Salesforce Goes All In on CCaaS

Charlie Mitchell

The CRM stalwart has rolled out the Salesforce Contact Center

Salesforce Analysis
Salesforce Goes All In on CCaaS

Salesforce has combined many of the solutions within its vast portfolio to release a fully-fledged CCaaS platform: the Salesforce Contact Center.

Built on Service Cloud, it includes a native voice channel, with a bundled telephony option. Alternatively, businesses can partner with telephony connectors on the Salesforce AppExchange.

In addition, the solution offers many digital engagement channels, including live chat, SMS, and messaging apps. The latter includes WhatsApp and Messenger.

Self-service options are also available, some incorporating conversational AI, which businesses can deploy across channels to combat transactional customer queries.

Omnichannel routing supports bot-driven and human-assisted journeys while enabling sophisticated channel shift strategies across the contact center.

Giving the Salesforce perspective on these cornerstone features of its CCaaS solution, Clara Shih, CEO of Service Cloud at Salesforce, said:

Service Cloud enables companies to do more with less. Now, service departments can deliver complete, connected service experiences from digital self-service to the contact center, to front-line field service — all in real-time.

Indeed, Service Cloud also lends its feedback management tools to the Salesforce Contact Center. These collect real-time data from customer interactions to  inform contact center decision-making.

Yet, to further increase the intelligence of the CCaaS solution, Salesforce has added Einstein Conversation Insights to support agent-assist use cases.

Agent-assist solutions listen in on live customer conversations, isolate trends and intent, before suggesting next-best actions to support agents, aiding their resolution efforts.

While many market leaders – including Genesys, NICE, and Talkdesk – offer such tools, these are advanced for a new CCaaS player. Moreover, as it leverages Einstein AI models, customers can have confidence in the technology’s proficiency.

Finally, its shift scheduling capacity also catches the eye. Indeed, the incorporation of native WFM capabilities provides a differentiator to the other new CCaaS solutions released by fellow CX giants Microsoft, Google, and Zoom this year.

CRM Encroaches on CCaaS

Many CRM providers will sense an opportunity in the CCaaS space, especially as more customer conversations start in channels other than voice.

Analysts have long predicted this, with the likes of Salesforce, Microsoft, and Oracle adding more and more CX-related components to their offerings.

Indeed, the helpdesk, marketing automation, contact management, sales tracking, and many additional services are now available on their core CRM platforms.

So, given this history, is the CCaaS space at-risk of being eaten up by CRM providers?

If the likes of Salesforce can build a strong voice proposition, the chances will grow. Yet, Robin Gareiss, CEO at Metrigy, has doubts, especially in the short term. On LinkedIn, she writes:

Though CRM providers have started offering voice on their own or through partnerships, they simply aren’t as reliable or advanced as contact center providers. And, many large contact centers are complex and rooted in the technology from their contact center platform providers.

Indeed, if CRM providers are to dominate the market, it will take time. After all, the contact center is a critical part of many modern organizations. As such, tried-and-tested solutions are the preferred option for many.

Also, high complexity means that many operations still operate on-premise, despite the rush to the cloud during COVID. Convincing these contact centers to migrate will likely require a high-touch, incremental strategy crafted by a stalwart player.

However, for many SMBs – which lack such complexity – the opportunity to work with a CRM provider on CCaaS and consolidate their CX stack is alluring.

In addition, the possibility for Salesforce or Microsoft to make acquisitions, build out their portfolios, and innovate quickly means they could close the gap soon. While doing so, they may leverage the gained expertise to support large-scale contact center migrations down the line.

The CCaaS Market: Attacked from All Angles

The new wave of CCaaS entrants is not only coming from the CRM space; UCaaS providers are also chomping at the bit.

Indeed, Microsoft is pulling its CCaaS platform closer to Teams, serving up contact center capabilities to employees across the enterprise and leveraging their expertise. Salesforce is also similarly using Slack, with new swarming features.

Furthermore, The Zoom Contact Center launched at the start of the year – with sales “exceeding expectations” – and Cisco expanded its Webex solution to cover CCaaS.

In the case of Webex, it is already challenging stalwart CCaaS vendors – earning its place in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant a little more than two years after its inception.

Yet, why are so many enterprise technology vendors targeting contact centers?

Of course, consolidating the CX stack is very much in their customers’ interest, ensuring maximum interoperability and ease of use. But, it also has enormous potential for customer spend.

Consider the UCaaS space. Zoom may launch a new feature, yet sooner or later, its competition will develop their own version – opening up very little wiggle room in cost-per-seat.

The contact center, on the other hand, offers a realm of opportunity, particularly in regard to AI. Innovations – like agent-assist – are increasingly coming to the fore, and the number of people using these tools across the business is growing.

As a result, the revenue potential rises, and the space becomes highly appealing.

Can Salesforce Compete In CCaaS?

The Service Cloud has given the Salesforce Contact Center a strong backbone, with native voice, numerous digital channels, and omnichannel routing.

Moreover, the ability to bring in conversational AI, analytics, and feedback management tools from its broader stack enables Salesforce to deliver a solution that meets the demands of modern contact centers.

Such demands include automation to relieve strain, agent-assist tools to support stretched teams, and insight generation to combat emerging customer pain points.

There are gaps to plug – such as its lack of performance management options – yet the Salesforce AppExchange may help here.

Another possible criticism is that Salesforce is a little late to the market. Yet, compared to many other recent entrants, its solution offers depth in channels and native tools. Its staff scheduling option typifies the latter – an option not available on Microsoft, Google, or Zoom.

For these reasons, and others, Salesforce offers up an exciting foray into CCaaS. With its large customer base in hand, expect the vendor to be a disruptive force in the years to come.

 

 


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