This week marks the beginning of the end of our current mini-series of live streams and blog posts. We’ve explored the need for contact centers to evolve past the process-focused mindset of omnichannel to a true channelless approach as well as towards a more connected, effortless customer experience. We’ve laid out how to make that evolution a reality, by building a successful CCaaS business case that demonstrates the ways that cloud, AI and self-service technologies can deliver ROI and empower contact centers to do more with less.

Confident in our solid grasp of both the CX and operational outcomes at the heart of any cloud-driven contact center initiative, we’re finally ready to dive into our last two-part topic: How to go about choosing the right CCaaS provider.

As with building a business case, doing your due diligence and research is paramount. This week and next, we’ll map out exactly what you need to be focusing on throughout the CCaaS solution vetting process — this week prioritizing the key areas of competency to evaluate and next week detailing the 14 key questions you should be asking every CCaaS vendor. (Note: In this blog post’s associated live stream, we actually cover the first seven of those 14 questions.)

Promotion for Customer Experience in the Cloud live stream with Valur Svansson

Keeping your eyes on the prize

According to Gartner, CCaaS will be the preferred model for 50 percent of contact centers by 2022, up from only 10 percent in 2019. But just because contact centers are suddenly flocking to CCaaS doesn’t mean they’ll be successful. To choose the right vendor and achieve the best results, you need to begin with a clear sense of why you’re making that jump in the first place.

You need to have a firm understanding of everything we’ve been talking about in this mini-series thus far. What tools can you use to make your CX more channelless, effortless and customer-focused? How can you reduce costs not only by leveraging cloud economics, but also by addressing the much larger share of personnel costs through shifting your channel mix and improving agent efficiency? Where are the biggest opportunities, and how can you prioritize your goals accordingly?

Trust me, once you dive into the enormous and extremely convoluted universe of competing CCaaS solutions, it’s all too easy to get lost in the weeds. So throughout the vendor selection process, it’s important to stay laser-focused on exactly what it is you’re trying to achieve. By staying true to your most critical desired outcomes and letting them drive the evaluation, you maximize your chances of making the right choice for your organization. 

Covering the basics

Once you’ve got an orderly prioritized list of focused, specific, measurable goals and desired outcomes, it’s time to progress into comparing and scoring vendor capabilities. Needless to say, understanding precisely what each solution offers is imperative. And remember, any assumptions you make without written verification from the provider are yours, not the vendor’s. So what should you really be looking for rather than assuming?

Start with the tablestakes. These features and considerations may not always be the sexiest, but they are absolutely crucial to ensuring successful outcomes.

Voice quality & solution reliability

With so many agents now relying on their home network connections, it’s more important than ever to make sure any prospective vendor has the ability to scale their capacity as needed to support high-quality voice and reliable connectivity. 

Geographic redundancy & disaster recovery

When your contact center grinds to a halt, you risk your revenue grinding to a halt. Be sure to investigate how each prospective CCaaS vendor’s strategy for geographic redundancy and disaster recovery compares to your existing on-premise solution. 

Security 

Taking into account the security challenges that supporting a WFH call center entails, any CCaaS provider worth their salt needs to demonstrate their ability to maintain the most stringent levels of security in handling sensitive customer data, with particular attention paid to best practices specific to securing data in multi-tenant environments. What liabilities are covered by the provider and what liabilities remain with your organization?

Integrations

List out all the applications and systems you might want to integrate with your cloud contact center solution and rank them from “mission-critical” to “nice-to-have.” Do the CCaaS vendors under consideration support off-the-shelf integrations with them? How difficult will it be to integrate pivotal business systems like Salesforce or Zendesk? What about legacy infrastructure and databases?

You should be positive that the vendors on your list can knock all these baseline requirements and core competencies out of the park; only then should you invest time in comparing bells and whistles.

Going above and beyond

Eventually, it will be time to compare advanced features, where you uncover what these solutions offer in terms of architecture design and next-gen functionality that will help your contact center do more with less.

AI, chatbots and automation 

As discussed at-length in previous episodes, AI, machine learning and automation can be a massive differentiator in terms of a provider delivering a more seamless, effortless CX through self-service, agent coaching, sentiment analysis and intelligent routing. Repetitive tasks or routine customer issues can be automated with AI, which gives agents more time to handle complex inquiries and can help shift to a much more cost-effective channel mix. What AI expertise and features does each provider offer?

Workforce engagement management (WEM)

Chances are good that to meet your ROI goals, your new solution needs to move the needle on personnel costs, and a major influence on that is WEM. What do the CCaaS vendors offer natively for smart scheduling, quality management and performance management or through workforce management (WFM) and workforce optimization (WFO) integrations to help you boost agent performance and productivity?

Reporting

A CCaaS solution that provides end-to-end interaction visibility with real-time and historical reporting can help you identify actionable opportunities to raise efficiency, customer service quality and agent performance. Solutions that require managers to spend hours upon hours picking through dozens of different data sources and mountains of unstructured data? Not so much.

The 3 key takeaways

So that’s how to zero in on CCaaS providers’ core and advanced proficiency areas while you’re evaluating solutions — and how to begin assessing their potential to achieve all those wonderful outcomes you’ve anticipated. Next week, we’ll wrap up our mini-series by unfurling the full list of 14 questions to ask every CCaaS vendor.

Until then, I leave you with this week’s three broad takeaways:

  1. Understand how CCaaS solutions impact the business — Remember to keep your eyes on the prize and what we learned in building a CCaaS business case about connecting new functionality to business impact and ROI.
  2. Know which CCaaS areas to evaluate — Have a clear sense of what you need and what you don’t. Which features are non-negotiable? Which are nice-to-haves?
  3. Use standardized questions and consistent scoring Anytime you’re comparing products, services or vendors, it’s easy to be swayed by unconscious biases and emotional associations. That’s fine if you’re shopping for laundry detergent, but not so fine for a make-or-break purchase like CCaaS. To be as objective as possible in your assessment, establish a consistent, systematic approach to comparing and scoring providers’ core competencies and solutions’ features and functionality.

For more insights on this topic, watch the full LinkedIn live stream episode, “The CCaaS Courtroom: You Be the Judge (Part 1 of 2).”


And for discussion of similar topics, tune in for the “Customer Experience in the Cloud” live stream series with Valur Svansson, every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. CT on the Lifesize LinkedIn page. To watch past episodes on-demand, visit our YouTube channel.