In this digital era, people are used to instant access to anything, at any time, on any device. It’s no wonder that when consumers contact your business—whether it’s to make a purchase or report an issue—they expect that same instant experience.
And bearing the brunt of these ever-increasing customer demands are contact centers. You need a platform that not only handles voice and digital channels, but also gives your agents and supervisors the tools they need to be efficient and effective.
And just as importantly, you need an open platform that can easily and seamlessly integrate with other technologies that will help you deliver exceptional experiences and even better business results. To help extend the core capabilities they provide, contact center platforms are now in a race to create the most robust ecosystem that integrates with innovative third-party solutions from cutting-edge developers.
Contact center platform ecosystems fall under one of three categories
- Open: Developers meet certain standards to gain access to APIs that enable them to integrate their products within the contact center platform quickly and easily.
- Managed: Developers must adhere to specific functionality guidelines and have limited access to APIs.
- Closed: Developers must go through various approval processes for tightly controlled access to APIs and functionality.
When selecting an ecosystem and platform in this digital era—especially in the CCaaS world— you don’t want to pay a huge amount to third-party integrators. Instead you need an open platform that does integration for you through an open ecosystem with open APIs.
We’ve invited five of our DEVone Ecosystem partners to share their thoughts on why you need to be open minded about using an open platform in your contact center.
1. Agent Productivity
Lightico highlights how an open platform can empower agents to complete document-heavy transactions digitally and instantly
Regardless of industry, all contact centers have similar goals: increase agent productivity, improve first contact resolution (FCR), and boost NPS.
With an open, best-in-class contact center platform like NICE inContact CXone, your contact center can easily and seamlessly integrate with digital capabilities that help agents to meet these important KPIs.
Here are a few best-in-class tools that we’ve identified as being most beneficial to help complete complex interactions in the contact center.
- Realtime eSignatures can be deployed from any touchpoint, including a contact center platform. Agents at the final stage of the sale or service, can simply send documents directly to the customer’s cell phone via text message for a quick signature. Customers either finger sign, type sign, or use auto-generated signatures which are validated and stored on the CRM with a full audit trail.
- Smart eForms allow agents to spend less time chasing customers for forms or error-filled fields, especially now that many businesses are reducing their workforce or splitting teams across different remote locations. User-friendly eForms provide customers with an intuitive interface and leverage techniques like smart fields, auto-fill, and predictive typing. This has been shown to boost first-time completion rates to 95%, eliminating rework and follow-up.
- Digital Document Collection platforms enable customers to use their cellphone cameras to easily snap and instantly submit pictures of required documents to contact center agents. Those collected documents are then associated with the customer file and securely stored with the rest of the customer records in the businesses’ CRM. This accelerates compliance processes and speeds cycle time by 80%, minimizing the back and forth between agents and customers.
- Secure Payments: Contact centers can boost payment completion rates by up to 20% by plugging a PCI-compliant digital payment system into their open platform. Importantly, with new WFH agents, it’s critical to have a cloud-based solution that is both flexible and compliant. Contact center agents can send a secure link to customers to make payments directly from their cell phones, in real-time. This secure link eliminates exposure of data to the agent and avoids the clumsy web redirects, DTMF, and stop/start recording which can hurt the customer experience, compliance and completion rates.
- Visual Cart: Contact centers that focus on sales can win customers’ trust and reduce confusion by implementing a “visual cart.” The agent simply opens an order in their dashboard, and the system instantly generates the relevant elements (such as order summary, terms and conditions, and eSignature requests). This smart workflow is then sent to the customer’s mobile phone where it can be reviewed in real-time with the agent still on the phone.
Digital customer-facing tools that sync with existing agent toolbars and CRMs enable contact centers to serve and sell to customers in a frictionless way. Agents can begin sessions with customers directly from their dashboard without the need to login to an additional system. And customers can complete processes without leaving their mobile phone while on a call with an agent.
Selecting an open platform for your contact center means you can quickly, easily and seamlessly integrate a wide range of digital tools so your agents can complete more transactions in less time while improving customer satisfaction—and their own morale.
Semafone explains why complying with data regulations is easier with an open contact center platform
With contact centers serving as the major hub for most customer communications, the amount of sensitive Personally Identifiable Information (PII) passing through them is arguably higher than any other part of the business. As such, contact centers have become major targets of fraudsters and hackers seeking to exploit any unchecked vulnerability to steal customers’ sensitive data (credit card details, social security numbers, bank account information, etc.).
At the same time, organizations must keep tabs on and comply with a growing number of data privacy and security regulations, including the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), to name just a few. With so much to keep track of, the challenges of security and compliance can sometimes seem insurmountable.
Contact center fraud is a major problem, and one that is growing every year. Here are a few statistics that highlight the severity of the issue.
- Contact center fraud increased by 350% between 2013 and 2019 in the UK alone.
- According to research by Pindrop, US retailers face an incredibly high number of fraudulent calls to their contact centers, with one in every 400 calls being duplicitous.
- Banking institutions aren’t far behind, with one in every 658 calls being fraudulent, with many other industries like insurance, financial services, and card issuers finding themselves to be massive targets of call fraud as well.
Having an open contact center platform gives you access to a host of tools to help address these security and compliance requirements.
For example, when it comes to payments, the PCI DSS has strict requirements on how cardholder data must be handled and mandates that merchants must never store sensitive cardholder information. With many contact centers collecting payments over the phone or via digital channels such as webchat, email, SMS, or social media, among others, keeping cardholder data off call recordings and out of the network infrastructure can be difficult.
One of the best ways to mitigate threats is to not store cardholder data in the first place. Doing so can drastically reduce the number of applicable PCI DSS requirements in the contact center, and effectively descope it for compliance purposes. Integrating seamlessly with NICE inContact’s open CXone platform that supports PCI DSS compliance, Semafone’s Cardprotect secure payment solutions can help mitigate the burden of PCI DSS compliance. Cardprotect secures cardholder data across voice and all digital customer engagement channels, descoping the contact center for PCI DSS compliance.
Protecting customer data takes time and effort, and it becomes much harder when using closed contact center systems where integrations are limited, and APIs are closed. Leveraging open contact center platforms unlocks a multitude of options for data security, and in the end, your customers will trust you more knowing their data is in safe hands.
At the end of the day, fraudsters can’t hack the information you don’t hold!
3. Flexibility, Simplicity and Expertise
Omilia reveals how an open platform you can give easy and affordable access to new technologies
In modern contact centers, it's difficult to be an expert in everything. The demands placed on contact center operators are constantly increasing, and "best practices" seem to be elusive. Every day there’s a new standard…a new regulation…a new mandate coming down from your leadership.
It’s really hard for contact centers to maintain technologies that they are not experts in. How do you keep employees trained in a system you’re not used to running? How do you ensure it’s maintained and up to date? How do you deal with the loss of expert knowledge caused by turnover?
Expense is also a concern. New technologies can sometimes carry hefty price tags.
Everyone is always sure there's "a better way to do these things...if we only knew who to ask." This is the problem that can be solved when you consider open platforms.
One of the key characteristics of modern, open platforms is that they have evolved to make best practices available in an open manner. This allows you to buy expertise you need and deploy it exactly where you need it.
This open model helps you in three ways:
- Budgets: You can pay as you go, meaning that you can oftentimes try it out without needing to request money in your budget. If you like the technology, you can often pay for it in your standard operating costs. You don’t need to ask for major capital expenditures.
- Expertise: An open platform is probably already solving problems for other companies. That means that best practices are already part of the platform. It’s also in the interest of open platform providers that you know how to use their services. They can help you with training, with additional support, and with knowledge when you need it.
- Simplicity: Keeping technology up to date, and integrating it to your platform, is the responsibility of the platform provider. That’s a whole layer of complexity that you no longer need to worry about.
So, when you invest in an open contact center, you get a powerful platform that can:
- Give you access to “best practices” from other contact centers
- Work with your platform right now
- Drive results within your existing budget
- Eliminate the burden of maintenance and training
- Take care of a problem that's been hard for you to solve
That last point is the most important. If you've been dealing with an intractable contact center problem for a long time, you should consider how modern, open platforms give you new capabilities.
You can deliver measurable results in your contact center, this year, using open platforms.
4. Optimized Outbound
Acqueon shares insights on boosting the power of your outbound interactions
A lot of contact centers hold on to their existing technology, not because they love it or because it meets all their needs, but because it’s familiar. The thought of moving to an open, cloud platform can seem overwhelming because it’s new and unknown.
But the benefits of moving to an open platform far outweigh the risks.
The constraints of a legacy contact center systems often make it very difficult to keep up with evolving customer, agent and business expectations, not to mention world-impacting events like the global pandemic we are all now facing.
Today’s customers are tech savvy and use a multitude of communication channels—voice, text, email, social media, mobile apps, the list only goes on and on—and who knows what new channels are yet to come? They expect you to get the right information, at any time, from any place on any device. If you don’t, they’ll find someone who can.
Agents are also demanding more. They want the tools and systems they use to actually help them do their jobs better. They want to spend less time looking for information, making routine outbound calls and answering simple questions, and more time resolving customer issues and closing more deals.
And the pandemic we are currently dealing with is a perfect example of how you need a contact center that allows you to quickly pivot your entire operations on a dime. You need to keep your staff safe, your customers happy, and your business operating.
With an open, API-based platform, you can address all those issues and some you might not even be aware of. For example, automating and integrating your inbound and outbound process and workflows can help you provide better customer and agent experiences, and deliver better results for your business.
- Use proactive notifications to avoid unnecessary calls when issues arise that drive up call volume. Your customers will love how proactive you are, your agents will be happy they aren’t answering repetitious questions all day, and your business will save money by automating these outbound interactions rather than using live agents to handle each inbound call.
- Send targeted notifications—by integrating with your customer database—to deliver tailored communications to your customers or patients for appointment reminders, information gathering or follow-ups. Inbound replies are then integrated with the outbound notifications for a more holistic customer experience.
- Improve your collections rate by targeting priority debtors with the highest likelihood to pay, providing options to the others, and re-assuring constituents late with their payments about the continuity of critical services.
With an open contact center platform like CXone, you can then use a campaign manager such as Acqueon Engagement to manage all of your outbound campaigns and list management for sales, service, and collections. Using an open cloud platform drives better customer experiences, boost agent productivity and lower TCO by letting you use the right channels to optimize service delivery cost and promote self-service.
All of us want to invest in the best and the greatest products or solutions but we need to ensure that they solve not just today’s issues but any challenges that come along. An open cloud contact center gives you the ability to define, adjust and reset what you want and need to do, instead of getting boxed into a solution that will only solve your existing problems.
Be ready to adapt to new challenges and realities before it is too late.
5. Agent and customer experience
Jabra shows how intelligent headsets and an open contact center platform can help you stand out from the crowd
So, how integrating intelligent headsets into an open contact center platform add value to your contact center? The short answer is you get better functionality that you can tailor for your environment, at much lower costs than proprietary, closed platforms.
Integrating intelligent headset functionality into your contact center increases agent productivity and simplifies administrator management, all at an affordable price point. Agent productivity will lead to better customer experiences, which is what will set you apart from your competition.
Intelligent headsets are rich in software capabilities, incorporating open SDKs and API libraries, data analytics, and call/agent monitoring. They provide some of the best tools available to customize both the functionality of the headset and the experience between the headset and the open contact center platform ecosystem.
All this creates capabilities tailored to the needs of your contact center environment, significantly boosting the productivity of all users, and enabling agents to deliver the enhanced customer experience that consumers now expect.
Intelligent headsets offer a wide variety of capabilities in open platform environments Including:
- Remote Call Control (RCC) from the headset to manage the open contact center platform’s dial, answer, hang up, mute, and hold features.
- Audio optimization, workflow support and real-time call-profiling data—such as noise cancellation, measurements of real time cross-talk and background noise, and many other advanced analytic and diagnostic parameters—allow agents to see how the application and audio devices are performing so they can deliver a best-in-class experience to your customers.
- Applications that can be integrated with open contact center platforms. Choosing headsets with open SDKs and APIs that allow applications to configure, activate, control, and monitor them provides voice solutions in a highly integrated manner.
CRM, AI apps—such as voice assistants, etc.—the choice is yours. Less complexity, lower costs, more functionality, faster integrations. You get to choose because you’ve selected headsets that support open platform ecosystems.
When looking for headsets to support open platforms, make sure you select a headset manufacturer that provides:
- A solid support system that includes developer forums, FAQs, whitepapers, ‘how to’ guides and a support ticketing system.
The bottom line? Don’t get caught in a proprietary world that locks you into an ecosystem that may not end up meeting your unique current and future needs.
Think open, flexible, affordable, fast integration and agent productivity like never before.
Opening your mind open doors to new opportunities
In today’s unpredictable world, you need a contact center that can adapt quickly to whatever challenges the world and your business need to face. You need agility to adapt to unforeseen circumstances, flexibility to scale to meet new needs, and speed to deploy new solutions to meet ever-evolving customer demands.
With the NICE inContact CXone Open Cloud Foundation, you get access to more than 100 pre-built, pre-tested integrations through our CXexchange Marketplace, and a huge network of ecosystem partners—160 and counting! You even have an easy way to create your own custom integrations, using over 350 APIs and the support of an interactive developer community.
- Visit the our website to learn more about the benefits of NICE inContact CXone open cloud foundation.
- Check out our partner ecosystem integrations on our CXexchange Marketplace
Keeping an open mind about open contact center platforms can open huge opportunities for your organization. Case closed!