We have been hearing about the cloud now for the last 5 years. Everything can be provided “in the cloud”, from your email, spreadsheets, word docs, voice, and more recently the contact center. We are getting asked more frequently, “Why should I consider the cloud?” This post explains the reasons why you would benefit from a cloud based contact center.
How many of you have been a part of a large implementation of a contact center? Then you know firsthand that these can be very costly projects! By the time you are done with implementation, a newer version will already be available! Over the past three years, we’ve heard these keywords/trends in the contact center:
- Workforce Optimization
- Big Data
- Virtual Assistance
- Social Media Routing
The voice of the customer is the loudest it has ever been, and it is only getting louder. Change is inevitable to keep your customer satisfaction and retention high.
Now, just add any one of these components to your contact center, and in many cases, you have to add infrastructure, integrate to your current systems and processes, test, and train. It is a big ordeal. A good cloud based contact center suite will have the features you already want in the platform or will have a very aggressive roadmap to include that feature. Furthermore, when you want to add a component, feature, or function to your cloud based contact center, it is no longer an IT driven adventure. Instead, it is a contact center project.
In short, the level of effort is greatly reduced. For example, if you want to start a workforce optimization initiative and you are in the cloud, you do not need hardware, software, or integrations between product suites. You need to check a box, configure the settings, and define your business process/practices around this new initiative.
When you pick your contact center solution in the cloud, make sure you are picking a vendor who has a history of understanding the contact center and keeping abreast of contact center trends, instead of behind them. This is important if you want to keep up with the customer expectations on the experience to be provided.
Simple Infrastructure, Easy to Use
I just walked you through how easy it is to enable a new feature in the cloud. The key to that statement is “enable.” When in the cloud, there are no servers that you have to build or maintain. Instead you have an “all-in-one” platform with all of the components sitting somewhere else. Typically, this means you have built out your work from home concept. One thing that you should understand in the cloud based solution is how the product is put together in the cloud. There are many options that can affect your reliability and scalability. Companies who move their product to the cloud may not necessarily address those concerns.
This architecture and the typical subscription based billing that comes with the cloud allows you to ramp up and ramp down quickly. We have seen companies double and/or triple their staff for the holiday season, after implementing their contact center to the cloud because you only have to pay for what you use! Furthermore, you don’t have to size the solution for the “worst case scenario.”
In addition to the simplified architecture, the cloud allows for consistent interface and every feature you should need in your solution. It is one application, with many features. These interfaces are similar to Facebook or LinkedIn. Naturally, you know how to use the application because everyone uses social media. In fact, your browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox) has most of these interfaces built in. As with any application, training is necessary, however, it will be more intuitive with the more modern look and feel that we are all used to.
Security is the biggest buzzword in IT right now and for good reason. Look at the recent security breaches in the last year, Anthem, Sony and Ashley Madison, just to name a few. These are very costly mistakes. When in the cloud, pay attention to the security compliance of both the product and the cloud service provider. Use Amazon as an example, they have more security compliance than the vast majority of organizations we have worked with. The cloud based application you look into should have encryption built in or inherited security certifications, and tools for you to monitor the security policies of the application.
Another point on security that cannot be overlooked is how easy it is to secure the environment. Let’s go back to the traditional, medium sized contact center. Often they have a couple of ACD servers, a couple of IVR servers, and a couple of PBX. At the very minimum, these 6 servers would need patching done on a regular basis. Often not when the patches are released each week, but instead once a month, quarter, or sometimes even a year. The patching takes your solution down, and sometimes you cannot even patch to the latest version because it hasn’t been tested with the product yet. With the cloud, you do not have to worry about patching or the downtime associated with it! You are reducing vulnerabilities and decreasing your downtime simply by getting rid of that infrastructure.
Earlier, I mentioned that with the cloud and the right manufacturer, you have access to new concepts, all of the time. One in particular that I need to call out are analytics. With the cloud, data retention and data collection is no longer a costly venture. The cloud will enable you to report on anything and everything you could ever need. That is just the tip of the iceberg, this same information will now allow for analytics on past, present, and future data. With this information you are going to have an idea of what is going to happen in the future as well as provide a high touch customer experience delivering to them what they want and need right away. The domino effect of having this information can be tremendous if you use it properly.
There are many reasons to go to the cloud. It can provide things that are very expensive or next to impossible to do with an on premise solution. I have been building and upgrading contact centers for 15 years now and I am excited to see what the cloud can do to enable the best customer experience to any contact center, not just the big ones.