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Cloudforce London: Contact centre virtualisation buoyant during floods

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9th Dec 2009
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NewVoiceMedia’s CEO talks to MyCustomer.com at Cloudforce about the Cumbria floods, being an enabler, and how the company is taking business from traditional contact centre vendors.

The transition towards contact centre virtualisation has long been discussed, but its adoption has perhaps seldom become so embroiled with recent current affairs. MyCustomer.com caught up with Jonathan Grant, CEO of NewVoiceMedia, at Salesforce.com’s Cloudforce2 event in London. Speaking about the apparent trend towards contact centre virtualisation, Grant revealed that one client emerged as a result of the recent floods in Cumbria.
"The quickest time from the phone call to going live was 45 minutes. There’s a company called Blooming Marvellous in Cumbria; when the floods came, the bridges went down, the roads were flooded, and their people in the contact centre couldn’t get to work. They called us and explained the problem. They pointed their 0800 number to our platform, and we set up the 12 people at home within 45 minutes, and they were taking phone calls."
"Speed is one our real strengths."
Try getting a traditional contact centre vendor to achieve that level of turnaround.
The Cumbrian floods and the experience of Blooming Marvellous was an exercise in disaster recovery for NewVoiceMedia, an extreme example of migration from a traditional to virtualised contact centre environment. Beyond such examples however, it’s clear the trend of contact centre virtualisation has gained more traction in 2009 thanks to the recession.
Grant believes the massive commercial pressures being experienced by companies, coupled with the compelling Return of Investment of Cloud applications, has meant businesses are looking to alternatives to traditional solutions. The argument that the total cost of ownership of Cloud solutions becomes greater than on-premise products after a number of years, is one that continues to permeate. Grant counters, describing it as "flawed". He compares the on-premise platform to an iceberg: "When you go out and buy customer premise software, whether it’s CRM or telephony, there’s the initial invoice and maintenance cost."
"But what you don’t see is the ongoing cost, made up of software upgrades, renewals because of end-of-life, internal IT costs to run it, moves and changes. If someone wants to move their business from one part of Manchester to another part of the world, then it’s incredibly expensive to do in the traditional way. One of customers, Thomas Cook Airlines, moved their whole business from hanger one to hanger two at Manchester Airport, and they didn’t even tell us they’d done it."
"It’s a very important message."
Extolling the positives of migrating to a virtualised contact centre is one thing, but Grant adds his company can provide a solution that sits on top of traditional vendors, such as Cisco. "If someone has a legacy infrastructure and they don’t have a particular feature, we can sit on top of and route down to the legacy switches." Furthermore, he claims that several of his clients have gone on to switch off some of the functionality offered by their traditional on-premise solutions.
So what about future trends in 2010 and beyond?
"There are two obstacles [for companies looking to virtualise their contact centres]. First is the legacy estate of systems. They’ve spent a lot of money on them, so companies feel they have to stick with it. Secondly, there are many IT directors that feel they should have the technology in their environment, and they’ve built their careers around that."
Despite this, Grant believes the future for the sector lies in home working, away from the centralised farms of customer service assistants dotted across the globe. Citing additional levels of flexibility and mobility allowed by broadband penetration and virtualisation, the NewVoiceMedia CEO comments: "In virtualising the business as we do, a whole new world of work becomes available [through homeworking]."

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