Once the decision is made to move to an integrated digital framework, businesses can choose to invest in additional on-premises infrastructure or shift to cloud-based solutions.
For some businesses, it may make sense to continue to improve existing in-premises infrastructures. Typically, this is the right approach for businesses that are happy with the features and functionality of the voice communications system they have in place and the way it supports customer service and contact center activities.
These organizations are getting a high return on their investment, the recording capabilities the system offers are meeting expectations, and the agent dashboards and managerial controls are still contributing to the efficiency and effectiveness of the customer service process. Most importantly, employees are comfortable with the system and they find it easy to use.
Expanding on this existing infrastructure means adding digital capabilities to support today’s mobile consumer and scaling the system to support these new channels.
Adding digital channels to an existing on-premises communications system will enhance existing service options and address the fact that most modern consumers really don’t want to interact via voice.
A report from Forrester revealed that use of web self-service options increased to 76% in 2014, while 58% of consumers opted for online chat options, 38% used SMS messaging, and 37% opted for Twitter interactions. Generally, consumers use these self-service options for routine transactions, to check product availability or account status, make financial transfers, or place an order online.
Cloud-based service options can’t be delivered if data stores are protected behind a firewall and are not, or cannot, be connected to self-service portals.
But, this level of service can’t be delivered with cloud-based solutions if data stores are protected behind a firewall and are not, or cannot, be connected to self-service portals. Therefore, premises-based options are also the right approach for businesses that are ready to shift to digital customer engagement, but are working with customer data that must be protected behind a secure firewall.
These businesses operate in heavily regulated or intensely scrutinized industries, such as the financial or healthcare industries. They are limited, and in some cases restricted, in how they manage, store, and protect customer data. And, they have established data security as a core competency built on premises-based solutions.
Shifting to a cloud-based contact center
For other businesses, cloud-based contact centers are the ideal solution because they eliminate what some consider a crucial burden; cloud-based contact centers provide the ability to create and maintain a digital engagement model, while reducing on-site IT costs and complexity.
Typically, cloud-based contact centers are ideal for businesses with the following requirements:
- Fast deployment
- Replacement for an end-of-life infrastructure with minimal burden on IT resources
- An agile system that can respond to rapid growth, mergers and acquisitions, and new locations
- Remote working capabilities to secure talent from outside the local area and/or reduce operating costs with home workers
- Ability to provide a redundant, mission-critical customer engagement option without the associated capital expenditure
- Ability to achieve data compliance on a cost-effective, predictable, and measurable basis, consistent across all communication channels
- Ability to embrace change with a flexible and future-proof customer engagement platform that is ready to address the evolution of customer preferences
Ultimately, the main benefits of a cloud model come down to flexibility and convenience.
From a technology perspective, cloud-based contact centers provide the ultimate level of flexibility. Since many cloud solutions are offered on a subscription-based model with pre-determined service level agreements (SLAs), they eliminate the need for on-premises servers and applications. New functions, features, and channels can be added easily and more cost-effectively by the service provider when needed. And, the risk of running out of storage space on a server or reaching the limits of software capabilities is eliminated.
The agility of cloud contact center solutions is a significant benefit for growing businesses that foresee the need to incorporate new locations and offices, such as businesses involved in frequent mergers and acquisitions. Without worrying about integrating legacy systems, businesses can quickly extend capabilities to new locations and ensure a consistent customer experience across all touchpoints.
Enhancing your workforce
Another benefit that cloud-based contact centers provide is at the workforce level. Because the key functions, features, applications, and services are hosted in the cloud, employees can be recruited from anywhere, rather than a specific geographical location based on office space. As a result, businesses can hire employees with the best skills and aptitudes wherever they are, enable them to work remotely, and still deliver the required level of customer service.
It also makes it easier to scale the workforce up or down to meet seasonal customer service demand. Most importantly, because all tools and supporting collateral are centralized and can be easily accessed, a cloud-based contact center simplifies training, the introduction of new processes and practices, and the integration of new tools and policies that will be used by customer service teams, sales teams, and all other customer-facing employees.