Peanut butter and jelly. Mac and cheese. Fish and chips. Some things are just better when they come together or “converge”.
In the tech world, this is no different. Often, distinct solutions evolve into unified offerings that simplify processes and drive innovation.
Telephony and computer convergence is an excellent example of this from years gone by.
Yet, many smaller examples of this trend are taking place across the enterprise.
Consider CCaaS. Leading vendors are bridging the gap with WFO, conversational AI, speech analytics solutions, and many more.
Step back further, and CRM and UCaaS players are adding more contact center solutions to their rosters, including voice – either on their own or through partnerships.
This trend towards working with fewer tech providers and having more control over costs is something many end-users will appreciate.
Recognizing this, forward-thinking CX vendors – such as Enghouse Interactive – are creating integrated solution suites, which pull mission-critical CX solutions closer together.
Here are three compelling examples.
1. CCaaS and UCaaS
The opportunity to integrate with a UC platform – like Microsoft Teams – offers contact centers many possible benefits, especially when they can shift conversations through the solution.
For instance, agents may share ticket details directly with an external subject matter expert (SME) via Teams, who may give their advice, which the agent can use to inform their customer responses.
Often, vendors refer to such capabilities as “swarming”.
Moreover, as Colin Mann, VP of Marketing at Enghouse Interactive, tells us:
“The contact center can share CX insights from reporting tools, analytics-driven insights, and knowledge articles with other departments via a UCaaS platform.”
Finally, the integration brings the service team together to support hybrid work while offering contact center tools to employees outside the operation.
Such employees may include field service personnel, store associates, and marketing teams, which may all benefit from having access to contact center tools.
For example, people from across the organization can proactively reach out to customers and potentially chip in on the phone during peak periods.
For these reasons, the convergence of these platforms is ramping up. Meanwhile, some may also consider adding CPaaS into the mix.
Why? Because CPaaS serves up cloud-based APIs that allow businesses to inject communication capabilities into customer-facing applications, workflows, and business processes.
Think of those click-to-chat or click-to-call links on company websites. These may enable easy access to agents, business SMEs, or perhaps even sophisticated bots with expertise relevant to the page the customer viewed.
2. CCaaS and CRM
Every prominent contact center vendor offers integrations with Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and many other CRM systems.
Now, these CRM vendors are encroaching further into the space, with Microsoft developing case management tools, digital customer engagement channels, and a voice proposition.
Not to be outdone, Salesforce promptly released Service Cloud Voice.
These offerings seem to trail CCaaS vendors, which have accumulated many years of experience building complex voice architectures.
However, the trend is perhaps evidence of the increasing importance contact centers place on empowering agents with customer context.
Indeed, as Mann says:
“Nowadays, the customer service experience is not only about finding a resolution; it’s about the journey to the resolution.”
CRM systems hold all that data, often including purchase, sentiment, and personal insights that agents can harness to problem solve much more efficiently.
Moreover, by plugging every channel into a central CRM, agents may view the customer’s conversation history in a single thread, providing even more invaluable information.
So, while CRM providers may not yet offer a reliable, enterprise-level CCaaS solution, a tight integration is mission-critical for those that wish to deliver a progressive omnichannel experience.
3. Service, Sales, and Marketing
The convergence of service, sales, and marketing tools is perhaps most evident in the CRM space, with each activity falling under the customer experience banner.
Such a trend is gaining momentum, given the considerable crossover in their customer interactions.
For instance, contact center conversations often stem from marketing activities. Meanwhile, salespeople often run into the same issues that service teams face. Also, marketing and sales teams often share the same objectives.
As such, the ability to share insights between systems and access each other’s tools is an excellent way for teams to work towards overarching customer experience objectives.
Noticing this, many CX vendors are harnessing innovation to unite the departments. Indeed, Salesforce has an automation suite called “Flow” that enables automation across its Service, Sales, and Marketing Cloud CRM solutions.
Meanwhile, some contact centers providers – such as Enghouse Interactive – have embedded marketing and sales tools into their offerings.
Finally, even marketing automation platforms are getting in on the act, with Selligent converging SaaS marketing and sales tools in its Selligent Experience Cloud.
Expect this trend to continue, as cloud vendors build suites of service, sales, and marketing solutions and demonstrate the value of CX convergence.
Other Examples of Convergence to Watch Out for
Delve deeper into the CX space, and many more examples of convergence emerge.
For instance, Oracle and SAP are harnessing their deep business application know-how to converge their CRM and ERP systems, aiming to deliver industry-specific solutions and innovation.
Next, consider the contact center again. There are many examples of customer engagement channels overlapping.
As an example, messaging now nests into video. Voice notes may also auto-generate from email and live chat messages to support the visually impaired – an excellent example of how to support vulnerable customers.
Lastly, think about how online and in-store experiences are converging, with some outlets offering virtual experts and online tools that showcase in-store stock levels to prospective customers.
As these innovations come to the fore, they typically merge with others, creating more comprehensive product suites.
In 2023, the CX space is filled to the brim with these new capabilities – such as those delivered by new large language models.
Watch as those converge with existing customer experience technologies throughout the year.