A Peek Under The Hood Of A Cloud Based Contact Centre
If your organisation provides a service that requires pre or post sales customer contact then you effectively have a contact centre function to maintain, regardless of how small your operation. The quality and speed of information delivery and problem resolution you provide through your customer interactions plays a major part in upholding the values you wish to associate with your brand. So not unsurprisingly your reputation hinges heavily on the service you deliver through this function.
With the advent of the internet today’s customers are used to near instantaneous access to information and expect this same speed of service when they contact your call centre. Furthermore, customers are more socially savvy and expect to be able to contact you via multiple touch points, including voice, web, email, chat, mobile, and social channels.
The old-school call centre solution based around a PBX on premise cannot keep up with this new speed of business and need for Omni-channel communications. The cloud based contact centre has arrived to address these challenges and it can certainly offer some great advantages, but it is not necessarily a simple bolt-on fix as we will now explore.
Maintaining visibility of the end-to-end customer journey is vital to contact centre success
There are a huge number of standalone cloud based contact centre (CC) solutions available today. However, it is this ‘standalone’ aspect of their incarnation that can make them inefficient as a tool to meet the service demands of your customers. One of the most important capabilities of a contact centre solution is to provide you with visibility of the end-to-end customer journey from their first point of contact through to problem resolution and beyond. To deliver this end-to-end visibility the contact centre needs to be tightly coupled with the underlying communications platform and any number of back office systems that are required to support your customers.
Contact centre solutions that do not provide excellent internal collaboration, access to customer history and effective skills based call routing will ultimately reduce your chances of first-contact resolution and restrict good customer relationships. For a customer there is nothing more frustrating than having to repeat the details of an issue to a new service agent if their query is passed from one agent to another, and frustrated customers will show their dissatisfaction through their wallets.
In our previous articles we have covered the many advantages of the cloud based PBX or Unified Communications (UC) platform and many UC providers have started to include cloud Contact Centre solutions in combination with their UC offering. This is a good thing but it is very important to take a look at how your UC provider has obtained their contact centre technology as this may determine how well integrated these two components are, and also indicate how agile they may be in adding new business process integrations moving forward.
Understand the provenance of your cloud Contact Centre solution
To make an addition to a product portfolio technology vendors usually have three options to follow; build the product in-house from scratch, purchase a solution from elsewhere or lease (OEM) a solution from another vendor. Let’s now review these options in turn.
The first option ensures that the vendor has full control over the CC development which should allow faster time to market for new integrations and timely bug resolution, but we should attempt to determine the maturity of the solution and how the features offered compare to the current market leading cloud contact centre providers. Does your UC vendor have past experience in Contact Centre development or are they merely scrambling to keep pace with the leaders in this market?
If the UC vendor has acquired their CC solution through an acquisition this may provide better insight into the history of the CC solution especially if the UC vendor is a public company that is required to disclose details of their operations in annual reports and investor announcements. However, mergers and acquisitions are fraught with challenges. It will generally take a minimum of 12 months for the business processes to be unified between the parent and the acquired company. Sometimes this may never happen at all, with the acquired company left to run autonomously. In addition there may be differences in company cultures, post-acquisition staff turnover and changes in leadership resulting in a loss of strategy and direction.
With the third option where an OEM agreement has been established between a UC and CC vendor it can be a little trickier to identify the source of the underlying CC technology unless there is some transparency, or maybe some giveaways in the user interface which allows us to identify the incumbent CC supplier. This option may seem the least favourable from a user’s perspective as you could assume that the underlying CC solution could be purchased more cost effectively from the source vendor, but remember the key to capturing that end-to-end customer journey lies in the integration between UC and CC platforms. We may find that the OEM agreement provides a number of unique and valuable integrations with the partner UC platform that would not be available if we were to mix and match solutions on our own accord.
The ultimate scenario from a user’s perspective is when two market segment leaders come together to provide a tightly coupled solution that is mature in features and unhindered by inter-company integration challenges.
So what can we expect from the latest cloud CC solutions?
There are certainly many benefits in common with a cloud based UC platform that far outstrip traditional on premise based solutions, for instance:
- Easy and instantaneous scalability to add or reduce agent seats as your needs change
- Higher reliability and availability with built in disaster avoidance, eliminating the need for redundant on-site standby equipment
- A mobile workforce that can connect using a variety of devices, softphones, mobile or desk phones
However, the major benefits of a cloud Contact Centre are brought to light through tightly coupled integrations, agent collaboration tools, Omni-channel interfaces and artificial intelligence that can both automate customer resolutions and provide actionable insights into your customer service delivery. Features to look out for in the latest best-of-breed platforms include:
- Customer communication through multiple channels; voice, email, text, live-chat, chatbots, social media and custom-app messaging
- Instant team messaging for multi-level support without loss of detail on customer handover
- Integrations: CRM, Helpdesk, Business Intelligence, Business Process Management
- Drag and drop configuration, intuitive administration and a single agent desktop
- Integrated analytics including; first call resolutions metrics, customer channels, call volumes, backlog, productivity and supervisor interventions
There is a whole lot more that a cloud Contact Centre solution can offer but we must stress again that integration with your UC and business process applications are the key to success. If all of these pieces align you should achieve higher customer satisfaction, increased agent productivity and valuable intelligence regarding your business and customer service operations.
If you would like to learn more about the best cloud Contact Centre providers and identify the optimum solutions for your business please call us for an informal chat.