8×8 Contact Centre Review: Removing the Clutter to Boost Performance
Read our 8×8 Virtual Contact Centre review
What’s the worst that can happen in a contact centre? Poor service causing customers to look elsewhere? Spending so much time managing and maintaining your system that you miss opportunities to build longer, stronger relationships with your customers?
How about a lack of continuity between different communications channels, and between different customer service teams, leading to a confusing and disjointed customer experience?
Perhaps more important than any of these questions – would you know if any of the above applied your contact centre?
According to a white paper from 8×8, possibly not. The cloud communications pioneer claims that most businesses find it very difficult to keep track of what happens in the contact centre, for a variety of reasons.
High amongst these reasons is sheer complexity. Quoting from a CCNG Survey, 8×8 points out on its website that the average contact centre has to deal with around 18 different equipment, services and software vendors.
This is an astonishing statistic. Can any business expect to build and maintain a truly efficient and responsive IT network made up of 18 or more component parts? How do you track performance and impact across so many? How do you ensure they all integrate and work with one another, so you are not having to continuously firefight glitches and bottlenecks in the network?
Put simply, 8×8 believes you don’t. They claim that many operational challenges experienced in the contact centre stem from having cumbersome, unwieldy system architectures which themselves get in the way of smooth, efficient performance.
8×8’s answer is Virtual Contact Centre, a cloud contact centre solution which promises everything a contact centre operation requires, all in a single integrated platform.
8×8’s claim is that a truly end-to-end contact centre solution like this improves the overall customer experience while driving down costs. We will attempt to unpick whether that is feasible in this review. But before we do, please remember that UC Today is an independent news and insight service and that we do not endorse or promote any particular brands or products.
What can it do?
- Digital: Stripped down email and chat channels with pre-built CRM integration, plus dashboards and analytics.
- Standard: Includes a voice channel with IVR, queued call back, dashboards and analytics.
- Pro: Full multi-channel capabilities with enhanced IVR.
- Ultimate: Adds quality management and a preview dialer to the Pro suite.
In terms of available tools, Virtual Contact Centre is as comprehensive a solution as there is available, combining typical contact centre resources with a number of innovative and sophisticated additions. Alongside CTI, CRM integration means agents get automatic access to in-depth customer information with every call, helping them to personalise and tailor the service they provide. As an extension to this, Personal Agent Connect allows businesses to refer high value customers to specific agents, helping to nurture stronger, more personal relationships.
Virtual Contact Centre uses skills-based routing by default, using customer history and IVR to route customers automatically to the agents best suited to meet their needs. In addition, Expert Connect gives agents direct access to specialists in their organisation who can help with specific queries or issues, displaying availability in a live contact list. Virtual Contact Centre also includes a built-in internal chat platform, so agents can refer quick questions or requests in real time as they talk to customers, and supervisors can broadcast messages across the contact centre without interrupting calls.
As more and more people use websites as a first point of contact, either through contact forms or live chat, 8×8 has been careful to build specific tools into the platform to support this. Co-Browse allows agents to follow customers as they browse online, offering guidance on, say, product lines or explaining services, bringing telephone and web service together. Web Callback gives customers waiting in a queue the option of either requesting a callback or using an online contact form, while Proactive Chat allows a business to extend IM to chosen customers.
8×8 bundle in the usual real-time and historical reporting and analytics capabilities, with live dashboard and wallboard support. There is also a Customer Experience Analytics tool, which provides service level intelligence drawn from all contact points. There is also a Post-Call Survey app for building custom satisfaction surveys.
Virtual Contact Centre uses a single interface for all users and all purposes to keep operations as simple as possible, with different permissions separating tools for agents and supervisors. As well as standard tools like live monitor, whisper and barge, supervisors benefit from web configuration and workforce optimisation tools which allow them to do everything from create new IVR shifts to manage queues live in play. With the Ultimate edition, the Quality Management tool helps to optimise agent availability, providing the best available balance of skills at any one time.
What do we like?
8×8’s Virtual Contact Centre is a massive platform with a huge range of features to get your head around. But one of its biggest strengths is that it feels anything but clumsy or difficult to navigate. The single interface for all operations is extremely well thought out and user friendly, giving the entire suite of functions – for agents and supervisors, across all channels, for front end service and back end collaboration – a unified, logical and seamless feel.
Who is it for?
With four available editions, Virtual Contact Centre caters for a wide range of needs. At the top end, both the Pro and Ultimate editions are enterprise-friendly solutions, coupling a huge suite of contact centre tools with the flexibility of the Cloud. Standard offers a straightforward voice-based solution for more traditional call centres, while Digital is an innovative offer best suited for smaller businesses looking to streamline and manage online customer relationships.
What is it compatible with?
Virtual Contact Centre supports direct integrations with popular third party CRM applications such as Zendesk, NetSuite, Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, with APIs available to plug into other platforms.
UC Today Opinion
Going back to the statistic about the average contact centre using 18 different vendors to create a viable system, it shows just how much work and effort goes into setting up a contact centre, never mind running and maintaining it. That’s 18 lots of product and service research, 18 contracts, 18 service agreements, 18 contact points should something go wrong.
As a solution which sets out to banish all of that hard work and repetition by providing a complete contact centre system in one user friendly package, 8×8’s Virtual Contact Centre does an admirable job. Powerful, comprehensive and feature rich, it is nonetheless beautifully crafted around an intuitive UX which removes so much of the complexity. It is in that sense a prime example of the advantages of cloud-based contact centre solutions, and that is without even considering the cost benefits.
If you are an 8×8 Virtual Contact Centre customer, we would love to hear your thoughts about it. Please share your experiences and insights in the contact form below, and if you know anyone else who might be interested in joining in, please invite them along by sharing this article on social media.