Cloud solutions have become a useful alternative to premise-based or hosted deployment options for contact centres. Managers often face a challenge of when to adopt a cloud-based application over these other methods. Making a decision based on initial application cost alone could actually result in an increase in overall contact centre operational costs in the longer term. This is because there are additional considerations to be made when reflecting upon the use of applications based in the public cloud, these include:
Security: Contact centre professionals strongly agree that data security is a great concern regardless of location. There appears an underlying concern that public cloud products may be more vulnerable to security risks than technology in a private cloud instance or keeping the application on-site. Irrespective, everyone agrees that the costs of recovering from any security breech is often significant.
Service availability and control: Surrendering IT control to a cloud-based vendor means key contact centre applications are at the mercy of a third party in terms of business priorities. Even a short period of poor vendor service could have expensive consequences for the contact centre.
Latency and performance: Spikes in network traffic volumes impact both data and voice traffic. Peaks can slow down page refresh rates, transaction times and more frustratingly result in broken conversations for applications based in the cloud. These delays contribute to poor customer experience and could have serious cost and associated implications for any real-time systems accessed by customers or agents.
How do you decide when to use the cloud?
The answer to this question is two-fold. Firstly, any investment decision should be driven by a compelling business case. Secondly, any decision should reflect a balance of operational requirements followed by an assessment of the impact of the total cost of ownership (TCO) for contact centre operations. Managers need to assess strategic needs versus tactical actions as they balance these factors:
- Seasonality: Does your organisation need to add capacity during seasonal peaks and troughs to handle demand fluctuations? With on-premise this is likely to be expensive and resource time-intensive. In the cloud, the subscription model allows you to only pay for the agents who are using the system, and it is quick to add 'burst' licences or short term capacity increases to cope with seasonal demand or competitive challenges. Examples of implementing a cloud-based product as a tactical solution could be smoothing out call peaks or perhaps using an automated online form facility to help manage queues.
- In-house resources: Deploying on-premises systems often consume IT resource for several months, whereas cloud-based solution implementations are usually quick and simple. Most cloud solutions offer easy-to-use administrative tools, updates and upgrades, and maintenance is automatically managed and new features and functions are quickly delivered. Strategically assessing the requirements needed to provide the IT resource to manage specific projects can lead to cloud being the preferred choice as the drain on internal IT resource is reduced.
- Managing a diverse infrastructure: Implementing a complex mix of standalone systems within a contact centre environment often means that agents will need to log into and navigate between multiple systems while IT and Procurement departments will have to manage multiple suppliers. Transforming customer experience demands that systems are integrated. Any deployment decision must ensure that applications integrate and work together seamlessly.
Look for a strategic approach to contact centre investments. Any outcome relies on a balanced assessment of priorities while taking the contact centre maturity levels into account. There is not a single deployment model that is always best for every organisation at every stage.
Delivering exceptional customer experience at optimised cost is not just about technology and deployment methods; it requires a multi-disciplined approach to people and processes to ensure a consistently excellent performance.
Business processes must be constantly examined to highlight opportunities for improvement. The systems of support and training for agents are critical to success.