By Paul Jarman, CEO NICE inContact
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone involved in the technology sector that cloud computing is taking over virtually every industry. Although it has been around for longer than most people think, the last few years have seen cloud-based solutions take on a new prominence – and the contact centre is no exception to this. In fact, industry analysts confirm that companies looking to modernise their contact centres to deliver exceptional customer experiences are all short-listing cloud solutions.
Today the term “cloud computing”is widely understood,and the technology continues to evolve with better performance, improved security features and more services than ever before.It’s no exaggeration to say that the cloud has become an integral part of our everyday lives,helping businesses of all shapes and sizes become more agile and more responsive to their customers.
Head in the clouds
Take a closer look at your daily activities, and it’s easy to spot the impact of cloud. Since arriving in the office, you’ve probably sent out some emails through Microsoft Outlook 365 or Google Gmail,collaborated with colleagues via Slack and uploaded some files into Dropbox. You might have listened to music via the likes of Spotify on the way to the train or bus station, or maybe taken an Uber home the night before after a late night out with friends. Then, this evening, you’ll probably want to watch a movie on Netflix or browse Facebook or Instagram at home. Without the cloud, none of these applications would exist.
From a business perspective, on-demand cloud technology provides many benefits, including increased agility, efficiency and scalability – all of which are available to contact centres of all sizes. Despite these benefits, many have yet to move their core contact centre operations to the cloud and risk falling behind more agile competitors that are leveraging cloud solutions to improve the customer experience. The good news is that cloud adoption is accelerating, with the global cloud computing market projected to grow to $411 billion by 2020 and more than 62% of businesses already running their contact centres in the cloud.
For contact centres today, even the slightest improvement in customer experience can make a big difference to their place in an increasingly competitive market. From enabling real-time agility in operations to empowering businesses to deliver better financial results with improved ROI, a cloud-based contact centre solution can add real business value to every stakeholder in an enterprise. Let’s take a closer look at these three points.
Next-level operational agility
Cloud-based solutions also make it easier to provide personalised solutions instead of adopting a one-size-fits-all approach. Building a truly personalised experience for each customer requires contact centres to take swift actions to improve service, such as adding new channels like digital or chatbots, changing Interactive Voice Response (IVR) scripts on the fly, or configuring systems on your own without waiting for IT. The cloud gives contact centres the true agility and flexibility to make these changes, with the power to create an exceptional experience for customers.
Arguably one of the most important advantages cloud computing brings to contact centres is the agility it provides.For example, they can instantly scale their operations on a pay-as-you-go model to fit in with seasonal fluctuations and annual peaks and troughs,while embracing today’s employee preference for work at home options. Cloud-based contact centre applications also enable businesses to recover from disasters such as a storm or a fire more seamlessly. Whatever the situation, business continuity will be assured thanks to the built-in redundancy of the cloud.
Forward-looking business leaders are always looking at creative ways to innovate and drive value for the business.Cloud-based contact centre solutions eliminate the need to maintain a large hardware infrastructure or manage time-consuming system upgrades, thereby freeing up valuable technical resources for innovation and creativity.
Artificial intelligence is one of the innovations getting the most attention these days, and for good reason especially around keeping the contact centre current. According to Forrester, 64% of companies plan to increase their AI investment in the contact center in the next 12 months*.The biggest driver for contact centres to implement AI is to drive efficiency, in turn giving customers what they are looking for – faster resolution and more communication options. For example, Predictive Behavioural Routing allows AI to help route customers to the agents best equipped to handle their personality style, resulting in more productive and positive call outcomes.
AI tools can supplement agents with customer data, real-time sentiment analysis and more. And cloud allows these tools to be seamlessly updated, scaled up and down to work with demand, and makes agents’ lives easier by removing the mundane, process-based tasks.
Most importantly, an open cloud platform with published APIs (application program interfaces) can allow development teams to innovate in a cost-efficient way by empowering them to build better and faster ways of engaging with customers inside and outside the contact centre. Utilizing APIs can also allow implementation of new tools at a faster rate, across the contact centre technology.
Ultimately, cloud software with the addition of AI can ease the burden on IT teams so that they spend less time just keeping the lights on and more time on delivering true business value through innovation.
Better financial results
Cloud-based technology also offers both top-line (increasing revenue) and bottom line (improving efficiency) financial benefits.According to Forrester, the right cloud solution can provide a 323% increase in ROI with benefits measured in millions. For a 1,100-seat organisation, the pay-off is of $29.5 million. Withcloud-based applications in place,contact centres can instantly scale up or down based on their specific business needs– and only pay for what theyuse rather than a constant monthly fee.This means they can make sure they have the right amount of staff in place throughout the year, providing the dual benefits of maximising revenue while also controlling infrastructure costs.
But that’s not all. With the cloud, contact centres can shift the cost of technology applications from capital expenditures (CAPEX) to operating expenses (OPEX). Forrester estimates the reduction in contact centre cost due to lower infrastructure refresh and ongoing maintenance costs stands at around $2.4 million. For businesses that don’t have access to large pots of money, this lowers upfront costs and helps them avoid expensive, long term hardware and infrastructure investments.
There’s a lot to be said about how migrating to the cloud enables contact centres to enhance their operations in a multitude of ways. Whatever the size of the organisation or industry, cloud solutions can benefit the bottom line, drive enhanced customer experiences and ease the burden on IT.These benefits speak for themselves; however, there are so many more benefits that contact centres can take advantage of if they transition to cloud-based solutions. With increased customer satisfaction and business growth pretty much guaranteed, this cloud-based revolution is something contact centres need to get onboard with as soon as possible.
* Forrester Consulting, “Building An Artificial Intelligence Infused Contact Center”, a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of NICE, March 2019