I recently joined more than 1,000 users, partners, consultants and other analysts at the first global G-Force 2015 conference, held in Miami. Sponsor Genesys put together an agenda that not only educated but entertained the attendees. For an example of the latter, Sekou Andrews, a poet, actor, musician and voice-over artist, preceded the main keynotes with a wonderful sketch that put customer experience into the context of marriage and reminded us to treat customers as he does his wife, remembering that the customer is always right!
On a more serious note, President and CEO Paul Segre kicked the event off with an overview of the company. He emphasized that Genesys focuses on one thing, which he called an “omnichannel engagement center,” sells one product, the Genesys Customer Experience Platform (which I have written about) and enables one primary goal, next-generation customer experience. Segre also made the distinction that the company provides what he referred to as a “system of engagement” (to manage customer interactions), not a system of record (to manage transactional customer data such as orders, service cases and invoices), though its platform integrates with systems of record such as CRM and ERP. Of course, doing all of this is not simple. A deeper dive shows that the platform supports multiples channels of communication, rules-based routing across all channels, and inbound and outbound communications. It also includes agent-assisted service and some self-service capabilities such as IVR; workforce optimization to manage the people side of handling customer interactions; back-office workload management (managing the flow of tasks across business groups and users); and multiple analytics capabilities. All of these capabilities are tightly integrated to support data sharing, processes that flow across systems and ease of administration, through a modern user interface. The totality of these capabilities earned the platform our 2014 Technology Innovation Award.
The capabilities are offered in a variety of bundles, some of which are based on-premises and others in the cloud. Overall the Genesys CX Platform helps companies of all sizes support the technical and people aspects of handling customer interactions. Its analytics produces a comprehensive view of customer, employee and business performance so that companies can assess how well they are meeting customer expectations and business objectives and where improvements are needed.
The various conference sessions outlined upcoming developments in all the component products, and several emphasized making more of them available in the cloud. These advances will be supplemented by acquisitions and partnerships, two of which were highlighted. The first is a new partnership with Microsoft for its Skype for Business product. Enabling customers and organizations to seamlessly engage through video, voice and instant messages while transferring between these channels without interruption, this partnership will add some emerging communication channels of customer choice to the CX Platform. It also extends the possibilities for collaboration, which our benchmark research on next-generation customer engagement shows is a top priority for companies as they seek to ensure consistency and speed of response in handling interactions.
The second featured partnership is with IBM’s Watson division. As I wrote earlier this year, IBM Watson Engagement Manager will be integrated into the Genesys CX Platform to provide cognitive capabilities for both assisted and self-service. In particular it will enhance the Genesys agent desktop by making responses more personalized and relevant; it also enables an omnichannel customer experience in an environment where most companies still operate multiple, disconnected channels of engagement.
Merijn te Booij, EVP of product and solution strategy for Genesys, did two sessions showing how Genesys is focused on technology development that reflects market demands. In a lighthearted segment he showed how consumer experiences are being disrupted by technologies such as voice-activated commands to change room lighting and electronic alerts if beer supplies are running low in the fridge; as well as amusing this was a timely reminder that customer experience is changing at an unprecedented pace. More seriously te Booij outlined 14 macro trends he predicts will impact CX by the year 2020. Among them are potentially 25 billion devices enabled for the Internet of Things; chat overtaking voice as the most popular channel; artificial intelligence and cognitive computing enabling far-reaching innovations; wearable devices and sensors shifting the CX paradigm from being largely reactive to being more proactive and based on data collected from devices; and video and augmented reality playing a bigger part in visualization of information. As an illustration of the rate of change, some of his other trends seem to me to be here already: seamless connection between assisted and self-service; speech and text analytics supporting real-time analysis; metrics such as NPS and CX being delivered in the cloud; and data management and analytics underpinning all CX activities.
I have written several times that CX excellence is now the true differentiator in customer service but that it is not easy to achieve. It requires a combination of systems to manage channels of engagement, employee-based tasks and transactional data. In my view, above everything else, excellent customer experience requires advanced analytics so companies can monitor and assess performance from customer, employee and business perspectives and take action to improve. G-Force 2015 showed that Genesys and its partners are addressing all of the four dimensions of CX: management of communications channels, employee management, integration with transactional systems, and analytics. I recommend that companies evaluate how Genesys can help them keep up with and even anticipate their customers’ expectations.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director