Study: How Cloud is revolutionising call centres
The evolution of digital technologies has completely changed the way consumers are engaging with companies across all sectors, whether purchasing a product or service, making an enquiry or requesting live help and support.
To remain competitive, a modern business needs to have a highly effective platform in place for customers to quickly and easily communicate across various channels, including telephone, social media, interactive voice response (IVR) and online chatbots. This has become a fundamental requirement to ensure brand loyalty, with organisations across the world actively embracing the power and versatility of cloud-based services to improve customer satisfaction levels, increase operational efficiencies and reduce expenditure.
Customer experience (CX) is the new commercial battlefield and any organisation hoping to improve customer relations and solidify a positive reputation should prioritise enhancing the digital capabilities of its contact centre, as this is the first, and arguably, most important stage in the customer journey.
Developing a scalable engagement platform that can successfully cope with high volumes of requests from multiple touchpoints and locations simultaneously can be a daunting task for any company, whether it is an agile startup building an entirely new platform from scratch or a global enterprise migrating their entire contact centre to the cloud. Unfortunately, hesitating to invest in the right suite of technologies and relying on outdated, inflexible legacy systems could result in a poor engagement experience with customers becoming frustrated, complaining or in the worst-case scenario, switching to a competitor.
Aspect Software’s Clear Skies for Customer Service research report surveyed 100 c-suite decision makers from organisations with over 1,000 employees across multiple sectors including technology, manufacturing, financial, retail and healthcare. The objective was to determine the current level of cloud adoption for their contact centre and ascertain the extent it will be implemented in the future.
The findings suggest most organisations are acutely aware of the potential for cloud in growing their customer engagement offering, with 94% of respondents stating that it was either very or somewhat important.
However, despite strong recognition around these issues, many are failing to improve their customer experience, with self-service options (45%), back-end customer integration (42%) and mobile compatibility (41%) listed as the top three areas most in need of improvement. Making the transition from in-house legacy equipment to a cloud-powered contact centre as a service (CCaaS), will enable organisations to exploit these enhanced capabilities, making the CX more dynamic and cohesive while leveraging the prevalence of mobile devices.
According to the research, organisations that are currently utilising cloud to power their customer engagement process have 36% of their contact centre based in the cloud. This shows that even companies actively embracing the latest SaaS technologies only have a small percentage of their digital communications platform running in the cloud, highlighting room for further investment and improvement.
In addition to this, only 26% of IT decision makers believe their company will be investing in new cloud-based technology over the next year - although this figure is 78% for non-IT staff - showing a disparity between a desire to embrace the latest technology and the reality of the situation. The findings also suggest that despite employees realising the potential of cloud, further implementation will not occur to a great extent, at least within the next 12 months. This underlines the need to strengthen relationships between IT and non-IT teams by working collaboratively to ascertain the best approach for digital transformation.
In 2009 Keith Ferrazzi wrote that the ‘Information Age’ was transitioning into what he termed the ‘Relationship Age’, "in which emotion, empathy, and cooperation are critical success traits" and where "technology and human interaction are intersecting and trust, conversation, and collaboration are top of mind and top of agenda". This is a highly accurate description of the modern customer experience and reinforces the notion that the CX of the contact centre should be top priority as it forms the first stage of the customer journey where the majority of interactions will take place.
By maintaining consistency from each touchpoint across both physical and digital environments, the overall CX will be greatly improved, ensuring positive brand image, retention and repeat business in the future.
In the past it was more difficult to create a holistic engagement experience as customer data may have been stored in various departments or locations. Fortunately, the unified nature of the cloud offers every organisation the tools to handle large volumes of diverse enquiries by containing all customer data and previous interaction history in the same virtual space.
This enables businesses to rise to the challenge of data collection, storage and retrieval, improving accuracy and making the enquiry process more efficient. In addition to these benefits, cloud offers organisations the opportunity to break free of rigid, expensive and outdated legacy IT by migrating to a service-based solution that can be automatically scaled up and down according to demand.
By making the CX highly flexible and removing the need to continually update and maintain in-house systems and software, businesses can reduce costs and engage with their customers in a much more efficient and streamlined process. Once cloud technology has been properly implemented across the contact centre, companies can expect their customer satisfaction levels to increase significantly and the efficiency improvements will help them to remain competitive in a volatile and rapidly evolving commercial world.
Stephen Ball is Senior Vice President (SVP) of Europe & Africa at customer engagement specialist Aspect Software. Stephen joined Aspect in January 2016, bringing over 25 years experience in sales and general management leadership in technology space.