By Erik Linask , Group Editorial Director
The contact center market has been going through a significant evolution over the past five years, with many businesses taking advantage of new cloud-based contact center solutions. It’s becoming a rather crowded market, though there are still varying levels of services to meet the needs of small, mid-size, and large businesses, including solutions that run in public cloud environments and others deployed in private clouds.
Enghouse Interactive (News - Alert), which has been delivering technology solutions for businesses for three decades, sees an opportunity in the managed services contact center model. While it’s not as cheap as the basic public cloud contact center model, it allows for the level of customization many businesses require to effectively manage customer interactions.
“It’s not about spinning up a contact center in the public cloud in 30 minutes,” says John Cray, VP product management at Enghouse Interactive. “But we are able to customize the way any individual customer needs it and the model is working for both resellers and end customers.”
Enghouse does have what you might call a beginner solution for the smaller end of the market or for companies looking to try out a low-cost alternative or that only need very basic contact center functionality. In fact, this lower end serverless application can be spun up very rapidly and cost-effectively – about $40 per agent.
This provides a foot in the door, especially in the SMB market, but most customers, Cray says, eventually find they really need more complex solutions to effectively compete in a customer-centric world. Because those customers typically do not have the IT expertise to implement and manage a complex contact center solution, the managed services model is ideal. It’s the same theory that has created a massive opportunity in the MSP market in general, and has driven the growth of the company’s “communications center online” strategy.
“Only 7 percent of contact center managers truly want a public cloud contact center,” says Cray. “Most want either a managed services model or want to run it on-premises.”
A key here, as with any platform, is the agent experience. Both the low-end solution and Enghouse Interactive’s more complex offerings leverage the same agent interface, making transition easy and eliminating risk in client service effectiveness and making it easier for businesses to move upstream.
One of the reasons is Enghouse Interactive’s long relationship with Microsoft (News - Alert). As an increasing number of businesses move to Office365 and Teams, Enghouse has seen significant growth in customers looking for contact centers able to support their MSFT solutions. Not surprisingly, this has been one of Enghouse Interactive’s fastest growing segments, moving from 50 to more than 600 Microsoft customers in less than two years.
The other area, of course, that should be important to all contact center businesses, is Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is starting to be leveraged in quality management, media evaluation, and routing, in particular. The problem, as Cary notes is that while businesses know they want to build around AI, they tend not to know exactly what they want or how to do it. To that end, while it’s an opportunity market, there’s an awful lot of consultation work going on currently.
“You can just wave a magic wand and have an AI engine handling all your texts,” explains Cray. “It can take up to a year or more to understand all the specifics of the business, the customers, and the language.”
His recommendation – along with that of several others I’ve spoken to recently – is to start small, with a specific, narrow use case. It’s easy to build out from there and, in the mean time, businesses have their more traditional routing and decision making solutions to fall back on for anything outside the scope other their initial bot implementations.