructure, robust routing, and queuing engines for interactions of all types.They have integrated workforce optimization software suites for agent quality management, scheduling, forecasting, and contact center performance. Today, they tend to either have adapters to leading CRM systems or they have light weight case management and knowledge capabilities which can be easily hardened or acquired.

What does this all mean? There are only a handful of dominant vendors in each software category. The shift in the market will drive a reduction in best-of-breed components to more integrated suites, so a vendor’s longer-term road map must reflect this consolidation and migration. Also, keep an eye out for emerging vendors that offer all-in-one capabilities.

Read more about this topic in our recent report: Vendors Battle For The Heart Of The Contact Center.

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