There is some good news regarding contact centres, both for agents using and for customers experiencing them, as Interactive Intelligence has launched its customer engagement cloud service, Pure Cloud, in South Africa.
At a recent round table, Deon Scheepers, regional business development manager for Interactive Intelligence, began by quoting research firm IDC, which has noted that the world is at an inflection point where digital technology will radically change the way do business. Additionally, the company has been quoted as stressing that digital transformation is not just a technology trend, but has become the centre of business.
Scheepers added that due to digitisation, everything is being turned into information irrespective of what market a company is in.
Broadly speaking, Interactive Intelligence noted that South African contact centres are challenged to deliver always-on access across multiple channels, as well as ensuring that agents are empowered to assure true first call resolution. However, a primary challenge, besides from aging infrastructure being burdened by legacy technology, comes from customers themselves, who, thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices and consumerisation of IT, are accustomed to a certain type of instant interaction and expect the same efficiency when dealing with organisations.
Deon Scheepers, regional business development manager, Interactive Intelligence
“Local contact centres increasingly need to roll out faster, scale up or down for campaigns without unnecessary expense, and focus their resources and budget more on staff and customer experience rather than infrastructure,” added Andre le Roux, Interactive Intelligence Managing Director, Africa Region.
He elaborated that to this end, the PureCloud Engage addresses contact centre pain points such as high costs, lack of scalability, and difficulty managing geographically dispersed remote sites.
“PureCloud Engage continuously delivers the most innovative and comprehensive omnichannel features, which reduces the cost and complexity of upgrades, eliminates downtime for maintenance, and improves both the agent and customer experience,” he said. “Its advanced analytics also take full advantage of the virtually limitless data storage capacity of the cloud so agents have immediate access to all relevant customer information. This empowers them to give personal and even proactive service, which significantly improves the customer experience.”
The good, the bad and the ugly
And customer experience is clearly king. At the round table, Scheepers fully acknowledged that users’ experience of call centres runs the gamut. There are those that “get it right” and provide excellent service, at the other end of the spectrum, there are also call centres which manage to alienate and frustrate customers, sending them flocking to social media to voice their displeasure at the company in question.
While none of these were named and shamed, clearly many at the round table had their own blacklist of companies with poor performing call centres.
He stressed that this only proves that while having the right technology in place is clearly important – and which Pure Cloud aims to address – it doesn’t stand alone; no less critical is agent training.
While that is an aspect over Interactive Intelligence has little control, the company has taken an interesting approach to the development of the Pure Cloud platform, basing the solution on the assumption that things will go wrong.
“When we started designing Pure Cloud, we began from a clean state, and made the assumption that anything that can fail, will. We also baked into the solution demand will always fluctuate,” elaborated Le Roux. This planning for failure, and then ensuring absolute redundancy at all times is a unique approach, rather than designing a product and hoping that nothing catastrophic happens. The approach seems to be largely enabled by the fact that PureCloud Engage is architected as a set of stateless, independently load-balanced microservices running atop the scalable Amazon Web Services Cloud.
As for the current feature set, it’s comprehensive. Primary features of PureCloud include omnichannel routing, speech-enabled interactive voice response (IVR), call recording, quality management and reporting, outbound and predictive dialing, CRM integrations, and graphical scripting. It also includes business communications and collaboration features, such as IP PBX capabilities, video conferencing, corporate directory, chat, desktop sharing, and content management.
It is Amazon Web Services powering the platform, a decision which was a clear cut one to make over its nearest competitor of Microsoft. The reasoning behind this, Le Roux elaborated, was due to Amazon’s current offerings being the best fit for Pure Cloud’s features, and the fact that Amazon had a path for future releases that fit in with Interactive Intelligence’s desire to continuously release new features.
These, however, will not be automatically on by default, but rather would become available to customer who wish to use them and accompanied by service release notification and documentation. Admittedly, there may still be a long way to go to ensure call centre agents can and do offer the best experience possible and minimize customer frustration. However, at least the technology side of the equation has been addressed.
PureCloud Engage is offered directly through the Interactive Intelligence salesforce as well as through the company’s channel comprised of approximately 400 partners worldwide. More information can be found here.