Today, business is driven by customer expectations. Whether it’s the coffee shop around the corner or Amazon, customers are less likely to spend money with a firm that does not provide exceptional customer service. In the call center this point is magnified as agents serve on the frontline, and it is their job to show each and every customer the company “cares.”
When seeking a solution for the contact center it is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Many developers force the round peg into a square hole, whereas a firm like Voice4Net (News - Alert) takes pride in creating “ease of customization and use,” with flexibility playing a major role.
Will Melendez joined Voice4Net in November as EVP of Global Sales, and will be participating in the upcoming ITEXPO. He will take part in the panel “PCI Compliance and the Enterprise Contact Center: Are You At Risk?”, held on Tuesday January 26, exploring a slew of issues associated with credit card payments, the enterprise and the contact center. Recently, TMC had the opportunity to catch up with Melendez on industry trends, WebRTC, UC and ITEXPO (News - Alert).
Is technology changing business for the better? Why/why not?
The answer is both yes and no. Consumers are becoming more reliant on technology and less reliant on each other when it comes to communication and interaction. In current society, the mode of interaction we use is often specific to the timeframe in which we are born. Baby Boomers, Generation X-ers and Millennials all have a preferred method of communication. This can be both a boon and a burden for businesses, making it easier to target a specific age group with appropriate messaging—but more of a challenge to accommodate this diversity of preference, which can encompass social media, chat, email or traditional voice.
Have we finally reached an inflection point with Unified Communications (News - Alert) adoption? What is driving or hindering the market?
Yes, the market is seeing an inflection point in the adoption of unified communications technologies. Cloud-based solutions and applications no longer have the stigma they previously did. People feel more confident about hosted “-as-a-Service” infrastructures. With these trends more in force, organizations are starting to view their communications systems as a valued utility. The combination of these elements has facilitated wider adoption of unified communications.
What do you say to industry observers who say UC is dead?
Unified communications is very much alive as a platform. People will always need to communicate. The difference in the current market is that both employees and consumers have more of a choice of media by which to communicate. For this reason, unified communications and omnichannel communications will stay alive. We will need to accommodate various channels of communication. Businesses that want to remain relevant will need to deliver those messages in ways that are most effective and productive for their environment, whether that’s via sophisticated call routing and forwarding, through tools that accommodate the mobile workforce, or through other capabilities that integrate with back office systems.
When it comes to unified communications, do you believe it’s better to meet customers where they are (i.e., popular business applications like Salesforce, or social networks like LinkedIn) or do you believe that you have to give the customer the option to choose what they prefer?
If customers in the field choose to use Salesforce as their front end, dealers and technology providers have to be able to furnish that option. A solution needs to cater to the business and its processes, not the other way around. If a customer does not have a preference, then the provider can suggest a front-end interface, as long as they have a solution that is flexible and versatile enough to serve the needs of that customer. Customization and agility is key.
How do you use social media in your daily business? Should social media be a major initiative for all businesses?
I try to post something daily on social media, whether it be on LinkedIn or Twitter (News - Alert). A daily effort helps keep me aware of changes in the market, the activity of competitors and emerging trends. I strongly believe you need to have a social presence to make an impact in today’s business environment. At the very least, this increased social awareness allows you to see what is transpiring in your given field or industry in real-time.
How are collaboration software/services helping workers today?
Collaboration supports a number of goals within any company. It delivers access to skills and strengths that are based on subject-matter expertise, regardless of distance or location. Shared knowledge and collaboration helps develop employee skills, allowing workers to learn from each other’s strengths, even if that company’s workforce is distributed. Collaboration also helps resolve problems faster and accelerate innovation by pooling intellectual resources.
WebRTC went through a very significant hype cycle. Will its use cases and adoption live up to that hype?
The application of WebRTC based technology will absolutely live up to the “hype,” and it already is proving so in use cases. The market is coming to agree that WebRTC is an “enabler” of many other technologies, and can create richly-featured and seamless customer engagement solutions in the contact center. It serves as a framework for many other applications, from web chat to instant messaging to video capabilities, allowing those functions to be implemented more readily and cost-effectively. As a browser-based technology, WebRTC is familiar for users, which alleviates training needs and delivers a more amenable agent experience in the contact center.
How is cloud computing shaking up your product/service offerings? How has it impacted your competitive market?
In today’s market, it’s essential for dealers to provide a cloud- or “as-a-service”-based option. Voice4Net has always been a proponent of this concept by offering multiple solutions to fit the unique needs of a given company. Hosted services have played well into that business model since it affords us greater flexibility in presenting a customized solution. This concept holds true throughout the marketplace. Companies that take advantage of hosted services are no longer subject to the limitations of onsite hardware. They can leverage the full range of benefits that an advanced contact center solution has to offer by utilizing a variety of environments, whether that be premise, full-on cloud or a hybrid scenario.
What has been the most impactful development or trend in 2016 that is changing how industry players need to do business?
“The Customer Experience” is our battle cry for 2016. Improved customer engagement experience is a key trend for our business, and we’ve heard similar sentiments in the marketplace. Customers have very little tolerance for poor service. A negative engagement through any media channel impacts a business by eroding customer loyalty and squandering the opportunity to develop ongoing relationships. Companies will suffer if they do not adapt to customer needs and implement technology that delivers a superior service experience.
To what extent, if any, are you and your partners doing deals with line-of-business leaders who are not in IT or telecom departments? Which departments seem to be leading the way on this trend (Accounting, HR, Marketing, Sales, etc.) and how are you changing your marketing and sales tactics to address this shift?
Voice4Net has always focused on delivering a total solution, which addresses the business drivers, financial impact and technology needs of the customer, in that order. We have always focused on engaging the business and financial decision-makers in every sales effort. To accommodate the overarching needs of the companies we work with, we educate ourselves in that company’s culture, which typically involves interaction with a number of personnel, not just IT or telecom. The more we know about the ongoing policies and daily operations of that company, the better a deployment proceeds. Not only are we able to tailor the solution more specifically, but the personnel involved also have an easier transition when we are more aware of how they will be impacted by a change-over to new technology.
What is the greatest challenge the channel is up against today?
Technology evolves rapidly, and cloud services allow companies to take advantage of a variety of solutions in innumerable combinations. The challenge for many of these businesses is to decide what solutions and features to adopt in order to best engage their customers, without being blinded by a roster of extraneous features that complicate the learning curve without adding value. Channel partners have to approach this situation by delivering solutions that support the goals of the client, as opposed to pushing a smorgasbord of technologies to boost sales. Our responsibility should be to solve specific pain points in the market, not simply to push product.
What are you most looking forward to at ITEXPO Ft. Lauderdale?
We love having the opportunity to interact with peers and decision makers in the telecommunications industry. There’s no better vehicle by which to increase our knowledge of the state of the industry and what the market has to bear.
Why should attendees come to your session/visit your booth?
We’re presenting a panel called “PCI (News - Alert) Compliance In The Contact Center: Are You at Risk?” The session will educate attendees on the scope of compliance regulations that apply to all companies that accept credit cards—the raison d'être for most contact centers. A majority of companies don’t understand the extent of these mandates, mostly because the PCI Standards Council continues to update regulations in an effort to accommodate ever-changing risk factors that can compromise the customer’s primary card data. We’ll offer insights to help companies recognize their vulnerabilities, so they can address these issues.
The clock is ticking with ITEXPO only a few days away, with anticipation nearing fever pitch. Melendez will be one of many industry thought leaders illuminating the plethora of ways technology is proving to transform business. See you there!
Edited by Stefania Viscusi