Cloud technology has quietly become ubiquitous in the business world. During the past decade, the cloud has delivered a number of benefits to companies around the world – from reduced storage costs to streamlined processes, the technology is helping revolutionize how business is done on a global scale.
Recently, the technology has made a significant impact in contact centers, where many call center managers say facilities that don’t have cloud technology are at risk of being left in the Stone Age. As of June 2014, 70 percent of premise-based contact center managers said they plan to move their operations to the cloud.
When compared to on-premise technology, the cloud delivers dramatic improvements over a traditional hardware-based infrastructure.
1. Reduced Capital Costs
Chief among the reasons to make the switch from premise-based to cloud contact center technology is reduced capital costs. Premise-based contact centers require significant up-front investments in hardware and installation. Not to mention, that equipment needs to be replaced, on average, every five years, resulting in another round of equipment costs and installation fees.
The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud delivery model eliminates the need to buy and maintain expensive hardware by moving all of the features and services from the premise to the network. This shift in strategy enables a more flexible pay-as-you-go pricing structure instead of purchasing data or hardware in bulk.
2. Flexibility & Scalability
Being able to adapt quickly to market adjustments is a key factor in a contact center’s success and ability to stay competitive. Network-hosted services enable operations to quickly and easily scale up or down – whether that’s adding agents or reducing data – to accommodate workload fluctuations for both outbound and inbound contact centers.
Additionally, the SaaS model gives managers access to a control portal that enables them to perform once challenging tasks easily and on-the-fly, such as:
- Changing interactive voice response (IVR) systems;
- Altering call trees;
- Configuring routing strategies and auto call distributors (ACDs); and
- Accommodating remote agents.
3. Improved Management Control & Agent KPIs
Call monitoring is a vital function for contact centers, primarily to track performance metrics and analytics. Cloud-based technology provides real-time access to this data and agent Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which is unfeasible for premise-based centers. Without this real-time data, it becomes very difficult to control which agents field which calls, leading to low first call resolution and low customer satisfaction rates.
The SaaS delivery model helps managers more effectively optimize the skills and abilities of agents through tools like:
- Skill-based routing;
- Increased visibility into client-customer interaction;
- Call monitoring;
- Operational analytics to identify bottlenecks and improve efficiency; and
- Easier management of call spikes.
4. Streamlined IT
As with most service-based businesses, uptime is critical to contact centers’ success. Downtime costs not only agent productivity, it results in significant revenue losses, which is estimated to be around $26.5 billion a year for premise-based centers, per CA Technologies.
With cloud-based technology, contact centers can maintain nearly 100 percent uptime, due in part to the fact that IT professionals can access servers and contact center systems remotely, allowing them to run system diagnostics, provide off-site maintenance and even automatically deploy system-wide software updates without the risk of costly downtime.
5. Redundancy & Availability
In the same vein as streamlined IT, the SaaS model utilizes off-site data storage, giving contact centers unlimited bandwidth capacity, unlike the “pay-for-additional-capacity” model for premise-based operations. This enables cloud-based contact centers to diversify their call paths among several different carriers, automatically building in redundancy and significantly lowering the risk of downed systems.
In the event that a contact center loses connection, subpar call paths can be immediately rerouted within minutes. And with on-demand hardware and software redundancy, if any independent module goes offline for any reason, automatic load balancing ensures seamless continuity for call center services.
Protecting customer data and maintaining compliance with industry regulations is vital for today’s contact centers. Failure to follow CFPB, TCPA, HIPAA and other regulations can result in steep penalties. With cloud-based solutions, agents readily have access to intelligent on-screen prompts that offer friendly reminders about TCPA regulatory musts and best practices.
Cloud technology offers opportunities for contact centers to increase revenue, connect with customers and better the customer experience, improve agent KPIs, and give contact center management access to improved scalability, flexibility, and control. As contact centers look to the future, they should be looking up, into the cloud.
Terrel Bird is co-founder and CEO of TCN, Inc.
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