RingCentral was once again at the annual UCX event in London on 4 and 5 October – one of Europe’s biggest unified communications conferences.
As usual, there was a packed agenda, including speakers from Dell, Meta, ITV and Trustpilot. Delegates could choose from plenty of panel talks and fireside chats covering the latest trends and insights in communications and collaboration technology.
Here are some of the topics from this year’s event that really got us thinking.
New workplace dynamics bring new challenges
In the session, How changing workplace dynamics are impacting your UC&C strategy, RingCentral’s Pascal Coignet and James Currie, highlighted some of the new challenges that have emerged as a result of the work-from-anywhere culture.
They discussed the expectations for employees to multi-task and be contactable wherever they are, and the need for organisations to intentionally create collaboration opportunities and invest equally in the four modes of work that we now have.
They revealed that 84% of employees now work for global teams and almost half of those (48%) have to work together on a daily basis. Given that “we can’t fix time zones”, said Pascal, this makes collaboration more complicated. For example, at a global virtual meeting, you might have one attendee joining via phone while dropping the kids off at school, another on a desktop in a different time zone staying late at the office, and another missing family dinner time to dial in from home.
Pascal and James discussed how AI tools could help to address these issues, such as live transcription for catching up on what you’ve missed when you arrive late to a meeting, and unlimited whiteboards which enable collaboration across all devices – both during and after the meeting. More on AI next!
AI potential to benefit customers, agents, and the wider business
We’ve already touched on it, but unsurprisingly, talk of AI was everywhere.
Enhancing the entire customer journey
In the session, Is integrated AI the trick to a highly engaged customer journey? RingCentral’s John Aspinall and Stewart Donnor argued that AI should be used to improve the entire customer journey.
This should start, they said, with more intelligent self-service tools before customers even reach the contact centre, since 81% of customers try to solve their issue first using digital tools. It could then continue with AI-powered routing to match customers with the best agents, real-time assistance to help agents provide a better CX, before ending with AI-driven insights and advanced analytics to ensure continuous improvement.
Empowering people, not replacing them
In the panel, Will I be replaced by AI? Jon Arnold from J Arnold & Associates, and Niall Carter and Severine Hierso from RingCentral, both highlighted AI’s ability to provide intelligence at scale. They explained how this could provide agents with enhanced customer intelligence as they deal with ever-more complicated enquiries. Again citing the 81% figure, Jon said that typically, the customer is now calling the contact centre as a last resort, when they’ve exhausted all other avenues. “Now the agent’s in the hot seat; they need to have the right information at their fingertips because there is a lot more at stake.”
The panellists also stressed the current limitations of AI. It was effective and trusted for routine, transactional communications, such as logging a missed bin collection, but couldn’t be a substitute for more complex or sensitive interactions – though it might augment these. Jon gave the example of an agent dealing with a customer enquiry through chat. Generative AI could add great value here, producing an answer quicker than the agent could think or type. But he stressed, “AI works for you, you don’t work for AI.”
Niall felt that AI – especially generative AI – was “democratising technology” and removing the gatekeepers to it, enabling people to create solutions to solve problems faster.
Converging UC and CC is good for employees and customers
Several sessions referenced the growing trend of integrating unified communications (UC) and contact centre (CC) platforms, and the benefits this can bring, such as:
- Seamless communication between the front and back office
- Lower operational costs
- Higher customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction
- Centralised data analytics, providing cradle to grave reporting
RingCentral’s Amir Hameed led a session focused on this and we particularly liked what he said about ‘democratising the customer experience’. By enabling contact centre agents to connect with experts right across the business, he said, you make it the whole organisation’s responsibility to keep and delight your customers, not just the agents’.
In the panel, The omnichannel advantage, Oru Mohiuddin from IDC also highlighted how UC–CC convergence brought EX and CX together – a powerful combination – and enriched intelligence, while at the same time reducing the number of digital tools required to access it. She said, “When you have this unified system and this huge repository of data, what you are enabling is intelligence. And intelligence is at the very core of driving CX because without knowledge, you cannot drive CX.”
Phew! That was a whistle-stop tour of some of the highlights from UCX this year. We hope to see you there next year, but in the meantime, why not check out these related resources:
Originally published Oct 12, 2023