Interactive Intelligence is a well-established supplier of contact center systems and just celebrated its 20th anniversary. Customer Interaction Center (CIC) is its on-premises product, which provides integrated management of multiple communication channels and supports a high degree of customization. Communications as a Service (CaaS) is a virtual private cloud (for single tenants) version of CIC and as such offers less potential for customization. Recently Interactive Intelligence released PureCloud, an innovative cloud-based service that is available through Amazon Web Services.
PureCloud is a new product, not another rearchitected version of CIC available through a different delivery model. The initial release doesn’t included the same level of functionality as the others, supporting fewer channels of communication and lacking workforce optimization, surveys, coaching and mobile access for agents. Yet Interactive Intelligence calls PureCloud an “extensible platform” that provides a base onto which new capabilities will be built and which provides external interfaces, reporting and analytics. Users therefore can look forward to added capabilities in subsequent releases. I see its focus as creating a marriage between the product’s user and the customer’s experience. To achieve that marriage requires that users can easily find the information required by customers and customers receive a consistent, personalized experience. PureCloud supports this in five ways: a directory, unified communications, social customer service, interaction routing and a modern user interface.
The directory contains a searchable profile of employees who handle customer interactions, so that one agent handling an interaction who cannot resolve a customer’s issue can quickly find someone who can. Finding the right person is enabled by unified communications, which is accessible on almost any device and supports presence management (to show who’s available) and instant messaging, voice, video, fax and conferencing capabilities so that employees can collaborate on resolving customer issues. The social customer service feature is not exactly what it sounds like but provides innovative capabilities that allow customers to view and then select the agent they want to interact with, based on agents’ skills, availability and success rates in handling the type of issue the customer is looking to resolve. PureMatch has advanced interaction routing: Based on a customer’s profile, the issue and the available agents, its uses analytics to match the customer with the employee most likely to resolve this particular issue. Interactive Intelligence has also taken the opportunity to develop the PureCloud user interface with generational users in mind – all capabilities are available on smart devices, and many are based on “click to use” capabilities.
As well as these innovations, the PureCloud delivery model takes advantage of the latest hardware in the cloud services from Amazon Web Services. Essentially, Amazon provides a highly flexible and scalable development and operation environment in which organizations – small or large, centralized or decentralized, local or global – to run PureCloud without having to manage the operational environment; users simply log on to be up and running.
In my benchmark research into the contact center in the cloud more than half of organizations intend to invest in such cloud-based applications and communications infrastructure. In addition my research into next-generation customer engagement shows that the most desired types of applications to improve the customer experience are collaboration (19%), improved customer portals (12%), mobility for both employees (12%) and customers (9%), and social customer service (7%). PureCloud has the potential to deliver these capabilities, though the first release doesn’t have them all, and I recommend that organizations seeking flexibility in their contact centers consider it. That said, I also have a couple of concerns. One is the lack of immediate availability to support all channels; the other is how many organizations will embrace the idea of customers selecting their own agents. The contact center in the cloud market is now highly competitive, so it makes sense for Interactive Intelligence to offer as many choices as possible. The key, as for selecting any software, is choose the one that best meets your business, operational and user needs.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director