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In never ceases to amaze me, the number of new terms and acronymsvr_inin_types_of_interactions_in_contact_center the contact center market generates. Just as everyone is getting used to the fact that customers interact with companies through multiple communication channels (multichannel for short), someone invents the term omnichannel and we all have to get our heads around what this means. My research into the contact center in the cloud shows that companies now support on average nearly five communication channels, and although the traditional channels are still the most common, as the chart shows, there are signs that new channels such as chat (used by 37%), social media (29%), text messaging (22%) and video (5%) are on the increase.

The term omnichannel connotes “all in one,” and in this context it implies that companies need to integrate all these channels to give customers the same experience regardless of the channel they use. But I can think of three reasons why this is almost impossible today. The first is that each of these channels uses different devices, and try as companies might, they can’t achieve the same experience on a small mobile device, a laptop, in a text message, in 140 characters, face-to-face, or during a video call. Second, many companies still operate legacy communication systems, especially on-premises, proprietary ACDs, and integrating these with new channels is too costly in today’s economic climate. Emerging contact-center-in-the-cloud vendors such as EchopassEnghouse Interactive, Five9Interactive IntelligenceLiveOps and NewVoiceMedia offer a solution as their services typically include integrated multiple channels of communication. Even so, companies are often faced with deciding how to integrate these with their existing systems. Third, my research also shows that interactions are increasing handled by people in the lines of business, which are spread across the organization and typically have their own processes, systems and customers; therefore customers are likely to get different information depending on the line of business they interact with.

Another important factor is that many companies don’t truly know their customers. My research into customer relationship maturity shows that fewer than one in three (31%) companies produce a single report and analysis of their customers that is shared across the organization. This means that the lines of business are acting on different information, another reason why it is almost impossible to provide a single, consistent experience at all touch points. As companies add more channels of communication this challenge becomes greater, especially when they need to integrate more and more unstructured data into their customer analysis – the big data effect. Adding more channels of communication introduces yet another challenge. Typically each channel uses a unique identifier, and business applications have additional keys; these include, for example, a phone number, an email address, a Twitter handle, an account number or an order number. To truly know a customer companies therefore must link all these identifiers so they can, for example, identify that a current caller is the same person who posted a tweet and sent an email.

To deal with these challenges, I recommend that companies take the following steps:

  • Improve the quality and consistency of their customer data so they have one up-to-date master customer record.
  • Apply customer analytics to every possible source of customer data, including transaction, interaction and event data, structured and unstructured data, and historic, real-time and predictive analysis.
  • Use this analysis first at every touch point to know the customer.
  • Use this analysis also to put the current interaction into the context of previous interactions and the overall relationship with the customer.
  • Use this analysis in combination with rules-based logic to make the response personal to the customer and relevant to the issue raised, and therefore likely to result in the desired business outcome.
  • Above all else, companies need to ensure that they provide consistent information across channels and lines of business. Otherwise they face the prospect that customers will channel-hop until they get the information or outcome that suits them best. Such a process is likely to cost companies customers and sales.

I am not sure such an approach will produce an omnichannel customer experience, but it provides a practical, achievable process that is likely to improve the customer experience and outcomes. I would welcome comments on how others view the concept of omnichannel customer experience and how they intend to achieve it, so please come and collaborate with me.


Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

NewVoiceMedia recently announced it has raised $20 million of investment funds to aid its expansion overseas, including offices in North America. The company was founded in the UK in 2000 and originally offered telephony and call management in the cloud. It now has a close partnership with, which has allowed it to expand into a multichannel contact center in the cloud. During the last 12 years it has achieved considerable success, both financially and in acquiring prestigious clients, mostly in the UK. Old instincts die hard, and even though the company’s services and support are accessible anywhere, potential customers still like to see support available in their country. This latest round of funding will allow NewVoiceMedia to make a serious attack on the American market.

My research into the contact center in the cloud shows thevr_CCC_actions_to_improve_customer_interaction timing probably couldn’t be better. Consumer behavior is changing the way organizations have to support customer engagement, as consumers now want to engage through the channel of their choice and at a time of their choosing. All my practical experience is supported by the research, which shows that more and more companies are realizing the only practical way to support this new paradigm is by adopting applications and communications in the cloud. The research shows that CRM has led the way, but the most likely growth area in the next 24 months is in systems to support multichannel interactions. My practical experience also shows it is not an easy task for UK companies to succeed in America, but its track record in the UK for the quality of its service and support and the partnership with puts NewVoiceMedia in a strong position to succeed.

My research shows that one of the biggest concerns of organizations adopting contact center in the cloud is performance. NewVoiceMedia has addressed this in a unique way with Trust Site, which allows companies to see the fully open results of continuous performance tests that check availability, performance and other key operational metrics. From this, and available case studies, potential customers can gain confidence that the service will meet its expectations.

Given the current economic environment, some might question the decision to expand internationally. However I share the new investors’ confidence and expect NewVoiceMedia to carve out a significant slice of the largest contact center market.


Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

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