Contact Center in the Cloud: Four Reasons Companies Should Invest in Cloud Technology

Cloud technology is not a newcomer to the technology landscape. Findings from Aberdeen's November 2015 study Happy Customers, Stronger Financials: Why Investing in a Cloud Contact Center Makes Sense show that 4 out of 10 contact centers today use a cloud-based delivery model for their customer care applications (e.g. workforce optimization, routing, and interaction management). However, of the contact centers currently using an on-premises model, 29 percent are assessing a potential move to a cloud-based infrastructure during 2016. The adoption rate of cloud contact centers would increase to 57 percent if all of these companies were to implement this plan.

In this post we'll take a closer a look at the top four reasons driving cloud technology investments of contact centers: 

Briefly, cloud-based technology solutions enable companies to contract with a third-party provider to deploy and manage part or all of their contact center infrastructure. This requires no investment in the hardware or software needed to manage contact center activities. Rather, the company pays licensing fees to the third party based on numerous factors, such as the number of licenses and the number of applications used. This adds flexibility to the business as the company reduces its fixed costs in favor of variable costs.

The on-premises deployment model is the alternative to cloud technology. This model requires the company to invest in hardware and software to host and manage customer care applications within its own facilities. This results in the company incurring more fixed costs.

The top objective driving contact centers to invest in cloud technology is the pursuit of self-reliance in managing customer care activities—specifically, minimizing and avoiding reliance on IT to make essential changes as buyer needs evolve. This is vital, as customer needs change rapidly, and not being able to adapt could mean losing existing and potential clientele. The benefit of a cloud-based contact center infrastructure is that a third-party provider manages customer care applications, and the company needs minimal to no involvement from the internal IT team to make changes in how those applications are managed.

Addressing customer needs is important, but that must be balanced with organizational resources. In other words, as companies look for ways to improve their customer experience programs, they must also look for ways to reduce (or maintain) service costs. One way to reduce service costs is decreasing IT labor costs by using a public cloud infrastructure. Yet another way is minimizing overstaffing and understaffing by being able to scale up and down based on customer traffic.

Scalability affects customer wait times for available agents. The longer the wait, the bigger the risk of losing a client. Cloud technology enables contact centers to add additional licenses during periods of increased customer traffic and reduce the number of licenses when agent demand decreases. To this point, findings from Aberdeen’s related research show that leading users of cloud technology in the contact center enjoy 4.3 percent annual improvement in agent utilization rates while growing customer satisfaction by 12.6 percent year-over-year.

While improving customer experience results is a necessity for successful modern contact centers, so is enhancing agent productivity. Aberdeen’s study Streamlining the Agent Experience Reduces Unnecessary Costs sheds light into the connection between agent productivity and customer experience outcomes. Specifically, this study shows that the top factor influencing agent satisfaction and engagement is access to relevant technology tools for serving customers. As shown in the chart, addressing this need is among the top objectives driving investment in cloud technology. The reason: With cloud deployments, companies don’t need to invest up-front capital to add new technologies to their toolbox. Rather, they can work with their cloud service providers to add only the applications that are necessary and relevant for agents to do their jobs. 

Omer Minkara is research director for contact center and customer experience management at Aberdeen Group.

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West, a provider of cloud-based communication applications and services, has enhanced its Cloud Contact Center with the addition of multichannel capabilities, including support for email, web chat, and text messaging; network-based queuing; and inbound and outbound call blending.

Posted September 16, 2016