What To Ask When Considering a Cloud-Based Contact Center
As customer service organizations continue to work with tighter budgets, the idea of moving to a cloud-based contact center is garnering greater interest. Cloud-based contact centers offer the promise of flexibility, scalability and speed of deployment while lowering the costs associated with managing a traditional contact center. But, before jumping onto the cloud-based contact center bandwagon, customer service organizations need to ask five key questions to fully understand the cloud-based contact center environment.
What developments have changed the landscape for the cloud-based contact center market?
The focus on customer experience is coming of age as customer-centric strategies that were envisioned more than a decade ago begin to finally take form, with technology as a strong enabler.
In addition, customers are dictating new terms of modern commerce and service empowered by technology, transparency and a wealth of information. They want their voices to be heard. They engage across multiple channels and media, and expect their needs to be anticipated, which is driving organizations to offer more channels for customer engagement. Through technology, customers feel empowered to demand exactly what they want. And when their needs are not met, they will not hesitate to patronize a competitor or broadcast their displeasure by leveraging social media channels to everyone they know and even some they don’t. Social media platforms have spun a new form of social customer service that can bring an organization’s front-line staff into the public forum.
Which types of organizations are adopting cloud-based contact centers and why?
Existing contracts often lock organizations into stale technology solutions, thus proving to be a barrier to adopting newer platforms, not necessarily just cloud. Investments in existing technologies need to be protected, and any adoption of cloud platforms more often than not requires some form of integration and considerable thought given to security. This introduces an element of latency in adopting newer technologies, including cloud-based platforms, thus affecting their ability to derive benefits.
Organizations at the end of the life cycle of existing solutions have a strong preference to adopt cloud platforms. A growing number of small businesses, especially in the online retail sector, now find it easier to adopt cloud-based platforms with a rich feature set due to lower cost of ownership and the flexibility to scale up during peak periods. The adoption rate will definitely rise overall, but organizations with a greater ability to overcome barriers to adoption will lead the way. The public sector operates under a significantly different set of parameters, where data sensitivity, compliance and security trump the adoption of cloud-based platforms unless vendors can prove 100-percent compliance. Validation of these parameters affects the rate of adopting cloud-based platforms.
Can you make a strong case to C-level executives?
Contact center managers are the ones who are best poised to make a case for any solution that can improve operational efficiency in their contact center and improve customer experience. While there are often additional difficulties for midsize to large organizations to make a shift to the cloud, they are increasingly analyzing cloud options. Dependency on existing technologies, back-office systems and existing contractual obligations prove to be deterrents in adopting newer technologies. The same applies to their ability to validate the business case for adopting cloud-based solutions. Contact center managers are urged to review these dependencies and engage proactively with IT and back-office management as operational efficiencies in the contact center may not necessarily improve overall organizational cost to implement.
What functionalities are driving demand?
It should be noted that the initial driver for cloud-based contact centers was not necessarily the ability to deliver feature-rich applications, but rather to reduce the cost of ownership to organizations to manage and maintain technology. Cloud-based platforms primarily allow organizations to focus on their core business. From IT outsourcing to a steady evolution into the cloud, it seems to be a steady progression of ?software solutions to move all functionalities into the cloud.
What should you look for in a cloud provider?
A number of factors come into play when selecting vendors. Cost of acquiring a product or service that best fits an organization’s needs is of prime importance and must be driven by a strong business case. Core to that business case is your vision for customer service as an extension of your brand. Look for a vendor that can match your vision. The cloud has enabled a plethora of “click here to get started” vendors. Before investing time down one of those trails, be sure that where it leads completely covers where you want to be.
Also create a framework for vendor selection that highlights the vendor’s past performance and its ability to execute on a strategic vision. A comparison of a vendor’s strategic vision from five years ago to date will reveal significant information about a vendor’s sustainability and capability to bring the vision to fruition. Vendors must support their customers’ existing software investments by continuing to enhance their products with new core features, capabilities and access to world-class services and support.
Vendors must be in a position to demonstrate the value of their customers’ ongoing investments in software-as-a-service by delivering new, state-of-the-art applications that work across product lines to offer new and next-generation capabilities to enhance existing solutions. Determine vendor commitment to R&D and continued investment in new functionality and capabilities to deliver tangible business benefit and value on an ongoing basis.
Customer service organizations need to take a moment before jumping onto the cloud-based contact center bandwagon. Don’t get blinded by the shiny promise of reduced costs and speedy deployment. As with any other technology investment, organizations need to ask some key questions prior to adoption. Then, once you have sufficiently answered those questions, feel free to climb aboard the bandwagon and enjoy the ride.
KANA®, a Verint® Company, is a leading provider of on-premises and cloud-based customer service solutions. KANA helps global organizations—including many of the Fortune 500, mid-market businesses and government agencies—optimize their customer engagements with unified and contextual data across agent, web, social and mobile experiences. Using KANA solutions, organizations can reduce operational costs, increase resolution rates and improve brand loyalty. Learn more at www.kana.com.
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