Remember the good old days of customer service? From a technology perspective, life used to be pretty straightforward. All you had to do was upgrade Siebel every couple of years.
Now, of course, the CRM world is moving away from on-premise technology, and that’s provoked sharp questions from customer service managers, who want to know the best way forward. To judge by the flurry of inquiries that we’ve been receiving, many think that the time is now right to move their contact centers, wholesale, to the cloud.
To be sure, from a cost, reliability, manageability, and feature perspective, the cloud is now good enough to support any organization’s contact center. But what’s the best approach for maximizing your cloud contact center return on investment (ROI)? In particular, is it best to replace an on-premises contact center outright with service in the cloud? How should “social businesses” weave in chat, customer collaboration tools, and self-service portals? Or should businesses leave their existing contact center as is, and instead invest in a social media response center?
To answer those questions, the best starting point is simple: Make a plan.
Rapid Project Timelines Require Quick Planning
By plan, we don’t mean long or belabored. Rather, we recommend rapidly reviewing what you want to do — from a business results standpoint — and why, so that you can find the most direct and cost-effective way to achieve your goals.
Exactly what those goals should be is up to you, but here are six hot trends we’re seeing:
All of those trends, notably, offer specific contact center improvements or tie-ins that can help you make your customer-service program even stronger.
Will RightNow Become Siebel 2.0?
But why do so many businesses suddenly seem to want to move their contact center to the cloud? Beyond the fact that the cloud now offers a quite attractive price and level of functionality, many organizations have reached out to us in the wake of Oracle’s acquisition of RightNow. Frankly, they’re scared. They saw how Oracle bought CRM powerhouse Siebel in 2006, then pushed only two point releases in eight years.
Traditionally, Oracle makes money by buying companies, stripping out costs, then keeping the maintenance and subscription services rolling. Accordingly, the business is doing great financially, but seeing low customer-satisfaction scores. Indeed, from our standpoint, Oracle has fired every single Siebel service person and engineer we know who worked at the company, announced the product’s obsolescence, and created legions of unsatisfied customers.
True, Oracle does have its CRM cloud play, Oracle CRM On Demand. But it’s important to note that while RightNow offers a multi-tenant architecture, CRM On Demand still doesn’t. In other words, on the CRM front, at best Oracle’s playing catch-up. And if the best predictor of future behavior is past actions, life doesn’t bode well for the RightNow user base.
Big Bang Service Project Requests
Regardless of your “go to the cloud” rationale, what’s the best way to implement a contact center in the cloud? When pursuing new CRM sales or marketing capabilities, our golden rule is to avoid big-bang projects. Instead, start small, then implement projects in phases, with each stage tied to delivering a targeted business result. By taking that approach, businesses build momentum and more easily overcome deadly (for project success) user-adoption challenges.
For many customer service department managers, however, their natural inclination will be to go for a full platform replacement, all at once. And why not? Because when it comes to running a contact center, there’s a certain — relatively high — base level of functionality required. The new contact center can’t do less than the old contact center. And forget using two contact center systems simultaneously; that would be a nightmare.
Accordingly, taking a big-bang contact center replacement approach may very well be the best option for your business. But then again, based on your business’s particular needs, it might not be.
As a result, the best course of action is to not decide in advance. Instead, review your options and ask questions. In particular, detail your business requirements, then evaluate which combination of a “like for like” replacement for your current on-the-premises setup, specific social service CRM capabilities, and/or a social media response center will give you the biggest bang for your buck. With your plan in place, then play the field — or rather, the cloud.
What’s the best plan for moving your business’s contact center to the cloud, or adding social service capabilities to your current customer service program. Look to Innoveer’s customer service workshops to help your business answer that question.