Benefits of Building a Contact Center in the Cloud

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.  

Hosted Contact Center Market Set to Flourish

Contact centers, both in-house and outsourced, help enterprises in many ways—from providing a better customer experience to increasing productivity to providing the latest technologies for generating valuable business intelligence. When the contact center is hosted in the cloud, additional benefits abound, such as assured disaster recovery, ease of compliance management, and greater scalability and flexibility.

Company reliance on various technologies and the Internet to operate profitability is expected to intensify, with a corresponding increase in cloud-based contact center market size. According to a new report from MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected to grow from $5.43 billion in 2016 to $15.67 billion by 2021, at a compound annual growth rate of 23.6 percent.

This growth is also being fueled by a high demand for outbound dialer systems and outsourced contact center services. Advances in dialer technology, especially features such as dynamic filtering—search indexes that control which leads are called—and do-not-call list management, are popular because they increase Communicator talk time, leading to greater productivity.

Outsourcing the contact center function enables companies to reduce spend on networks and IT. Cost benefits will drive companies to outsource customer services across the board—from inquiries to order processing to technical support. Plus, the increase in the number of an organization’s functional areas (e.g., sales and marketing) being served by contact centers has increased the complexity of deploying in-house contact centers.

Another key to cloud-based contact center growth is the role the contact center is playing in the e-commerce space. Innovation and the proliferation of digital technologies have changed customers’ interaction with retailers; they are now using different channels such as live chat and self-service options. The vendors in this vertical market rely on the cloud environment to attain customer loyalty all along consumer touchpoints such as retail stores, Web catalogs and the contact center.

The only growth inhibitors for the cloud-based contact center market are an ongoing fear of data risk and initial deployment costs. Enterprises are mitigating the potential data risk, however, by side stepping total cloud immersion. They are bridging the gap between low-security public cloud and high-security private cloud by creating hybrid cloud networks. This gives them the scalability and flexibility of the cloud while retaining secure computing environments on-premises.

Enterprises that make customer satisfaction and experience a priority are strategically using contact centers to maximize their success in these areas. Outsourcing contact center functions to a managed service provider can help in this regard by providing crucial elements of high-quality customer service without all the infrastructure complications of on-premises solutions. As the cloud-based contact center market grows, consider ways in which you, too, can leverage the cloud to push your business to the next level.