According to a recent report from Cavell Group, now might be the perfect time for service providers to think about launching contact centre solutions as part of their overall UC package. As the cloud communications market continues to evolve and transform, service providers are searching for new ways to differentiate themselves and offer better solutions to their customers.
We spoke with Fazil Balkaya, a leading cloud communications industry analyst, consultant and an author of the Cavell Group report, on how exactly service providers can benefit from offering full-blown contact centres to their end users. The Cavell report covers what benefits the contact service offerings can give service providers, what common contact centre features include, and how brands may be able to start delivering contact centres to end customers.
Why Should Service Providers Be Improving Their Contact Centre Strategy?
The first thing I wanted to know when I began speaking to Fazil, was which factors might motivate service providers to begin bringing a contact centre offering into their portfolio. He began by telling me that, if we look at the Cavell report, it’s easy to see that the demand for contact centre solutions from an end-user perspective is increasing. “It’s the second most-requested service by enterprises when it comes to service provider offerings. In other words, this means that contact centre opportunities give service providers a chance to tap into better margins, but that’s just the beginning in terms of benefits.”
Perhaps one of the most important reasons that service providers should be offering contact centre solutions to their customers, according to Fazil, is that it could give them a new way of standing out in the marketplace.
“As UCaaS strategies become increasingly similar, service providers need differentiating factors. Bundling UC and contact centre offers could make it easier for service providers to really carve a space for themselves in the marketplace. The contact centre features would also make the service providers stickier, and reduce customer turnover.”
Fazil also noted that by offering contact centre solutions, service providers would be able to address more segments and verticals too.
“This means tapping into a larger addressable market, while simultaneously defending against OTT (Over The Top) threats.”
Is There More of a Demand for Informal, or Formal Contact Centres?
While the demand for contact centres is clear, I was interested to find out whether customers are searching more for advanced, formal solutions, or informal strategies that allow them to tap into different solutions as and when they need them.
“Today, many of the contact centre features that have been offered traditionally as part of a full-blown contact centre, like intelligent routing and chatbots, have been decoupled, so that they can be offered as a value-added service to complement different UC offerings.”
“I think there’s value in both formal and informal strategies, but obviously, service providers will be able to benefit more from a financial perspective if they can offer a full-blown solution.”
According to Fazil, determining whether formal, or informal contact centre offerings are the best option will depend on a service provider’s ability to assess their market and segment properly.
“If we divide contact centres up, we have basic, core, and advanced options. Basic options are those that offer simple inbound calling and limited integration. Core services offer all of the things you’d typically expect from a contact centre, and advanced solutions are the options like Genesys, InContact, and CC-One from BroadSoft.”
“The demand for each type is there, you just need to analyse your market carefully” Cavell has seen a rise in Service Providers offering point/decoupled solutions to enterprises who don’t want full contact center services. This has enabled them to deliver analytics, reporting and basic IVR services to enterprises to help them better understand their interactions with their customers.
What Does the Market Look Like for Service Providers and Contact Centres?
Fazil told me that if we look at the full-blown contact centre offering, most service providers still aren’t delivering those solutions to their customers. “When you think of the typical go-to-market for a service provider, many are dealing with the SME and mid-market customers.”
“In fact, according to Cavell Group’s recent study of Western European Cloud comms markets, more than 50% of the users are in companies with fewer than 50 seats. It makes sense that service providers haven’t been considering contact centres up to now.”
“However, as they move further into larger segments, they may need to start getting contact centre solutions into their portfolio to be able to serve the needs of larger organisations.”
In terms of brands that are already disrupting the marketplace, Fazil noted that companies like Genesys, InContact, and BroadSoft have all been doing innovative things from an advanced contact centre perspective. He also drew attention to Serenova for its agile microservice solution.
How Do You Think the Market Will Change in 2018?
Now that 2017 has come to a close, I asked Fazil whether he thinks we will see more consolidation in the contact centre, and more service providers getting on board with cloud contact centres.
“I think that new entrants are coming, but they’ll need to find their own niche market to thrive. In terms of consolidation, I think this trend will continue in both the contact centre and UC areas. There’s still a lot of potential out there. I think there could even be consolidation between CCaaS and UCaaS vendors in some cases.”
When we consider some of the more legacy-based vendors like Unify, Mitel, and even Avaya who is behind in true multi-tenant cloud contact centre offerings, it will be interesting to see what strategy they will bring to their portfolio in the future.
“I think now that Mitel has acquired ShoreTel, one of the most reasonable things the company can do is consider buying a contact centre vendor too. This might not be a direct contact centre vendor, but someone who can offer a combination of direct sales and channel. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mitel makes another acquisition very soon.”