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10 Leaders in Fast-Changing Omnichannel Contact Center Sector

Friday Apr 27th 2018 by Carl Weinschenk

A detailed look at 10 major omnichannel contact center vendors, well-known and lesser-known, suggests that it is a category in transition.

The contact center is the most important asset of an organization that lives or dies by the quality of its interactions with its customers, clients and prospects.

A sample of 10 major omnichannel contact center vendors suggests that it is a category in transition. Part one is ongoing: The call center has become the contact center and in many cases has taken up residence in the cloud. The next step, which likely will be transformative, is the integration of artificial intelligence and Big Data. The impact of these changes will lead to consolidation and new entrants, including some big players.

The 10 companies profiled run the gamut from familiar (Cisco) to lesser known (Enghouse and Serenova). Some platforms are in the cloud, some on premises, and some are offered in either. Pricing is varied. There are lots of choices on features sets. Aims include the ability to communicate over any device, switch agilely during sessions, and provide agents with pertinent information as it is needed.

Organizations should make sure that the platforms they select have the appropriate capacity. Other factors that should be kept in mind are whether the focus is on outbound contacts (generally sales) or inbound traffic, whether the emphasis is on traditional phone contacts (perhaps best for organizations serving an older demographic) or multimedia, and whether seasonal and daily spikes in traffic can be accommodated.

Finally, organizations should understand that the vendor lineup is fluid.  They should have a clear idea of the vendor or service provider’s plans and their options if it is acquired or goes out of business. These are common occurrences in quickly changing sectors. "The vendor landscape is pretty fragmented and consolidating, plus with the cloud in ascendancy, we're getting new players as well," said Jon Arnold, the principal of J Arnold & Associates.

10 Contact Center Vendor Leaders

ContactCenterVendors

8x8, Inc

8x8 Virtual Contact Center

8x8, headquartered in San Jose, California, offers the Virtual Contact Center. In addition to the products available today, the company will make the X Series available this summer. Introduced at Enterprise Connect, the X Series eliminates the silos and point solutions that have developed between voice, the contact center, collaboration and conferencing. It will do this by working off one set of data, one workflow engine and one analytics engine.

  • Workforce optimization
  • Advanced business phone and collaboration services and unified communications
  • Supports for voicemail, email, web callback, web chat, social and others
  • Browser-based
  • Supports agents regardless of location
  • Integrates with several leading CRM platforms and can be configured to interface with other enterprise applications
  • Globally distributed agents have common admin and reporting and high voice quality via geo-routing to the closest of 8x8's 15 global data centers

Key industries: Financial services, health care, high tech, insurance, legal, manufacturing, real estate, retail travel/hospitality

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

Paris-based Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is known for far more than contact centers. On the contact center front, the company focus currently is on education, government, health care, hospitality and transportation. The OmniTouch Contact Center Standard Edition features modules for contact center supervision, distribution, agents and interactive voice response. OpenTouch Customer Service supports both agent-based and self-service multimedia interactions.

OmniTouch Contact Center Standard Edition

  • Contact centers mainly driven by inbound voice interactions
  • Remote agent facilities
  • Branch survivability for inbound contacts with Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCX Enterprise Passive Communication Server
  • Prioritized "skill mapping" routes calls according to best available resources
  • Advanced queuing with embedded voice announcements
  • Integration with compliant business applications, messaging services and LDAP directories

OpenTouch Customer Service

  • Social media channels
  • Agent and supervisor web desktop
  • Inbound, outbound and blended campaigns with consistent agent scripts
  • Multimedia support: voice, email, web, social media
  • Intelligent routing according to agent skills, customer profile, geography and business rules
  • Predictive dialer for a high productivity and talk times while complying with legislation
  • Visual management interface for supervisors to monitor and manage operations, workforce, and outcomes
  • Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Text To Speech (TTS), Natural Language (NL)

Avaya

Avaya Oceana Solution

Avaya, like Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, has a long history and high profile. The Oceana Solution, the company says, enhances customer interaction and drives loyalty. The platform supports any device at any point in the interaction, captures all interactions, and integrates interactions from legacy systems.

  • Rich multi-touch engagement: Customers can engage via mobile, web, phone, web chat, chatbot, SMS, email, social, video, voice
  • Context Preservation: Preserve context through the interaction
  • Visual workflows: Drag-and-drop design enables agents to bring the right resources, content and context together across customer relationship management (CRM) and other systems
  • 360-degree customer context: Captures customer, business and situational context across all touch points
  • Next-generation direct-to-agent routing: Automatically matches customers to the best agent or enterprise
  • Intuitive agent and supervisor workspaces: HTML5-based omnichannel desktops are easy to use and a powerful driver of user productivity
  • Advanced analytics: Avaya Analytics is designed for multitouch and features an open data model designed to provide new and powerful insights
  • Built on Avaya Breeze, which can support third-party and custom apps and cloud services via modular Snap-ins

Key industries: Financial services, insurance, health care, hospitality, education, manufacturing, outsourcers, government

Cisco

Cisco, with its wide range of contact center offerings, aims to serve the entire waterfront with a wide variety of products and configurations. The company's influence means that products from many other vendors in the contact center category interoperate with and integrate into Cisco platforms.

Unified Contact Center Express

  • Web Chat: Group chat and transfer, multi-select wrap-up
  • Agent Email updates: Additional response options including forward, larger attachments and cc/bcc
  • Agent Desktop improvements: Recent call history, making calls from the ready state
  • Reporting enhancements: Simpler chart creation and dashboards, new multi-channel reports
  • New sign-on supervisor functionality includes monitoring outbound non-ACD calls, viewing agent state and call history and viewing team-specific historical reports
  • Infrastructure updates include enhanced digital care experience
  • All-in-one customer care solution

Pricing: Cisco Unified Contact Center Express prices are based on two types of agents.  Enhanced (skill/competency groups, Basic IVR, reporting, recording, phone-based agents, desktop agent application, desktop workflows, option for redundancy, option for Advanced Quality management and Workforce Management), and Premium (adds access to 3rd party data sources, and VXML IVR capability, option for Advanced Quality Management and Workforce Management). The following table summarizes the per-agent Software list price structure for Contact Center Express: 

 CiscoPricing

The 25-seat promotional bundles for Enhanced and Premium licenses include the High Availability licenses. The Premium licenses include both license for SocialMiner as well for an off-box Premium Cisco Unified Intelligence Center. Outbound IVR and Predictive/Progressive Agent functionality is optionally available with the Premium package at $695 per port.

Packaged Contact Center Enterprise

  • Supports for up to four peripheral gateways–Unified Communications Manager pairs
  • The application gateway to obtain data from outside applications
  • Can be deployed in simplex or duplex mode in lab environments
  • Support for “bring your own hardware”

Pricing:

Packaged Contact Center Enterprise requires only two licensing entities that encapsulate various aspects of the Contact Center Enterprise solution. The first item is the Packaged Server license for $15,000. It includes UCCE software and CVP software, Unified Intelligence Center Premium Edition for reporting, two CVP Studio licenses for service creation, Finesse Software, Social Miner Software and 100 Outbound Option Dialer ports.

The second item is the Packaged Agent license, which costs $2,350. It includes one CCE Premium Agent, one redundant CVP port for queuing or self-service, one Voice Browser Port and Enterprise Chat and Email. A customer would procure one unit of Packaged Server license and any number of a Packaged Agent license for each concurrent logged in agent.

Optional elements include additional Cisco Outbound Option at $600 per port. All prices are list prices, with customer and partner discounts.

Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise

  • Intelligent any-channel contact routing, self-service treatment, and open-integration interfaces for the agent desktop and other applications
  • Contact delivered to the most appropriate resource based on real-time conditions, business rules, and agent attributes
  • Email and web chat standard
  • Detailed and summary data provided in prebuilt reports and an open-reporting database with a published schema, enabling easy development of custom reports
  • Built-in context service enables more personalized, efficient self-service, and agent interactions

Pricing:

Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise Software is $15,000 plus a price per agent seat (simultaneous login) and Queuing and IVR ports. The “Premium Agent” (full integration toolkit capability) is $1,950 per agent. Queuing is $1,100 per port and IVR is $1,195 per port. Cisco Outbound Option is $600 per port. All prices are list prices; discounts apply per customer/partner.

 

Hosted Collaboration Solution Contact Center

  • Enables cloud-based contact centers through the Cisco ecosystem of trusted partners
  • Supports small through large contact centers, ranging from 10 to 12,000 agents per customer instance
  • Contact center features, include agent and supervisor desktop with Cisco Finesse, built-in self-service IVR with CVP. Includes built-in email and web chat, outbound support, remote silent monitoring, web 2.0-based reporting with Cisco Unified Intelligence Center, at-home agent support
  • Third-party integration for recording, wallboards, workforce management, CRM, and database management

Spark Care

  • Embedding on business' website to offer chat and callback services
  • Customer care agent workspace and integrated reporting with customer feedback to improve help desk productivity and effectiveness
  • Cisco Spark Care is offered as part of Cisco Spark, with integrated administration and enterprise-class security

Key industries: Education, energy/utilities, financial services, government, health care, hospitality, retail, sports and entertainment

Page Two: More Omnichannel Leaders

Enghouse Networks

For a company without a high profile, Enghouse is well represented worldwide. It has three offices in the United States; nine in eight European countries; and five in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Enghouse's involvement in contact centers fits nicely with its other focuses: business support systems, operations support systems and mobile value-added services.

 

Arc Pro (Call Center and Attendant Console)

  • Scalable, rich enabled corporate directory, which is presence enabled for Cisco and Microsoft platforms
  • Installs quickly
  • Supports a combination of multiple telephony nodes, multiple tenants and complex dial plans per the needs of larger businesses
  • Voice-only call center agent and a feature-rich attendant console
  • Reporting included in the package

 Key industries: Health care, banking, insurance, government, retail

Communications Center

  • Easy deployment and support
  • Switch-independent and agnostic, supports integration to Microsoft, Avaya, Cisco and NEC platforms
  • Native integration to Microsoft Skype for Business and Office 365 supports media handling and escalation across every Microsoft communications channel, including Email, IM, Voice and Video. Supports sophisticated use cases such as presence-based searching and collaboration, supervisor call monitoring, barge and whisper coaching
  • TouchPoint user interface for agents and supervisors is extensible and focuses on minimal desktop footprint (cohabitation with other applications) and real-time performance KPIs and dashboards
  • Built-in operator (receptionist) console; support for web collaboration, co-browsing and WebRTC and lightweight low-cost footprints

Key industries: Financial services, health care, transportation, retail, entertainment, government, credit unions, community banks, local government, housing associations, trucking companies, performing arts centers

Contact Center: Enterprise

  • Omni-channel contact center application focused on scalability and high reliability in larger, multi-location environments with sophisticated redundancy and automatic failover
  • Switch-independent and agnostic, enabling integration (including simultaneous multi-switch support) with Cisco, Microsoft, Avaya, Mitel, ShoreTel, and Alcatel platform
  • Related customer interactions are connected together, and the product’s Interaction Vault (iVault) tool enables searchable and connected customer interaction histories, access to transcripts and recordings and tight integration to CRM data
  • Scriptable integration to other applications and data at both the server and desktop level. Supports packaged integration to leading CRM systems
  • TouchPoint user interface for agents and supervisors is extensible and focuses on minimal desktop footprint (cohabitation with other applications), real-time performance KPIs and dashboards and optimal agent productivity

Key industries: Financial services, health care, transportation, retail, entertainment, government, utilities

Contact Center Service Provider

  • Mission-critical resilience and reliability via N+1 server deployment and geographic redundancy in backend servers
  • Scalability to 20,000 concurrent agents over hundreds of tenants
  • Flexible deployment model as fully standalone contact center application or overlay to existing telephony infrastructure
  • Omni-channel capabilities, offering intelligent universal multi-media routing for voice, email, chat and callbacks
  • Integrated self-service (IVR), media and screen recording and outbound dialer capabilities
  • Range of open interfaces to easily integrate and customize applications with CRM, ERP, WFO and other systems

Key industries: Telecom service providers and their end users in verticals including service organizations, utilities, central and local public services, finance, retail and health care

 

Genesys

Genesys, which says it handles more than 25 billion customer interactions annually, is a 25-year-old firm. More than 100,000 organizations in more than 100 countries use its products. The goals are to ensure service levels are being met, increase IT agility, and achieve immediate and long-term return on investment.

PureEngage Customer Experience Platform

  • Omnichannel, workforce management, real-time contextual journeys, intelligent routing, scalable, hyper-personalization, flexible subscription model

Key industries: Banking, energy, government, health care, insurance, media, retail, telco/TV, travel/hospitality, outsourcer, technology, manufacturing

PureConnect Customer Experience Platform

  • Omnichannel, workforce management, easy integration; open-standards-based architecture, single tenant cloud option, multichannel routing, scalable

Key industries: Banking, energy, government, health care, insurance, media, retail, telco/TV, travel/hospitality, outsourcer, technology, manufacturing

PureCloud Customer Experience Platform

  • Omnichannel, workforce management, microservices architecture on Amazon Web Services, continuous deployment for features/fixes, fast deployment, native unified communications & collaboration, native iOS and Android apps, instant scalability, performance transparency

Key industries: Banking, energy, government, health care, insurance, media, retail, telco/ TV, travel/ hospitality, outsourcer, technology, manufacturing

NICE

NICE's CXone offers omnichannel routing, real-time analytics, workforce optimization and leveraging of automation and artificial intelligence. The platform offers omnichannel routing, real-time analytics, workforce optimization and leveraging of automation and artificial intelligence. An element of the company's overall mission is "perfecting the customer experience," which is the element of the corporate mandate under which CXone fits. The company also works to empower public safety, fight financial crime and ensure compliance.

inContact CXone

  • Enterprise scaling, data security, global coverage and disaster recovery protection
  • Low total cost of ownership
  • Omnichannel Routing, analytics, workforce optimization, automation, artificial intelligence
  • Open Cloud Foundation

Key industries: Health care, retail, government

Salesforce

Salesforce is a pioneer in moving corporate operations from the premises to the cloud. This is a perfect match with contact center initiatives. The firm's Lightning Service Console helps customers have a positive experience by improving the performance of agents.

Salesforce Service Cloud

  • Lightning Service Console puts all the information that agents need at their fingertips for a 360-degree view of customers
  • Case Management provides visibility into the full context of all cases and a record of every customer interaction
  • Service Process and Automation customizes and automates customer service or approval process with drag-and-drop
  • Omni-Channel Routing automatically matches cases to the agent with the most appropriate skill set
  • Telephony Integration integrates with common CTI systems. Logs notes when customers call and manages calls from within the console without touching the phone
  • Social Customer Service monitors and responds to customer posts on social media

Key industries: Financial services, health care, retail, manufacturing, communications/media, the public sector

Serenova

Austin, Texas-based Serenova offers CxEngage, a cloud-based platform aimed at seamless integration of legacy tools and providing deep insight into data and performance. CxEngage offers an open API architecture that promotes integration with legacy systems and enables scaling to handle increased demands.

CxEngage

  • Multi-tenant solution supports agents across the globe while allowing management and supervision as if they are co-located
  • Acts as a single pane of glass from that enable integration with business applications
  • Flow Designer allows users to define the customer journey and the related agent experience and application behavior across channels, in CxEngage and third-party applications
  • Flow Designer can model complex and detailed business flows and allows reuse by nesting the flow into a design element
  • Flow Designer aligns the business logic of enterprise applications to support customer experience business processes and respond to changing needs
  • Custom dashboards and reports are aimed at ensuring actions are based on relevant, actionable data including historical statistics, KPIs and analytics
  • Data agents permit data exchange with CRM and other back-end systems to provide agents insight into a customer services instances such as customer segment and open cases
  • Local presence worldwide meets Safe Harbor and data privacy requirements through a single cloud contact solution managed on the back-end

Key industries: IT services/technology, financial services, traditional/online retail, business services and business process outsourcing (BPO), energy/utilities, insurance, pharmaceuticals, consumer products, health care

Zendesk

Zendesk, headquartered in San Francisco, has about 119,000 paid customer accounts in more than 160 countries and territories. In addition to the United States, the company operates in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America.

Zendesk Support

  • Features: Multibrand support, multilingual content, multiple ticket forms, conditional fields, business rules, custom agent roles, satisfaction prediction, SLAs, tracking of which knowledge base articles a customer has visited before and after submitting a ticket, public apps (marketplace with 500+ public apps and integrations), private custom apps & integrations (APIs), web widget/mobile SDK, macros, performance dashboards, custom reports/analytics, CSAT surveys

Pricing

  • Essential: starts at $5 per agent per month
  • Team: starts at $19 per agent per month
  • Professional: starts at $49 per agent per month
  • Enterprise: starts at $99 per agent per month
  • Elite: starts at $199 per agent per month

Zendesk Talk

  • Features: Integration with Zendesk Support, call tracking/recording, caller ID/history, real-time dashboards and analytics, cross-channel reporting, text (SMS) messaging, call monitoring/barging, callback from Queue, ease of set-up/use, unlimited concurrent calls, voicemail, customized greetings, warm transfer, call control, group routing

Pricing

  • Lite: starts at $0 per agent per month
  • Team: starts at $19 per agent per month
  • Professional: starts at $49 per agent per month
  • Enterprise: starts at $89 per agent per month
  • Partner Edition: starts at $9 per agent per month

Zendesk Chat

  • Features: Roles/permissions, skills-based routing, analytics, triggers, integration w/Zendesk support, bot-to-human handover, shortcuts/macros, advanced timeline, offline forms, chat ratings, file sending, customizable chat widgets, chat tags, multi-profile linking

Pricing

  • Lite: starts at $0 per agent per month
  • Team: starts at $14 per agent per month
  • Professional: starts at $29 per agent per month
  • Enterprise: starts at $59 per agent per month

Zendesk Guide

  • Features: Help center, Web widget/embeddables),mobile SDK, Zendesk APIs, rich text editor, content structure, unlimited articles, internal agent knowledge base, access control, multilingual, multi-brand, search, knowledge capture, answer bot, community forums, customer portal, reporting, global translations

Pricing

  • Lite: starts at $0 per agent per month
  • Professional: starts at $15 per agent per month

Key industries: Retail/eCommerce, non-profit, government, software/technology, internet/mobile, travel/hospitality, energy, telecommunications, financial services, media/entertainment, education, health care

 

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

 

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