FLEX Episode 3 Stronger Together: The Benefits of Combining Unified Communications & Contact Center in the Enterprise
In this episode of FLEX, we talk with Dean Holmes, Fuze’s Director of Product Marketing, and Tess Varney, Senior Product Manager at Fuze, about the benefits of integrating your unified communications and contact center solutions.
Today, most enterprise businesses are moving their daily operations and software applications to the cloud, and forward-thinking IT leaders are doing the same with their communications solutions— which includes contact center capabilities. In this episode, we discuss the benefits of combining your unified communications solution with your contact center for a more seamless employee experience.
Alex Campanelli: Welcome to Flex, a podcast by Fuze. As a leader in the cloud communication space, we've been passionate about the future of work for over a decade. Join us as we discuss the future of flexible work with industry leaders and subject matter experts. Thanks for tuning in and let's get started.
Alex Campanelli: Hi everyone. Welcome to Flex, a podcast by Fuze. I'm your host, Alex Campanelli. Today I'm talking with Dean Holmes, Director of Product Marketing, and Tess Varney, Senior Product Manager at Fuze. Welcome guys, nice to have you here.
Dean Holmes: Happy to be here. Thanks Alex.
Tess Varney: Thanks Alex. I'm glad to be here.
Alex Campanelli: Before we really get into it, how have you both been doing in quarantine? Our CEO just announced that Fuze won't be going back to any physical office space, most likely until July, 2021. So, how has this year's transition been for you both?
Tess Varney: Yeah, that's a great question, Alex, and thank you for asking. I would say that this year has been really interesting as a transition from going into the office most days to being at home full time. I really appreciated the early action that our executive team took in making the decision to send us all home and really the decisions they've made throughout the year as a subsequent kind of tree of choices as they've gone through the COVID response systems that they have. One of the other things that I've really appreciated other than the decisive action to send us home and make sure that we were in safe, secure places was the open dialogue that they've continued to have with us as an organization. Well, not being in the same physical place, so inclusion that they've gone and done all hands AMAs, allowing us to have the opportunity to ask questions, raise concerns, and then also the surveys that they've really taken to heart and put into action for all of us. So, it's really made the transition to being home full-time a lot easier.
Dean Holmes: Yeah, I was someone who already worked from home a lot, so it was a little different for me. But even with that transition, it was a very different type of thing than sort of traditional work from home, especially as other people were learning how to do that that may not have done that before. Fortunately, our technology makes this an easy transition. The fact that with Fuze I could simply log in on any computer that I had or any device that I had, it makes it a heck of a lot easier. But obviously technology can't solve everything. And like Tess said, having support from management and the executive team and the help and resources they've given us have made a big difference. And I think just kind of understanding that we're all in this together has really helped all of us, I think, as we've transitioned.
Alex Campanelli: Yeah, absolutely. And I would agree. I think that working from home with Fuze is one of the easiest things about the transition, which I'm really, really grateful for— that we actually live that mission where we work. I want to transition. Let's talk about the contact center. You guys are Fuze's contact center experts. So, let me start here. Rather than relying on traditional legacy systems, which we talk about a lot at Fuze, why should organizations be moving to contact center as a service or what we call CCaaS if they haven't already?
Dean Holmes: Yeah, I think beyond the obvious of the cost benefits and the reduction in capital expenditure that you get from migrating from a bunch of on-premise equipment or these siloed type solutions, COVID has really sort of proven one of the biggest benefits of the cloud contact center, which is that business continuity and sort of the disaster recovery side of things. At the highest level, having a cloud contact center solution really prepares you to migrate quickly and easily to having folks work remotely or work from home. And I think that that's a big piece that we have talked about traditionally and some companies have occasionally run into this in say a regional type of disaster. But this was clearly, the region is pretty big. As we're talking about here in COVID, it's everybody. So, having a solution like this where you can just say, "Hey, all of my agents need to go work from home today," and they can do that in a heartbeat, makes it very, very powerful. And I think that's probably been the real big proof point that we've seen through this and one of the biggest reasons I think customers are going to continue to accelerate that migration to the cloud.
Tess Varney: And really just building off of that, the cloud systems that we talk about, we're talking about cloud contact center here in this context, but that's not the only tool that your organization is going to rely on to really run their business, support their business. There are a lot of different pieces that will be a component of an organization shift to being a fully cloud supported organization. And those cloud tools really need to be able to integrate and work together. And that's just easier when you're working with a cloud contact center that can then integrate into the other tools that you're using to kind of support the full suite of resources that you need for your team. So if you're thinking about CRMs ticketing systems, even your ERPs, it's really important to be able to integrate those systems in together, and that's so much easier and more fluid from a cloud perspective. Additionally, really relying on developer marketplaces, those are really... Fuze has our developer marketplace that launched earlier this year. Being able to rely on those kinds of tools and have them be flexible across each of the types of things that you're using is really, really essential as you're moving into the cloud and selecting those tools.
Alex Campanelli: Yeah, absolutely. And I think we can all agree that this year, more than ever, has proven that we need communication solutions that offer us that flexibility and that mobility because we're now on the go, we're home, we're running errands, we're doing things that are incorporated into our daily life, right? So, we may never actually go back to the days of contact center agents sitting in cubicles in one room. So I guess my next question is, how does CCaaS really offer that mobility and that flexibility?
Dean Holmes: All right. So yeah, mobility, it's definitely a part of this. We mentioned the disaster recovery side of things, which really proved out that having a cloud solution allows you to say, "Hey, I want to go ahead and have an agent go home and log in." But you're also seeing, I think, people are recognizing that it's not just that ability to say I'm working from the office or I'm working from home. It's the ability to say, "I need to be able to work from anywhere and I need to be able to have my agent be able to log in on any device." And that might be a mobile device. Same with your supervisors. That's a situation where they might need to say, "Hey, I'm not at home, I'm somewhere remote and I need to be able to see what's going on in my contact center." What we focused on is expanding the capabilities of those mobile devices and what supervisors and what agents can do. The advantage there is that as we come back to the situation where you're saying people are starting to go back into the office, it's going to give them even more flexibility than they had previously where I can get up from my desk and I could go walk somewhere else, or I can go spend time at a different location and still be able to take and make calls and interact with the contact center from any device. That's going to be a big benefit regardless of whether it's some variety of work from home situation or a disaster recovery situation. The ability for those agents to be part of the contact center when they might not have traditionally been able to because they're away from their desk I think is going to be a big difference in how mobility is playing in with the contact center.
Tess Varney: So that's a great point on the ability for ensuring that our agents are really able to have those scenarios, the ability to find those multimodal options as they're working through their days and making sure that they are supported properly to be able to go about their day within the right tooling and functionalities. Additionally, what we've found is there are some customers who also have the users who are trying to contact the contact center. They also need to have this more flexible and easy to use in a multimodal scenario. So we have a particular customer that does a lot of logistics. And so within that, they have individuals who need to contact back to their contact center to get support, assistance, et cetera, but they are driving. And so there are specific things that they needed in order to be supported within those scenarios that allows them to not put themselves into a risky position, but also able to contact back to their center. Some of the things that we've been able to implement for them, and that would be useful to many others would include, one, touch calling, the ability to make a call back to that center very quickly and easily without having to fumble through any kind of device. A consistent experience regardless of which vehicle you end up that day, as well as some additional tooling that allows them to really be able to interact with quickly and connect quickly to the agents back in their centers as appropriate.
Alex Campanelli: So how does CCaaS offer increase visibility into remote worker activities for managers or supervisors, and what are the benefits that they can see there?
Tess Varney: Absolutely. Both sides of contact center really need to have a lot of visibility to do their jobs well, and they need that whether they're in the office or working from home. And so what we've done is we've really worked to bring that to both the agent and supervisor experiences. For agents, what we've been looking to do is give them just a better visibility into what's going on in the cues that they're assigned to without needing a wallboard and being physically in an office to be able to see that information. So giving them insights into how many calls they're waiting, how many agents are actually available right now to ensure that they're not taking a break when everybody else is also taking a break. And that way they can make sure that there are still enough agents visible and available to take the interactions that are pending. This also allows them to have additional insights into their own day and their own behaviors over the course of the day so they can see, are they hitting their goals? Are they on as many calls as they need to be on? Are they taking them as quickly as they need to, depending on the various statistics that may be important to their organization? Additionally, on the supervisor side, supervisors need to be spending their day really monitoring what's going on in the health of their organization and their center. So we've provided them with lots of data around both agents and the center itself; so we've got the holistic statistics about kind of what's happening over the course of the day as well as specific agent interaction information. So who's logged on? Where are they logged on? Are they approaching the day the way that they're expecting to? And then also those additional aggregate stats. And those are all just within our clients. We also have a data tool that allows you to do the longitudinal data tracking that you really need to as an organization to do your planning. How many calls did we get at this peak time for us last year so we can do the appropriate scheduling and whatnot to make sure you really have the resources where you need them on that day.
Dean Holmes: Yeah. To add onto that too, I think one of the great things that we've done and I think any platform like this requires is that learning ability. So it's the ability to allow a supervisor to not necessarily need to be proactively monitoring the contact center, but have the contact center actively notifying them when there are situations that maybe require their attention. So that's another, I think, real benefit as well that your supervisors are going to see. It's not necessarily specific to contact center as a service per se, but the accessibility of it. The ability to log in via browser, log in on an iPad, log in on a mobile device. It makes it much easier to follow those things.
Alex Campanelli: Okay. This next question I have for you both is one of the things I think is so interesting about CCaaS and that's the concept of the non-traditional contact center. Can you tell us more about what it is?
Dean Holmes: Yeah, that's a great question. I think this is an area where you're going to see a lot of expansion in the market and it's an area that we have gotten a lot of credit for and a lot of our customers appreciate is that with our platform, and again, one of the advantages of a combined UCaaS and CCaaS solution is you have the ability to find use cases that maybe had traditionally been ignored because traditional contact center is not inexpensive, both from initial investment and setup to ongoing costs and licensing. So you wouldn't traditionally be looking around your organization and saying, hey, who else could benefit from this? Because it's a lot of costs.
Dean Holmes: And in many cases when you're thinking about a contact center it's, is this a cost reduction center? Is this helping me with customer service or technical support? Is this a revenue generation center? Is it a sales organization, et cetera. Within an internal organization, or maybe not even internal only, there are a lot of parts of an organization that need to be able to quickly get calls answered and interactions answered. Teams like HR teams, IT teams. Even what you might traditionally think of as like, just do all ring groups for sales organizations within a retail or something like that.
Dean Holmes: All of these things wouldn't traditionally benefit or traditionally be considered as a contact center per se. But we really see these as kind of like hidden contact centers because if you license these groups and give them that ability, it just makes them that much more efficient and it makes the users that are trying to contact these teams a lot happier because they're able to get their questions answered in a much more succinct fashion.
Alex Campanelli: Obviously Fuze offers a unified communications platform, but we also offer a Fuze contact center with that. So when we think about why other businesses should integrate their UC solution with their contact center, what is the main point that you both really want people to understand about why this is important?
Tess Varney: Definitely. One of the things that we say a lot is that agents are people too, and they really deserve to have access to all of the necessary tools in their tool belt to be successful at their job. Included within that is the ability to reach out to others within their organization for assistance. For example, being able to reach out to an SME on a particular topic and get some help so that they can triage a problem or assist a customer as best and quickly as possible without having to go and get into a separate tool and really leave where they're taking that interaction. This allows them to be more fluid and more quickly reach out to the resources that they need to have help from.
Tess Varney: Additionally, on the supervisor side, supervisors aren't just managing a center over the course of their day. They have other tasks and responsibilities that they need to be tackling, including other meetings, trainings, et cetera, to kind of go throughout their day and allowing them as well to remain within one tool, have that visibility, get those alerts that Dean mentioned earlier within one tool while also still being able to go about the other tasks they need to complete over the course of the day is really essential to success and one of the real benefits of marrying these two products together.
Dean Holmes: And I think to even add to that, it does sometimes seem simplistic but just the user experience and the user interface for agents and supervisors, in many situations, with older technologies, that's kind of always been a clunky sort of interface. It's often a lot older and as Tess mentioned, supervisors and agents need to be able to do the same things that regular business employees do on a regular basis, as well as their contact center job. And when you make them move between applications and different interfaces, that makes that more of a frustrating disjointed experience. So when you give them, when they have that ability to have a tool like Fuze that's been designed to be a consumer-like experience, it makes it that much easier and it makes it that much more pleasant to go about your day and do your job when you're not bouncing between applications and the application that you are using is streamlined and efficient for what you do.
Alex Campanelli: Right. Ultimately it's about creating that seamless pleasant user experience for the agent and the supervisors as well. So, as it's the end of the year, we're talking a lot at Fuze about our predictions for the UC space next year, 2021. How do you both think CCaaS is going to evolve over the next year, especially just given all of the changes that we saw to the distributive workforce that happened this year in 2020?
Dean Holmes: I think the big one that you're probably going to see a lot more of is automation. I think you're going to see a lot more processing of calls and interactions by AI, ML type of platforms to try to ease the first line, well, our tier one questions and responses that you're often going to get. So I think you're going to see a lot more of that with the virtual agent experience where the first part of the call where I'm gathering information about what someone's needing, that might be done by a device or a machine. And then that presents to the agent if it gets to the point where it needs to come there. Or an agent can jump in if the bot, as it were, might seem to be causing more frustration than good type of thing.
Dean Holmes: So I think you're probably going to see a pivot of some people going hard towards full automation and some people kind of pushing against it. I think there's going to be somewhere in the middle where you're going to see that agents still kind of involved but monitoring what these bots are doing. And then as they get to a level where it seems like, hey, I need to jump in and take this, we'll be able to pull those interactions in and handle those. So I think that's going to be probably one of the big areas that, from my side of things, I see potentially being boosted in this next coming year.
Tess Varney: Yeah. Just to build on that, I think additionally with COVID and the sudden hastening of cloud products, cloud adoption, and the move to work from home, people really started taking on a lot of additional tooling to help support them. And they need to really look into the data behind that to see how well they're doing, how well are their teams doing. But they don't necessarily have the skills, expertise or time to do that raw data analysis. And so what they really need are tools that can provide them with insights into what's already going on and do some of that analysis on their behalf, to surfacing the information that matters, surfacing these people are doing really excellent, but here's some information about things that you're missing, the things that you're not seeing and things that you need to pay attention to and resolve.
Tess Varney: Those insights are really going to enhance people's ability to do their job quickly and efficiently, particularly as we continue moving through this evolution. We also, this was really a focus of the Aragon report that came out recently, The Intersection of Unified Communications & Collaboration with Contact Center. This is a report that really delves into a lot of this information and you can actually find this on our website. So if you go to fuze.com/resources, you can really see a lot more information about what Aragon has to say about these trends and the directions that they're going.
Alex Campanelli: That's great, and thank you for plugging that resource, Tess. I think it's a great report. I think that's all the time we have for today's chat guys. I really appreciate, Tess and Dean, both of you taking the time to talk with me about our contact center in CCaaS.
Dean Holmes: Thanks for having us, Alex.
Tess Varney: Yeah. Thanks so much.
Alex Campanelli: Thanks everyone for listening.
Alex Campanelli: Thanks again for listening to Flex, a podcast by Fuze. Be sure to subscribe to the show on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or Google podcasts, and rate and review us. For more information, visit fuze.com and follow us on social media @fuze. See you next time.