As a small- to medium-sized business (SMB), do you have the resources in-house to support today’s customer service demands? For instance, are you prepared to deliver consistent, seamless customer experiences across multiple channels? The evolved customer of the Digital Age expects to connect with companies by the digital channels they already use in their daily lives.
This can be a daunting goal for many SMBs—both operationally and financially. Upgrading your contact center facilities and technology to accommodate new channels and services can be an enemy to profits. In response to commercial pressures and technological opportunities, a new contact center model has emerged: the virtual contact center. For SMBs and larger enterprises, this model may defray costs and increase customer satisfaction.
In the model, Customer Care Communicators work remotely using a VoIP communication system and cloud-based services. A virtual contact center can consist of many operations, including home and satellite offices, which are linked together and managed as a single site. This allows for greater efficiencies, significant economies of scale and the opportunity for performance improvements.
The model has both risks and benefits, which must be assessed independently by each business considering the option.
Your case for transitioning to a virtual contact center must take into account the following three fundamental factors: customer satisfaction, reliability and security, and platform openness and flexibility. Do your due diligence as follows:
- Assess challenges and goals: Build a case by examining your current capabilities, plans for growth and customer satisfaction. Look at barriers to achieving your KPIs and delivering great service. Evaluate your existing platform and assess what’s missing and what upgrades should be a priority.
- Determine costs: What are budget requirements over time? You can subtract hardware costs and add savings from scaling up and down flexibly. You’ll have costs for agents, supported channels and analytic functions.
- Define metrics: Assess current analytics and KPIs to determine which can apply to a contact center in the cloud. How will you measure customer experience and operational efficiency?
As you assess whether the transition to a virtual contact center is right for your business, consider the additional benefits you may gain:
- Larger pool of skills
- Balanced work across locations
- Widely deployed and managed skills
- One-time easy and flexible forecasting and scheduling
- Increased global coverage
- Standardized application deployment
- 24/7 agent availability
- Dynamic choice of outsourcers
While cost savings are the primary driver for many transitions to the cloud, keep these other benefits in mind as well—especially as you look at risks, which can be significant. For example, you may experience increased staff turnover if home workers are not self-starters. In addition, the transfer of knowledge and training can be challenging in a virtual environment. Remote workers will also require more attention from supervisors to ensure they don’t feel isolated from the business—and from corporate values and standards.
If the pros outweigh the risks for your organization, you’re on your way to building your contact center in the cloud.