Just as communication has come to mean so much more than face-to-face conversation, call centers have evolved into contact centers to encompass the myriad ways organizations conduct customer service.
Where a call center might simply receive and transfer calls, contact centers have the potential to power entire companies that have a robust customer service culture. Not only do these customer-facing departments handle outbound and inbound calls, contact centers also interact with customers through email, text messaging, social media channels, and other web-based messaging tools.
And since communication with customers is the force that drives sales, increases engagement, and feeds the bottom line, it wouldn’t be hyperbolic to call contact centers the brains, brawn, and heart of any successful organization.
The Difference Between Cloud-Based Contact Centers & Traditional Call Centers
Speaking to call agents is generally how customers interact with any brand on a human level. And with today’s communication taking place across an array of platforms utilizing ever-emerging technologies, customers have more ways than ever to contact you. Chat apps, social media, email, text messaging, and more—conversations now take place over numerous channels.
And customers have gotten used to it.
Through the course of one interaction with a call agent, a customer might send a message via your site’s contact page, then move the conversation to email to confirm information, before establishing contact on an actual phone call to accept an order or solve any issue. Another course of fielding a customer’s concern could start on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, and that might be all your agent needs to serve the customer.
No matter if it’s two steps or 10, it all exists in the omnichannel capabilities of a cloud-based contact center.
This is in stark contrast to traditional, on-premise call centers, which is a hardware-based platform where customer service relies on agent-centric labor. An on-premise call center provides communication hardware, operational infrastructure, and dedicated call agents—all located on site.
There are some fantastic and skilled people working in traditional call centers. However, even with the best agents in the world, call centers experience difficulty overcoming obsolete on-premise hardware and software, coupled with the cost complexity of constant upgrades and maintenance.
Ultimately, the traditional call center’s main shortcoming is simple: A failure to meet the customers where they are. Thanks to smartphones and universal, 24/7 access to technology that only continues to advance, a customer’s main line of communication might no longer be a “phone call.” And if you’re the type of call center that routinely sends outbound calls for marketing purposes, you can forget about convincing a customer to answer a phone call from any number they don’t recognize.
Contact centers that conduct business in the cloud eliminate communication silos, solve disorganized customer data, and generally improve cross-functional efficiency.
The Real Benefits Of A Cloud-Based Contact Center
Organizations across many industries are recognizing the importance of shifting to a cloud-based contact center. Digital Journal estimated that 90 percent of enterprises would incorporate cloud technology by this year, a prediction so striking that even half that number would represent a massive number of companies making the switch.
The main reason organizations would switch to the cloud? In short, the old way of doing things no longer makes business sense. According to the Harvard Business Review, businesses routinely lose revenue by continuing to invest in standard operational practices in traditional communications systems rather than cloud-based communications.
That underscores the first benefit of a cloud-based contact center, Reduced Cost. On-premise operations are typically paired with sizable, upfront licensing fees, along with upgrade costs and maintenance. Cloud-based systems running on monthly subscriptions typically cost less that purchasing, installing, and maintaining on-premise call centers. What’s more, the burden of updating software in a cloud-based system usually falls on the vendor, thereby reducing your administrative costs.
When you begin to notice cost savings, you tend to move faster on new initiatives, which is where the second benefit comes in: Faster Implementation. On-premise contact center software is installed on local servers, so fully implementing and deploying this software can often take months. But since cloud-based systems enable users to access software online, you can be up and running in a matter of weeks, if not days.
Then once your system is implemented, you can start to enjoy the next benefit, Increased Scalability. As you grow, your contact center will hopefully see a rapid increase in inbound call volume, meaning you’ll have to bring on more agents to meet the demand. Cloud-based contact center systems enable the scalability and flexibility to size up or down without adding new hardware and more laborious maintenance work.
Of course, if you’re seeing successful growth, you’re probably going to be more concerned than ever with security. Guess what? Cloud-based systems offer Increased Security as one of their major benefits. As software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications have multiplied and spread throughout the business world, data security has increased as well. Vendors specializing in cloud-based coverage invest heavily in the exact technical expertise necessary to protect data and maintain security.
With security accounted for, you might feel more comfortable hiring agents who work via remote access. Thankfully, the Ease of Remote Access is another benefit of cloud-based contact centers. As we all learned with the COVID-19 quarantine and the mass migration to working from home, businesses must be ready to shift to remote access at the flip of a switch. With cloud-based systems, agents, administrators, and all employees can access call software online, making managing remote workers supremely easy. Not only that, offering flexibility to your contact center agents could actually work to increase morale and productivity.
And what does a well-adjusted and productive call center team get you? It gets you happier customers, made even happier by the Improved Customer Experience associated with cloud-based contact centers.The level of digital experience you provide your customers truly matters. Any negative customer experience can lead directly to lost sales, decreased engagement, and a generally bad reputation. The younger generation of customers coming down the pike cares more about digital experience than any before it.
Your agents must meet those customers where they are—no matter if that’s phone, email, video chat, texting, or whatever new technology is on the way.
Make Contact With The Cloud
We know, making the leap from cozy, comfortable on-premise technologies to cloud-based solutions can be difficult and fraught with uncertainties. But cloud-based contact centers are growing and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Investing in cloud technology gives you the tools you need to meet customer demand and keeps you in the conversation.