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Cloud Contact Centers Must Be Multi-Channel

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There is little doubt that the cloud is a disruptive technology. From basic storage to app distribution, the cloud has managed to find a home in just about every facet of modern computing. This is so much the case that, by many accounts, the phrase "cloud computing" is expected to be shortened to just "computing" as more people begin to apply it in the way that they historically used hard drives.

According to DMG Consulting, this has had strong implications for how customer service departments are viewed and managed. While cloud technology has, in some way or another, been around for almost two decades, those organizations operating contact centers have discovered how it can be specifically leveraged at the help desk.

"Contact center and IT leaders have been searching for better and more cost-effective ways to help customers while maintaining an efficient and productive workforce," DMG wrote on its website. "The answer for many lies in the cloud. While it took contact centers close to 15 years to get comfortable with cloud-based solutions, many have been won over by the flexibility and benefits they are realizing, and the freedom from having to implement and maintain hardware and platforms." 

As the number of commonly-used communications channels continues to grow and evolve, the only way that contact centers will be able to retain agility is to seek out cloud-based solutions. While there is still quite a long way to go before a majority of contact centers are ready to go full-cloud, those who begin the transition now will have a much easier time farther down the line.

Constantly-Changing Telecom Landscape Requires The Cloud

Now that more customers than ever are using smartphones, the way in which they expect to interact with companies is changing. According to Business 2 Community contributor Michael Kropidlowski, there is no logic behind putting all bets on one platform.

"That seems like an obvious premise to make in 2014, but on many occasions, we still find ourselves faced with situations in which single-channel communicators aren't able to effectively engage with their customers because they aren't using the customers' channel of choice," he wrote. "For example, consider a situation in which a home improvement retailer must communicate a product recall for a lamp they sell due to a fire hazard. In order to effectively reach every person who bought their lamp, the retailer should use multiple channels to reach its customers such as automated voice messages, email and SMS text."

It should be noted, however, that this works both ways. Customers not only need to feel like their businesses are making every effort to reach them, but like they can seek assistance across any medium that they might prefer at the moment. 

More Companies Realizing Power Of Cloud

As the technology becomes more commonplace for personal use, managers are more likely to see how the cloud is beneficial to the contact center. By many accounts, they already are. According to DMG's 2013-2014 Cloud-Based Contact Center Infrastructure Market Report, more than 62 percent of companies were using at least some form of cloud in their customer service divisions by September 2013. Within two years, all contact centers are expected to fit this bill, with the market value of these services growing between 20 and 30 percent throughout the next few years.

Businesses that have yet to leverage the power of the cloud alongside modern call center software are at risk of falling behind. These are the kind of considerations that need to be made now in order to prevent complicated transitions down the road. This is not about building a system from scratch - it is more an issue of beginning the preliminary stages for a careful transition from legacy circuits.

Preparation, Even With Hosted Services, Is Key

The organizations that have already gotten the ball rolling stand a far better chance of succeeding with these initiatives within the next decade. Because these integrations do not happen successfully overnight, planning must be extensive. The overall effectiveness of the contact center relies on how specific the organizational stages can be.

"The imperative for successful multichannel communication is to create a completely integrated contact center in which agents can access an entire customer case history on one screen – one that includes information gathered from all channels of communication," wrote Business 2 Community contributor Judy Philbin. "To create the best possible customer experience, this process must be seamless."