5 Reasons Why Cloud Brightens The Contact Center Forecast

Calling all my contact center professional friends:  Have you ever developed a strategy for adding new services or updating technology just to have the request for funding stop at the CFO approval?  Because of the limits to capital IT budgets, this is an all too common story.

In my past 27 years as an optimized contact center evangelist, I’ve seen more changes in customer contact in the past few years than ever before that drives more need for investment.  Most change is driven by increasing customer demand for improved services and access from increasingly competitive marketplaces, but technology developments also add choices in the available options from which to choose.  Cloud-based Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), in particular, presents a new way to solve the changing customer requirements.

A study just released by Nemertes reports nearly 14 percent of companies have implemented CCaaS in some capacity.  Contact centers are historically cautious adopters, and for good reason, as customer experience in the center is key to business growth by developing customer loyalty and developing Net Promoters  (for my prior blog on growing NPS, click here).  For example, most contact centers haven’t yet converted to IP, although it has been a stable industry standard for nearly a decade.  So, why the increased adoption in CCaaS?  Here’s five good reasons.

1. Reduce capital investment

Cloud adoption circumvents many long-standing issues in contact center transformation, such as fiscal limitations.  A predominant reason for the slow adoption to IP is the lack of capital funds in increasingly restricted IT budgets.  CCaaS is largely, and often completely, charged to the operational budget, and bypasses the scrutiny required for CapEx project approval.

2. Enable new contact features or access channel functions

Customers are driving the need for additional access channels for businesses to stay competitive and to develop Net Promoters.  As more members of the Millennial and Generation X demographics become customers, business stakeholders realize a need to adapt to their generational inclination with increasingly automated interactions.  For example, as smartphones grow past a 50 percent adoption rate and smartphone developers approach two million apps, customers want to use their phones to interact with the companies they want to do business with.  That drives a need not only to have a hot app, but also to have an in-channel mechanism to facilitate the majority of users who experience difficulty (see my prior blog on smartphone support for the contact center here). Cloud-based contact centers allow an easy way to field test features like smartphone integration with the contact center to validate expectations for customer behavior for calculating the formal business case before the full production rollout (a best practice to mitigate brand risk).

3. Enable new contact functions

It is also important to keep up with competitors who have already cracked that code and now offer similar functions to their customers.  That means implementing the technology quickly, which could save more of the market share at risk. Since CCaaS doesn’t require procuring components or installing hardware, the time to implement can be reduced.  A word of warning: This assumes the provider has sufficient experience in contact center deployments to support an accelerated timeline.

4. Flexible capability

A barrier to deploying updated contact center technology has often been the need in the past to design and purchase to handle peak volumes in contacts and staff.  Many leading CCaaS providers offer burstability, a resource of additional licenses on an as needed basis.  This can save considerably for seasonal changes and spikes in business, or for companies that have temporary customer contact needs from a merger or acquisition, for example.

5. Improved functionality

Contact center providers have done well to increase the functionality of cloud-based technology in general and contact centers specifically, reducing or even closing the feature gaps that historically inhibit CCaaS consideration.  However, not all cloud offerings are created equally, so use experienced contact center resources for a careful match of your needs to the current and committed capabilities of the provider.  Often, CCaaS is priced by feature catalog, so be sure that your necessary functions are supported without paying for more than is needed.

Contact centers are key in influencing the customer experience. When it comes to cloud-based contact centers, they have as many interdependencies that produce risks as premise dedicated systems, such as customer data security, functionality match to needs, and user corporate culture.  Therefore, best practice to mitigate risk by selecting a partner with a long-term investment in contact center technology and with significant contact center experience. This will help you plan carefully before executing any contact center transformation.

People have migrated from cars to airplanes for long distance trips, trusting experts for efficiency and competency for the responsibility of the planning, driving, maintenance, traffic control and baggage handling.  We’re seeing the same migration of contact center owners becoming more comfortable with transferring that responsibility to companies where contact center delivery is a core competency, and not an ancillary chore.

Have you had a contact center initiative that did not receive the capital funding needed?  Have you considered a cloud service for your business in your contact center or elsewhere? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below and follow me on Twitter (@lambrobert).
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Robert Lamb Consulting Solutions Contact Center Services Director AT&T About Robert