Published: December 20, 2016 | Comments
We’ve come a long way since the days of basic CTI, when businesses had to settle for telephony only and integration projects were complex and expensive. For years we had to use stand-alone telephony platforms such as CentreVu, HPCCM, Callpath, and CT Connect where you had to use propriety API’s and relatively unstable call state machines and spend thousands of dollars on custom developed integrations.
We now have full multi-channel and even robust multi-channel cloud offerings. Businesses can deploy chat, e-mail, and telephony integration through one platform. Although the integration is still not easy, businesses can rely on one vendor for all of their channel needs. Some multi-channel vendors have even built out of the box CRM integrations, either through partners or on their own, making deployments of multiple interaction channels into CRM systems the easiest it’s ever been.
Unfortunately, this monolith approach doesn’t always suit the unique needs of every business that’s faced with responding to rapidly evolving customer expectations, and a constantly changing industry.
Customers are more frequently demanding not only to interact with businesses on the channels they use, but in the same way they use them. For example, it’s not enough to support SMS, because customers now want to use chatbots and interact with agents by sending inbound text messages. It’s not enough to support Skype for outbound dialing, customers want inbound chat, video and desktop sharing. It’s increasingly challenging for vendors to support all these technologies, and also keep up with the ever-changing ways customers want to use them.
Several businesses we’re working with are on the cutting edge of customer interaction and have adopted a best of breed interactions strategy. One example is an online university. They use telephony, chat, and e-mail through Avaya Interaction Center, they use Skype for Business for agent to manager chatting, Outlook for internal e-mail communication, and they are considering Twilio for outbound SMS; all while struggling to bring it all together into their CRM environment.
The online university faces several challenges.
- Centralized Reporting: They’d prefer to do all their reporting through their CRM, but the performance data in Avaya Interaction Center isn’t easy to export, and packages like Twilio and Skype for Business don’t have native agent performance reporting capabilities.
- Simplified Agent Experience: Agents today have 4 different applications they need to use to interact with customers. Skype for Business, Avaya Desktop, Outlook, Dynamics CRM.
- Cross Channel Agent Availability: Agents need to control their availability across different platforms.
So in the case of the online university, we configured their CRM with true omni-channel capabilities. By utilizing the queuing and routing capabilities already built in, and a single HTML5-based toolbar hosted directly in the CRM, we were able to design an environment where they could leverage best of breed interactions. The simplified agent experience reduced the number of applications from four to one. SMS from Twilio, Skype for Business Chat, and Telephony from Avaya Interaction Center are all queued into the CRM and delivered through a single UI to the right agent.
Not only did this reduce interaction complexity, but it also centralized all the channel and agent performance data directly in CRM. Agents were able to utilize each channel to the fullest extent, no longer limited by the implementation of a single multi-channel platform.
As customers increase their use of mobile applications, things are only going to get more complicated. CRM vendors have a huge opportunity to embrace best of breed interactions and support businesses trying to address this growing trend.