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How to gain a competitive advantage in the Contact Centre market

Recently, Andrew Jones, our Chief Revenue Officer, shared his insights on the growing tech opportunity in the contact centre space, and how to capitalise on it and be competitive in a meaningful way with Comms Dealer.

Comms Dealer: In a survey of reseller/MSP business leaders we undertook for Comms Vision, just 2.5 per cent defined their main occupation as a contact centre provider. Are you surprised by this stat? And what do you read out of it? 

Not at all. The reseller channel in the main still considers CCaaS to be a complex solution that can be offered by partners as a mostly ‘off the shelf’ option where customer opportunity arises but is not yet proactively sold among their bases. Increased strategic focus on contact management and experience is leading to a growing need for MSP’s/VARs to widen their portfolio, gain understanding and seek deeper support from Vendors providing flexible and agile solutions. 

UCaaS and CCaaS consolidation will also foster channel desire to be able to seek long-term contracts with customers looking for a consultative approach. In the immediacy though resellers cannot ignore the clamour for Omnichannel capabilities – digital transformation is currently the loudest driver of change.


Comms Dealer: Should resellers/MSPs think more seriously about nailing their flag to the contact centre mast and elevate CCaaS as a core specialism? If so, why?

They should. Embracing digital transformation must include modernisation of contact centre operations – and that does not have to be complex or expensive anymore. 

Growing population and increasing urbanisation has led to customer demands changing dramatically in recent years. Convenience, personalisation, and a swift response are expected when it comes to customer service. SMEs who rely on out-of-date technology with limited features will struggle to meet these needs. 

Resellers/MSPs that adopt CC solutions can deliver tangible benefits to their customers, commercially through competitive advantage, and operationally by streamlining the IT function, centralising communications into one platform. CCaaS will not be enveloped by groundbreaking advances in UCaaS capabilities and functionality – it will inevitably be the opposite and in fact as UCaaS and CCaaS convergence continues – resellers will have the opportunity to increase specialisation and if choosing vendor relationships well, unlock the journey to higher points margin for increasingly productive and impactful solutions capability supported by their vendor partner.


Comms Dealer: In your own experience and from your first-hand observations to what extent is the contact centre space underserved by resellers/MSPs?

The data point fact that says only 2.5% of VAR/MSP leadership recognise CCaaS as a main business occupation to some extent serves as an answer. There is however a more relevant and evident status quo. The UK SME market is suffering from a lack of attention and availability of support for large elements of CCaaS capability. Market forces and digital transformations are having a big impact on how businesses construct their technology stacks to achieve a competitive advantage through the service they provide and their ability to respond to a fast-moving market.

It is not just about flexible working, it’s also about customers wanting to do more with less.  Now more than ever channel partners need to understand this and align with the right contact management and CCaaS solutions. The lack of a decent customer experience can be seen everywhere and we, as the collective channel, have a key part to play in addressing this issue. Whilst the wider UCaaS market is seemingly chasing core solution pricing downwards as a means of staying competitive larger CCaaS behemoths are ‘reversing’ up the stack and focusing on next generation AI. The willingness and ability from both parties to work hard in providing relevant solutions and support for the resellers working in the middle, is leading to an underserving of this market.


Comms Dealer: Validating new market opportunities around CCaaS may be a challenge for resource strapped channel companies, and unless this gap is bridged the status quo will persist. Is there a need for CCaaS providers to work closer with partners to unlock market potential? And what is the role of knowledge share in this?

Definitely. There are 5.5 million SMEs, which make up 99.9% of UK private sector businesses. 5.47 million of these are classed as “small” (0 to 49 employees) and 35,900 are classed as “medium-sized” (50 to 249 employees). The market potential exists and is in a period of post-Covid review. 
Customer Success will start to be viewed in a different way in 2024.
Feedback on channel discovery says that It’s now not enough for vendors/VARs to understand customers' goals’ and then apply a sales approach that delivers a solution through technology.
What keeps a customer from getting there is not a consistent consultative approach at present within CCaaS solution management. It matters less how many customers watch vendor/VAR programme tutorials, downloaded guides, or attend webinars. What matters is how many can successfully implement the learning gained. Every piece of content needs to be delivered and serviced with a specific and aligned goal in mind.

Beyond implementation, there is measuring success. Customers now expect data-led ROI to justify renewals, something the vendors/VARs should be using the tech solution proactively to track and report on directly and provide meaningful feedback. What is working, what does not, and why.  


Comms Dealer: Turning to resellers/MSPs who have grasped the nettle - how are they building greater value in the CCaaS market?

Consultative customer engagement, better understanding of CC KPI’s and a constantly evolving strategy. These VAR’s and MSP’s have recognised the long-term value and revenue opportunity in beginning a journey with a customer at the right level and are accepting that a consistent communication and open evaluation approach to the ROI being seen by their customer becomes BAU. Value can also be built backwards from Customer to CCaaS vendor. The improved understanding and communication where completed provides a constant stream of business intelligence around what is happening within the CC and the changing needs of the Agent environment. That is invaluable to the vendor developing the solution. Trusted partners will gain a much larger share of the customer communications strategy over a longer period.


Comms Dealer: Where will future growth come from in the Contact Centre space? Where is the biggest opportunity?

The Global Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) Market is forecast to expand at a CAGR of 19.28% from 2024-29. In this time, the contact centre space will be a self-fulfilling prophecy driven primarily by the need for multi-channel contact management and a desire for ever-more automated intelligence and analytics.

Immediate growth opportunity can be found in serving SME contact management needs well and in the medium term, automation and AI will open vast areas of opportunity for overall reduction in consumer effort. By delivering higher agent productivity, customer satisfaction, and first contact resolution through the next generation of cloud contact centre – an integrated approach to UC and CC software – means overall better CX for everyone.


Comms Dealer: More broadly, what Contact Centre trends are you seeing/tracking in the market that interest you most and what is the significance of these in terms of your market approach, portfolio development and customer/partner engagement?

A couple of data points serve to highlight the macro view here.

52% of customers would pay more for a speedy and efficient customer experience, and businesses that focus on an experience-driven strategy see one and half times more revenue growth year on year than those that do not.

48.2% of customers now using a CCaaS solution are expected to evaluate a shift in provider in 2024 and are known to be planning a change. Industry analysts are unanimous in a position that confirms that today, contact centre strategy is now consistently fluid not repetitive and static. Why?

  • Covid contracts are now approaching three-year end point.
  • Arbitrary Price increase -Recent Vendor [and reseller] price increases surprising customers.
  • Vendor ‘lock-ins’ – vendors are moving to lock in call plans and number range provision as a way of protecting existing contracted revenues.
  • Maturing Cloud technologies – that were not available Three years ago.
  • Stabilised working practices – CC’s able to better select the tech that suits their goals & ROI.
  • Cloud Transformation up – Vendors and channel producing ‘sweetheart’ deals to motivate.
  • Roadmap Relationship – Customers stating that they want to work with the vendor/VAR over a period of time in order to evolve their strategy aligned with the technical capability.

In terms of our interest in the trending and strategic response TelXL are focussed on serving the fast-developing desire within SME to address these trends above. The private SME sector is the fastest growing part of the UK economy. Agile CCaaS at an accessible and affordable level does not mean ‘compromised’ or ‘cut down’ CCaaS functionality. We are committed to providing our partners with the ability to offer solutions that serve the premise that Customer Organisations are increasingly now looking at what they want to do as opposed to what they can do based on the tech available. A definite realisation that simply buying the tech is not ‘job done.’ The vendor partner support relationship must ensure that they follow through and stay on the journey with the customer.

We are also assessing all areas of our product portfolio with the practical application of AI technology in mind.

Data analytics and insights is another factor. The more meaningful data we can surface for consumers and agents, the more personalised and efficient their interactions become, which in turn improves the customer experience and loyalty.


Comms Dealer: How will analytics and AI change the future of the Contact Centre market - and how far along this road are we?

If 2023 saw expedient AI hype, Voice First Conversational AI – will inevitably be a driver for tech progress measurement in 2024 as the hype becomes productised and user valued.

Chat GPT brought a moment of realisation in 2023 and Enterprise customers engaged almost immediately resulting in a massive global uptake and effective UAT.

Use cases in demand in 2024, where used productively, are around: 

  • The replacement of DTMF traditional IVR capabilities removing the current bugbear perception of pressing 1 for and 2 for and getting nowhere with no forward retention of data, security, or content. 
  • Natural language understanding where the up-front bot will not only understand requirement as described but route more effectively with carried forward of captured information thereby not only improving the customer effort experience but the agent wellbeing.
  • Intelligent Voice agent (IVA) – the up-front virtual assistant that will reduce agent tasks and route more effectively.

Agent Assist/ Co Pilot - is a part of conversation intelligence that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to provide suggestions to agents during live conversations with a prospect or customer. This productization and these use cases will not be the doyen of the mezzanine CC level for long as the blurred lines between automation of current CCaaS technology and the true ROI that artificial developments will bring desire from lower down the market food chain. 

There is a long road ahead for automation and true value AI, but which customers large or small do not now realise that they are in a battle for revenue acquisition and retention and that this striving is underpinned by exceptional CX, alignment of technology to the true needs of their business and the resultant ability to measure progress and analyse results and ROI in real time.


Comms Dealer: What is the key for reseller/MSP business leaders to gain a competitive advantage in the Contact Centre market?

Realisation of some key facts and a wiliness to address them. It is time for all businesses to embrace the modern cloud-delivered, customer-focused contact centre, regardless of size or number of agents. Contact centre technology is not just for large businesses anymore – SMEs can, and should, benefit from the latest customer interaction capability if they want to stay competitive and retain customers. By investing in an agile CCaaS solution, instead of simply looking at ways to cut costs, SMEs can go from just surviving, to fully thriving. Resellers are going to have to work a little harder up front to build understanding around CCaaS within their business and invest in vendor specific training and support around the way to engage and understand customer CC needs. Competitive advantage in the CC market will be gained by an approach that realises ‘one approach will not fit all.’


Comms Dealer: The survey we conducted for Comms Vision indicates very little in the way of a consensus on where current and future growth will mostly come from in terms of markets and technology/products/services. Why do you think this is?

This is understandable and has many contributing factors, but probably best summarised as:

It is as fast a moving market as at any point in recent memory. Consolidation in the market has been prevalent in 2023 and is set to continue. A drive for portfolio breadth and revenue base capture are driving the consolidation with a growing focus for VAR’s and MSP’s to also expand geographic reach. Digital transformations are having a big impact on how businesses construct their technology stacks to achieve a competitive advantage through the service they provide and their ability to respond to market transience. The next iteration of cloud contact centre technologies integrate unified communications, contact centre software and back-end business systems to bring business experts and contact centre agents — regardless of where they’re located — together across every channel to deliver superior customer experiences. The simple grasping of that as a likely concept and the colliding of several solution worlds will be contributing to a lack of consensus on what the growth future of the market actually looks like – but it will become evident in short order this year.

There is an important type of ‘no man’s land’ between the top of UC functionality and the lower end of true CCaaS solutionising. Many of the initial and impactful needs now nascent in the SME market fall into this space and is part of the reason clarity for resellers is sometimes hard to establish when choosing how to approach the customer ‘ask’ or uncover the customers true need.

If UC is the communication at one end CCaaS is the intelligent contact management at the other, what elements in isolation fill the gap between then – i.e. ‘the customers journey?