Sramana Mitra: We just went through a somewhat painful migration and then, in the middle, integration of our email marketing system, which was on Aweber. Our CRM system is on Zoho, and Zoho has now released an email marketing product. We were not happy with Aweber, so we are moving from Aweber to Zoho. All of these systems need to work together. Then we have a support question that we haven’t yet fully tackled, but we want all of this to work off the same database.
Marty Beard: Right.
SM: It’s very complicated to have all of these different databases on different systems.
MB: I know. We have some customers who say, “I have this email marketing application. I have this Web chat application. I have my CRM system. I have my unified communications voice system. And then I have an on-premises call system.”
SM: Yes. And if you’re doing event registration, we have an Eventbrite registration.
MB: Right. I won’t pretend that I can speak about to all of those, but in customer service, what we’ve tried to do is integrate email, chat, social, and voice into one application. To a certain extent, we’re saying, don’t worry about that. We’ve done all of that. If you want to launch an email marketing campaign, you can do it in our system. If you want a chat capability, you can do it in our system. If you want social, you don’t need social monitoring tools. We’ve got that capability. We try to do a lot of that, but I understand what you’re saying. I think you have a lot of cloud companies where it’s more of a feature and not so much a standalone application. It should just be a feature of sales, marketing, customer service, or what have you. I think there have been so many companies launched around niche feature that are great features, but they should be part of a broader system – call it customer service, call it marketing, or call it sales. That’s our view.
You can see all of this starting to come together right now. Enterprises end up like you, trying to make that integration themselves. They shouldn’t have to do that.
SM: No. What other areas are you watching?
MB: One point I would make is that the distinction between mobile and social is less important. In our view, mobile is like talking about Web now or talking about air. Everything’s mobile, so talking about mobile as a distinct segment doesn’t make any sense in our view. Social’s definitely a new way, a new impact, a new channel, and mobile makes tweeting and posting a lot easier. Social pivots the power from the enterprise to the end user. It’s forcing the enterprise to focus on what the end users need and want. Social has a big impact on the enterprise and a huge impact on customer service. We’ve spent so much time over the past 10 years talking about mobile that it’s not really a segment.
SM: I guess it depends on who’s hat your wearing. CIOs are talking a lot about mobile devices.
MB: It’s a new way to access things, but the things themselves have more impact. The things are social channels or communication mediums, and so on. I’m just focused on in customer service, the contact centers, customer service organizations. They’re not as concerned about mobile. When you talk about mobile, it becomes social, like it’s impacting the way people demand information so quickly, in real time. I mentioned Twitter only because the impact of tweets and the use of Twitter on customer service is 10 or 15 or 20 times higher than on Facebook. It’s become a major way that people use to look for help. We didn’t see that even 12 or 15 months ago.
SM: Twitter is a helpful or conducive tool for venting. When people are upset, they go and vent on Twitter.
MB: Yes. You can vent, which is still probably about 70% or 75% of the interactions. You could call them being critical or venting. But it’s also a way to celebrate. You see that as well. So, it’s trying to get a bit more of the celebrations or satisfied customers through the medium. It’s definitely possible. If you get some folks who are happy, they’ll definitely tweet, “Thank you for the service. That was great.”
SM: Is there any other trend you want to talk about?
MB: I think customer service was one of the more conservative segments in one of the last segments that was really going to hold on to the on-premise world. As I mentioned earlier, I think that’s being blown apart. Part of the reason is on-premise can’t do social because social is online. It’s active. It’s happening now.
SM: That’s not true. On-premise can do social. I don’t think architecturally that’s not a possibility.
MB: I think if you have an on-premises solution that’s optimized for voice …
SM: Well, on-premises doesn’t need to be optimized for voice. It can be optimized for multi-channel contact centers.
MB: But it hasn’t been.
SM: That’s different. It could be.
MB: One of the tough things there is that if you update your software on that gear every 15 or 18 or 24 months, it’s tough to keep up with new protocols, new changes, and new channels.
SM: Yes. That’s a cloud pitch. The case for moving to the cloud, everybody knows that.
MB: Yes. Good point.
SM: The point you were making earlier about all these other touch points that a trouble ticket has gone through is that those multiple channels have to be on the same console and trackable within the same system. That integration has been missing. Even if you introduce a crowdsourcing layer, it still has to be tied in to the main console; otherwise, it’s not an integrated picture from the company.
MB: That’s exactly right. The language that we use is channels. This is another channel of support. Let’s call it self-support or community support. But it needs to be integrated with the other channels, absolutely. Otherwise it sits off to the side, and it’s not as powerful as it could be.
SM: All right. Thank you, Marty. Nice to meet you.
MB: Thanks for the time. Nice to meet you as well.