December 26, 2022
How the Cloud Has Revolutionized Contact Centers
Cloud-based platforms offer comprehensive options for staffing, location and features.
The pandemic accelerated cloud adoption everywhere, and contact centers are no exception. Many organizations are using cloud-based contact center platforms to save money, improve flexibility and enhance the user experience. Whether organizations want to deploy a remote workforce, scale up for seasonal spikes or leverage artificial intelligence (AI), cloud contact centers deliver with ease and simplicity.
Cloud contact centers also align well with the omnichannel communications that customers expect. Agents can interact with customers by phone, email, text or chatbot, and the cloud brings everything together seamlessly through behind-the-scenes application programming interfaces. This is especially relevant to customers who have seasonal requirements, as omnichannel technologies provide AI capabilities that can accommodate sudden increases in calls and provide help for customers who prefer to do their own transactions.
Let’s look at some ways cloud-based contact centers can benefit organizations, agents and customers.
Cloud Contact Centers Offer Low Costs and Reduced Downtime
The most significant advantage of a cloud-based contact center is cost. Instead of the costs to install, maintain and refresh infrastructure, most of the expense relates to application licenses. This tends to simplify budgeting while also making it more affordable and less labor-intensive to establish new contact centers. Platforms are already built in the cloud and can be easily customized (with the help of automation tools) to suit an organization’s call flow, agent data and other information.
Cloud contact centers also reduce IT downtime and the demands made on IT departments. The cloud provider handles application updates and patches, which are easier and faster than the scheduled maintenance required for on-premises contact centers. Less downtime translates to better business continuity and an improved experience for customers and agents. Disaster recovery capabilities are greatly enhanced, as cloud platforms are both dynamic and redundant.
Cloud-Based Platforms Speed Deployment of AI and Other Features
The ease of updating cloud contact center software and applications makes it possible to introduce new features and functionality more frequently. For instance, organizations can continually enhance the capabilities of AI-driven chatbots. This is valuable because AI solutions have become an important component of an efficient user experience. Getting a caller to the right person quickly and efficiently minimizes frustration and increases satisfaction. The more that organizations use AI to help customers navigate contact center systems, the better those experiences will be. First-call resolution becomes the norm and not the goal.
AI also delivers business advantages by facilitating data collection and analytics to derive valuable operational insights. For instance, organizations can evaluate customers’ chatbot interactions to understand and improve support services. Cloud applications also yield data, often more quickly and at a lower cost than custom-engineered applications. Data within cloud platforms is consistent and easily accessible for reporting and analysis by stakeholders. Advanced technologies such as sentiment analysis, computational linguistics and biometrics can provide organizations with deeper insight than ever.
Cloud Flexibility Increases Options for Remote and Seasonal Staffing
Scalability and flexibility are important for contact centers, especially in specific segments such as retail. Compared with on-premises operations, cloud contact centers expand options for remote work, hybrid work and periodic scale-ups. This flexibility can help organizations reduce other major expenses, such as real estate and building maintenance.
For example, a retail business could maintain a small, in-person staff year-round and supplement this with remote agents as needed, without expanding its physical footprint. When new agents are required, it’s easy to onboard them. The organization needs only to install the cloud-based application on their laptops and equip them with monitors and headsets, enabling them to log in, receive calls and collaborate with colleagues.
The ease of remote work helps from a talent perspective too. If an on-premises contact center needs to increase staff for the holidays, it will be limited to people in a nearby geographic area. Cloud contact centers, on the other hand, can hire people from anywhere, including any time zone, thereby raising the level of service they can provide.
Transition Points Are an Ideal Time to Consider Cloud Contact Centers
The transition to a cloud contact center is often prompted by a specific milestone, such as hardware reaching its end of life or a building lease coming up for renewal. Organizations that are already in cloud environments may use licensing renewals as an opportunity to re-evaluate their providers and determine if they are still the best fit. As contact center vendors develop their roadmaps, we will see a consistent focus on cloud contact centers and a gradual decline in on-premises contact center technologies.
However organizations get to the cloud, they usually find that cloud contact centers deliver all — if not more — of the features and functionality they receive from on-premises centers, with the added advantages of ease, affordability and flexibility.
Story by Carol Payne, a senior services delivery manager for digital experience and customer engagement with CDW. Carol has been in the professional services business for 25 years and has spent the past 19 years with CDW. She has a passion for mentoring and a reputation for getting things done. Carol is looking forward to the future and all the opportunities that exist for our customers reimagining their customer engagement experience.