When going for the coolest contact center aimed to provide you the benefits as desired (refer to – Cloud technology to power your contact center like never before), it should have the capabilities as given below across 3 categories – Fundamental, Strategic, Business Value Adds. However, the priority of these capabilities can be pegged based on your business requirements like complexity, business size, business process, number of agents, industry, in-house IT competence etc.
Selection Framework for Cloud Contact Center (as a Service)
At the Fundamental Level
One may look at trying new vendors coming up in the market if you have the bandwidth to take risks. Cloud Contact Center market comprises of pure play cloud providers, veteran premise based contact center solution providers, System integrators and Communication Services providers. Whatever be the core business line of the vendor, one important parameter to look at, is the product / platform maturity on the top of cutting edge cloud deployment technologies to have a meaningful impact on the customer experience, increase business efficiencies, foster loyalty and grow customer value.
Cloud Contact center should help you expand seamlessly like a fluid with the capability of reducing or increasing agents as per seasonal decline or growth in your business. You need to assess the scalable capacity well in excess of your expected peak call volume with a linear pricing model.
Cloud Contact Center should be flexible enough to help you add additional process modules as you grow. One may start business with the sales as the core focus and hence would set up Outbound Contact Center. However, as you grow you might now want to provide customer support to your customers across the customer life cycle to retain your acquired customers and then you would look at setting up Inbound Contact Center.
As your business grows, the market gets tougher or newer technologies change the playing ground level altogether; you need to look at the extensibility of cloud contact center to easily and successfully integrate the technologies with the contact center. Service Oriented Architecture of cloud contact center would help you integrate multiple discrete applications and data sources into services centered around a business process by designing a combination of tools. New services designed can be integrated as and when required helping in upgradation time to time. More recently, the concept of broadly deployed Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) has come into vogue, that allow a cloud contact center to easily access outside applications (data or services), usually though an HTTP-based interface.
The best scenario to look at is when you want to give agents access to a 360-degree view of your customer and their interactions with your business to deliver a personalized customer experience and eventually boost your revenue. The ability of your contact center to integrate with SalesForce or another CRM easily will help in this aspect. Whether you’re building an outbound platform for sales or collections or an inbound platform for providing customer service or booking orders, look for a product that can leverage your existing or newer systems.
All the clouds are not equal since the uptime may vary depending on the data centers allocated. One may look at selecting a cloud call center that provides a sufficient excess capacity to ensure that contact center continues to operate at full capacity even if any site becomes unavailable. Geographically well spread data centers having physical robustness with network strength would ensure a 100% cloud platform.
There has been a general perception that the applications with associated customer data can’t be trusted on the cloud since the shared infra used to serve multiple customers is not regarded as secure as the one on premise. However, today cloud computing has matured. Cloud technologies can satisfy the most rigorous of security at – physical, network and on an application levels.
You should ensure that the product demonstrates the complete levels of data encryption, have security management systems in place, have obtained certifications certification (e.g. SSAE-16 SOC II Type II, SOC 1 Type II, ISO 27001 and/or PCI DSS Level 1) and comply with general privacy regulations (eg. Data Protection Act 1998 EU customers data must be stored in locations within the EU region) and industry specific privacy regulations (eg. HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, PCI-DSS, and others).
At the Strategic Level
Cloud Software is often judged as a vanila solution not fit for all the industries/ domains. This is correct if you are looking at the contact software for solving your business problems at strategic level rather than just focusing on individual business process level feature. Domain/ Industry understanding of a product is the key to your business success as the businesses processes and related campaign and agent performance KPIs are peculiar to an industry vertical. You would like to look at vendors who are leaders of providing cloud contact center software in your vertical.
Process maturity is another aspect to look at when look for, if you are targeting to achieve your business objectives for your specific business processes using the Cloud Contact Center software. The software with value adds for a business process helps you gain an edge over your competition. Suppose there is a third party collection agency which is looking to outpace competition by generating collections amount higher than the industry benchmark, would certainly like to try software with intelligent features around the collection process which could do more than just dialing the debtors. Bringing a insight to an agent about the expected probability for paying back of debtors would help him plan the course of action saving his time and achieving the max collections.
Software Vendors partner with data center providers and telecom operators to provide cloud based contact center software as a service. Even if the software provider is competent but the alliance partners are weak on their services front, then you as a customer would suffer and this can put you in hot water. If the telecom provider is giving you poor connectivity, your agents will turn out to be unproductive for lower connected calls and eventually your campaigns will suffer.
Secondly, as the cloud contact center success is directly linked to performance of cloud servers, a poor data center provider can jeopardize all of your business operations dependent on contact center. The vendors who have partnered with the established and experienced players are going to be your reliable partners in your business success.
A well trained and productive agent who is motivated and happy, can make a substantial difference to your business. Behavior platform build around the cloud contact center software comprises of Game Mechanics – gaming activities to measure performance and reward performers help motivate agents at individual level, encourage competition and promote teamwork; Social Mechanics – social networking instigating the social status consciousness based on individual and group performance drives satisfaction out of social reputation . The cloud nature of the contact center makes gamification highly effective and applicable as it is integrated across social media and mobile platforms. You need to make sure that Gamification feature build around the contact center needs to uniquely address your agent KPIs around your business processes and your industry.
Proactive Customer engagement – Leveraging multiple channels
You may look at mobility as a challenge to engage with customers. However, on the contrary it throws an immense potential for businesses to leverage the opportunity to interact with highly mobile customer on their numerous devices like desktop, laptop, mobile, ipad, kindle across Call, Email, VoIP, SMS, chat, social media, web channels at any place you can think of (home, office, public places) at any time. As per survey done by ContactBabel, although voice call still dominates, around 3 in 10 transactions are coming from alternative sources, making voice-only call centers a thing of the past.
Reference- Survey by Contact Babel
Estimated cost for live agent ($7.76 per interaction session) pegs on a significantly higher side as compared to IVR ($0.98 per interaction session) , Email ($3.37 per interaction session), Web Chat ($3.52 per interaction session) channels. The key to choosing the best contact center providing multi-channel environment is the one providing consistent experience across the integrated channels so that the customer has the flexibility to contact and the agent is proactive in responding.
Data is a treasure for any business, as it can provide real business insight on strategic, tactical and operational fronts. Cloud Call Center Software powered with advanced analytics technologies, furnishes real time and periodic information to monitor and optimize your campaign and agent performance. Predictive analytics is another aspect where the performance of a campaign can be significantly increased. Think of a scenario where the call center dialer predicts the availability of the customers who are predicted as the most likely to qualify for sales lead.