Following the announcement of Puzzel’s expansion into the Netherlands, CEO Frederic Laziou sat down with CustomerTalk to chat about the latest trends in customer service and our vision for the future.
Norwegian company Puzzel, an innovative specialist in cloud-based contact centres, has invested heavily in recent years to offer a flexible and scalable online solution to organisations of all types and sizes that want to optimise their customer services and customer experiences. Its challenge was to provide an application that would deliver higher productivity, higher service levels, better customer contact and a better agent experience.
“It has to be,” states French-born Rennes’ new CEO of Puzzel Frederic Laziou, “Customers and prospects have become hugely demanding when it comes to speed, convenience and reliability.” According to him, it’s not about discounts and being the cheapest, the winner is the one who provides the best experience. “And that’s where existing systems often go wrong. That may be the legacy, but I see that the pain lies mainly in the rustiness of the current solutions that were often developed outside Europe. In other words, they are based on different standards than the European ones. With Puzzel, the ambition is precisely to be able to control and manage local problems as a local party.” Frederic Laziou is French but calls himself, in fluent English, a European. He brings with him 20 years of experience from the ICT and call centre industry. His previous job was CEO of Tacton, an enterprise B2B SaaS vendor (CPQ) headquartered in Sweden. There, Frederic led the transformation to build Tacton from a local on-premise business to a global SaaS vendor (now part of Gartner MQ). “That job is done, now we are ready to conquer Europe with Puzzel,” Frederic says combatively.
Frederic Laziou is a strong advocate of digital transformation, growth and customer success (not as a department but as a strategy). He has gained extensive experience in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and technology in general management, corporate and business development, mergers and acquisitions and strategy. Before joining Puzzel, Frederic was also CEO of 24 Solutions, a provider of cloud infrastructure. Frederic holds a Masters in International Business and a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering.
Thought leader in cloud-based contact centres
Puzzel builds on 20 years of heritage. The head office is located in Oslo, Norway. Puzzel is active within six other European countries including the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Bulgaria. Puzzel is regarded as one of the pioneers in the development of cloud-based contact centres. The fact that the renowned research and consultancy firm in the information technology sector Gartner has named Puzzel as ‘Challenger’ in the Gartner Magic Quadrant in the CCaaS category for five consecutive years is testimony to the fact that Puzzel does not go unnoticed. Puzzel is also recognised by Frost & Sullivan as one of the top three CCaaS providers for Europe.
Role for partners in the Netherlands
Puzzel is a fast growing CCaaS company with the goal to become the European leader by 2023. It is now expanding into the Netherlands and looking for new business partners and talent to help grow its business here. Frederic says: “We are sure to have found our place in the Netherlands by the end of the year. We are now looking for local specialists at all levels to serve the customers we already have in the Netherlands and Belgium with short lines of communication. We do this in every country; the cultural differences between countries are often considerable. You then have to be flexible in your offer in order to operate on a country and culture level. There is no ‘one size fits all’ in Europe.”
Innovative in omnichannel
Puzzel now has more than 20 years of experience in the cloud. A strategic acquisition took place in 2019 and Puzzel now falls under the flag of Marlin Equity Partners. To strengthen Puzzel technologically, the company acquired a leading ticketing solution and workforce management (WFM) solution in 2019 and 2020. Puzzel’s best-in-class, multi-tenant contact centre as a service platform enables clients to manage and optimise their customer interactions via voice, email, chat, SMS, social media and video channels. Video and screen-sharing – which Puzzel calls Live Share – was launched earlier this year with more customers now looking for an empathetic, face-to-face online customer experience.
Frederic Laziou outlines the strategy to move from challenger to market leader across industries: “Delivering effective, personalised and differentiated customer value in a truly omnichannel environment has never been more crucial in today’s environment. It’s about trust and value creation. That is often a feeling and can vary considerably per customer or customer group. Then you need a fast and personal customer journey to make the difference as a supplier. It is precisely the experience and technical possibilities of Puzzel that ensure the right experience, the right customer experience.”
Puzzel delivers an easy-to-use and fast-to-deploy omnichannel platform in CCaaS. It is optimised for both customer experience and agent experience, with a focus on delivering smarter experiences. Puzzel has also invested heavily in order to be the perfect tool for external workers, especially as more contact centres embrace agile and hybrid working after the pandemic. Frederic Laziou: “Already during my first meeting with Puzzel, I was positively surprised by the enormous scalability of the infrastructure, it is extremely flexible and secure. Yes, it is a uniform application, but precisely because of our local knowledge of European customer dialogue and issues, we offer a streamlined solution for every party, with a uniform overview of all customer interactions.”
Developments do not stand still. Puzzel does not want to be the biggest, but rather the organisation with the best ‘fit’. Thanks to its open software, the technology can integrate with a variety of existing systems, such as Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, Zendesk, and be tailored to suit each individual business’s needs. This makes it popular across a range of industries, including financial services, retail, healthcare, IT and telecommunications. There are user groups of Puzzel that share knowledge and experiences which makes it an active user community.
“The trends determine our strategy,” says Frederic Laizou, “Orchestrating the media your customer uses every day is a big challenge. Take control of the customer journey and be a leader in it. The most powerful organisation is the one that can best connect with customers. Puzzel understands there will be a shift towards mini moments with customers. I like to call that ‘smart experiences’. Doing smart things, surprising customers when it comes to service, experience and convenience. For example, suppose you have bought a new refrigerator and you have a question about it. Normally, you then have to make a huge effort to find service numbers and contact the supplier. A smart experience is to stick a QR code on the fridge, scan it with your mobile phone and you are immediately forwarded to the right agent. Those are customer experiences that I really like. It’s our vision, as a company, to power these smart experiences”, Frederic Laizou smiles at us.
Self-service is also a trend, Frederic says. “So working with bots, smart systems, artificial intelligence, gamification, video are being used more and more powerfully. If you put all that into the right processes… then you’ve got it,” says Frederic Laizou. “It’s not just about an agent with an empathic approach. Customers want to be helped quickly and well, that is our challenge to our customers.”
Puzzel employs more than 250 specialists (and counting) who are all passionate about delivering innovative customer interaction solutions for contact centres and mobile environments. Revenue was €40 million in fiscal year 2020. Puzzel realises 25% growth in turnover year-on-year.
What is CCaaS?
Contact centre as a service (CCaaS) is a SaaS-based application that enables customer-facing organisations to manage non-location-based multichannel customer interactions (using self-service and assisted-service) from both a customer and employee experience perspective. CCaaS solutions are comprehensive and differentiated systems that enable an adaptive, flexible operating model with both native capabilities for the four pillars of good customer service and product-oriented integrations with partners, via market places. Providers of Contact Center-as-a-Service enable platform standardisation across the entire customer service and customer experience organisation.