With today's digitally savvy consumers routinely using smartphones and tablets to research and buy products and services, it should come as no surprise that the need to service the multi-channel customer is putting contact centres under pressure. A new industry report suggests that many contact centres are turning to the cloud to support the next stage of their evolution from call to contact centre.
Magnetic North's research, 'Ahead in the cloud: Why contact centres are moving to cloud-based solutions,' found that cloud adoption is set to explode with 71 per cent of contact centre decision makers either actively considering the move, or more open to adopting cloud technology.
So why move? Legacy equipment continues to be a problem in the contact centre industry, holding back innovation and the ability to match the expectation of today's customer. Frustrations with legacy systems are a core driving force for the cloud shift, with costs of upgrades (40 per cent), technical limitations (37 per cent), long deployment times and costly integrations (both 28 per cent) cited as issues with on-premise solutions.
On top of that, over half of all contact centre managers and directors say legacy equipment is preventing them from rolling out a multichannel infrastructure and almost 50 per cent say legacy equipment is preventing their contact centres from meeting KPIs.
The best of both worlds
As cloud adoption reaches a tipping point, managers are realising that they don't have to completely 'rip and replace' their on-premise equipment to move to the cloud. Cloud contact centre functions can be used alongside or in addition to existing infrastructure, even down to only specific areas such as call recording, or predictive dialling, so a transition to the cloud can happen gradually over time.
Our research found that while the top drivers to move are cost savings (52 per cent) and offering a multi-channel service (41 per cent) those that have moved to the cloud are realising a wide range of business benefits:
It is costly to update legacy systems to adhere to the latest regulatory requirements, so it is not surprising that 56 per cent of contact centre managers and directors agree that their legacy system is a hindrance to PCI compliance. And of course, PCI compliance is just one set of regulations that affect the contact centre. An average blended contact centre with 105 seats will have to adhere to up to 20 different regulatory requirements to ensure compliance with EU, Data Protection, the FSA and Ofcom regulations.
The nature of cloud-based solutions means contact centre managers can add and remove seats as and when they require rather than pay for upfront licences. This ability to 'pay as you go' can bring big savings for contact centres staffing up to deal with seasonal peaks in customer enquiries.
Improve your agent retention
The survey findings show that those who've already moved to the cloud are much less concerned about employee retention, with only a third saying this is a challenge compared to 60 per cent among those who haven't made the move to the cloud. By simplifying contact centre systems and empowering agents, as well as enabling them to work from home and remotely if required, the cloud is already demonstrating a positive impact on one of the industry's biggest pain points.
Reliability and disaster recovery
Our research highlighted a disparity in perception versus reality in this area. A small but significant proportion perceives reliability as an issue, when the reality is that it is core strength of using a cloud contact centre solution. In fact none of the contact centre decision makers in our survey using a cloud solution reported any issues with reliability.
Building better relationships
The traditional model of suppliers selling hardware and licenses to contact centres involved just that, with limited, or prohibitively expensive, support to help managers get the most from their technology. A massive 65 per cent of contact centre decision makers in our survey said suppliers either didn't understand their business, only saw them when the system had a problem or when the contract was up for renewal, or are 'constantly trying to get more money out of us'. With the SaaS model the relationship is on going, with service and support all part of the package, so these issues with non cloud-based providers shouldn't occur.
As early adopters realise the rewards of these benefits, the industry as a whole is beginning to take the cloud seriously. In fact, our research shows that we are at a cloud contact centre crunch point, where cloud solutions are increasingly looking like the only sensible option for contact centres seeking to service the needs of increasingly demanding customers while dealing with the daily challenges presented by legacy IT equipment, lack of properly trained staff, time and resource and the need to demonstrate constant improvements in customer satisfaction levels.
David Ford is the Managing Director of Magnetic North.