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Agility, Flexibility Of The Cloud Essential To Contact Centers

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The demands that a business might face down the road are not always clear-cut when they first set out. Times change, and so do the people who make up any given company's consumer base. As has been abundantly clear over the last few years, anything from styles and trends to entire communications structures may need to be readdressed at any given moment. This is especially true for departments like the contact center, who deal the most frequently with enterprise customers.

Sometimes a spike in holiday season activity will require extra help desk representatives to be hired on temporarily, leaving their extensions unused while continuing to be paid for. Other organizations could need to set up an entire call center on a moment's notice. The requirement for instant gratification increases with each new smartphone or tablet user that comes into existence, and reaction times are going to have to be split-second in order for a company to retain relevancy. 

But where people were once encumbered by copper landline connections, employees are being enabled by cloud based phone systems. The instantly-available nature of this technology makes it easier than ever to roll out and maintain contact centers in an efficient, cost-effective way.

"Today, the cloud has turned the call center on its ear," wrote TMCnet contributor Tracey Schelmetic. "Contact centers that formerly took months or years to get up and running can now be put into play in a matter of hours, with agents located literally anywhere: in a brick-and-mortar facility, in an outsourcer's office or even from home. Agents simply need a high-speed Internet connection and a headset, and they can be logged in and taking calls and other contacts as if they were present in the physical call center."

Cloud technology has completely redefined what it means to work in a contact center. Thanks to universal access and the advanced telecom equipment already possessed by a vast majority of the workforce, productivity is no longer confined to the workplace. As a greater balance between office and home life is increasingly required from employers and clients demand connectivity through a growing number of channels, it will be paramount for companies to either enhance existing infrastructures or completely replace them with cloud VoIP.

Cloud Versatility A Selling Point For Contact Centers

It used to be that the most valuable aspect of any enterprise was its endpoints. Computers and phones were what needed to be protected because they were considered as the portals to information and connectivity. But as these tools became more commonplace and their abilities increased, it suddenly was not enough to just have top-of-the-line functionality, but systems needed to be accessible from any number of devices. The cloud, being a natural extension of this desire, has gone from buzzword to the very definition of computing itself.

This is why business VoIP service has gained so much popularity. Regulating phone networks to data lines has allowed them to be easily leveraged and manipulated. Instead of costly installations required of new hardware to enable extra voice features like call forwarding, a few keystrokes are all that's needed when attempting to do the same though a hosted VoIP connection.

It is these additional assets - and the ease with which they are integrated - that led DMG consulting to refer to the cloud as a "game-changer" for contact centers around the world. According to its study "2013-2014 Cloud-Based Contact Center Infrastructure Market Report," the major increase in cloud phone system adoptions is the result of growing interest in "multi-channel capabilities, social media, improving user interfaces, out-of-the-box integrations to third-party applications, reporting and mobile support."

As long as the correct provisions and considerations are made before the transition, there is little standing in the way of having a next-generation contact center installed within any organizational structure - however non-traditional it may be.

Contact Center Definition Changing With Cloud Technology

In their personal lives, employees are more frequently discovering and leveraging new ways to communicate, inadvertently teaching themselves how to perform basic IT operations. It does not take a computer science degree to handle many of the situations that modern mobile-minded users often find themselves in, making them more qualified than ever to operate advanced telecom software and equipment. Like computing in general, the cloud is changing the very definition of the contact center. 

According to Schelmetic, the contact center is "no longer bound" to the barriers formed by distance.

"If a company's primary contact center is unusable due to weather events or power outages, it can literally 'move' the entire contact center to another facility or agents' homes within a matter of hours," she wrote. "Companies are no longer limited to geographic location when hiring new contact center agents. And organizations looking to save extra money can dispense with the physical facility altogether and use an array of workers based from their homes or from satellite offices."