8×8’s Engage Product to Bring Contact Center Capabilities Outside the Contact Center

This syndicated post originally appeared at No Jitter.

As customer experience becomes a way for companies to compete, they need tools that give contact center capabilities to non-contact center personnel. This offering is aimed at that business need.

8x8’s Engage Product to Bring Contact Center Capabilities Outside the Contact Center

Cloud-based communications provider 8×8 launched a new offering called 8×8 Engage, designed to meet the needs of customer-facing employees who operate outside the traditional contact center environment. The platform combines 8×8’s unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and contact center as a service (CCaaS) capabilities in a user-friendly format. 8×8 Engage utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to provide insights and data analysis through deep integration and data synchronization with native and third-party enterprise apps, including 8×8 Technology Partner Ecosystem partners.

8×8 Engage’s key features include a customized contact center interface, queue management, integration with other apps, AI-powered tools, and comprehensive analytics. Here’s a closer look at each of these features:

  • Customized Contact Center Interface: Simplifies conversations and collaboration as all customer-facing workers use the same platform.
  • Queue Management: Seamlessly transfers customer interactions with full context and details, ensuring continuity across the organization.
  • Integration with Third-Party Apps: Works with other CX apps to automate workflows and provide access to data. This would include CRM systems, supply chain tools, and vertical applications.
  • AI-Powered Tools: Uses AI to analyze conversations and summarize interactions while recommending actions to enhance the CX.
  • Comprehensive Analytics: Offers a central place to view data and insights from customer interactions across the organization.

Over the past five years, customer experience has dramatically increased in importance. My research shows that today, 90% of businesses compete on CX, up from only 26% five years ago. This has compelled companies to give contact center capabilities to non-contact center agents such as salespeople, inside sales, customer success, and even field service. One organization I interviewed has 50 agents and recently added 100 more non-agent seats as it enables more people to interface with customers faster and more accurately.

One of the challenges of scaling up customer-facing operations is that many workers only need a partial agent interface. For example, a field adjuster for an insurance company only needs the ability to contact a customer, look up history, and add images and notes. A full agent dashboard would be overkill. 8×8’s customizable interface allows the organization to streamline workflows as it simplifies the interface for the worker.

8×8’s approach signifies a shift from a platform that merely connects different systems to one that reimagines how customer service is delivered and by whom, explained Fabio Ramos, vice president of product marketing at 8×8. He told me, “8×8 Engage allows for more efficient routing of customer interactions, not just to the contact center but to the appropriate subject matter experts—a capability lacking before.”

This is especially important since many employees outside the contact center directly support those within it. 8×8 estimates that 20 to 60 percent of employees fall under this category, particularly those in sales, customer success, accounting, finance, billing, and marketing. These areas require support capabilities like those of contact centers.

“They are subject matter experts in areas they’re responsible for, and it just happens that a part of their day involves dealing with customer interactions. We need to make sure that the interaction journeys are fully captured with this product. It’s a completely different persona from a contact center agent,” said Ramos.

8×8 explores this shift further in a forthcoming report, Customer Experience Responsibility Beyond the Contact Center, which was recently published. The report uncovers a considerable gap in CX journeys, supporting that 98 percent of leaders view CX as an organization-wide initiative, and 92% acknowledge the push for cross-departmental CX initiatives; only 6 percent believe that CX consistency is achieved across all departments. This disparity indicates that many organizations may still need to possess the necessary technology and backend systems to provide CX across the board.

8×8 offers role-based access and pre-packaged, persona-driven templates for various industries, addressing the need to maintain consistent CX across departments. Organizations can customize their experience by adding or removing features in Engage. Team leaders can gain insights into their customers by analyzing detailed reports using visualizations, which present data in a more straightforward format. Moreover, the platform is compatible with mobile devices, making the data accessible anytime and anywhere. This can be useful for workers on the go, such as field service and campus workers.

Essentially, 8×8 is moving beyond its XCaaS, which integrates various communication services into a single cloud offering. The vendor is positioning 8×8 Engage as a standalone product with unique capabilities. It’s worth noting that 8×8 allows organizations to mix and match 8×8 Engage with other X Series products, such as its Frontdesk offering.

Unlike traditional contact center solutions, Engage aims to provide a more personalized and autonomous CX. Ramos noted that as Engage develops, it will cater to a wide range of industries, including retail and healthcare, focusing on roles that require direct customer interactions outside the contact center.

The ability to serve the needs of non-contact center agents greatly expands the contact center TAM. If every customer did what the one I cited did, that would triple the market. I don’t think all companies will do that, but I think it’s possible that delivering the right functionality to each worker can double the addressable market. For 8×8, 8×8 Engage allows them to aggressively go after contact center customers, even if there is an incumbent as it can look to sell 8×8 Engage into other business units and then displace a competitor later.

Author: Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.