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Contact centers in the cloud are increasingly popular alternatives to managing them on a company’s own premises. Running many business applications on hardware owned and managed by a third party is relatively straightforward and requires less support internally. Also the payment model changes from a license to a recurring fee, and typically the vendor provides updates as part of the fee. The challenge with placing a contact center in the cloud is that it is not a single system or even a collection of similar systems. The center includes infrastructure systems to manage communication channels, a network to support telephone extensions and access points to business applications, specialist systems such as routing and IVR, business applications (such as ERP, CRM and workforce management) and performance management and analytics systems; increasingly the contact center has to support mobile and social media as well. Moving all these to the cloud in an integrated manner is a complex task.
Corvisa is one company that aims to overcome this complexity, and it does this through an interesting business model. It claims to provide a single source for cloud communications that includes both software as a service and a platform as a service. It consists of a business phone system, a contact center, a development platform and connectivity, all in the cloud. In another shift from the norm, clients can use the Corvisa platform and software to build their own systems, which within certain guidelines can include custom code to meet specific company requirements. Corvisa promises that if these developments remain within the guidelines, they will be supported by future releases of the core systems. Thus clients can get customizable software that runs in the Corvisa cloud.
A conventional on-premises contact center includes a PBX or an ACD that receives calls from the public telephone network and routes them to specific extensions based on rules that can be set by an administrator or by users on their handsets; they may include a greeting message, a busy tone, or instructions to divert to IVR, for example. The Corvisa Business Phone System replaces this with a cloud-based system. It supports capabilities to manage user profiles, recording of voice messages, call forwarding, voice mail and call division, which can be done using a browser-based app or supported handsets. It also has a soft phone so users can make calls through an on-screen dialer, which in conjunction with setting up contact profiles allows point-and-click dialing. Corvisa provides a mobile app that enables features to be carried out from a smartphone. The system is supported on Corvisa’s telephone carrier-grade network, which ensures quality of service, optimum routing of calls, scalability and reliability. Our benchmark research on the contact center in the cloud shows that telephone traffic is still the most common form of customer interaction, so companies still need to pay close attention to managing them. The Corvisa Business Phone System helps them do that in a more flexible, cost-effective and reliable way.
The CorvisaOne contact center suite builds on the business phone system to support core contact center capabilities. It is available in two versions. The Inbound version provides a software-based IVR so companies can set up flexible menus, which link to capabilities that route calls to the most skilled agent available to handle the call. It also provides the ability to set up call queues, which administrators can monitor in real time and adjust if times in one queue become too long. The Complete version supports all these capabilities and outbound features including an outbound dialer, campaign management and lead nurturing. The system also extends Corvisa’s services to support live chat between agents or agents and customer. President Matt Lutz says the company’s first objective is to support high quality, cost effective telephone services and then to develop additional channels and capabilities.
In my view the Corvisa Summit Platform is the company’s biggest differentiator. The platform enables users to customize Corvisa’s product suite and/or build new real-time communication apps specifically for their business. It goes beyond standard APIs and Web service calls, offering code-level access to the CorvisaOne suite, so users can build entirely new voice and instant messaging apps without starting from scratch. It supports integration with business application such as CRM, and its development capabilities support the end-to-end application development process. For companies that want to take advantage of this but don’t have the skilled resources, Corvisa and its partners offer them. I don’t know of any other vendor that provides such a combination of core capabilities and flexible development in the cloud.
My years of experience in the systems integration business showed me that building even a simple contact center is not easy; our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement confirms that companies still struggle to integrate systems, to manage communication channels so they appear as one to customers and to provide consistent responses at every touch point. The situation is increasingly complex as companies have to support more channels of communications and more employees become involved handling interactions. I am convinced that the only cost-effective way forward is a contact center in the cloud. I therefore recommend that companies looking to extend and improve customer engagement assess how Corvisa can help those efforts.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director
In recent years I have tracked Salesforce, its product development and its announcements. Despite having grown into a giant corporation, it continues to introduce innovations. At a recent analyst day in the U.K., I followed up on the company’s overall direction, some key product developments and a new service to help drive adoption of innovative customer-related processes. Salesforce’s primary aim is to help organizations market and sell to, service, engage with and know their customers through innovative processes and cloud-based systems. To support these efforts, it has made significant updates to its marketing, service community and analytics clouds. For example, it has added Marketing Cloud Predictive Decisions to its Marketing Cloud. The new module enables marketers to apply analytics to a range of customer-related data to gain a more complete picture of their customers and from it build more personalized marketing messages and campaigns. Business users can set up their own analytics, determine next best actions and deliver marketing messages and dialogues through multiple communication channels. Predictive Decisions helps transform marketing’s approach from general one-off marketing campaigns to one-to-one, personalized dialogues through channels that individuals prefer. On another front, the company has enhanced its Service Cloud with Service Cloud Intelligence Engine. This product also runs across multiple channels. It dynamically pushes work to the right employee, based on the skill set required to handle the task and the history of the request, and at the same time it distributes and manages the workload across employees who handle customer interactions. Analytics here provides an enhanced view of customers so that dialogues concerning a case can be viewed and preserved across all channels. In other developments Community Cloud has been enhanced to expand the range of expert groups to engage, deliver customer self-service as part of a community, and do this on smart mobile devices. Analytics Cloud now can ingest larger volumes and types of customer-related data, including interaction data. It enables both business users and analysts to use a wider range of data sources to find answers to specific questions, also on mobile devices. It also includes capabilities for developers to build specific analytic apps for targeted business uses. My colleague has assessed the product in Salesforce Analytics Cloud Delivers Wave of Elegant Dashboards. All of these developments and existing capabilities have been brought together on what Salesforce calls the Customer Success Platform. It is built on the company’s cloud infrastructure, and as well as its own cloud-based apps, it includes all the partner apps available on the Salesforce app store. A “scalable metadata platform” glues everything together. It includes data and objects, a mobile user interface, collaboration tools, analytics, workflow and identity management. Enhancements enable developers to build mobile apps for both customers and employees more easily. In the pipeline are capabilities to use wearable technology to collect and display data. Salesforce’s efforts to help companies “do business in a new way” reflect challenges that many companies encounter in trying to serve customers more effectively. Our research into next-generation customer engagement shows that the three most common challenges are integrating systems (49%), managing communication challenges in a unified way and not as silos (47%) and inconsistent responses and information in customer interactions (33%). My research and customer case studies lead me to conclude that changing processes is the biggest challenge. To meet this challenge Salesforce has introduced a consulting program called Ignite. This collaborative consulting service aims to help organizations design their customer management vision and execution roadmap. It is comprised of four steps: discovery, inspiration and design, prototyping and iteration and doing it. Discovery uses joint workshops and interviews with key stakeholders to introduce the program and its objectives, gain buy-in and discover the current state. Inspiration and design is another series of joint workshops to develop ideas and envision the desired state. Prototyping and iteration uses the new ideas to develop prototypes of how the new vision can be delivered. The “do” step presents and demonstrates the prototypes to stakeholders and develops a value statement and an implementation plan so the business can decide the way forward. Overall this seems to be a fairly typical consulting service that focuses on customer engagement and associated processes, systems and metrics, but it is deliberately collaborative and tailored around Salesforce applications and tools. The main innovation I see is that it is designed to uncover new ways of working that organizations may not have considered. Business, especially around customer engagement, is changing more rapidly than ever, and it is hard for organizations to keep up with technology developments and learn how to gain maximum benefit from them. Ignite should help Salesforce customers identify how they can improve customer management and introduce new approaches to keep ahead of the competition. The Salesforce Customer Success Platform is a comprehensive package of systems that focus on customer management processes, underpinned by improved integration, analytics and collaborative capabilities. Our research consistently finds that most companies are still relatively immature in the use of people, processes, information and systems for customer management. I therefore recommend companies seeking to survive and prosper in today’s highly competitive markets assess how the Salesforce products and service can help. Regards, Richard J. Snow VP & Research Director