Call Centers in the Cloud


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Service Cloud

Why run customer service in the cloud? Well, let’s rephrase the question in terms of business results. Namely, doesn’t every top-notch call center want to improve:

  • Growth by cross-selling and up-selling customers with relevant offers?
  • Efficiency by providing service representatives with a better picture of the customer?
  • Customer satisfaction by talking with customers more knowledgeably, as well as with greater empathy and intimacy?

For example, you call to renew your car insurance policy. In the call center, the service representative sees not only your account history but also your current Facebook profile picture—a family photo—and notices you have a teenage son. He asks if you’d like to add him to the insurance policy as well.

Or say you’ve been in a fender bender and need to get your car fixed. When you phone your insurance company to locate the nearest auto body shop, the service agent notices—again from your Facebook photo feed—that you have small children. She asks if you need car seats with your loaner, or if you want to use the ones you have.

In both of these situations, giving the service agent a fuller picture of the customer they’re assisting helps everyone and makes for a richer customer experience. These are just some of the benefits of moving customer service to the cloud.

Insurance Agents Relocate to the Cloud

Recently I asked, Why not run CRM in the cloud? (Just for definition’s sake, by CRM I refer not only to sales force automation, but also to marketing and customer service.) In other words, why not use software-as-a-service (SaaS) CRM applications, provided they deliver—as they typically do—more rapid procurement, easier manageability and a lower total cost of ownership, compared to on-premise CRM applications?

For many organizations, SaaS customer service applications will meet their needs. For example, Innoveer recently helped a property and casualty (P&C) insurance company deploy a SaaS-based customer service application for about 100 call center agents. This isn’t the largest call center we’ve ever worked with, and perhaps the SaaS application doesn’t have all of the advanced features that some of our bigger call center customers have, such as interactive voice response (IVR) integration or computer-telephony integration (CTI) support.

But from a functionality standpoint, the application meets all of the organization’s case management needs—from case capture and assignment to resolution and closure. Furthermore, thanks to having a good plan (because pursuing SaaS CRM applications without a plan is a recipe for failure), the P&C insurer quickly got and running.

What’s not to like about less expensive software that rapidly delivers business value?

Cloud-to-Cloud Integration Benefits

Another reason to run service applications in the cloud is for cloud-to-cloud integration. Many organizations, for example, would love to link their customer service platform to Facebook, so when a customer calls in, the service agent can literally see who they’re helping.

Well, connecting your SaaS customer service application to Facebook is much easier than integrating on-premise CRM with Facebook. (For example, has a Facebook connector; on-premise Siebel does not.) In fact, integrating any two cloud applications will always be easier than integrating an on-premise application to the cloud. With SaaS, one person builds a connector and thousands of people can use it. Whereas when integrating an on-premise application to the cloud, finding that economy of scale is, at best, difficult.

As the Cloud Expands, So Do Service Possibilities

Is SaaS right for all customer service requirements today? No. But that’s changing as the cloud (which includes platforms and infrastructure—not just SaaS) continues to expand.

In other words, as the cloud evolves, the attendant costs and benefits will drive more companies to host their call center in the cloud.

Learn More

Mastering customer service, regardless of whether it’s backed by on-premise or SaaS applications, first requires treating the call center as a strategic asset. In other words, drop the “necessary evil” thinking and remake your call center or contact center into a valuable corporate asset.

Until you get your customer service business practices and self-service sites in order, from a service standpoint also forget social networks. (For more on setting the right service priorities in a social networking world, see The Tweet Must Die.)

Finally, with online self-service success rates declining, maybe we should all just use Facebook for every online customer service interaction instead.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


  1. Web-based applications that are properly engineered should have no more difficulty integrating with other applications in the “cloud” regardless if they are run on-premise or as a SaaS offering.

    SaaS applications are clearly a great option for many companies in the short-term if not indefinitely, but for companies that already have the infrastructure necessary to host public-facing Web apps it often makes more sense for them to run the application on their own infrastructure.

    We have found that many businesses like to start out with a hosted option to get up and going quickly with minimal cost outlay and to move to on-premise later.

    Choice is good!

    Chuck Van Court
    Founder and CEO
    Fuze Digital Solutions


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