In today’s fiercely competitive customer service business, cost and resilience are two factors that stand out as the ones that decide the fate of a contact center. After the worst financial recession of the 21st century shook the world, a number of contact centers moved to the cloud on a pilot basis to reduce costs. They soon realized that there were many benefits contact centers could enjoy in the cloud over and above lower running costs that could make them more competitive and adaptive.There are more contact center hardware and hosting vendors today than it was even a decade back and that gives a lot of choice and flexibility to the customers. Many issues regarding the security of data transmission and safety of locations of data storage in the cloud have been resolved. Today third-party applications can also be integrated into the cloud without any disruption and data transmission over secured IP networks around the world and remote access is also possible.
Let us now look at some of the benefits of cloud-based contact centers.
- Scalability of business processes: A cloud-based contact center can enjoy the advantage of scalability of business. Once the processes and services of the enterprise are put in the cloud, the volume of queries can be better managed. There is less of a load on PBX and traditional phone lines of a contact center which are also expensive to maintain and service. Resources can also be utilized in proportion to the volume of incoming queries which means there is again a cost advantage.
- Flexibility: Modern cloud-based call centers can give access to their employees from anywhere in the world. So, even if they are on tour or are working from home, they can still securely log in to the system and work without any problem. They can do any of the normal functions that they would do if there were present in person in the office.
- Deliver more personalized services: Cloud hosted contact centers can provide personalized services to their customers/clients based on customer demographics, behavioral data and their preferences. Customer empowerment and self service has also improved after introduction of cloud computing in contact centers. The synergy between different communication channels have also improved and customers can easily move from one medium to another medium effortlessly without having to explain their problems again and again as data is constantly recorded and updated in the CRM which makes it easier for agents to pick up from where another agent might have left off.
- Integration of different utility-based applications with the ecosystem: Cloud-based contact centers have the advantage of easily integrating software like analytics, billing software, CRM and business reporting software, etc with the cloud ecosystem without any additional cost. Companies can also integrate third party SaaS services for their contact center operations in a cloud ecosystem.
- Reduction of cost of supporting hardware solutions: A contact center doesn’t require a big IT maintenance team or invest in expensive hardware as is required by premise-based contact centers. A lot of cloud-based services are hosted by third parties who also provide support solutions which means you don’t have to invest on a separate team. Or it can be downsized, giving you cost benefits.
- Reduction of downtime: Cloud-based contact centers can be fired back to life easily and any problem can be solved remotely which saves time. There are many redundant solutions that keep your business active when a problem is detected and solved. So, there is hardly any downtime.
Some of the best practices that companies can follow for moving their contact centers to cloud are as follows:
- Bring back the focus on customer service alone: A contact center which has moved to the cloud doesn’t need to focus too much on the maintenance of infrastructure. That means employees can focus more on improving customer relations and driving business processes that add value to the business and improve customer experience. You will have to devote more attention to strategic planning and refining your revenue generating business processes rather than keeping a chunk of your human resources involved in infrastructure maintenance.
- Establish a connection between front-office customer services and back-office functions: The front office customer service provided by a cloud-based contact center like customer interaction and troubleshooting should be linked with back-office functions that take care of logistics, accounting, product information, DBMS, etc. The workflow in the organization should be created in a way that maximum priority is given to customer interactions. This linkage and data federation can improve operational efficiency and improve customer experience. If a more valuable customer is identified and given preference in a call queue, back office processing should also be prioritized in terms of customer life cycle.
- Proper assessment of technology and staff in place: Before you move your business to the cloud, you should do a thorough audit of your resources and see which of these can be integrated with the cloud technology. If you want to take cost advantage, you will have to learn to plug the gaps in your on-premise contact center with the help of cloud rather than replacing all your legacy systems.