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Five mistakes to avoid when taking your contact centre to the cloud

(Image credit: Image Credit: TZIDO SUN / Shutterstock)

If there is a business area that is deeply affected by digital transformation, it is customer service, which is rapidly becoming re-branded as customer experience (CX). According to a Walker study, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020. Those organisations that are able to deliver a seamless, effortless experience will improve customer loyalty and see their sales soar. This objective is often a challenge for legacy technology infrastructures and many are turning to cloud contact centre platforms. However, change on this scale brings risk, and there are some key mistakes that you should try and avoid if possible.

Fast evolving customer behaviour presents a challenge to most organisations as they work towards business transformation. It is not a secret that poor customer experience leads to lost revenue. New ways of interacting and socialising, such as on social media platforms, have transformed the way people communicate with each other. What was once exclusive personal communication has now spilled into customer-to-brand communication. 

In fact, 88 per cent of customer experience professionals believe that, within a few years, digital contacts will overtake voice as the consumers’ preferred communications channel with brands. The challenge is that businesses are not catching up fast enough. Only 45 per cent of customer experience professionals say agents can see all previous customer contacts across all channels in a single desktop. 

In the same way that social media and ‘on-the-go’ technology such as smartphones have changed consumer behaviours and expectations, cloud technology has transformed entire industries by effectively removing the need for on-site systems. Contact centres are no exception. The State of Customer Experience 2017 (opens in new tab), a recent study by West’s Unified Communications Services revealed that dissatisfaction with legacy systems is a key driver for migrating to the cloud. The need to un-silo channels and improve information flows are also important if businesses are to meet new customer demands. 

By migrating a contact centre to the cloud, firms can bring together a whole host of new contact channels, empower agents with the information they need to resolve customer enquiries effortlessly, and ensure customers get the experience they demand and deserve. However, many organisations are still not utilising the technology to its full potential. 

When it comes to something as mission critical as your customers’ experience, a ‘one size fits all’ approach can lead to disappointment and even disaster. There are certain mistakes that can hinder cloud-migration and deployment projects, and these could be avoided. In the same way that every business is different and has its own goals and needs to meet, not all cloud systems are the same, and not all cloud providers offer the same service. In this article, we will reveal how to avoid common mistakes when deploying and using cloud contact centre technology. 

1.       Understand your customers’ communications preferences 

Digital interactions are going to replace the majority of voice communication in the contact centre. It is just a question of when, rather than if. Make sure you know how your customers would prefer to interact with you. Web self-service is something most consumers welcome for simple enquiries and straightforward transactions. Similarly, SMS messages can be a useful way of keeping your customers informed, and saving your contact centre agents for more complex enquiries.  

Communication preferences are not always demographic and not necessarily predictable. In fact, most customers no longer fit neatly into traditional age or gender demographic groups. It is key that customer profiling becomes intuitive and dynamic in order to be able to understand your customer’s preferences and anticipate customer’s future needs. Making every customer feel they are valued as an individual, and that the attention they get from brands is personalised, is the differentiator between retaining or losing customers. To achieve this, it is vital to have the right technology infrastructure in place for delivering seamless customer experiences across multiple channels.

2.       Assess the technology platform prior to purchase  

The financial benefits of cloud technology are one of the primary drivers for companies to engage with a cloud contact centre provider. While it may seem that all vendors offer similar services, the reality is very different. To realise the full benefits of the cloud, you should be buying into a future-proof platform that is designed for multi-channel contact and integrates easily with your other systems including your CRM system. 

Before investing in a solution, it is important to do your research – find out what your business requirements are and investigate whether the providers you are evaluating are able to meet all those needs. And of course, always ensure that the company that will be providing you with essential technology has a good track record. 

The cloud provider must be willing to engage with your organisation and demonstrably have confidence in what they are delivering, ideally with a proof of concept. Sometimes this isn’t possible, in this case it is worth spending time ensuring the vendor fully understands your business needs before starting the implementation process. It is recommended that the provider has a blueprint of every single element, and that it is shared with all teams involved to ensure that everyone is on the same page. 

3.       Make sure you fully engage with all stakeholders

Moving from on-premises to the cloud is not a simple case of ‘switching on’ the new platform. For successful deployment, it is necessary to evaluate what business processes are associated with customer interaction and experience, including digital channels. From the vendor’s perspective, it’s about engaging with as many business departments and stakeholders as possible, and using this information to adapt the solution so it can meet the business requirements. 

Ideally, the contact centre will become the strategic hub for all customer contact, so it is likely that your sales and marketing department will want to be involved with the deployment. And whether you’re offering health services, financial services or a retail operation it is likely that specific departments will need to contact customers at some point in the customer lifecycle.  

All stakeholder groups should be involved from the starting point, including the evaluation phase. It is absolutely necessary that each department has a chance to share what their specific requirements are to ensure that all business needs and goals are met by the new solution.

Failing to engage users and supervisors from the outset can lead to problems further down the line. One of the most common mistakes we have come across is leaving some, if not most, Contact Centre user groups out of the earlier stages of the process ,which can result in the supplier having to re-engage, re-educate and re-train each stakeholder group separately, which can severely delay the implementation process.

4.       Be clear about the difference between opex and capex business models

Cloud technology has also made it possible for businesses to move away from the traditional capex models into a more cost-effective opex one. By taking the systems to the cloud, contact centre equipment purchases – including major hardware purchases, which are not tax deductible -- are no longer needed. The opex model allows companies to pay for the technology via operational expenses, which can be a very attractive model for many organisations. However, it is still important to make sure that all the functionalities you need are included within your cloud contact centre, and that you are completely comfortable with the terms of your service contract.

5.       Make sure your cloud platform is future-proof

The role of the contact centre has changed dramatically in the past decade, and it will continue to do so at an even more accelerated pace. In order to keep up with customer demands and industry requirements, it is essential that every business takes time to think about what future-proofing their contact centre really looks like. Will you have to pay for new features and functionality, or is it included within your contract? How much does your provider invest in R&D? Is their technology architecture set up for easy integration with your current and future systems? By keeping these questions in mind, and going through a tick-box process before selecting your vendor, you’ll ensure your contact centre is in the best position to respond to changing customer behaviours – both now and in the future.

Enda Kenneally, VP of Sales and Business Development, West (opens in new tab)
Image Credit: TZIDO SUN / Shutterstock

Enda Kenneally is the VP of Sales and Business Development at West, previously Magnetic North. Before joining Magnetic North (now West), Enda worked at Avaya, Excell Managed Services and Mitel Networks.