How IoT Will Revolutionise the Contact Centre in 2018
We get an IoT insight from Cameron Weeks, CEO of Sharpen Technologies
The world of communication is changing. In the past, we had desk phones and on-premises PBX systems, now we have the cloud, and software solutions that have been supported by a growth in AI, chatbots, and even IoT. According to some statistics, by 2020, around 50 billion new devices will be connected wirelessly to the cloud, yet data shows that only 25% of all companies are successful in their IoT projects.
Leaders in the IoT environment, Sharpen Technologies, are doing their part to help companies leverage IoT in a more effective way, to make the customer service experience more “proactive”. For instance, the company just introduced their own programming language to develop a proactive customer experience(CX).
We spoke to CEO and founder of Sharpen, Cameron Weeks, to learn more about where this unique company is heading in the coming years.
Tell Us About Yourself and Sharpen Technologies
“In 2011, me and my co-founder had sold our first company, and we were searching for an idea of what we were going to do next. We learned that RingCentral had just gone public with their company and learned that they had about 1.3 users per account and that the very small business space was focusing heavily on the cloud.”
Since small businesses were directing their attention towards the cloud, Cameron and his co-founder were keen to find out what was happening on the other side of the fence with enterprises and companies like Avaya, Genesys, and Interactive Intelligence. They discovered that the bigger enterprises were still investing in the on-premises PBX solutions they’d had for decades.
“We had this vision of introducing the first enterprise example of a cloud-based contact centre that could really rival the current player. We wanted to go to market with the full functionalities and features required by a contact centre, and in 2016 we achieved our goal, with 5 nines (99.999) reliability, and the most robust cloud contact centre on the market.”
What Makes Sharpen Unique?
When Cameron was first bringing Sharpen to life, he noted that he wanted to really be in charge of everything with his company.
“We didn’t want to be at the mercy of anyone else.” That’s why Sharpen decided to become a fully-functioning telco service, with their own developed voice switch solution. “We’re a telco provider in 13 countries today. While we do leverage AWS, we’re not exclusive to anyone, because we know different companies want different things.”
By building all of their own technology, the founders behind Sharpen have ensured that they can diversify their offering across disparate cloud environments and remove the restrictions on their customers. This is a huge achievement for a company that’s still relatively new. Though Sharpen has had customers helping them refine their strategy since 2011, they only started in the general marketplace in 2017.
“In our first year of sales, we had 300 companies around the world using our product. The real secret to our success isn’t just our amazing team or product. It’s that the market has been lied to for so long by countless companies saying they have the perfect cloud solution.”
Sharpen refuses to talk their own brand up, instead, they’re focused on showing their customer what they can really do for them.
How Are You Helping Transforming Companies with IoT and Next-Level Tech?
Cameron told me that when the brand starts showing its customers what they can really do, it makes for a very fast and effective sales process.
“One of the things that have been a big problem for our customers is that they want to move to the cloud, but they don’t know how to start that process. With Sharpen, you get the reliability you need, along with the customisation and configuration solutions that keep the CTO and CIO in control.”
Not only do Sharpen offer peak-level calling solutions for their customers, but they make it easier for customers to embrace new technology with them. For instance, in the case of IoT, Cameron believes that Sharpen can open the door to truly proactive customer service.
“People have been talking about proactive customer service for years as the holy grail of CX. However, it’s hard to give such a forward-thinking level of service to customers without the right data. IoT is the light in the darkness in this space. We now have devices that can provide data when something is going wrong.”
From a historical perspective, IoT has been more common from a diagnostic standpoint. For instance, Rolls Royce cars have been rolling out IoT-activated cars for the last five years, which can actively provide data about how an engine is performing. The question for Sharpen is how you can go beyond those diagnostics to start changing the customer experience.
“It’s about asking questions about how you can make people more loyal to a brand. For instance, what if your refrigerator could track its own internal temperature and send messages to the brand when something is malfunctioning. Then the company can contact their customer and set up a support ticket for them before the client has to do anything themselves. This opens up a new world of customer service.”
How Will Sharpen Continue to Develop in 2017?
For Cameron, the Sharpen business is built entirely on the foundation of excellent customer service, and IoT is just one more channel in the brand’s omnichannel offering. He told me that the brand will also be looking at the agent side of the equation in the coming year and thinking about how technology can be developed that not only satisfies the customer but supports the agent too.
“Our research shows that companies are burdening already over-burdened employees with more work to satisfy the customer, but this doesn’t lead to long-term success. Over 2018, we’ll be looking at how we can boost the agent experience with self-help solutions, collaborative interactions, and better training too.”