Why Legacy Contact Center Systems Are No Longer a Barrier to Modernizing Customer Engagement

In its State of Digital Customer Experience study among 2,000 U.S. consumers, Verint found that use of digital channels is still skyrocketing, with 53 percent of respondents preferring to reach out to companies over digital channels. While this is no surprise, organizations are still struggling to drive digital transformation fast enough to keep up with consumer expectations and their desire to interact on multiple channels whenever and wherever they please. In fact, of the 200 U.S. businesses surveyed in the same study, 43 percent believe adoption of social media and private messaging channels will significantly shape their customer experience (CX) strategy in the coming year.

CX leaders are prioritizing a range of initiatives to help them provide a quality digital CX, according to the study. Almost half say legacy systems are a barrier to digital customer engagement. Legacy contact center systems were not designed to incorporate digital engagement channels, and many are simply unable to integrate with the latest technologies, such as conversational and generative artificial intelligence.

A more modern approach to the contact center is required with open architecture that makes it easy to offer a range of digital channels and solutions to power the omnichannel experiences that consumers demand.

A large majority, 77 percent, of businesses say consumer expectations for effectively engaging with them digitally have increased over the past 12 months, up more than 10 percent from a similar survey conducted just last year.>

Of U.S. consumers aged 18 to 75 who prefer to use digital channels to contact companies, more than a third (34 percent)say their service expectations have levelled up—an increase of 16 percent year-over-year.

Getting digital CX right is crucial. The impact of a single poor customer experience on consumer behavior is significant, with 69 percent of consumers saying they would cease doing business with a company following just one negative interaction, while 80 percent of consumers are likely to become loyal customers of companies that deliver exceptional customer experiences via digital channels.

These survey results highlight the popularity of digital engagement channels being driven by a younger and more tech-savvy consumer base. Half of all consumers surveyed have reached out to companies via social media and/or private messaging channels, registering a year-over-year growth of 14 percent and 13 percent respectively. Interestingly, 38 percent of customers indicated they have used social media and private messaging to interact with businesses.>

The Open CCaaS Imperative

Most legacy contact center solutions were not designed for digital-first engagement. Many are simply unable to integrate with the latest technologies, such as conversational AI and generative AI models.

At the same time customers want immediate answers to their queries on the channels of their choice. In fact, almost half of CX leaders say that legacy systems are a barrier to implementing great digital customer engagement to meet these expectations.

Today, it's vital to leverage AI and automation to elevate CX across channels. This means organizations must reimagine their contact center architecture with an open-system approach to help make engagement data work around the clock, put AI at the fingertips of agents, maximize CX automation, and support best-in-class operations.

It's essential to adopt a more modern contact center approach whereby open architecture makes it easy to integrate a range of digital channels and solutions to power the omnichannel experiences customers deserve and demand.

An "open" approach to contact center architecture enables organizations to adopt the critical applications and digital platforms that will positively impact CX the most. At the same time, it allows organizations to leverage AI and automation to seamlessly connect to legacy systems and use what already exists until they are ready to make changes, at their chosen time and pace.

In addition, open architecture should enable organizations to bring their own telephony and come as they are. By providing an open, flexible architecture, organizations can adapt and modify their customer service workflows as they evolve and innovate and expand at their own speed. This means they are not tied to rigid systems but can experiment with new strategies, implement changes, and scale operations when they're ready.

How to Work With and Around Legacy Systems

So, how do organizations proceed with modernization efforts without a rip-and-replace approach? The key is to start working to resolve the most significant pain points. For example, if you're trying to improve digital self-service and reduce the volume of calls into the contact center, adding an intelligent chatbot or new messaging channels is a great solution.

In addition, digital CX innovation doesn't imply a whole-scale migration to the cloud. For example, telephony is traditionally the most disruptive slice of the infrastructure pie to transition to the cloud. And it can challenge highly regulated and large enterprises the most. An organization with thousands of employees and global operations can't embark on an all-systems-all-at-once migration and replacement protocol. Likewise, keeping some systems on premises also shouldn't put the entire digital transformation journey on hold and delay the benefits of digital-first customer engagement.

Given these insights from the State of Digital CX study, organizations cannot put off modernizing their customer engagement approaches. Additionally, those that do will see additional far-reaching benefits. The broadening of digital platform usage provides businesses with a valuable opportunity to leverage customer data to deliver more tailored and personalized experiences, which is key to customer retention and share of wallet. In this way, the march to modernizing customer engagement is no longer relegated to stop and wait. It's about moving forward, over, under, around, and through.

Heather Richards is vice president of go-to-market strategy at Verint.