The prominent industry analyst pinpoints seven “exemplary” contact center vendors leading the way in agent management
Agent turnover plagues the contact center industry. It has for so long that many companies have accepted it as an impossible cost to combat.
Yet, with agent recruitment becoming increasingly challenging, it is no longer all about costs. Understaffing leads to long wait times for customers and burnout for the agents that stay.
Add to this mix the impact agent performance has on customer loyalty, satisfaction, and sentiment, and agent management becomes a critical business consideration.
For these reasons, Ventana Research has assessed 18 leading contact center technology vendors, weighing up their agent management portfolios. Here is what they found.
In essence, agent management is another term that Ventana Research has chosen above agent performance optimization, workforce optimization, and workforce engagement management.
Yet, as its study – the “Ventana Research Agent Management Value Index 2022” – states: “These are all flavors of the components but not the entirety of agent management.”
Indeed, agent management is an all-compassing term for any process contributing to a contact center’s strategy in monitoring, supporting, and coaching agents. Many of these are technology-driven, especially in the current remote working reality.
However, this reality is starkly different from the state of play before the pandemic. As such, many providers’ agent management portfolios have undergone a seismic transformation in recent times.
Keeping its watchful eye on this climate, Ventana research has assessed the technology stacks of many prominent industry vendors, splitting them into four categories: Exemplary, Innovative, Assurance, and Merit.
Agent management vendors in the “exemplary” category performed best against the product and customer experience requirements stated in the report. Product experience includes product usability, capability, reliability considerations, and the like. CX covers more of the support and knowledge the provider shares. This year’s exemplary vendors are:
Highly commended across the CCaaS arena for its CXOne solution, NICE scored highest out of all 18 vendors for its adaptability, capability, manageability, and reliability. Much of this is exemplified by its quality management solutions, which come with the tagline: “Designed for quality. Built for simplicity.” The vendor is also a significant player in WFM and real-time interaction guidance – critical tools within an agent management portfolio.
For many years Verint has crafted a fierce reputation for its analytics-driven technologies, which include many of those that sit within The Verint Customer Engagement Platform. Its real-time agent-assist, agent feedback, and quality assurance solutions are all excellent examples. Notably, Ventana Research ranked it as the vendor best for validation, a significant element in the CX requirements.
Often the vendor spearheading analyst reports for CCaaS, Genesys has also performed impressively for its agent management proposition. The vendor was one of the earliest to proactively support agents with real-time automated support and still leads the pack with a lauded knowledge base, predictive routing, and co-browsing solutions. These align well with the staple agent management offerings, which Genesys also offers.
Notorious on-premise contact center vendor Avaya is starting to accelerate its shift to the cloud with its Avaya OneCloud suite gaining momentum. Its seamless integration with native UC tools and Microsoft Teams enables next-level agent collaboration that is vital for remote operations. Ventana also praises the vendor for its client experience – scoring second overall in this area, with Avaya well-known for its expert consultants.
Since acquiring Teleopti in 2019, Calabrio has scaled the ranks of these industry reports, establishing itself as a market leader in WFM. Yet, the vendor has followed this up by developing a quality management toolset that automates a significant chunk of the time-consuming initiative, alongside impressive analytics and data management capabilities. All these are highly integrated.
Alongside the more conventional agent management technologies, Talkdesk offers service reps an intuitive, unified workspace, a “Conversations” mobile app, and contextual recommendations delivered by an agent-assist bot. Most impressively, the vendor placed fourth for its client experience, thanks to its array of CX services, Talkdesk Academy, and Talkdesk Community.
Content Guru provides a comprehensive agent management portfolio with VoC, real-time reporting, and transcription tools. For its more fundamental workforce engagement solutions, it is always finetuning and advancing them, recently announcing upgrades for its WFM platform. Ventana Research lauded the manageability of these solutions as a significant strength.
While the vendors classed as “innovative” can compete with the exemplary providers, they seemingly lag a little in terms of the client experience they offer. This year’s innovative vendors are:
With native UC tools and popular Microsoft Teams integrations, 8×8 empowers remote agents with powerful collaboration tools. Moreover, it recently released an agent-centric CCaaS solution, aiming to put service reps first. However, Ventana Research cautions that the vendor could deliver a little more clarity in what it provides to potential clients to maximize its value proposition.
Through its Webex CCaaS platform, Cisco puts forward a robust hybrid work offering with the help of its renowned video solution. It also provides impressive WFM, quality management, and gamification capabilities, especially considering how new the vendor is to the market. However, it still perhaps has a little maturing to do, with Ventana Research pinpointing integrations as a potential area for improvement, specifically with business analytics tools.
“Assurance vendors” have a track record of building positive relationships with clients to enhance agent management programs. However, Ventana Research deemed them to fall a little behind the leading vendors in product experience. This year’s assurance vendors are:
Leading enterprise software vendor Salesforce has released its Service Cloud Workforce Engagement solution as part of its Summer 2021 release. It already positions highly within the industry, primarily because of its client experience and the integrations within its impressive portfolio – which includes Slack. While it lags a little on the capability front, according to the report, the vendor will likely catch up quickly.
Following the merger of Aspect Software and Noble Systems, Alvaria was born. The combined portfolio contains impressive speech analytics, WFM, and coaching capabilities. As the merger solidifies, so may the depth of its workforce engagement suite, which Ventana suggests could benefit from incorporating AI into its knowledge management solution. Doing so would enable real-time guidance.
Like vendors in the other categories, these providers have established an excellent market presence and stand out within a crowded space. However, they fall short of the median performance standard in customer and product experience in the report.
Unsurprisingly, Five9 scored well when Ventana Research assessed its product capability, reliability, and adaptability. Such functionalities led to Metrigy naming the player a “top provider” in the WFO space. Yet, the Ventana team pinpointed validations as a particular concern, noting that Five9 could better document its product roadmap and lay out its acquisition strategy.
Another major CCaaS player with a burgeoning Microsoft Teams offering is RingCentral – which focuses on bringing contact center and UC solutions together. For the agent experience, such a focus is promising. Meanwhile, the vendor offers WFM, quality management, performance dashboards, and many more agent management solutions. However, Ventana Research cautions that the provider could do more to enable clients to estimate ROI.
Rapidly expanding, Playvox started as a quality management solutions provider. Yet, it has undergone a period of rapid growth, adding WFM to its portfolio following its acquisition of Agyle Time. It also offers e-learning, motivation, and dashboarding tools to supplement agent performance further. However, its lack of call/screen recording and sentiment analysis features perhaps holds Playvox back.
Formerly known as ZOOM International, Elevēo aims to simplify contact center operations with an array of agent management solutions. Highlights include its Conversation Explorer application, targeted insights, and automated after call work (ACW) capacity. However, Ventana Research suggests it could support more process and application integrations while providing additional customization options.
CCaaS veteran Mitel strives to enable service teams to optimize resources, gain deeper insights, and enhance customer experiences with its agent management portfolio. This toolset includes all the conventional WFO tools and provides the tools to mitigate contact center risks. Yet, the study suggests that the vendor could better supplement agent knowledge and intelligence with agent guidance and assist tools.
Enghouse Interactive offers many contact center solutions, bolstering its “agent improvement” suite with high-profile acquisitions, including its takeover of Altitude Software in 2021. Available in the cloud or on-premise, Enghouse focuses on optimizing service performance through agent training, skills optimization, and evaluation. However, Ventana Research suggests that the vendor could improve elements such as capturing non-voice interactions.
Following its 2020 merger with Senenova, Lifesize has built an array of agent management solutions and integrates with market leaders such as Verint and Calabrio. As such, contact centers can create a unique WFO proposition. Nevertheless, Ventana Research questions the manageability of its automation, workflows, and agent experience features.
Firstly, considering they have achieved leader status in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for CCaaS, it is perhaps no surprise that NICE, Genesys, and Talkdesk performed so strongly.
More shocking was how particular vendors lagged. Yet, the report notes that 8×8, Cisco, Enghouse Interactive, Lifesize, Mitel, and RingCentral did not fully participate or respond to Ventana Research’s participation request.
As such, they may not have submitted the required information, completed questionnaires, and given product demonstrations to the industry analyst.
Of course, this may have skewed the results slightly, and Ventana Research urges all companies looking to invest in agent management tools to give a little more scrutiny to these vendors.
Yet, it also reminds us to scrutinize these results. So, while these reports always include helpful nuggets of insight, do not consider these findings the be-all and end-all.
After all, vendors such as Cisco, Enghouse Interactive, and RingCentral are some of the most prominent players within the space, and that likely comes with good reason.
If these high-profile agent management technology providers take part in 2023, it will be fascinating to see how these results shift.
Interested in gauging the CPaaS space too? If so, check out our article: Who Is Leading the CPaaS Space? Omdia Reveals Its Findings