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eBook: Survey Sees Cloud Future of Contact Centers

Why are contact centers are moving to cloud-based solutions? We commissioned a survey to find out.

Moving from a traditional call center environment to a contact center one, in theory, would seem fairly straightforward. But the reality is very different. Legacy IT equipment, lack of properly trained staff, time and resource are just a few of the problems that contact center managers and directors come up against.

On top of that, the cloud is now firmly on the contact center agenda. If your organization hasn’t already moved to the cloud, then you are probably either considering your options or planning a move in the near future.

We wanted to find out not just where organizations were in the cloud adoption curve, but what the drivers are for cloud adoption and equally importantly, are those who have already made the move reaping the rewards? Are they using the cloud to deliver new communications channels? What challenges are they facing?

We commissioned an independent survey of 100 contact center decision-makers to find out the answers to these questions.

Executive Summary

Our research confirmed that contact center decision-makers are realizing that a cloud-based solution is increasingly becoming the most viable option for a true modern day contact center. Cost savings, of course, are one of the main drivers, but savvy contact center decision-makers now realize that a service hosted in the cloud can do so much more for their organization.

Key findings from our research include:

  • Cloud adoption is set to explode: 71% of contact center decision makers are actively considering the move, or say they are more open to adopting cloud technology.
  • The limitations of legacy equipment are tipping the balance towards the cloud: Over half of all contact center managers and directors say legacy equipment is preventing them from rolling out a multimedia infrastructure and becoming compliant; and just under 50% say legacy equipment is preventing their contact centers from meeting their KPIs.
  • The top five perceived benefits of a cloud-based solution are reductions in maintenance costs, flexible licensing models, access to a more advanced feature set, compliance with industry regulation and the ability to extend contact centers across multiple locations.
  • The increased flexibility of cloud-based solutions, the ability to quickly roll out new services and being able to essentially outsource compliance management are now outweighing any perceived former concerns, such as security or potential downtime.
  • Other frustrations with on-premises technology include the cost of upgrades, technical limitations, long deployment times and costly integrations.
  • The top three drivers to the cloud are the need to save money, the need to offer better services to the multichannel customer and compliance requirements.

The On-premises Problem

On-premises Contact Center Technology is Holding the Industry Back

Legacy equipment continues to be a big problem in the contact center industry. Our research found that it is holding back innovation and the ability to service today’s demeanding and multichannel customers.

Costly upgrades (cited by 40%), technical limitations (37%) and lengthy deployment times, together with the difficulty and cost of intergrating with existing infrastructure were the biggest frustrations (both 28%) with legacy systems.

And these frustrations are not only wasting scarce financial resources, they are also providing a barrier to the innovation the industry needs:

Contact Center HeadsetNearly 50% of contact center directors and managers agree that legacy equipment is preventing their contact centers from meeting KPIs.

Cloud Contact Center Headset54% believe that it is a financial drain on their organization.

Cloud Contact Center Headset56% state that it is perventing them from rolling out multimedia capability.

Cloud Contact Center SolutionAn additional 56% agree that their legacy system is a hindrance to PCI compliance.

Biggest Frustrations with On-premises Contact Center Hardware & Software

Thankfully, the tide is turning. More and more contact centers are moving away from their legacy infrastructure to a dynamic cloud-based solution that can offer businesses the opportunity to add new communication channels, even alongside their existing telephony infrastructure if needs be, without replacing these systems.

  • 40% Cost of upgrades
  • 37% Technical limitations
  • 28% Deployment times are too long
  • 28% Costly to integrate technology with my existing infrastructure
  • 19% Speed of product innovation
  • 19% Difficult to integrate technology with my existing infrastructure
  • 12% Other
  • 9% Difficult to manage planning and resources
  • 9% Vendors failing to understand my business needs

Cloud Converts

The cloud-based contact center market is set to explode as decisionmakers realize the strategic benefits of cloud solutions over on-premises.

Our research found that the cloudbased contact center market is set to explode with 71% of contact center decision-makers actively considering the move, or more open to adopting cloud technology.

While money-saving has historically been the primary driver for cloudbased contact centers, our research confirms that decision-makers are beginning to realize the strategic benefits of moving to the cloud, such as the ability to roll-out new features quickly and to better service multichannel customers.

Top Drivers for Moving to the Cloud

This is a significant shift in opinion. The cloud is moving from being simply the cost effective option, to becoming the option that best allows the contact center industry to react quickly to the needs of its customers and support them via any channel, from any device.

  • 52% Save money
  • 41% Better service the multichannel customer
  • 37% Stay up to date with the latest compliance requirements
  • 33% Roll-out new features quickly

OUR MANTRA

COST SAVINGS MIGHT BE THE REASON YOU DEPLOY A CLOUD-BASED SOLUTION, BUT IT WON’T BE THE REASON YOU STICK WITH IT. YOU SHOULD CONSIDER THE IMPACT OF A CLOUD SOLUTION ON YOUR ENTIRE ORGANIZATION, NOT JUST THE BOTTOM LINE.

Benefits of Adopting a Cloud Contact Center Solution

Those organizations that are using a cloud-based solution are reaping the benefits of their decision to ditch their on-premises system:

  • Cost savings and a flexible licensing model were cited by two thirds of respondents as the biggest benefit.
  • Half agreed that a cloud-based solution had given them greater flexibility
  • Just over a third stated that compliance with industry regulation was a key benefit

Interestingly, organizations that have rolled out a cloud-based solution are much less worried about managing customers across multiple channels than those with on-premises systems, suggesting a big vote of confidence in the future-proof benefits of the cloud.

Contact Center Managers get the Best of Both Worlds

Savvy contact center managers and directors realize that they don’t have to completely remove their on-premises equipment to move to the cloud. Cloud applications such as call routing software, customer relationship management systems, workforce management software, call recording software and IVR systems can all run alongside existing on-premises systems. This approach helps many contact center managers and directors to prove the benefits of a cloud-based solution, without completely having to rip out and replace all their existing on-premises equipment in a ‘big bang’.

OUR MANTRA

CLOUD ADOPTION NEEDN’T BE PAINFUL. YOU DON’T HAVE TO RIP OUT AND REPLACE ALL YOUR LEGACY EQUIPMENT. START TO MOVE YOUR TECHNOLOGY AND COMMS INFRASTRUCTURE TO THE CLOUD GRADUALLY.

Keep Contact Centers Compliant

Compliance is another key driver for moving to the cloud, cited by 37% of those interviewed in our survey. Compliance is constantly changing and it is costly to update legacy systems to adhere to the latest regulation, so it is not surprising that, as we already said, 56% of contact center managers and directors agree that their legacy system is a hindrance to PCI compliance.

And of course, PCI compliance is not the only regulation that contact centers have to contend with. An average blended contact center of 105 seats, managing inbound and outbound calls, has to adhere to up to 20 different regulatory requirements to ensure compliance with EU, Data Protection, the FSA and Ofcom regulations. With a flexible cloud-based solution, contact center managers and directors can ensure they are meeting today and tomorrow’s compliance requirements. In effect, compliance management can be outsourced to a cloud provider.

OUR MANTRA

COMPLIANCE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A HEADACHE. WITH THE RIGHT TECHNOLOGY IN PLACE, YOU CAN MEET ANY REGULATORY REQUIREMENT WITHOUT A GREAT DEAL OF EFFORT ON YOUR PART.

Flexibility of the Cloud

The flexible nature of a cloud-based solution means contact center decision makers can add and remove seats as and when required. Rather than pay up front for licences and hardware for whatever you estimate your maximum should be in the next 12 months, you can ‘pay as you go’, scaling up and down depending on the needs of the business.

This flexible business model gives contact centers the ability to bring in more staff on a short-term basis to deal with seasonal peaks, which in turn helps deliver maximum returns for those peaks without continuing with these costs when business is slower.

OUR MANTRA

ALL BUSINESSES HAVE PEAKS AND TROUGHS. CHOOSE A PARTNER THAT UNDERSTANDS THIS REALITY OF THE CONTACT CENTER ENVIRONMENT AND OFFERS A FLEXIBLE LICENSING MODEL THAT CAN SCALE UP OR DOWN.

Improved Agent Retention

Interestingly, our research found that those that have moved their contact center IT infrastructure to the cloud are much less concerned about employee retention, with only a third of those interviewed stating that employee retention is a challenge, compared to 60% amongst those who haven’t yet moved to the cloud.

There could be two reasons for this: first, cloud-based solutions are more easy to use than traditional on-premises equipment, making life easier for agents. Second, the flexibility of cloud solutions offers benefits to the agents as staff can be brought in on a short-term basis for peaks, and can even work remotely.

OUR MANTRA

THE AVERAGE AGE OF A CONTACT CENTER AGENT IS JUST 26 YEARS; A GENERATION THAT IS ACCUSTOMED TO TECHNOLOGY AND EXPECTS TO BE ABLE TO WORK FLEXIBLY. CHOOSE ASOLUTION THAT OFFERS THEM THAT.

Cloud Adds Reliability and Disaster Recovery to Contact Center Solutions

When asked about reliability and downtime, none of the contact center decision-makers surveyed using a cloud solution reported that they had ever had an issue. Yet despite this, 28% of our total survey base told us that they think reliability is a barrier to cloud adoption, highlighting a clear disparity in perception versus reality in this area. A small but significant proportion are viewing reliability as an issue, when the reality is that it is a core strength of using a cloud contact center solution.

Not only are cloud-based contact center software systems extremely resilient but even in the event of failure, having a solution in the cloud offers significant benefits over on-premises. In the case of call recordings for instance, data is backed up at least once, meaning there is no chance of losing them. If an on-premises system fails, contact centers often have no plan B. However, in the cloud users can rely on an entire back up system that can be implemented quickly ensuring that a disaster does not have to be a disaster for your contact center.

OUR MANTRA

A CLOUD-BASED CONTACT CENTER SHOULD OFFER A SIGNIFICANTLY MORE RESILIENT SERVICE THAN FALLIBLE ON-PREMISES SYSTEMS. SHOULD DISASTER STRIKE, YOUR CLOUD SYSTEM SHOULD HAVE EVERYTHING BACKED UP AND A PLAN B TO ROLL-OUT.

Relationship with Technology Service Provider

While not a technology related benefit, cloud-based contact center solutions are Software as a Service (SaaS), with the emphasis on service as well as software. With the traditional model of suppliers selling hardware to contact centers, that is often all they do: sell the hardware and licenses, with some offering limited professional consulting on top.

When asked about their relationship with their current non cloud-based contact center technology suppliers, a massive 65% of contact center decision-makers said suppliers either don’t understand their business, are only seen when there’s a problem or the contract is up for renewal, or are ‘constantly trying to get extra money out of us’.

With the SaaS model the relationship is ongoing, with service and support all part of the package, so these issues with non cloud-based providers shouldn’t occur. In West’s case, we go so far as to allocate every client a Success Manager, a highly experienced contact center professional who works with our customers throughout the life of a contract with the goal of helping them to make the most of the platform. That way every customer has a contact who is not a sales person, but an extension of your team with a full understanding of your business to work with you to adopt and maximize all the features and capabilities.

OUR MANTRA

DON’T PICK A TECHNOLOGY PARTNER WHO’LL PITCH YOU THEN DITCH YOU. FIND ONE THAT WILL UNDERSTAND YOUR BUSINESS, OFFER YOU THE SUPPORT YOU NEED, AND WORK COLLABORATIVELY WITH YOU TO ENSURE YOU GET THE BEST OUT OF THE SYSTEMS YOU ARE USING.

The Outlook

Technology concerns will be exacerbated as contact center managers and directors struggle to ascertain which solution will work best for their organization.

Our research found that managing the customer experience across multiple channels (44%), ensuring technology keeps pace with changing customer behaviors (40%) and developing agent skillsets (30%) were some of the key challenges that contact center managers and directors expect to come up against. In addition, managing the transition to cloud-based contact is clearly a priority for many contact centers (33%).

  • 44% Managing the customer experience across multiple channels
  • 40% Ensuring techology keeps pace with changing customer behaviours
  • 33% Managing the transition to cloud-based contact centers
  • 30% Developing agent skillsets
  • 23% Driving operational efficiency and cost savings
  • 21% Driving technological innovation and overcoming limitations of existing systems

Concerns Over Managing the Customer Experience Across Multiple Channels?

Interestingly, those managers in organizations operating with cloud-based solutions had no concerns about multiple channel communications, compared to 60% of contact centers using on-premises solutions who cited multichannel as a big concern.

  • 60% On-premises Users
  • 0% Cloud Users

OUR MANTRA

YOUR CUSTOMER’S BEHAVIOR AND EXPECTATIONS ARE CONSTANTLY CHANGING. MANAGE AND PREPARE YOUR CONTACT CENTER FOR THAT CHANGE.

Future Cloud Contact Center Concerns?

Of course with updating any technology, issues can occur and frustrations arise. Over two thirds of contact centers with a fully cloud-based solution cited loss of control as the biggest issue they faced. This is followed by voice quality (33%) and restrictive service level agreements (33%).

By choosing a solution that works closely with the contact center, offering a nonrestrictive agreement allowing flexible control, these issues can be avoided. With the wrong cloud solution voice quality could be an issue, but by using a cloud partner that is tightly integrated with the telephony network this can be avoided.

OUR MANTRA

AS WITH EVERY NEW TECHNOLOGY, THERE MAY BE TEETHING PROBLEMS. THE KEY IS TO FIND A LONGSTANDING VENDOR THAT KNOWS THE CONTACT CENTRE AND TELEPHONY ENVIRONMENTS AND WHO WILL WORK CLOSELY WITH YOU TO IRON OUT MINOR ISSUES. MAKE SURE YOURS DOES.

Conclusion

We’re still early on in the contact center cloud adoption curve, but our research confirms that we can expect to see exponential growth in the next few years. The cloud offers an attractive, viable and cost-effective alternative to the unresolved issues presented by legacy on-premises equipment, so it is no surprise that the majority of contact centers are weighing up the benefits of a move to the cloud. While we are still seeing lingering doubts about quality, reliability and security, these are increasingly being overturned by the reality that cloud solutions can offer greater surety in each of these three key areas.

The ways in which people communicate, and therefore expect to be able to communicate with businesses, has changed greatly in the last five years, and the pace of change continues to increase. Contact centers have to be become even more adaptable if they are to survive and arguably contact center in the cloud providers are best-equipped to deliver the technological innovation at the speed demanded by organizations and their customers.

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