Rethinking Your Approach to the Cloud: Reaching a New Level of Efficiency Through Advanced Cloud Offerings

By Alexandra Warner, Platform28 on August 15, 2014

Today’s contact centers are certainly a dramatic departure from what we’ve seen in the past. The need to better facilitate the customer interaction, an increase in multimedia outlets, and customer and employee mobility have led to these changes. Modifications to technology and the way we communicate have forced us all to transform, adapt, and re-evaluate current operations at a rapid pace.

All organizations must be customer-focused if they hope to succeed. They must engage and retain their customers in today’s highly competitive marketplace, and seek to strengthen customer loyalty, which, in return, rewards companies with increased customer lifetime value. At the nucleus of customer engagement is the contact center. It must be thoughtfully architected and safeguarded.

In this article, we will explore the advent of the cloud in the contact center world, the business challenges the cloud is helping companies to overcome, and the obstacles many cloud vendors are still facing in their ongoing campaign to encourage organizations to move from a premise-based contact center infrastructure to a cloud contact center platform.

Enter the Cloud

A hosted contact center solution enables organizations to rapidly respond to changing business needs – such as the requirement to add a new communications channel to the platform, or quickly bring up a new contact center in a different location in order to meet the growing needs of the business. It is this level of flexibility that is a key contributing factor in supporting customer engagement; flexibility that, quite frankly, legacy premise-based systems just cannot offer. Reduced operating expense, innovation and ease of deployment and use are the main reasons for the rapid move towards a cloud-based contact center solution.

Innovations in technology, such as workforce management and business intelligence applications, have significantly improved today’s contact center operations. Demand for greater operational efficiency and system availability, coupled with the challenge of recruiting and retaining quality agents, can put a strain on IT management and budgeting. Additionally, the cost of updating or replacing existing outdated premise-based infrastructure and the need to be able to swiftly respond to changing business priorities, make scalability another attractive feature that the cloud offers.

At the same time that technology changes in the industry have intensified, positive solutions have emerged that are revolutionizing the operational efficiency of contact centers. Applications like speech recognition help to reduce compliance challenges, while the introduction of multichannel capabilities, such as SMS, email and chat, are enabling organizations to better communicate with their customers.

There are numerous considerations that are leading businesses to shift their contact centers to the cloud, including:

  • Replacement of aging, outdated, on-site infrastructure
  • A need for increased speed and agility to respond to changing business needs
  • Improved scalability requirements
  • Real-time access to data
  • Lower CapEx
  • Multichannel implementations
  • Geo-redundancy advantages
  • Reduced IT dependency

The Challenges Cloud-based Vendors Face

Limited deployment experience. Not all cloud contact center providers are created equal. Very few have significant experience in supporting large-scale deployments. The failure of some vendors to effectively implement a hosted contact center platform with tens of thousands of concurrent users has caused organizations to remain on the fence about whether to make the move to the cloud or not.

Scare tactics by traditional premise based vendors and cloud adversaries. Doubting Thomases have been known to frighten buyers who may already be a little anxious about a move to the cloud. Risk, scalability, and security concerns tend to be at the forefront of these often misleading claims. Catastrophic predictions by these factions can be confidently challenged by carefully reviewing your prospective cloud vendor’s history in these areas among their existing clients.

Third-party “stranger” mistrust. How can we truly trust a third-party vendor to meet the high availability demands of our customers? This question is fair, and must be answered by a vendor’s testimonials and reliability statistics. Look at the track history and the service level agreements of a prospective cloud vendor as it relates to availability, to educate and reassure yourself.

Misunderstanding of pricing advantages. But new technology will cost significantly more. Not so. In fact, the deployment of a cloud contact center solution costs a lot less than a premise-based operation. Not only do many vendors offer varying options, such as flexible pricing, they also offer scalable storage options that make it easy and cost-effective for businesses to extend the length of time they keep customer records. In reality, a cloud contact center that requires little to no CapEx provides substantial cost advantages over premise-based systems that demand a large upfront investment.

Inability to meet multichannel needs. More and more people are dumping their traditional landlines in favor of smart phones, PCs, and tablets. The integration of multiple channels such as voice, email, web chat, text, and social media into a contact center platform makes it easier for customers to interact with a brand on their own terms. This increase in communication channels has made the consumer more demanding, so those companies that have not yet embraced this new technology may be losing customers to organizations that make it easier to communicate with them. Studies have shown that convenience trumps brand loyalty. Everyone is busy. Time is of the essence. As such, customer inquiries and issues must be dealt with in a highly efficient manner in order to foster loyalty.

Cloud contact vendors are all the same. During the course of your research, you may, on the face of it, think that purveyors of cloud computing all seem to offer the same features. Take a closer look. Investigate how they have solved complex business challenges for their customers, such as application integration, for example. Comparisons like this will help sort the wheat from the chaff. Focus your attention on testimonials and demonstrated experience from deployments similar to the one your company may be looking at.

Complex Business Challenges the Cloud Overcomes

Anywhere, anytime access. The cloud represents the ability to virtually store data and access it from around the globe, making it easier to connect people with technology . Flexibility and collaboration with team members, colleagues, and business partners in a secure, reliable environment make this advantage hard to ignore. Anywhere, anytime access allows organizations to maximize the effectiveness of shared resources.

Rapid deployment. One of the key advantages of hosting your contact center in the cloud is that it simplifies set up and maintenance. Faster and easier deployment results in a new contact center operation being up and running in days or weeks, versus the weeks or months required for setting up on-premise operations. In addition to reduced initial and ongoing costs, it is easier to add new features or seats to your operation, enabling organizations to scale quickly and efficiently.

Open architecture equals reduced IT dependency. Many cloud deployments are built with easy integration in mind. A truly open platform will allow efficient integration with existing applications and technology infrastructure.  The seamless nature of true open architecture is especially appealing to already swamped IT departments.

Real-time monitoring. This luxury allows supervisors and managers to oversee the efficiency of processes and operations, identify problems quickly, and assess compliance issues. Additionally, you are better able to pinpoint employees who requiring coaching, as well as identify customer frustrations.

True security experience and large-scale deployment experience. Many vendors promise scalability. You must be certain that you select a vendor with a proven track record in handling the size requirements of both your current and anticipated cloud deployment needs,.  Additionally, scrutinize the potential cloud vendor’s approach to handling your secure data? How does their technology help your business meet compliance requirements?

In summary, the growing importance and influence of the cloud in today’s contact centers is inarguably a move businesses need to make if they are currently investing in premise-based contact center operations. The real value to the enterprise of reduced capital and operating expenses, scalability, and seamless integration with existing technologies for business efficiency, are too significant to ignore.  Cost reduction, innovation, and ease of use can be expected from an experienced cloud vendor. A successful cloud partner will manage your implementations with the scale, complexity, and flexibility your deployment needs. 

The advantages of the cloud today are superior, and these offerings only promise to improve in the future. Embrace this innovation to differentiate yourself in the market, and among your customers. Ultimately, the cloud enables a more productive workforce and lower total cost of operation, while ensuring an agile infrastructure and faster time-to-market. Most importantly, cloud-based solutions deliver an exceptional customer experience.

Is your organization ready to take advantage of the opportunities a cloud contact center solution offers?

Find Out More About Platform28

Platform28 offers an easily customizable Communications-as-a-Service (CaaS) solution to contact centers that need a comprehensive, highly scalable communications platform. Platform28 delivers a carrier-grade solution that includes multichannel Contact Center, PBX, IVR, Unified Messaging, and network call routing. Our customers include mid-to-large enterprises, Tier1 carriers and government agencies, with 150,000 active users and 600,000,000 interactions monthly. The platform is completely customizable using open standards and web services, enabling tight integration with virtually any application. Platform28’s flexible delivery enables customers to meet the strictest security standards using distributed database and extraction layers. The interface has been re-engineered to deliver an intuitive user experience and complete business intelligence throughout the platform.  

Contact us at 800.861.6228 or moc.82mroftalpnull@ofni for more information.