Five9 provides contact center in the cloud systems. Its Virtual Contact Center is essentially communication infrastructure software deployed through cloud computing. At the heart of its products is cloud-based telephony software that replaces on-premises ACD and PBX technology. The software connects to public telephone systems and helps users receive, make and manage telephone calls while maintaining high voice quality. Being cloud-based provides a range of advantages: It opens up use of the systems by organizations of all sizes, requires fewer skilled resources than on-premises for implementation and administration, eases integration of the systems, provides flexibility and scalability, changes the cost model and above allows organizations to transition to omnichannel engagement that is consistent across all channels and touch points.
Five9 has developed capabilities that support both inbound and outbound calls. The Inbound Cloud Contact Center supports capabilities that include the ability to route incoming calls based on predetermined rules, IVR capabilities to automate the first step in call handling, and computer telephony integration (CTI) to link call management to an agent desktop system. Key supporting capabilities include a soft phone, interaction recording and real-time reporting. There are also e tools to create routing rules based on several criteria (such as agent skills, priority or time of day) and IVR scripts and to administer the product. The Outbound Cloud Contact Center supports multiple forms of dialing – preview, predictive, power and progressive – and includes safeguards to ensure that any outbound dialing conforms to TCPA compliance rules. Users can optimize call handling by blending calls based on call volumes and patterns, such as making outbound calls during off-peak periods. Together the two products provide support for all aspects of inbound and outbound call management using cloud-based applications.
Beyond telephone-based interaction the Five9 Omnichannel Contact Center supports other engagement channels such as email, chat, mobility and social media through a combination of in-house developed systems and integration with third-party systems. The channel management capabilities are supplemented with applications to manage the workforce, interaction quality, administration, and multichannel analysis and reporting. The Omnichannel Contact Center also includes integration tools that enable users to integrate with knowledge management, CRM and internally developed business applications. Together these features support all aspects of running a multichannel contact center: assisted and self-service, agent performance management, integration with business application to manage customer data and transactions, and analytics. In short they enable companies to provide omnichannel experiences, which are much in demand by today’s customers.
The key for me to support omnichannel customer engagement is the agent desktop. Our benchmark research into agent desktop systems shows that having to access and switch among multiple systems can make an agent’s job difficult and impact agent performance; agents must extract and enter data from and into multiple systems, identify the customer at several points, follow performance dashboards and decide what to do next. The Five9 Agent Desktop Plus brings all of these tasks into a single system that uses a common interface for all interaction types and proactively pushes information to the agent based on predefined rules. As such, it provides a practical way of achieving omnichannel, without disrupting existing systems and operations.
The latest release of Virtual Contact Center, Summer Release 2016 includes enhancements to existing capabilities and adds some innovative features. There is support for additional channels (click-to-call, callback, messaging and video) and capabilities to move data and history across channels with a customer. Agent Desktop Plus now shows more information to the user, including a comprehensive view of the customer’s profile and omnichannel history, and new features support agents in giving customers personalized responses. Enhanced customer journey mapping enables agents to see the complete history of how a customer has engaged with the company. Other capabilities help agents share information and Web pages with customers to help resolve issues and improve communication. There is additional integration with Skype for business, Microsoft Dynamics, Zendesk and Salesforce, which enable organizations to blend these systems into their contact center operations.
However, the most innovative addition to the new release is the ability to use Web analytics to proactively monitor a customer who is browsing the corporate website. Based on predefined rules the system can alert the agent that the customer is having issues and notify the agent to send a personalized message, for example, asking whether the customer needs help in completing a purchase. This interaction can result in sharing Web pages while the agent guides the customer through completion of the interaction. All these new features have the common theme of improving engagement for both customers and agents, which should lead to better business outcomes.
I have written about how customers expect EPIC (easy, personalized, in-context and consistent) experiences. Our research into next-generation customer engagement identifies barriers to delivering such experiences; chief among them are difficulties in integrating systems (according to 49% of organizations) and communication channels managed as silos (47%). Five9 already supported many capabilities that help organizations address these issues, especially through the agent desktop. The new Summer Release enhances these capabilities and makes it easier for agents to personalize interactions, which can improve the customer experience. I am not sure whether consumers are ready to allow their interactions on the Web to be tracked, but consumer expectations are changing so fast that they may not mind it. Regardless, Five9 offers a comprehensive set of capabilities for a contact center in the cloud, and I recommend that all organizations wanting to speed up the transition to omnichannel engagement assess how its systems can help those efforts.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director