Five9 Customer Experience Summit 2018

By Blair Pleasant
6 Mar 2018

At its first analyst conference, Five9 gathered key contact center industry analysts in Ft. Lauderdale to hear about the company’s strategy, direction, and financial success. Digital transformation was a key focus, as it is fueling the change in customer expectations, and Five9 is focused on helping customers with their digital transformation journeys as it relates to customer engagement.

Our day began very early, but what a way to start the day!

State of the Business

Coming off of a very successful fourth quarter, CFO and Interim CEO Barry Zwarenstein recapped Five9’s recent financials and proudly noted that the company now has a $1.7 billion market cap, with annual revenues of $200 million in 2017, expected to increase to $233 million in 2018.

Next up was Dan Burkland, President, who explained that customers choose Five9, for several reasons:

  • Five9’s end-to-end solution based on cloud innovation and integration with third-party offerings
  • The Five9 TRUST Platform, featuring 99.99%+ uptime, end-to-end network connectivity, and high QOS
  • A customer-first culture, providing personalized customer experiences, and cross-functional metrics focused on customer success
  • Implementation and support, including a high-touch model and Premium Support providing ongoing dedicated Technical Account Managers (TAMs)

Burkland stated that “The secret sauce for Five9 is our culture and the way we react to our customers. Nothing replaces relationships and trust, and it’s part of our DNA.” He added, “Every single license matters – we want to see every customer succeed.”

The company’s focus on service based on its customer-focused culture was validated by the customers who we heard from at the event. One customer noted, “Five9 is very high touch. A lot of products are similar in feature sets and pricing, but Five9’s service is the differentiator in terms of implementation, go live, and post deployment. They were with us every step of the way.” Another customer echoed that sentiment, adding, “Our relationship with the TAM is awesome.”

Several times during the day, Burkland noted that Five9 offers an end-to-end solution. Several of the analysts questioned that statement, as Five9 is a CCaaS provider and doesn’t have its own workforce optimization (WFO) or UCaaS capabilities. However, by the end of the day, most of us were surprised and impressed to learn that rather than simply providing the CCaaS element, Five9 can take on the responsibility for providing and servicing an end-to-end solution through its integration with third-party solutions for WFO and several UCaaS solutions. Going beyond integration with these products, Burkland explained, “We can sell Verint, NICE, and Calabrio on our paper, and host them in our data center. We also resell Fuze, Broadvoice, and Skype for Business (now Teams). We are responsible for the carrier, voice calls, infrastructure, and MPLS so we can guarantee service quality.” While Five9 has no intention of entering the UCaaS market, which Burkland noted is too competitive and has much lower per seat margins than CCaaS, he explained, “We resell several UCaaS offers on our paper taking responsibility for the total offering.”

Early on, Burkland addressed the question on many of our minds – how will Genesys’ acquisition of Altocloud impact Five9, which had been utilizing Altocloud’s customer journey technology. Burkland noted that most of Altocloud’s deals were for sales and marketing teams, rather than the contact center, and Five9 hadn’t sold many Altocloud licenses. He noted that Altocloud provided web analytics capabilities, which is just one part of the customer journey picture, and that Five9 is working with other AI partners to replace this solution.

I had the opportunity to speak with Burkland to discuss Five9’s value proposition, channel model, and how the company views UCaaS.

Product Update and Direction

A large part of the analyst day was spent hearing about Five9’s technology innovation from Gaurav Passi, EVP Products and Technology. Passi stated, “Today’s modern consumer connects with business on digital channels more often, is less patient than ever when engaging with a business, and is evolving at a faster pace than businesses and customer care.” He added, “Cloud is the first step to digital transformation, as you can’t embrace digital transformation onprem based on the pace of innovation and agility the cloud provides.”

Passi then discussed the next challenge going forward, which is the need for businesses to offer personalized services, which relies on AI and the ability to be proactive. He explained that Five9 isn’t coming out with “an Alexa for the world,” but is taking a practical approach to contact center use cases. The focus is on “practical AI for the contact center” utilizing web, journey, and predictive analytics, as well as natural language processing, machine learning, pattern recognition, workflows, and open connectors. As Passi noted, “AI is not a feature, it’s a future,” adding, “The enemy we’re trying to solve is personalization – the way to solve this is by using machine learning.”

Five9 will work with partners for some of the AI capabilities, including Salesforce Einstein and IBM Watson. The company’s practical AI solution will be used for specific use cases for the contact center to provide relevant and tangible business benefits, leveraging AI-driven workflows, Five9’s open platform, and insights using reporting and analytics.

Operations, Marketing, and More

Next up, Scott Welch, Executive Vice President, Cloud Operations, discussed Five9’s operational excellence. He explained that Five9’s operational goals are to deliver platform availability 99.999% of the time, achieve operational excellence through continuous improvement, and delight customers with professional service delivery, while protecting customer and Five9 data and resources. Following a key industry trend, Five9 is leveraging AWS and putting some voice capabilities in the AWS cloud for global customers in order to keep voice local to the region.

Niki Hall, VP Corporate Marketing, then discussed the company’s marketing strategy and goals. As mentioned, Five9 has been very focused on digital transformation, and Hall noted that, “In today’s mobile world, Digital Transformation is fueling rapid change in customer expectations, which is compelling businesses to accelerate how they respond to be competitive, differentiated, and provide personalized customer experiences.” She reiterated how Five9 will succeed based on offering personalized experiences, cloud innovation, trusted partnerships with customers through a high-touch approach, and integration through an open ecosystem and APIs.

Hall also discussed the Five9 Customer Service Index survey the company conducted to identify key customer preferences and the role of customer service to today’s consumers. The study found that:

  • The majority of customers expect resolution within 30 minutes or less
  • The phone remains the preferred method of choice for consumers
  • 77% of customers are comfortable with companies using past purchase history if it ensures a better customer experience.

In this video interview, Hall discusses digital transformation, key industry trends, and the Customer Service Index survey.

Summing it Up

One of the highlights of the day was hearing from two customers who essentially validated Five9’s claims regarding high-touch customer care, ease of integration with third-party applications such as CRM applications, the company culture, and of course the general benefits of the cloud.

It was a full day of meetings packed with useful information and fun interactions with the Five9 team. Kudos to the Five9 marketing team for a well-done inaugural analyst conference. I look forward to seeing how the company progresses on its path to practical AI, personalization, and digital transformation.

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