Genesys has come a long way since it was founded in 1990. Initially focused on CTI, Genesys is now owned by telecom giant Alcatel-Lucent and used by over 4,000 companies worldwide—including 20 of the 25 largest telecom firms and many other big names in financial services, healthcare and energy.
In the process, Genesys has expanded beyond the “nuts and bolts” of call center infrastructure software to more and more business applications supporting every interaction channel. Said another way, Genesys is becoming more CRM-like.
After attending the company’s G-Force user conference in Orlando, it’s clear that the conference theme of “Transform Customer Experiences” is more than just a slogan. A couple of years ago I heard a lot about advanced technology under the banner of a “Dynamic Contact Center.” This time, executives pitched their vision under the term “Dynamic Customer Engagement.” Nicolas de Kouchkovsky, President of Genesys, told me the shift was intended to help the company—which historically has focused on IT buyers—improve its “ability to engage with business executives, which are critical to sell new solutions.”
I like the higher-level positioning because it’s connected to a customer-centric business issue. Customers care about their experiences, not technology per se. While efficiency is still critical, de Kouchkovsky said they also want to help their customers deliver a “red carpet treatment.” That means focusing on delivering a better experience, not just a cheaper one.
Right channeling interactions
Multi-channel customer service has been around since we’ve had alternatives to talking to a live agent. But “self-service” means different things depending on whether you live in the call center or CRM worlds.
We’ve all used—and mostly hated—touch-tone IVRs designed to keep us from speaking with an agent. As a result, sites like gethuman.com were launched to help consumers break out of “IVR jail.” Fortunately, recent advances in speech-enabled IVRs make it much easier to interact in a more conversational manner, even if it’s just to say, “let me speak to an agent!”
Of course, in the online world there are a multitude of other self-service channels used these days, from email to knowledgebases to chat. And, a wide range of vendors have emerged from the CRM industry in the past 10 years, as consumer use of the Internet has proliferated.
The next phase is a robust integration of all interaction channels. Genesys Senior Product Marketing Manager Lisa Abbott says they intend to bring the voice-focused call center and data-centric CRM worlds together with solutions to help “manage a cross-channel conversation.”
Orchestrating channel usage to balance experience and cost is complicated stuff. But the rewards are potentially huge for companies that get it right. Tom Hammond, VP of Customer Experience Management at The Hartford, said they found that 43 percent of routine inquiries (e.g. regarding policy information, payment and billing) could potentially be handled by self-service, but currently 85 percent of interactions still go to a live agent. Using the Genesys platform, Hammond wants to drive self-service to 25 percent of interactions, while providing a pleasing experience that builds loyalty.
Managing customer conversations across channels
At the conference, Genesys unveiled an expansive initiative to tie together, well, pretty much everything into a single “conversation.” That means voice and e-channels for starters, but will also include mobile devices and even branch office locations.
Genesys voice solutions are packaged under intelligent Customer Front Door—introduced in 2008 as an approach to identify callers, collect data about them from back-end systems and quickly get them to the best resource based on business rules. Resources could be self-service, agents, automated callbacks, etc.
Web-based service, the next element in the Genesys vision, will be enhanced with a new partnership with InQuira. This is “not just a relationship strategy,” says Eric Tamblyn, Genesys VP of Product Marketing. Rather, it’s a deeply integrated joint solution that combines Genesys interaction technology with InQuira’s natural language search and knowledge management solutions, to help both customers and agents get to the right answers quickly.
Coming later this year, says Abbott, will be more support for mobile devices. Over time, Genesys states that solutions for Cross Channel Conversations will:
- support “any interaction type as part of a customer conversation – spanning phone, Web, chat, video, mobile, virtual assistants, SMS and voice self-service”
- proactively manage each customer conversation across channels, “so that the enterprise can optimize the outcome of customer interactions”
- align “every conversation with the ideal resource based upon business value, skill set and availability”
Now the hard part: Execution
Capitalizing on the “cross-channel conversation” vision will take Genesys deeper into CRM industry waters, which could create new partnership opportunities like the one just announced with InQuira. It could also raise competitive tensions with other e-Service vendors, some doing more to innovate in the social dimension, and with ERP/CRM heavyweights like Microsoft, Oracle and SAP striving to be the center of the customer data universe.
Genesys will have to become more adept at marketing and selling to non-IT buyers—not a easy task. And, become better known outside its core contact center market, to avoid continuing to be a “best kept secret” in e-service, as one analyst put it.
Still, Genesys has developed a compelling vision for managing a broad range of interactions and treating them as part of a complete customer experience. If it can execute, Genesys has an opportunity to parlay its contact center success into the growing market for e-service solutions, and beyond.
- Genesys Launches Initiative to Connect eServices, Contact Centers and Next-Generation Communications into Single Conversation
- Genesys and InQuira Provide a Fully Integrated Knowledge Management and Customer Service Solution, Extends Value of E-Services
- Building the Social Customer Service Experience