Today many conversations about contact centers and CRM focus on customer engagement and the customer experience. Customer engagement should be relatively straightforward, addressing how organizations interact with customers through different channels of engagement. However, when it comes to customer experience, I believe many miss the point. The key word is experience, which means it is ultimately about perceptions and emotions. Companies must consider how customers feel prior to, during and after interactions. A common example would be a customer who feels frustrated when he or she gets a bill and believes it is wrong, who then gets angry talking to an agent who can do nothing about it and, as a result, considers changing suppliers.
From a technical perspective, organizations not only need systems that manage all types of engagement channels but also must route each interaction to a skilled employee or properly programmed digital system to handle the interaction. They also need voice-of-the-customer systems and analytics to understand customer emotions before, during and after interactions, and other analytics to monitor and assess the process from end to end. With this in mind, I recently attended Genesys’ European CX event to understand how the company is progressing toward providing a customer experience platform that combines all these systems.
These types of events typically follow a common format: Vendor representatives give presentations about their company and its products; a variety of third parties (customers, analysts, consultants, partners and celebrities) give keynote presentations and vendors and their partners demonstrate the products in an exhibition hall. There are always many sessions so it is impossible to cover them all in detail, but my key takeaways from sessions presented by non-Genesys employees are these:
- Genesys customers emphasized that achieving their objectives required a customer-centric approach. Their message to the audience was to focus on the customer, not internal organizational issues or processes.
- To succeed, organizations need a full 360-degree view of customers, for example, reports and analyses that show every aspect of all customer-related tasks – marketing, sales, service, interaction handling, finance and the voice of the customer.
- The time to change is now; there is no time to stand still because other organizations are likely to emerge that reinvent businesses – Uber was of course mentioned as a prime example of how this can happen.
- Bots are here, and artificial intelligence techniques will get smarter, wiping out repetitive tasks (and jobs!). However, there is also a place for bots to help humans do a better job and deliver better outcomes for interactions.
The Genesys sessions I attended echoed most of these points, although they took a Genesys-centric position. As I recently wrote, the company has a product strategy based on three products (PureCloud, PureConnect and PureEngage) designed for organizations of different sizes and requirements. Each product addresses the same three business objectives: supporting customer and employee engagement and improving business outcomes. Various sessions outlined many updates and additions to these three products; details can be found on the Genesys website.
Along with the product discussions, several speakers emphasized that Genesys has been in the contact center and customer engagement markets for many years, and therefore has a large pool of professional service resources that they said can help organizations reach their CX goals. As well as the core products, several speakers covered ancillary products such as workforce optimization and analytics, each of which is being more tightly integrated with all three core products as well as undergoing enhancements.
With an eye on the longer term, Genesys CMO Merijn te Booij introduced G-NINE. He described this as an “Innovation Framework” that will not only include technology and systems but services to help organizations advance their CX initiatives. The technology is still at an early stage of development, but one of the first things available is a set of artificial intelligence tools, automation and microapps called Kate, designed to improve customer service and interaction handling. Using IBM Watson tools, Kate allows organizations to support employees handling interactions by automating processes, finding information and guiding them on best practices.
Another significant component is Hub 1.1. It extends the type of interactions supported by the overall platform to include asynchronous messaging through popular channels like Facebook Messenger, Slack, Skype, WeChat and the newly introduced Business Chat from Apple iMessage.
These highlights go only a small way in demonstrating the level of investment Genesys is making in its products and services with the stated aim of helping organizations improve the customer experience. Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement shows this is vital because the main way organizations expect to compete is through customer experience and to do this, they require an integrated suite of customer experience systems – assisted and digital engagement channels, interaction routing, WFO, voice of the customer and multidimensional analytics. Genesys has such a suite, which it calls its customer experience platform. This is built around its three core products which, over time, will be further enhanced with more developments under the G-NINE umbrella.
Delivering the “customer experience promise” is no easy thing, and it certainly cannot be done with a single product. I therefore recommend organizations focused on customer experience dig into the entirety of Genesys products and assess how they can help deliver the experiences customers have come to expect.
VP & Research Director, Customer Engagement