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August 18, 2022
After a big spike during the COVID-19 pandemic, contact-center-as-a service (CCaaS) providers have seen a normalizing in sales that could slide further due to a possible upcoming recession.
Buying patterns are changing, and in the months ahead buyers likely will be more focused on cost savings than providing a better customer experience. CCaaS has helped call centers keep up with the hybrid workforce and changing customer demands.
This is our third annual list focusing on CCaaS providers. Analysts share their views on what it takes to succeed with the technology. It includes an updated list and fresh views on changes in the competitive landscape.
According to Juniper Research, global CCaaS market revenue will reach $15.6 billion by 2027, increasing an explosive 216% from $4.9 billion in 2022.
Jon Arnold is principal of J Arnold & Associates. He said customers have been dealing with both rising volumes and fewer agents due to the great resignation.
J Arnold & Associates’ Jon Arnold
“That’s a disaster,” he said. “So it’s even more impetus for them to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. “It’s stuff you really can’t do very well with legacy hardware-based contact center systems.”
AI is a game-changer in CCaaS, Arnold said.
“The vendors are all pushing a strong AI story, not just because it’s that shiny ball everyone’s drawn to, but AI has very high perceived value,” he said. “What it actually delivers probably falls a little short; it’s getting better, but it’s not perfect. Because it holds so much promise, it’s a premium value. So the vendors can charge extra for anything they call AI and the contact centers will pay for it because they don’t really know any differently. So there’s a bit of an opportunity there for the vendors to kind of capitalize on that. But then again, once the contact centers start to use it, if it doesn’t deliver, they’re going to stop using it for sure. But for how the vendors have evolved, a lot of these challenges do point to AI as being part of the solution. I don’t know one contact center vendor who isn’t doing AI in some capacity.”
Sheryl Kingstone is head of customer experience and commerce, and voice of connected user landscape with 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence.
451 Research’s Sheryl Kingstone
“The momentum that we had during the pandemic to focus on customer service support hasn’t changed,” she said. “What has been escalating even more is the need for cloud. The ability to swarm a lot of different experts has really become more in the forefront as we become very more resilient to some of these last-minute urgent changes. So it’s not just the pandemic in general. It’s the fact that look what’s happening after the pandemic and the fact that even the travel industry, they can’t respond. They tried to scale up and they realized they can’t. Now, not everyone has the travel industry, but a lot of industries are really trying to double down on customer service and support because of the fact that we have the macroeconomic environment that we’re in right now that is to do more with less.”
Service is the new marketing, Kingstone said.
“We do have to put in place a data governance and data strategy so that we’re using the right data at the right time,” she said. “That’s really informing our processes to lower cost to serve and improve the customer experience friction points.”
Max Ball is principal industry analyst at Forrester. He said a must in CCaaS now is the ability to support customers on whatever channel they want to communicate on. In addition, AI is going to “flip the contact center on its head.”
Forrester’s Max Ball
“The most visible place we see it is chat bots,” he said. “So self-service can be on the digital channels — it can be on voice, but it also is doing agent assistant applications. It’s doing robotic process automation (RPA) to get data from the back end and to the agent. It’s improving quality management where you’re grading your agents and scoring them, and all that stuff. Historically, you record every call, you listen to 1%, and at random the agent gets judged on which 1%. Nowadays with analytics, I can a pick calls I care about. Either it’s a topic I want or I’m going to look for calls with a whole lot of pauses because that’s awkward and that’s bad, and I want to see what’s going on with those. So it’s going to be much more targeted about which calls I review. And I can also have kind of an overall [agent] score for all the calls.”
We’ve compiled a list, in no particular order, of 20 top CCaaS providers. It’s based on analysts’ feedback and recent news reports. The list includes a mix of well-known providers as well as lesser-known ones making strides in CCaaS. This is by no means a complete list and includes a broad spectrum of providers in the contact center space.
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