By Liz Osborn
You’ve probably heard a lot about the benefits of cloud computing. But how does it apply to your contact center? There are a variety of reasons why more companies today than ever before are deciding to toss out their complex, expensive, on-premise contact center systems and move to the cloud. Here are ten of the most popular:
1. No Hardware Required: Cloud contact center solutions deliver all the functionality you’ve come to expect from premise-based systems, without the hassle or the hardware. The system is accessed by a standard Web browser, which eliminates the need to purchase expensive hardware and software. You can focus on your contact center – not your infrastructure – and add functionality for inbound calls, including IVR with speech recognition, ACD, and CTI screen pop, as well as outbound dialing or blended call processing, with options for multichannel, CRM integrations and management applications.
2. Fast Deployment: Whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, configuring, customizing, and deploying cloud contact centers is fast and easy, allowing you to get your contact center operational in as little as forty-eight hours. Plus, simple administrative tools empower you to change your system on the fly. Just make sure your vendor of choice offers 24/7 service, support, and training.
3. Agents Anywhere: Using the cloud, your agents can be located anywhere in the world. All they need is a headset, a computer, and an Internet connection. Do you want to combine multiple physical contact center sites into one virtual agent pool? No problem. Want to add agents around the country? You can establish a work-at-home agent program, expand into new geographies, or open up a much larger pool of qualified agents. It’s easy when you move your contact center to the cloud.
4. Automatic Upgrades: One of the big advantages to the cloud is that there are no upgrade and maintenance hassles. New software versions with new features and functions are handled by the cloud software vendor on a regular basis. All you need to do is login as normal and you’ll have access to the new features. Because cloud contact centers upgrade automatically, software innovations that add more capability and value simply appear in the solution. Advanced features can be added without additional hardware or lengthy upgrade implementations.
5. Easy Integrations: In the past few years, vendors have removed the silos between their applications, making it easier than ever to integrate applications to work together seamlessly. Improve agent productivity by taking advantage of out of-the-box integrations to popular CRM solutions.
6. Scale on Demand: Cloud-based contact centers can scale up or down quickly, allowing businesses to match resources and costs to needs. You won’t need to guess at your peak capacity and overbuy in order to meet seasonal or situational demand. With the right cloud contact center vendor, you will be able to add agent seats and phone lines in hours.
7. Security Expertise: Security is often an area of concern for companies thinking of moving to the cloud. However, enterprises are now realizing that a mature cloud software provider can offer higher levels of security than most companies are able to provide themselves. The combination of economies-of-scale, specialized staff, and a particular focus on security ensure that cloud software vendors provide better security than most enterprises. The State of Cloud Security Report by AlertLogic found that there was no justification for the belief that on-premise is more secure. The report states that “while there were many factors to weigh when moving infrastructure into the cloud, an assumption of insecurity should not be one of them.”
8. Pay as You Grow: The subscription model allows you to only pay for the agents that are using the system. Seasonal or growth businesses can add lines and agents seats with a phone call. Hardware and software investments are eliminated with a cloud-based solution, freeing up capital and making ongoing expenses easier to forecast.
9. One Vendor, One Package: Premise-based contact center systems typically require you to use a variety of vendors to ensure that all the components work together. Moving to the cloud eliminates that. Most cloud contact centers offer a bundled service that includes inbound and outbound telephony (long distance, local, and 800 numbers), along with full-featured contact center solutions in one package. Look for solutions that include phone services, ACD, CTI, IVR with speech recognition, agent desktops and supervisor monitoring, and outbound dialers including predictive, preview, and progressive. Your vendor should also offer options such as multi-channel, workforce management, recording and quality monitoring, and both out-of-the-box and custom reporting capabilities.
10. Control Your Own Destiny: Your cloud contact center software should be easy enough for non-techies to set up and alter IVR scripts, call flows, and routing strategies without turning to IT. Would you rather focus on delivering an excellent customer experience or on managing your contact center infrastructure? Whether you are managing the contact center, customer service and support, sales, or IT, moving your contact center to the cloud frees up expensive resources and allows you to concentrate on what you do best while improving the bottom line.
DMG Consulting recently released the 2012-13 cloud-based contact center infrastructure report, which forecasts a 30 to 45 percent year-over-year growth for the next few years. There is clearly a shift occurring in the contact center market. Technology has now matured to the point where thousands of contact centers are realizing that deploying a contact center in the cloud is better, faster, and cheaper than an on-premise system.
Liz Osborn is the vice president of product and solution marketing for Five9.
[From Connection Magazine – November 2013]