So many companies are enjoying the benefits of having moved their contact centers to the cloud over the past few years. Often companies started with a small deployment in one department and gradually grew that implementation to encompass all the contact center applications in the business. Others started with inbound voice and over time have added omnichannel routing or workforce optimization. Cloud contact center deployments that began in customer care may have been extended to other business areas. For example, many companies are seeing the benefits of deploying cloud contact center integrated with cloud CRM solutions to inside sales staff. All are enjoying the benefits of smooth implementation of new features and the enhanced functionality that comes with each new, easily-deployed release.
So, what comes next? How will companies that have embraced the cloud for the contact center and sales applications across their businesses continue to benefit in 2018 and beyond? Two topics come to mind: participating fully in corporate digital transformation initiatives and investigating uses of artificial intelligence in customer care.
A few years ago, the notion of managing customer journeys was an essential theme in customer care. There was a growing recognition that customers are taking a series of steps to make their purchases or handle their customer support needs and that agents needed to be provided with as much context as possible about each of the actions taken to optimize the customer experience.
More recently it has become clear that the steps to understand the customer journeys are often dependent on different organizations within the business. To understand what promotional, perhaps even personalized, email or text may have prompted a follow-up call, the contact center needs real-time access to digital marketing activity. A similar integration with the sales department may be required to allow an agent to answer a pricing question for a customer who has seen a tailored offer on the company website.
Having a cloud contact center application means that a company’s IT department, freed of the need to work on keeping servers and applications running, can work to integrate the various applications across the business. CRM and contact center integration has become table-stakes, but giving the contact center access to information from all aspects of the company is the promise of a completely digitally transformed business.
If one was to choose a subject that emerged as a unifying theme across the contact center market in 2017, it was artificial intelligence (AI). Indeed, the topic was being discussed before this year. IBM Watson, first brought to attention when it played Jeopardy against human champions, announced the Watson API in 2013 to allow other software developers to use Watson AI. Similarly, the Salesforce Einstein AI platform was initially announced in 2016.
It will be in 2018, however, that we will see more and more companies begin to trial and deploy AI-based solutions, like chatbots, predictive routing and other types of machine learning and natural language understanding. For NICE inContact customers, the CXexchange offers many NICE inContact and partner solutions for adding artificial intelligence to your contact center today. These include:
- Lumen AI Assist - integrates AI capabilities into the NICE inContact My Agent eXperience - MAX interface
- Cognicor Virtual Assistant - helps companies create a virtual assistant that can address user queries and resolve issues without human assistance
- SmartAction – AI engine powers self-service across voice and digital channels using natural language processing (NLP)
- Inbenta – Hybrid chat and chatbots with NLP-powered search
- AnswerDash – AI-powered self-service support for web, mobile and chatbots
Customer-facing AI is evolving rapidly and often industry or use case specific. Contact center leaders should ensure their customer experience platform is built to be open and integrate with modern APIs so they can use or swap out multiple AI technologies as they mature.
Learn more about Digital Transformation and AI at Enterprise Connect
As chair for the Contact Center & Customer Experience track at Enterprise Connect to be held in Orlando, FL March 12-15, I’ve ensured that digital transformation and artificial intelligence are themes that will be explored from many angles in a number of different sessions.
As an important leader in cloud customer care, NICE inContact executives will be joining two of our panels. Paul Jarman, CEO, will participate in Contact Center Executive Forum: The Cloud and Beyond, a session I will moderate where executives from the leading contact center/customer experience companies will discuss and debate the state of the market and technology. Also, Chris Bauserman VP, Segment & Product Marketing, NICE inContact, will join a diverse group in a session titled The Role of Digital Transformation in Customer Care. That session will be moderated by Melanie Turek, VP of Research, Connected Work, Frost & Sullivan. Plan to join us!