Customer expectations and demands are growing, especially as accessibility to businesses becomes easier and more transparent. Social media has become a critical part of multichannel service, just as chat, email and voice contextual integration have become necessary for companies to meet customer demands – once customer agents interact with customers, they should know their previous behavior and interactions with the company.
This multichannel contextual integration is just one of the reasons Five9 (News - Alert), a provider of cloud contact center software, sets itself apart in the ever-growing communication and collaboration market. It acquired social engagement and mobile customer care solution provider SoCoCare in 2013, expanding its multichannel offerings and bringing SoCoCare’s underlying technology for analytics and lead generation in addition to social media and mobile care and monitoring. That technology is part of the reason Five9 positions itself uniquely against other cloud-based contact center vendors.
Another part is its partnerships. This week, Five9 announced it is integrating with Zendesk, a provider of cloud customer service software, to enable seamless customer interactions. This means more than just traditional “contact center” departments – sales and tech support teams can use the system to deliver better customer experiences. The combination of CRM and contact center functionality really boosts a company’s ability to deliver on customer expectations offer a truly integrated experience.
Five9 serves more than 2,000 enterprise customers. It provides the tools to be more than just accessible across multiple channels – companies can be proactive on social media for customer service, brand protection, upselling and cross-selling and lead generation. While contact centers have traditionally taken longer than enterprise in terms of cloud adoption, the movement is underway.
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I caught up with Liz Osborn, VP of product and solution marketing at Five9, and Lance Fried, SVP of social and mobile at Five9, to discuss the company’s partnerships and solutions, the transition of contact centers into the cloud and key trends in the industry today.
The integration with Zendesk was something that customers were asking for, and delivers customer service functionality, such as helpdesk ticketing software, telephony-enabled desktops and seamless customer experience management. Like Five9, Zendesk started in the SMB space and is moving upstream, so the companies have great synergy, Osborn explained.
Both Osborn and Fried will be speaking on a session this week at Enterprise Connect (News - Alert). Osborn will be speaking on cloud for the contact center, and Fried will be speaking on proactive customer care.
“The cloud allows people to have business users become self-sufficient,” Osborn said. They don’t have to rely on IT to change routing strategies or change powers on IVR, and cloud systems are ideal for companies that don’t have much IT support – they’re easy to manage and can be up and running in a few days. Security has also traditionally been a big barrier to cloud adoption, but since CIOs and CEOs are comfortable putting data in the cloud, it’s started to pick up. Fried and Osborn both agree that Salesforce laid the groundwork for cloud-based contact centers. These are all part of the reasons the contact center is catching up to the enterprise for cloud adoption.
Five9 delivers this cloud value, offering speed and ease of use. Fried also explains Five9 is future-proofing companies, by offering fully integrated mobile and social solutions mixed with other channels and blended inbound and outbound voice.
Fried will be speaking on proactive customer care, and we had a discussion about how social media is enabling companies to go above and beyond with customer service. There are so many monitoring opportunities for companies to hear what people are saying – whether about a company, a product or an industry – and for brands to serve customers through that channel. Social has also become an escalation channel; customers may initiate a conversation over social, and if the company cannot solve an issue through there, it has to move them over to another channel, whether that’s direct messaging, chat, email or voice.
The company released its Contact Center Report last year, which focuses on customer expectations and the customer experience, and it found that many people don’t even know the difference between the contact center and CRM. Customers expect company representatives to have context from one channel to another and see the entire picture of the customer lifecycle – Five9 has a feature of a panoramic timeline, so agents can see every conversation on every channel.
“Context is absolutely critical,” Osborn said. Being able to know what to do with a call based on past experiences, behavior and value will be critical, and it’s growing to be the norm among customer expectations.
Along those lines is personalization throughout the customer experience. Specifically serving a customer’s needs and past behavior as opposed to as just a ticket number helps make customers a brand advocate. In addition, providing personalized service also means reduced churn, better utilization and improved upselling and cross-selling. One of Five9’s customers reduced call times by 30 percent just because of the information – the breadcrumbs from all interactions – throughout the customer’s journey.
“It’s all personalized today,” Fried said. “Customers are saying, ‘You know who I am and what I’m trying to do, give me a series of different options based on my preference.’ Consumers today don’t really care how the enterprise figures out how to do that, just that they do. Five9 provides the tools to make that happen.”