Universal Routing is Tao for the Omnichannel Contact Center

Is the key to omnichannel simply adding more channels? That is, if you supported every fathomable channel—all of which were seamlessly integrated—would your contact center become its strongest? I’d say no. Not until you’re ready to evolve a core element of omnichannel that is often overlooked. Read on to learn the impact that universal routing can have.

You’re a customer, right? So you know that when it comes to the brands you love to do business with, choice is vital. We want possibilities. More importantly, we want to be empowered to decide which serve us best depending on our needs. This is exactly why 20% of customers now use three or more interaction channels. What starts on a phone call might lead to an order on a website, which may offer chat assistance, followed by an email confirming the order and an SMS when it arrives. And this is just the beginning of digital transformation. Some reports suggest the average customer will be using as many as 11 channels by the end of next year.

But brands are mistaken if they think omnichannel is the end-all solution. While it’s true that we should be doing a much better job of channel integration (almost 60% of channels currently operate in silos), the real question is how resources are being matched across channels. I’d argue that an organization’s routing capabilities outweigh touchpoint integration.

What Really Matters for CX Success?

Omnichannel doesn’t amount to much unless customers are put in touch with the right resource at the right time depending on their needs. In just three years, it’s expected that demand for omnichannel will be driven by the need for near perfect execution. Not necessarily the number of channels that are integrated, but the way these channels are leveraged to deliver unparalleled experiences.

In an ultra-competitive landscape, a masterful balance between human and digital interaction keeps customers coming back. This means more than just basic routing. What I’m talking about here is universal routing: one integrated agent experience, one routing engine, unified reporting, and data-driven resource matching.

The Transformative Power of Universal Routing

We’ve officially entered a new era of routing, one in which the entire resource pool is considered based on a vast array of knowledge and expertise, in addition to availability. In this next-gen environment, agents can be matched with customers based on everything from certifications to similar interests—even to their unique situation on a given day. That employee with a sore throat may not be best for the phone today. You can modify your routing rules to ensure he focuses on chat and email, applying his skills to serve customers for that day. You can also consider employees’ empathy and adjust to reflect day-to-day performance.

For the omnichannel contact center, universal routing is deemed Tao. It sustains operations, drives unique new revenue streams and, above all, strategically leverages resources for the utmost benefit to the customer, making it a better experience for both the customer AND the agent. Consider these scenarios:

  • Meet Greg, the regular nightly supervisor of a customer contact center. Greg knows that chat traffic spikes from 5 pm to 8 pm as customers come home from work and begin browsing the web. With the ability to gain insight into all agent activity across every interaction channel, he can dynamically flex business based on customers’ behaviors and tendencies. He can even create rules that dynamically make this shift every night based on traffic rates to ensure consistency. Better yet? He can apply the same rules to any interaction channel—SMS, email, chat, social media, voice—to support evolving CX initiatives.
  • You’re the CMO of a national pet supplies store. (Congrats!) You need to consistently deliver amazing experiences by matching customers with their best resources. In this case, you may want to program a routing rule that directs interactions based on specific agent attributes. So, when customer Tammy initiates a chat session asking for new food recommendations for her two-year-old cocker spaniel, you can have her routed to a dog-loving agent. While assisting her, that agent may see that Tammy recently called about an out-of-stock toy. That toy may still be unavailable, but what better opportunity to recommend a similar toy? Or, you can see that Tammy is overdue for a checkup and grooming for her beloved pup. Why not proactively offer to set up an appointment with her preferred specialist? This is how companies get their customers thinking three simple words: “They get me.” That’s how loyal brand advocates are born. And they’ll let the world of social media know about it.
  • You’ve been sending out post-interaction surveys to gain insight into customers’ experiences. When going through collected data, you learn that attribute matching increases revenue by an average $8 per interaction. Multiply that by 10,000 interactions and you can begin predicting the financial impact of establishing custom routing rules. From there on out, you can change and improve those rules as needed.

Introducing an Alliance for the Ages

Universal routing is the key to omnichannel, and that’s exactly why Avaya forged a strategic partnership with Salesforce earlier this year. Through this partnership, we are introducing the Avaya CRM Connector specifically for Salesforce integration with the Avaya Oceana™ Solution. The solution is designed to enhance the relationship between Salesforce and the underlying foundation of the contact center. Built on our open application Avaya Breeze™ platform, this modular software enables users to seamlessly integrate with a range of Salesforce applications including Lightning, the company’s all-new framework for enterprise app development.

The Avaya-Salesforce connector gives agents full visibility into customer data across all connected Salesforce systems, and it provides the data access to realize the much-desired universal routing that all contact center managers crave. Information is presented in one consistent, integrated format, enabling managers to create custom routing rules that transform business. This alliance between Avaya, a global leader in customer engagement software, and Salesforce, the No. 1 global CRM provider, is truly a win-win for brands everywhere.

Play this video to learn more about the Avaya and Salesforce Global Alliance.

Related Articles:

Transforming Online Meetings for Team Collaboration

I find it interesting how companies choose to measure team collaboration. Most use surveys, some productivity data, and others standard review processes. Yet team collaboration is about so much more than all of this. If you ask us, it’s about putting people first.

We mean this quite literally. It’s important to provide employees with a suite of face-to-face collaboration capabilities that enable dynamic, real-time team collaboration. Communication staples like voice and chat are surely important, along with the endless other tools teams use to connect and share information. Meeting via video, however, is arguably the best way to collaborate, build relationships, create momentum and build morale. Face-to-face collaboration may not always be needed, but companies will want to make sure they have the best tools in place for when it is.

When done right, online meetings enhance team collaboration in several ways. Consider the most basic of them all: a good part of communication is non-verbal. Being able to observe team members’ body language can help prevent miscommunication and connect across languages and cultures. The technology has also evolved to the point where teams can flexibly share data, documents and other project details via screen sharing or virtual whiteboards. All the while, there’s the opportunity to initiate private chat sessions between team members to discuss simultaneously.

The bottom line: online meetings enable authentic human interaction that delivers real value, time and cost savings, and better business outcomes.

Now, imagine being able to quickly implement an easy-to-use, cost-effective service that skips the capital investment and technical hassle of a traditional video solution. This is exactly what Avaya Equinox Meetings Online offers: a cloud-delivered application that allows users—both employees and outside contacts—to connect with their browsers (no plug-ins required) or mobile apps to effortlessly initiate and/or participate in online meetings. The service places priority back on people, which is where it belongs. Simple as that.

Don’t believe us? Read Nemertes Q4 2017 Enterprise Business Value Matrix for Unified Communications and Collaboration to see what they had to say. If you like what you see, or if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our team for more information via our webchat.

The Easy Button for IoT

I am sure that I don’t have to tell you how the Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionizing our world. Stop by any electronics retailer and you will find smart TVs, smart lights, smart refrigerators, and smart thermostats. Open up the brochure for a new car and you will find more space dedicated to intelligent sensors than horsepower. Tour a modern manufacturing plant and you will quickly discover that nearly every machine used in production has been equipped with an IP address. From the consumer to the enterprise, IoT is the driving force of innovation.

Of course, there is a dark side to this revolutionary technology: It’s not all that easy. As a consumer, it’s not a big deal to have one smart dryer that sends a text message when your clothes are dry. It’s also pretty simple to have your refrigerator email you a photo of its contents. In these cases, it’s just you and your machine.

However, what if you had a thousand dryers and ten thousand refrigerators. Let’s take it further. What if you were American Airlines and your fleet of airplanes had five hundred thousand different sensors reporting information every second. Now, imagine that some devices reported data using Bluetooth while others used Zigbee, WiMAX, LTE, WiFi, and NFC. Want to make it even more challenging? These different sensors report data reading using SOAP, REST, WebSockets, and a myriad of proprietary protocols. It quickly becomes an engineering nightmare to collect, store, and take the appropriate actions on this constant stream of data.

One Bite at a Time

Question. How do you eat an elephant? Answer. One bite at a time.

As with an elephant, the best way to conquer the IoT problem is to break it down into bite-sized pieces. Instead of trying to directly deal with all those different sensors and their unique forms of communication, have those sensors talk to gateways that understand multiple IoT dialects. Those gateways could then normalize the data before sending it off to a central cloud repository. Next, wrap the IoT cloud with web services that allow for a consistent and uniform way to access IoT data. Finally, use those web services to create a suite of applications for data visualization, event processing, analytics, etc.

Now, instead of being inundated with terabytes of data that may or may not be important, you only see what you need to see and only when you need to see it. You also have a scalable platform that allows you to add new sensors without having to constantly redesign and redeploy your business applications.

At Arrow Systems Integration (ASI), an Avaya A.I.Connect partner, we call this distributed architecture of sensors, gateways, and cloud services Arrow Connect™.

Arrow Connect

Arrow Connect is a software architecture that connects any device over any protocol to any cloud. Designed and developed by Arrow with security, scale, flexibility, device management, multi-tenancy, hierarchy, open APIs, and extensibility as its core principles, Arrow Connect is helping customers across multiple industries bring their products to market faster.

The Arrow Connect software development kit (SDK) helps enterprises leverage the full capabilities of any device while an extensible software gateway allows developers to add support for protocols and sensors not currently supported by Arrow Connect.

The Arrow Connect cloud platform enables secure provisioning and management of all its devices. It runs on multiple public cloud platforms and seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Azure, IBM Watson Bluemix/Softlayer, Amazon Web Services, and private data center solutions.

Breeze and Zang Workflows

While support for RESTful web services is essential to being an open and secure cloud solution, this comes with a price and that price is complexity. Despite being an open standard understood by most software developers, the fact that you must be a developer to use web services confines them to a very select group of people.

In our quest to find every possible way to simplify IoT, ASI has partnered with Avaya to add support for Arrow Connect IoT devices, sensors, and gateways into Avaya Breeze and the Zang Workflow Designer. With both of these platforms, access to IoT data and Arrow Connect services becomes as simple as drag and drop and non-developers can create powerful IoT solutions in a matter of minutes. Better still, this simplification does not come at the cost of accuracy, reliability, speed, security, or scalability. The visual tasks embedded in these workflow tools employ the same Arrow Connect web services a skilled software developer would use. The difference is that there is no need to learn Java, .Net, Python, or any other programming language.


The Easy Button for IoT

With integrated workflow technology, you can quickly turn an idea on a whiteboard into a fully functional and easily deployable solution.

Next Steps

McKinsey recently said that “Any business that fails to invest heavily in the IoT in the next 10 years is unlikely to be able to remain competitive.” While these may seem like strong words, industry after industry has taken them to heart and the IoT revolution is everywhere. As I stated at the beginning of this article, IoT is becoming pervasive for both consumers and businesses.

The simplification, scalability, and security of IoT offered by Avaya and Arrow Systems Integration helps an enterprise to create the solutions it needs to enhance its business, grow its customer base, and stay competitive.

Andrew Prokop is the Director of Emerging Technologies at Arrow Systems Integration. Andrew is an active blogger and his widely-read blog, SIP Adventures, discusses every imaginable topic in the world of unified communications. Follow Andrew on Twitter at @ajprokop, and read his blog, SIP Adventures.

News & Solutions at ENGAGE 2018 Show Avaya is Back in the Fight!

Now back from last week’s Avaya ENGAGE 2018, our annual customer and partner event, we’re finding the energy of the conference continues to drive the cadence at Avaya. What a show! In my last blog I wrote about taking time for a bit of introspection—thoughts echoed by our CEO Jim Chirico during his ENGAGE keynote. One of his points really resonated with me: how you get up off the mat. All of us face challenges everyday—most of them are manageable but occasionally an event comes along that can really take the wind out of your sails. Jim pointed out that while we all get knocked down from time to time, what really matters is how you get up. How you carry yourself and how you get ready for the next challenge.

In 2018 Avaya is back up. We’ve got our gloves on and we’ve come out swinging! ENGAGE 2018 was a great opportunity for us to thank our customers and partners for their outstanding support over the past year and give them a taste of the new Avaya: poised, fit, and ready to win.

Our commitment to win was reflected in a number of key announcements from last week, but the headliner was the acquisition of Spoken Communications, a leading innovator in the Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) market. The Spoken platform is based on the Avaya Aura® Platform and Avaya Aura® Call Center Elite, making it a perfect architecture for both Avaya omnichannel offerings, such as Avaya Oceana®, and its Unified Communications as a Service solution. But Spoken brings much more than a proven xCaaS capability to Avaya—the really exciting news is Spoken’s transformative real-time customer experience management applications built on conversational artificial intelligence (AI). A true innovator in AI, Spoken will be accelerating our “Think Avaya, Think Cloud” strategy with solutions that not only provide a clear path for customer migration, but offer improved efficiency, drive more intelligent responses, and gain deeper insight into customer sentiment and experience.

And there was more news at Avaya ENGAGE on the AI front: Avaya introduced Avaya AvaTM , a cloud, messaging-agnostic solution that offers new AI capabilities for social messaging integration and automation of digital interactions. An evolution from our Ava technologies offered for over eight years, Avaya AvaTM delivers AI 2.0 architecture including natural language processing and machine learning. And innovative analytics enables effortless customer engagement through social media and messaging platforms.

Last year we introduced the Avaya Oceana® Solution—our omnichannel context-driven contact center solution. Now we are thrilled to bring the Workspaces environment to our existing customers later this year. This modern agent desktop will take advantage of key elements such as context and customer journey and be made available to our existing customer base, enabling them to transform their CXs.

Avaya also unveiled compelling enhancements to its signature unified communications user experience, Avaya Equinox®. These include:

  • Enhancements to Avaya Equinox Meetings Online, a cloud-based meeting and conferencing service that can be deployed with or without an Avaya infrastructure. The economical, pay-as-you-go cloud model offers the same capabilities as an on-premises deployment, making it easy to take a hybrid approach and mix and match between the two.
  • The new Avaya Equinox Attendant, which enhances customer service and brings the power of unified communications to front-desk operators. We will extend Avaya Equinox to the IP Office platform—providing a single UC platform for all our customers.

Devices remain a key part of Avaya’s strategy to deliver a unique UC Experience Everywhere. Avaya has shipped over 100M phones to date and currently ships almost 10,000 new devices every day. For 2018, Avaya is expanding customer options for UC devices like never before. The Avaya Experience has evolved to be more modern, connected and personalized, and tailored to vertical specific needs such as hospitality and retail. Key additions include:

  • Launching Avaya’s new Essential Experience portfolio of industry leading phones for a state-of-the-art user experience that includes Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity.
  • Extending the Avaya Vantage Experience to include support for IP Office.
  • Announcing the new Avaya CU-360 Collaboration Unit, which provides easy set up and collaboration in huddle room spaces.

Providing our customers a bridge to the future is a key focus for Avaya this year—and this goal will drive a great deal of our activity. To start, Avaya has launched a number of new promotions:

  • Loyalty2gether: This exciting and bold offer provides all our loyal Communication Server 1000 customers with a path forward to either IP Office or Avaya Aura with full support for the surrounding applications like customer contact and messaging. It’s an opportunity to reinvent what communications, customer experience, and collaboration can mean to your business and to do so with an unprecedented level of experience and investment protection.
  • Oceana NOW: This program focuses on helping organizations evolve and transform their CXs.
  • Automate CC NOW: Through the use of automation capabilities, Avaya is helping organizations modernize for less.

These programs are a prime example of our focus to ensure no customer gets left behind.

ENGAGE 2018 was a very busy week of announcements, meetings and demonstrations, and the energy and enthusiasm of our customers kept us going and underlined our confidence that Avaya is back and ready to do battle. Continue to watch for updates and details on Avaya.com and let us know how the new Avaya can support your plans in 2018.