Ask a CTO: The Importance Of All-In-One Technology Solutions

Mar 30, 2021 9:00:00 AM

Great questions arise whenever we host webinars, give one-on-one demos, and even as we onboard new customers. We welcome the opportunity to answer these questions, dig deeper, and help organizations elevate their customer support to be what customers deserve -- which is exactly what this series aims to do! 

When these questions require technical answers, I like to go straight to the in-house expert, our co-founder and CTO, Bracken Fields. I recently sat down with Bracken to hear first-hand what he has to say about a topic we discuss quite frequently: the importance of all-in-one solutions and how they’re changing the face of customer and employee experience. Let’s dive in.

Bracken - From a technical perspective, why would brands want to put customer service reps and the rest of the organization all on one business communications system?
Edify CTO Bracken Fields

This question is simple to answer but a bit harder to fully grasp. Given the way data is architected, it’s very easy to put linking data together when everything is supposed to be together. Let’s frame data and systems and interfaces as if we were talking about construction, for example. If you design all of your data to live under one roof, it’s fast and painless to move between rooms within the same house. But if you have a messy house project, per se, like when you add a brand new room to an existing house, it’s a huge deal and can create all sorts of problems -- permits, roof leaks, settling, HVAC issues, a choppy layout, you name it. Most people haven’t designed their homes to be able to add on another room, so, needless to say, you’re likely to experience some issues. To help avoid these sorts of issues,  we have done two things at Edify. First, we built the “house” to have all of the rooms we would ever need for years of innovation. And second, we have laid the foundation wide enough to easily add more rooms as needed. 

Brands should put their customer service reps and the rest of the employee population on one system to create the most seamless experience possible for those employees and customers. Companies shouldn’t have to worry about hiccups, failing integrations, or a massive IT spend when trying to tie a bunch of separate systems together. And this doesn’t even touch the benefit to the end customer when front-line reps can loop in anyone in the organization to get an issue properly handled. Why not just utilize one single solution that can do it all?

We talk a lot about “no-code” in reference to our interface. What do we really mean by that and why did we decide to build Edify that way?

The contact center market started in the 1960s at a newspaper company in Birmingham, England. They had a phone system designed to be a contact center -- yes, it pre-dated personal computers. These first contact centers were the size of newsrooms and couldn’t crunch anything. We’ve come a really long way in those 70~ years. History teaches us important lessons, like the fact that innovation will continue to progress the “ultra-modern” cloud technology that exists right now and that perfection takes time. 

Still, to this day, too many contact center solutions are built by layering and integrations in order to have many features. In fact, there are plenty of little niche features that entire vendors have built their software around. 

The first feature we came across like this, nearly a decade ago, was auto-pause. One contact center we worked with focused solely on having this niche feature. So, naturally, we figured out how to go and build it for them. Niche features like this are table-stakes, however, and we quickly realized there would always be these little one-off features that companies would need us to execute for their contact centers in a very compressed timeline. Software companies need to be able to do everything in a fast and easy way, right from the start.

Thanks to our experience and knowledge of the industry, we knew that when we initially founded Edify we wouldn’t be able to build every single solitary feature right away. There are simply just too many! But, we also knew that what mattered most was the foundation, the architecture. This industry desperately needed a well-built solution that can actually perform all of the most essential things people need contact centers to do.  Piecemeal strategies don’t work long-term. That knowledge and past experience led Cameron and I to build Workflows, which enables us (and our customers) to use the building blocks of code in order to execute numerous features depending on a company’s unique needs.

So you’re saying that Edify is truly user-friendly to people who don’t have extensive development knowledge? 

Programming is a language, thus it’s really just the transmission of thought. We created Workflows to be able to transition the thoughts of a designer into Edify. You could type out JavaScript or any number of programming languages to transit your thoughts into a computer, but people without that level of knowledge can design powerful business communications first-hand, too. We’ve built an interface where you can easily drag-and-drop thoughts to connect a process and a design together. This is why we refer to our interface as “no-code”. . . because it truly doesn’t require any code! Think of us as the translator. We’ve taken the programming language and translated it into a simple, intuitive way for our users to communicate what they want the solution to do. Workflows replaces IVR, IVA, and RPA with a single drag-and-drop tool.

There has been a hole in customer service plaguing the industry for so long. People hate having to deal with service departments (myself included). Why is it so hard for consumers to get great customer service? And why aren’t more agents prepared to do their jobs well?

That’s an interesting question, and I think it’s almost based on a false premise. We are humans who live in communities and innately want to interact and help each other. It’s not that customers don’t like reaching out to people to get help -- they love to ask for help when they need it and think they can get it. Similarly, agents want to help the people they interact with. The problem is unmet expectations. Customers need agents that care and can help them. 

So while the agent getting a customer’s query definitely cares and wants to help, the technology and the tools they have often get in the way. How many times have you heard an agent say, “Once this is fixed, we’ll call you back and let you know.” And how many times do you actually get a callback? Agents rarely have time or the actual mechanisms in place to effectively close the loop. And I don’t have to tell you how awful that is for the customer. Terribly frustrating. 

Bad technology prevents good service from happening. 

Customers and agents are equally let down by contact center technology, but it doesn’t have to be this way. If the agent knows what they’re doing and has the right tools, they can do a stellar, friendly job and fix the customer’s problem in a very short time frame. Customer service has been bad for so long that now having a great experience is unusual and memorable when it should be the norm.

Join us for the next installment of Ask a CTO; we’ll be discussing how work-from-anywhere enables brands to broaden their agent talent pool!


Written by Edify

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