Despite the benefits, shifting customer service operations to a cloud-based model requires careful planning to ensure the move provides the agility needed to meet the customer service expectations of current and future customers. There are seven key points you should consider before you start your transition process.
1. Does the contact center software support multichannel communications?
There is no sense in moving your contact center to the cloud if the software you are considering will not help you engage with your hyper-connected customers using the communications channels they prefer. Today, that means contact centers should support multichannel communications—not only voice, but chat, social media, email, and SMS. You may only need some of these channels today, but you will want to add new channels as your business grows.
2. Will you have access to the data that your agents need to deliver great customer service?
Consult your IT department to make sure they’re willing and ready to open the necessary channels of communication between your cloud vendor’s software and your internal customer data.
You’ll need this data (for example, customer information from a CRM) to flow well between systems to support self-service applications, as well as the ability of your agents to address key concerns and escalate conversations to the right person when needed.
3. Does the software support your embedded workflows?
An effective cloud-based contact center should support any embedded workflows you have in place. For example, if you use good old-fashioned screen pops that pull up customer data from your database with your current system, you’ll want to ensure that functionality is still available in the new system you’re considering.
You’ll want to work with your IT department and your vendor to ensure the integration between the cloud services and your customer database will work so that you don’t lose functionality when you switch.
4. Will your cloud contact center simplify your management process?
You should choose software that makes it easy to escalate customer engagements from self-service channels to live assistance seamlessly, regardless of channel.
You’ll also want the ability to pull up management dashboards across your entire contact center so managers can drill in for quality assurance requirements, and listen in, coach, score, and provide real-time training to agents to ensure they are constantly delivering better customer service.
5. How will you manage application version control?
If you’re considering a public hosted cloud model, you will probably lose the ability to manage version control of your workflow applications. So, if you have a policy in place to always be one minor release behind or not adopt an application until the second service pack, you’re not going to have that ability with a pure software as a service (SaaS) cloud offering.
However, if you prefer to have the most up-to-date functionality without having to manage or pay for upgrades, a hosted cloud contact center is great match for you.
6. Do you need a cloud contact center that supports employee communications?
Some vendors only offer cloud contact center software by itself as a standalone service—not designed to integrate with other systems. Others give you the option of adding a larger suite of business communications to your contact center software, and some will bundle the two together. And depending on the vendor, some may allow you to mix and match premises-based options with cloud-based functions.
Choose the option that supports the communications functionality you need today and allows you to migrate to more functionality tomorrow. This will allow you to grow at your own pace and integrate additional communications features when you need them.
7. Does the cloud solution offer disaster recovery?
Most businesses are not able to invest in full disaster recovery infrastructures. But most cloud software offerings are deployed in disaster recovery architectures, providing a huge advantage in case of emergency situations.
The best cloud contact center systems offer highly available, geo-redundant, survivable service that eliminates the need for additional investment to protect the connection between your business and your customers. Choose a vendor that offers the disaster recovery options that fit your needs.
How do your options stack up?
Communication channels between a business and its customers have to evolve from the basic toll-free connection to a single, uniform experience that allows customers to choose how they connect, interact, and ultimately buy using any channel, anytime anywhere.
There are benefits and risks to both premises-based and cloud-based models, so it’s important to carefully evaluate what makes the most sense for your business needs—both today and in the future.
Are you content with your current on-premises infrastructure? Do you have skilled resources on-site to manage your servers and implement digital communications channels? If you’re happy with your setup, it may makes sense to expand the on-premises system your employees are familiar with.
If you no longer wish to maintain infrastructure on-site or worry about hardware obsolescence, cloud-based contact centers eliminate the need for on-premises servers and, in addition to lowering costs, shift the burden for keeping pace with changing technologies to your service provider.
Likewise, cloud-based contact centers provide a level of agility at the workforce level. With all key functions, features, applications, and services hosted in the cloud, employees can be recruited from anywhere and the workforce can be scaled up or down easily as needed.
Plus, with a cloud contact center, it’s easier to deploy and maintain all the elements needed to deliver customer service – employee training, the introduction of new processes and practices, and the integration of new tools and policies – because they are all managed through one central digital framework.
Consider the pros and cons of both on-premises and cloud-based models to determine which offers the best fit for your organization and can deliver the optimal customer experience for today’s mobile consumer.