Microsoft, Salesforce Battle To Revitalize Customer Service

Customer support has become a crowded battlefield in enterprise technology as software vendors from Microsoft to Salesforce rush to arm organizations with tools to create one-stop service centers. From a report: The attention is revitalizing the call center, a once-backwater unit that has long suffered from high turnover rates and minimal corporate investment. Salesforce, ServiceNow, Twilio and Genesys Cloud Services are among the companies that see the call center as a critical part of efforts to transform the consumer base from a sea of faceless pocketbooks to potentially millions of unique personas. It’s viewed as a way to improve customer service and bolster brand loyalty at a time when businesses are increasingly worried about churn.

Zoom Video Communications was prepared to fork over $14.7 billion in stock to buy Five9 to gain a foothold in the contact center industry. But Five9 shareholders ultimately thought the price was too low and turned down the deal, a testament to just how much the sector is expected to grow in the coming years. “Instead of being a cost center, it’s a lifetime value driver,” said Vasili Triant, chief operating officer at UJET, a closely held San Francisco-based call center cloud software provider. As a result, “this space has drawn a lot of attention. Companies need to improve experience. Because of that, a lot of money has flown into it. When money flows into it, people see a huge opportunity.”

Historically, customer support software was viewed as a money pit — systems that were necessary to help field consumer complaints or inquiries but produced little return on investment. Many businesses simply wanted to pick a product, deploy it and forget about it. As a result, the market was fragmented between just a handful of top vendors, including Genesys, Cisco Systems and Avaya. But as more companies move those systems to the internet, that mindset is undergoing a seismic shift. For the last several years, the focus has been on helping call center agents provide better customer support and cut down on service times. That has meant taking steps like consolidating different applications onto a single desktop interface, alleviating the need for agents to toggle between different tabs to view customer data stored in various places.

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