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Contact center road to change is littered with cloud opportunities

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Contact centers are embracing the cloud to speed up operations and meet evolving client needs.

Cloud computing solutions are having a major impact on multiple aspects of the enterprise, as using hosted technologies can transform old phone systems and storage environments into new, innovative tools that have the ability to introduce numerous benefits to employees and customers alike. In recent years, the use of the cloud has quickly picked up momentum. This is largely because decision-makers are looking for more cost-effective alternatives to augment conventional operations without introducing significant security or performance complexities.

The communications landscape as a whole is feeling the impact of the cloud. Rather than using conventional business phone systems, for example, numerous enterprises have either dipped their toes into the hosted telecommunications industry or are already well-versed in using these solutions for day-to-day tasks.

Additionally, the cloud is having an impact outside of the enterprise. Consumers, who have access to an abundance of mobile devices, are able to use cloud solutions for collaborating with corporate representatives through multiple applications from virtually anywhere at any time. As a result, the contact center industry is subject to monumental ongoing transformations.

The imminent cloud contact center

A recent Call Centre Helper report highlighted how the cloud has traditionally been considered a consumer technology, allowing individuals to access applications, email and other tools remotely. Contact centers have recently begun implementing the cloud to speed up operations, reduce downtime and improve the overall efficiency of the workplace.

"In traditional call centers, human beings went to the technology, now with the help of cloud computing, the technology goes to the people," contact center expert Jonathan Grant said, according to Call Centre Helper.

Enterprises leveraging cloud technologies in the contact center have access to a number of innovative applications that are not necessarily available through traditional telecommunication channels. Using a hosted PBX solution, for example, enables companies of all sizes to leverage video conferencing, instant messaging and other advanced tools that traditionally required additional hardware. Because the cloud provides individuals the opportunity to use these solutions over the Internet, customer service representatives can utilize innovative phone system features to keep prospective clients engaged and satisfied.

"Everybody wants that accessibility via the Internet and the resilience that it also affords," contact center expert Amanda Fennell said, according to Call Centre Clinic.

Yet not all cloud migrations result in success, which should encourage decision-makers to plan adoption strategies in advance to reduce the chances of encountering unnecessary obstacles that may impair their contact center's use of the cloud.

Deploying the cloud correctly

Although making the fastest transition to the cloud will likely result in the greatest return on investment, decision-makers should be sure their projects are associated with well-known and trusted cloud providers that understand the ins and outs of the contact center industry, Call Centre Clinic noted.

Additionally, enterprise executives should consider using cloud solutions to adopt a multi-channel strategy. This means leveraging cost-effective tools, such as email, web chat and video conferencing, all within a single contact center. This is important because it allows consumers to use the applications they desire when interacting with corporate representatives.

A separate study of roughly 2,000 consumers by NICE highlighted the importance of developing a multi-channel communications initiative, as roughly 86 percent of respondents said they are collaborating with enterprises at the same or a greater level than in the past but are using multiple tools to do so. More than 40 percent of people also said they are using self-service channels more frequently, largely due to the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and other mobile gadgets that now support complex interactions.

"The empowered customer who uses more channels, more often, is in effect creating a big data challenge and opportunity for businesses. To maximize the value of these interactions, organizations need to own the decisive moment by shaping the interaction as it happens. Service organizations that can impact that moment consistently across countless interactions and continuously throughout the lifetime of customer relationships will not only survive the rising tide of customer interactions - they'll thrive," said Benny Einhorn, chief marketing officer at NICE.

The bottom line is that the cloud is changing how employees communicate with one another and customers, which is transforming the enterprise as a whole. Rather than being forced to come to the office every day, companies can now use the cloud to support a remote workforce that still connects to the network and is able to operate as a functional contact center.

As cloud technologies continue to mature in the coming years, decision-makers will be increasingly encouraged to implement the hosted solutions in an effort to keep pace and remain competitive. However, enterprise executives should also look beyond these traits to understand how using the cloud will give them the ability to meet evolving customer needs without compromising the ability to reach long-term corporate objectives.