As a leading cloud software company for the enterprise contact centre market, Five9 is known for staying on the cutting edge of technology. Recently, the company announced that they had been identified as a “Hot Vendor” by Aragon Research after the group recognised Five9’s innovative omni-channel approach to customer engagement across social media, chat, web, email, video, and phone.
The Five9 cloud contact centre solution is intended to bridge the gap between diverse communication channels in the contact centre space, empowering agents to access a unified desktop for customer service and contextual journey analytics. I spoke to Dan Burkland, the President, about Five9’s accomplishments during 2017, and where the brand is heading in the year to come.
What Does It Mean to be a Hot Vendor for Digital Communications?
Aragon Research recognised Five9 as a Hot Vendor for digital communications, highlighting their ability to enhance customer journeys and provide users with a complete end-to-end solution for engagement and problem-solving. I asked Dan Burkland what this award meant to the company, and how they’ve progressed into a disruptive company in 2017.
“As cloud adoption has become more mainstream for larger companies, we felt that at Five9, we needed to overcome four key elements before the cloud could be fully trusted in a larger space. First, customers needed to trust that the cloud could deliver at least as much reliability as an on-premise solution. Second, they needed security and data protection to keep them safe. Third, they needed scalability and the opportunity for growth, and fourth, they needed something that was on-par with their current strategy from an application perspective.”
Five9’s omni-channel approach allowed them to show customers that by entering the cloud, they could stay up-to-date with the latest technology, without having to invest a huge amount of money into the marketplace. “We’ve been overcoming issues for the enterprise space over the last several years, and this has allowed us to be competitive in the marketplace.”
What Does Five9 Do Differently to Others?
As more brands come together to offer cloud solutions to enterprises and companies around the world, I was interested to find out what Five9 have been doing differently to stay ahead of the competition. Dan told me that the key to success for the company has been recognising that there isn’t any one-size-fits-all solution for the contact centre. Instead, vendors need to create an execution strategy that allows customers to access the advantages that fit into their needs.
“We’ve been able to innovate much quicker than the legacy hardware guys because we’re not restricted. Adding things like the omni-channel and multi-channel approach and the ability to track customer journeys from different avenues are all incredibly helpful. We can see the journey on where customers have been, and help companies to access technology as a way of serving their clients in a more contextual format.”
As a Gartner Leader How Will You Continue to Innovate?
Besides being branded as a Hot Vendor for digital communications, Five9 has also been recognised as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) for their “ability to execute” consecutively over the last three years. I wondered how the company planned to continue differentiating themselves from their competition in an increasingly saturated market.
“One of the reasons that we’re established as a leader in “ability to execute” is that we do things differently. What I’ve found throughout my career, is that it doesn’t matter where the technology sits for a company, it’s up to a vendor to do full discovery, understand business applications, and learn how they can ensure their customers are accessing the solutions that are offered to them.”
When customers come to Five9, they’re looking for a complete solution for their business. Five9 support every client by making sure they have the resources they need to get the best results.
“We not only assign a sales account manager to customers but an optional technical account manager too, that ensures that you have a guru on speed-dial to connect with whenever you need them. It’s our end-to-end approach to customer service that ensures our retention rate is the highest in the industry.”
What Do You See as the Biggest Challenges/ Opportunities for 2018
As innovative as Five9 have proven themselves to be, they’ll need to continue developing incredible solutions if they’re going to stay top right on the Gartner list. There are countless companies on the market now, showcasing new and improved strategies all the time. One of the opportunities that Five9 sees for the year ahead, is in the development of more significant AI and machine learning strategies. Dan told me:
“At Dreamforce, we just had a presentation showing a Five9 solution integrated with Salesforce Einstein. The system allowed voice recognition and the application of natural language processing so that agents could make real-time decisions about the best process for sales. We also had a stage presentation with Deloitte, who transcribed a conversation in real time using IBM Watson. They could access pop-up suggested responses in real time for the agent to decide how to progress the call.”
It’s tough today for people in the contact centre to distinguish between vendors. While there are a lot of people offering a huge number of features, no-one is using every solution available. Dan told me,
“No single customer is going to leverage a whole platform. The key to success is finding a partner who understands what your business needs, and then helps you to apply the technology you want to maximise the performance of your business. The vendor who turns their back on their customer is the one that’s going to fail.”
What’s Coming Next for Five9?
According to Dan, Five9 believes the industry is still in its infancy when you consider the amount of opportunity that lies ahead.
“We see momentum continuing in the years ahead. We’re growing our sales capacity by around 30-40% every year and that’s not going to slow down. Cloud is still under 15% penetration globally, and that means there are millions of agents out there still waiting to move out of old on-premises systems.”
Dan noted that while he has seen consolidation in the marketplace, he doesn’t believe there have been any significant names coming into the space that has been able to cement themselves in the market in a competitive way.
“There’s been a few people coming in and making a splash and then disappearing, but no-one who’s really succeeded.”
Dan also went on to say that he would advise against the consolidation of UC and contact centres:
“I think that UC companies need a contact centre solution, but bringing it into their system in an integrated way would cause them to lose their edge. Specialisation is still the best route forward.”
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