Do you remember when you first heard about the cloud? What about the last time you talked about the cloud in your business? In the last decade, it has become a permanent fixture on the technology scene and has displayed limitless benefits, changing business processes and collaboration forever. Initial skeptics may have doubted the cloud’s reliability, security and flexibility, but even concerns over security standards have subsided with the establishment of trusted cloud providers.
Those in the contact center industry have seen first-hand the shift that the cloud can bring about in a market. Traditionally, contact centers were located on-premise, and companies were faced with upfront capital costs to establish the contact center infrastructure, as well as the expense of maintaining hardware and replacing technology that was frequently obsolete within a year. With overhead expenditures of licensing, deploying and updating software for each new user, as well as management costs, including inbound call routing and customer service inquiries, the infrastructure of a traditional contact center model was both inefficient and costly.
The cloud has changed the traditional contact center model in very significant ways, each of which should be evaluated when looking to make a change in your own contact center environment. The first three key benefits described below are: cost effectiveness; redundancy and availability; and flexibility and scalability.
1. Cost Effectiveness – Cloud computing and the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model of distribution have eliminated the need to buy and maintain hardware like phone switches, automatic call distributors and interactive voice response systems. Prior to the cloud, on-premise contact centers were capital expenses with significant upfront costs. However, with the cloud, the capital expense turns into an operational expense that allows companies to pay for only the services needed; agents merely require telephones and computers. Further, the cloud allows small- to-medium-sized businesses to gain the technology and business advantages previously out of their reach due to budget constraints.
2. Redundancy and Availability – The cloud provides companies with redundant data storage without the cost of duplicate data centers. It also allows companies that are located in regions susceptible to natural disasters to store their valuable data in other areas throughout the country. Should a natural disaster strike and a data center or agents lose connectivity, the cloud enables companies to activate their redundant data and rapidly re-route inquires to other locations. This allows companies to continue to provide their customers with “always on” service. In this highly-commoditized world, customer service is often a company’s key differentiator, and it is imperative that a brand be available to consumers, especially during a time of need.
3. Flexibility and Scalability – Business needs and contact volumes are not always predictable; with the cloud, however, businesses are able to instantly scale up or down to meet seasonal and spiky customer demands. Cloud contact centers allow companies to pay-as-you-go on an as-you-need-it basis. Handling spikes in inbound and outbound queries – calls, chats, emails, social media and even SMS – are now easy and cost-effective tasks. With the cloud, companies are simply more agile, lean and effective. This allows companies to always be focused on the customer regardless of what may be happening in the world, the time of year or change in call volume.
Stay tuned next week for the final three benefits of converting to a cloud contact center!
This article first appeared in CONNECTIONS Magazine.