Exploring the X in Customer Care with 8×8
We talk to 8x8 at Customer Contact Week
If you’re involved in the contact centre industry, or you’re a business with a call centre, then there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Customer Contact Week. The CCW event has been one of the biggest conferences in the contact centre community for nearly 20 years, and it’s still introducing innovation to companies from around the world today. I was lucky enough to attend the conference in Las Vegas myself this year and talk to some of the people showcasing their exciting new products on the floor.
One of the brands I caught up with was 8×8 – the industry leader in global cloud communication solutions. I spoke to 8×8’s Solutions Consultant for Customer Experience (CX), Alton Harewood, who shared with me his thoughts about the evolution of the contact centre, and 8×8’s X Series portfolio.
Tell Us A Little Bit About You
When it comes to talking about the evolution of the contact centre and the growing popularity of customer experience solutions, there are few experts better suited to provide insight than Alton Harewood. He’s spent more than thirty years in the contact centre space, originally on a customer service desk for a mail order company. He actually worked his way up all the way from agent to manager, before moving into the role of analyst and “tech” support.
“I was very fortunate when I wanted to move to Canada, that the company I worked with at the time transferred me and made me a project manager. I learned so much in that role, which has helped me to become a better consultant, salesperson, and channel management expert today.”
“Last year, I talked to 8×8 about their focus on the rejuvenation of the cloud contact centre, and I was thrilled to join their solutions consulting team.”
As part of the solutions consulting team, Alton now deals with the major issues that customers face every day, looking at what 8×8 can do to fix their problems and make customer experience more innovative for everyone involved.
How Would You Say the Contact Centre Has Evolved Recently?
With so much experience in the history of contact centres, I was keen to hear more about what Alton saw as the major evolutions in the industry during the past few years. I asked him what he considered to be the most important trends affecting users today, and he told me that you have to think about the people who are using technology today to answer that question.
“We’ve got the millennials now – a very mature group with expectations of immediacy, clarity, and a strong consumer interface. All these critical elements are to be treated as part of your product DNA when this demographic starts working in the contact centre too.”
Alton noted that a lot of companies are also struggling with the fact that they’ve got old legacy systems combined with new technology.
“They’ve got legacy boxes on their site, and they’re trying to evolve at the same time with speech analytics and customer intent. That’s one of the biggest things that has changed the trends in contact centres in recent years – the drive to get ahead of the customer and understand what they want before they come to you.”
Alton noted that users in the contact centre environment are extremely intelligent these days and that they expect more than ever from the tech they embrace. “Contact centres were historically very disparate systems, but now users expect them to be more diverse, dynamic, and immersive.”
How Is 8×8 Transforming the Contact Centre?
It’s safe to say that 8×8 is one of the most disruptive companies in the contact centre space right now, with so much available from their simple yet rich cloud service. I was interested to hear from Alton what he thought made 8×8 such an innovator. “We started off with small companies, and we’ve grown to add new features and new solutions as the contact centre has evolved. However, we were also one of the first companies to take the right mentality with small businesses and give them the full end-to-end experience they were looking for. After all, small businesses today need all the comprehensive solutions you’d expect from a full contact centre.”
Alton noted that 8×8 has taken this approach to making the contact centre as complete as possible, and infused it into the X Series offering, which gives users all the audio, video, messaging and contact centre capabilities you need in the same UC stack.
“The contact centre that used to be an isolated silo with separate video conferencing, voice messaging, and everything else is now available together, on a single pane of glass. With the X Series, every component comes with more features and modules for you to add into your system.”
Essentially, the X Series solution gives contact centres a modular way to build their own ideal contact centre. You don’t need to buy a bunch of different licenses and give everyone in your contact centre the same tech. Instead, you can change what you offer based on user experience (UX).
How Does 8×8 Excel with Voice Quality and Speech Analytics
8×8, a lot like Alton himself, is a company that’s really built itself from the ground up. It learned from small businesses and took the lessons they learned into the mid-market and enterprise too. While they’re investing in new and innovative solutions like AI, they keep the basics of good call centre experiences in mind too, like call quality.
“Most people automatically expect to get good call quality with VoIP, but I think we’re one of the only companies who offers an SLA on call quality. At the same time, we’ve got high levels of security, with HIPAA business associate certifications, and GDPR compliance. We offer high security, accessibility, and support around the world.”
At the same time, from a disruptive point of view, 8×8 have offered something completely different with their X8 speech analytics solution, by creating categories and topics that allow people to start analysing the information they get out of their calls from the moment they turn the system on. “We’re helping call centre agents to take action immediately. In the past, when you did call centre quality management, you were looking at a random handful of calls. Now, you can create a range of positive and negative coaching possibilities by looking at specific categories.”
How Do You Make the Most of your Offering?
According to Alton, getting ahead in the contact centre space today is all about following through on what you claim you can offer your community. “I think if you’ve got a process and a vision you can give your customer, then you’re going to have great success. That’s why we make sure our customers know how we’re going to be able to impact their business when they work with us.”
8×8 is the only platform that has a full unified communications and contact centre system that’s “built by us, delivered by us, and enhanced by us” as Alton put it.
The company is breaking down the barriers of accessing great customer experience for everyone – not just from an affordability point of view, but in terms of simplicity and user experience too.