The contact center landscape is expanding to address the various channel options and evolving customer expectations. Customers reach organizations through a variety of pathways including in-store, contact center, mobile application, website, email, chat and now, social. The contact center, a large and complex environment when it only supported telephone calls, has become even more complex and is changing at speeds that were unheard of a decade ago. It is more critical than ever to maximize the return on investment with a continued focus on the end-to-end customer experience. For that reason, and many more, organizations are making the shift to cloud-based solutions in the contact center.
Historically, contact centers would buy equipment, hire engineers and technicians to run and operate the equipment while customizing the solutions. This approach requires ongoing costs and investments in resources, infrastructure, maintenance and upgrade fees. In this traditional model, contact centers had physical and intellectual capital investments in that structure while organizations were tied to specific technologies and vendors. A change in vendors or technology required rebuilding the infrastructure in addition to re-training the engineering and technical support, which required additional capital investments. Cloud-based architectures offer contact centers a more flexible environment that benefits in multiple ways.
If a contact center chooses to adopt a cloud-based architecture, there are two paths to consider. First, you could just put the contact center technology in the cloud and keep the people in internally-operated facilities. The second option would be to outsource both the technology and the agent staffing. To determine the best path requires a technology, business and financial assessment that clearly evaluates the business and financial objectives, internal constraints, resource availability, and infrastructure dependencies. Here are a few other things to consider when evaluating the pros and cons of a cloud-based architecture in the contact center.
1. Enhancements at Minimal Cost: As the cloud-based solutions provider enhances their platform, companies get those enhancements as part of their normal fee. Additionally, companies don’t have to maintain internal resources to build and operate those enhancements, thus eliminating the cost to support those efforts. Some companies may feel they will lose an element of control by giving the providers the wheel, but that’s not true in today’s environment. Nearly all of the vendors give their clients the same amount of control and access that they would have on an owned solution like full access to routing, reporting, monitoring and improving skills.
2. Automatic Disaster Recovery: In the traditional model, sensitive contact centers required a secondary disaster recovery site, necessitating an investment in not one, but two contact centers. Cloud-based solutions facilitate dual facilities, effectively minimizing the investment of the secondary site.
3. Customized Reporting: Executives and contact center managers keep a close eye on the metrics and trends within the contact center, and make frequent adjustments based their output. In the traditional model, information was provided through internally built reports, which required significant development and processing time. By leveraging a cloud-based provider, customized reports are typically developed and provided by their resources. Flexibility may be sacrificed, but the turnaround time could actually decrease due to the providers’ expertise in data analysis.
4. Likely, Increased Security: Contact centers may feel that keeping data within their own network will be more secure, which could be true to a limited extent. With the proper investments on internal networks, keeping data in-network would, in fact, be the safer solution, but it requires constant vigilance and investment. However, cloud-based solution vendors know that security is a top priority for their customers and view it as a prerequisite for providing services. Security is likely to be a focus area for the provider as they cannot afford a black mark on their name, so they invest heavily in that area. Also, companies leverage the security expertise of an outsourced provider by preventing the risk of internal staff accessing or inappropriately using or sharing unauthorized data. Providers have stringent controls in place including role-based permissions which keeps critical information secure.
For a substantial portion of contact centers, cloud-based solutions are a flexible, cost-effective and secure option for solutions technology. However, there are scenarios in which the cloud-based model doesn’t make sense. Large scale contact centers with thousands of agents can be more expensive to outsource technology solutions. Also, if complex internal business systems (e.g., sales, payment) require complex data integration efforts, it could be more cost effective to manage the infrastructure internally. Factor in systems that have frequent iterative changes and the process can become overly complex to manage with an outsourced provider. Therefore, it is important to run a total cost of ownership calculation to see what makes sense for your size and needs.
Cloud-based solutions are favorable for small, midsize and large companies that run a stable environment, require a disaster recovery site and can’t invest in the resources and equipment needed to stay up-to-date on internal technology solutions. Ideally, by adapting to a cloud-based solution model, organizations will be more adaptable and flexible in the constantly evolving contact center landscape.
Contact us to discuss how your contact center and customer experience can operate more efficiently.