Contact center platforms are usually thought of as being horizontal solutions, providing agent-centric metrics that apply to all types of businesses. This certainly reflects conventional thinking about how to support customers as well as how best to track the performance of agents. To a large extent, this reflects the fact that most contact center deployments are premise-based and run largely on proprietary technology. By extension, this means they function very well for a particular set of needs, but have limited flexibility for anything else.
These solutions have become highly standardized in order to support the widest range of customers possible; and while that brings efficiency to the contact center, it becomes hard to differentiate since everyone is following the same path. Vendors love horizontal solutions since they only have to invent the wheel once; but with today’s technology and changing customer expectations, that approach will put them behind the curve, not in front of it.
By thinking vertically, contact center vendors are helping businesses go deeper by developing applications that are highly relevant to how they deal with customers. This provides a tremendous opportunity for the contact center to become more strategic, not just to improve customer satisfaction, but also to drive new revenue streams by making it easier to do business. As the business case for having a vertical focus becomes stronger, a second opportunity emerges. Aside from doing this to enhance an existing contact center, it also offers an entry point for businesses that do not currently have a contact center or customer care operation.
Becoming customer-centric without having a contact center
There are lots of reasons why businesses don’t have contact centers, or have chosen to not continue with one. But in today’s market, there’s a growing need to become more customer-centric. These businesses, in particular, are prime candidates for CCaaS (contact center as a service), which overcomes many of the traditional adoption barriers. Regardless of the size of the operation, these cloud-based offerings provide the flexibility that allows businesses to take a fresh approach to customer care. In other words, a brick-and-mortar contact center isn’t the only way to support customers, and part of the flexibility is having a set of applications to address the specific needs of a vertical market.
To illustrate, I’ll cite two vertical market examples where traditional contact centers aren’t the norm, but there is still an ongoing need to engage with customers/patients. One is real estate and another is medical offices. In both cases, office-based staff must deal with inbound calls as a matter of course. Some will be customers and some will be prospects, and the point is these employees will be customer-facing where needs must be addressed and calls have to be routed quickly and accurately.
For real estate, anxious clients may call the main number when they can’t reach their agent otherwise, or a hot prospect inquiry needs to be routed to a specific agent. The same happens in medical offices, where patients or family members are calling, and need to be routed for a variety of needs, such as a medical consultation, checking test results, reviewing a billing issue, etc.
These are prime cases of vertical markets where the scale of operations does not warrant a contact center, and as such, these businesses typically don’t have a customer-service mindset. This is where CCaaS provides a compelling business case by providing a new mode of customer engagement. By having the ability to intelligently route calls on the fly, these businesses can positively impact customer satisfaction without the major investment required for a contact center. With CCaaS, every one of these calls presents an opportunity to address a customer need in much the same way as a contact center agent would, and that can be very empowering for your employees.
Opportunity across the ecosystem
Aside from cloud being relatively new in this space, these vertical examples are from mature sectors that are not on the leading edge of technology adoption. Their legacy thinking about contact centers may be getting in the way of seeing other paths to becoming customer-centric, and that’s the opportunity that CCaaS can address. Of course, CCaaS offers a great solution for bringing existing contact centers into the digital age; but my focus here is on expanding the addressable market for providing customer care.
There are many other vertical scenarios to consider, so CCaaS is an opportunity for anyone ready to view the contact center market beyond the conventional horizontal value proposition. RingCentral is a great example of CCaaS that can help service providers and channel partners expand business with customers, especially those that don’t currently have a contact center. Given how easily CCaaS scales to any size operation, there’s a compelling offering here for any business looking to find new ways of getting closer to their customers.
To learn more click here, and discover why integrating UCaaS with CCaaS is a win-win for businesses.
Originally published Feb 16, 2017, updated Aug 11, 2020