Contact Centers Need to Consider Consolidated Digital Solutions

Experts studying the efficiency and effectiveness of customer interactions across a wide variety of industries are observing that companies continuing to pursue a siloed digital strategy are quickly falling behind. The definition of siloed varies, but it is generally a strategy of adding new digital features and functions on top of an existing telephony-based platform.

That might have made sense a few years ago as digital-first interactions lagged well behind phone-first, but with the ratio now tipping past 80/20 in favor of digital (a trend accelerated by the behavior changes since the onset of the global pandemic), analysts are strongly encouraging companies to evolve their customer interaction models.

In their breakthrough Market Trend report, Gartner® analysts Daniel O’Connell, Ajit Patankar, Megan Fernandez, Brian Doherty explore the unintended negative impact of the legacy siloed approach:

Gartner enterprise clients often cite that they have two to five partially overlapping vendor solutions supporting customer experience. This happened in an ad hoc manner as custom platforms were added to support emerging needs. However, it is no longer tenable as digital channels are now market-relevant, AI has become strategic, the volume of customer interactions is expanding and back-end complexity is apparent.

The report goes on to illustrate a common customer environment faced by today’s enterprises — multiple customer experience platforms that are siloed by channels….. Each of the three platforms has separate agents, back-end systems and AI architectures. The result is a suboptimal mix of: expensive, inconsistent customer experience and agent anxiety.  

In response, many of the legacy vendors that made their name in telephony decades ago are now offering new digital options of their own. But analysts are reporting that having fewer vendors operating the same number of disconnected channels isn’t accomplishing the intended effect.  According to Gartner:

Many contact center vendors now support digital channels, but adoption remains fledgling and the user experience marginal. Customers often cite that the channels operate in silos.

This is why an increasing number of companies are transforming from the practice of adding more digital channels to their telephony platform–to Digital Customer Service (DCS) pioneered by Glia. In the DCS model, all customer interactions enter through a single ChannelLess™ platform, whether they are digital-first or phone-first.  

  • For digital-first customers, if their issue can’t be resolved through AI and virtual service (GVAs–Glia Virtual Assistants) but requires live assistance, the rep joins the customer on their own screen–in context, having already been authenticated, without the need to abandon their digital journey and start all over again on the phone. This creates a far more efficient interaction that is a seamless, effortless experience for the customer.  
  • For the 16% of phone-first customers (whose calls are processed by Glia Call Center), the interaction might include a “teaching moment” in which a customer is offered a chance to log into their online account–if they are near a screen, or calling from a smartphone–and learn to become more digitally self-sufficient during future interactions.

As Glia CEO Dan Michaeli and I detailed in “Digital Customer Service,” those companies that are processing all digital-first and phone-first customer interactions through DCS are simultaneously solving all 3 of the major issues identified by analysts:  It’s far more cost-effective, it enables a consistently excellent customer experience and it makes the frontline agent’s job easier and more rewarding. 

The Gartner report provides an overview of market opportunities and challenges. It notes:

Enterprises seek to consolidate customer experience platforms. This typically includes a voice-centric contact center platform and a digital-centric channel platform, which over time will be reduced to one. 

Gartner notes, “Enterprises Will Be Consolidating Customer Experience Platforms:”

Bottom Line: Those contact center vendors that support orchestrated communications channels will be the consolidators. Those that do not will be the consolidated.

Engineering all digital-first and phone-first interactions through a single platform wasn’t a realistic possibility even just a few years ago. But with Glia and DCS, it is now.

Gartner, Market Trend: Contact Center Vendors Should Double Down on Digital Channels as Enterprises Consolidate Vendors, 28 October, 2022

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