The migration of contact centers from on-premises to the cloud is well underway and dramatically changing how companies deliver customer experience today. In fact, a report by 8×8 late last year, conducted in partnership with the CCNG Contact Center & Customer Care Industry Professional Network, found three-quarters of companies have either already adopted or are planning to adopt cloud-based contact center systems.
The move to cloud is being largely driven by specific innovations in the contact center – innovations that on-premises and legacy systems can’t keep pace with. The contact center today involves more than just a phone, and more often than not, requires agents to interact with customers through a variety of channels, including email, chat and social media. Trying to wrestle new functionality into your legacy system can not only be costly but difficult, and they lack the agility, functionality, and hassle-free advantages of cloud alternatives.
The cloud can accommodate the broadest range of communication needs, including business phone services, collaboration, contact centers, unified communications, and mobility. And while there are many reasons to leave your legacy, on-premises systems behind for the cloud, here are four of the most critical.
1. Improving the Customer Experience
For any contact center, be it on-premises or in the cloud, the two major challenges for most companies are improving customer satisfaction and increasing agent performance. The good news is that analytics tools have been developed to support operators in this quest. In fact, 52 percent of those surveyed said they use quality management software, while 47 percent said they use survey tools to increase overall customer satisfaction. A further 25 percent said they use customer journey metrics.
However, there is still room for improvement, and opportunity exists to upgrade to newer, more efficient technology that not only measures performance but facilitates the coaching of agents to help them improve. Currently, 59 percent of contact centers measuring agent performance are still using spreadsheets and notes, followed by informal discussions at 44 percent. Luckily, the increase in remote workers, data, analytical tools and the number of contact centers moving to the cloud enable more modern approaches for measuring agent performance and improving customer experience.
2. Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery
One of the biggest shortcomings of traditional, on premises systems is their lack of adequate disaster recovery and business continuity capabilities. In the event of natural disasters or other events, legacy systems often suffer from outages and struggle in providing continuous connectivity.
In the survey we commissioned late last year, we asked respondents to identify the top three reasons why they moved their contact centers to the cloud, and 43 percent of respondents stated business continuity/disaster recovery. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise given the cost to a business of a single outage. Even just a one hour outage could potentially cost a company upwards of several hundred thousand dollars.
The cloud offers a solution to these woes as it ensures high availability, disaster recovery and business continuity by design. Unlike on premises systems, there is no single point of failure in a cloud implementation. Instead, connections are continuously maintained so in the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake or severe weather situation, calls in a cloud-based system can automatically be routed to mobile phones, enabling employees to stay connected with their customers no matter what.
3. Ability to Scale Up and Down
In the same survey, 41 percent of respondents stated their second biggest reason for moving to the cloud is the ability to scale up and down. Traditional communications platforms are much too rigid to accommodate growth, and any business that undergoes a merger or acquisition expands to a new locations or hires new team members will quickly understand why flexibility is so important.
A cloud-based system enables you to quickly adjust communications capacity to precisely match the needs of your enterprise at all times. The cloud enables far greater business agility than traditional systems – add new lines, phones, and locations whenever you need, or disconnect them. All the complexity moves off premises, off your plate, and into the cloud. Whether you’re opening a new office in Boise or Berlin, employees can have sophisticated communications services in a matter of weeks versus several months.
4. Lower Cost of Ownership
Companies are also moving to the cloud because of the ability to lower their total cost of ownership. On-premises systems can cost millions of dollars. They often require expensive customization and professional services, and new features may also be tied to hardware, which limits choice and increases costs.
Today, every company requires some form of contact center capability, whether it’s a small business, regional office or the company headquarters, and with the cloud, it’s much easier for companies to deploy new features with minimal IT assistance. As a result, it substantially reduces IT costs. Additionally, the cloud makes it possible for informal and non-traditional contact center teams to enhance their customer interactions. That said, the bigger cost saving comes from the reduction of servers required for on-premises systems. Depending on the size of an organization there is either the elimination or reduction of IT staff hours that formerly had to tend with the hardware infrastructure as well as the cost of the servers themselves.
The last cost to be considered is the software itself. For the most part, cloud software subscriptions cost a lot less than legacy on-premises systems. In fact, in many cases, it is recorded simply as an operating expense.
But regardless of cost and some of the other trends discussed here, the biggest takeaway is that we have access to a multitude of technologies that are not only enabling better customer experiences but also helping a growing number of contact centers solve the challenge of on-premises systems by moving to the cloud.