From Traditional Call Centers to Digital Contact Centers – Cloud Telephony Paves the Way for Service Innovation
- On December 14, 2016
For more than three decades, on-premise solutions have been the technology of choice for call centers. As customers demand more responsive services across channels, operators of call centers are increasingly interested in cloud solutions, which provide more flexibility and the most up-to-date features. Cloud telephony enables virtual agent organisations and supports mixed media services over IP, turning limited call center infrastructures into highly scalable contact center platforms.
Cloud Contact Center Market to Double by 2020
Organisations of all sizes, from small customer service teams with five agents to international call centers with more than 500, are transitioning to contact center solutions based on cloud technology. According to the latest edition of the Contact Center Infrastructure Market Report from DMG Consulting, the number of contact center agents using cloud solutions will grow by more than 20 percent every year over the next four years.
The reasons why call centers embrace new cloud technologies are manifold:
- Demand for faster service. Customers are not willing to wait – they expect fast assistance from their call centers. Cloud contact center services distribute incoming queries more intelligently, leading to faster response times. And the improved integration with CRM applications helps agents satisfy the ever-increasing demands of customers, as all relevant customer information is linked and made available to agents.
- Support for omnichannel. The traditional voice-only call center hotline is evolving into an omnichannel contact center service. Cloud services let agents track interactions online, whether they are handling them over voice, email, fax, SMS, chat, video or on social media. Through a unified agent interface, a contact center agent can respond to communications across different channels from one customer and is able to be much more responsive now, thanks to ubiquitous, omnichannel support.
- Trend towards virtual agent teams. With the increasing customer demand for fast and competent help, the contact center agent profile is fundamentally changing. Historically low-paying hotline agent jobs may disappear whilst the competition for real customer service talent unfolds. Flexible working hours and home office agreements are some of the benefits that attract talent and cloud telephony is the technical foundation for the modern requirements and demands of virtual contact center agents.
Superior Service through CRM Integration and Streamlined Processes
The integration of contact center solutions with CRM applications, and the exchange of real-time data, are essential prerequisites for agents that must be able to access the most up-to-date customer information at all times across channels. Because CRM applications are also shifting to the cloud services’ model and delivered through a software-as-a-service model, the integration with cloud contact center solutions and cloud telephone systems is managed through standard interfaces, and organisations are spared from costly and intensive customisation and bespoke work.
Cloud technology can even help automate processes and overcome geographical boundaries. Where in the past, agents had to go to work where the call center was located, the contact center now goes to where the agents are. Using a standard Internet connection, contact center agents can access a cloud solution from anywhere in the world. This enables agents to work remotely whilst supervisors monitor their performance, with full visibility and control over the quality of the service. Furthermore, escalation processes can be streamlined based on agent expertise, leading to more efficient service fulfilment.
Cloud Technology Creates Reliable, Scalable and Secure Contact Centers
Conventional call center solutions – with complicated and often fragmented hardware/software setups – typically find it tedious to keep up with system maintenance. On the other hand, with cloud solutions most required features and functionality are included in the basic subscription, and updates are downloaded online in the background – routine maintenance and system updates are hassle-free. Cloud technology mitigates upfront investment costs as well as the cumbersome need to maintain hardware.
Cloud technology provides secure access to all the information that agents require, regardless of the devices they use. All contact center services can be quickly reconfigured in case of a disruption and agents can even continue working from home. Relocating agents or expanding the contact center team becomes a seamless experience as agent seats can be easily moved and new agents licenses can be quickly activated.
The bottom line: Customers expect fast and competent help when they contact customer service, regardless of the channels they choose. The classic one-directional call center hotline is a relic of the past, and digital contact centers deliver a seamless, omnichannel service – from voice, fax and email to SMS, chat, video, and social media. Cloud solutions like NFON Ncontactcenter – available now in Germany and in other EU markets from Q2 2017 – help call center organisations to master this transformation – with no upfront investments, lower operational costs, and maximum scalability.