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10 Leaders in Fast-Changing Omnichannel Contact Center Sector

Carl Weinschenk

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


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