Contact centres are expensive. Not only is there a huge cost in office space, furniture, electricity and other necessities, there’s the cost of acquiring, managing, and running the computing infrastructure to power the agents.
A move to the cloud can help not only cut costs, but improve customer satisfaction, and thus reduce churn. In a cloud-based contact centre, the computing infrastructure, including the software that agents use, is purchased as a service from a cloud-based provider. Today’s products often include capabilities that allow multi-channel monitoring and response; for example, pulling in requests from Twitter or Facebook as well as from traditional sources such as email and telephony. Customers may also be able to interact with agents in real time through online chat.
Products sold by subscription provide the flexibility to only pay for what’s used, rather than having to resource for the worst case scenario and leaving the infrastructure idle most of the time. In peak periods, it’s easier to scale up quickly since the cloud provider just has to allocate more resources; corporate IT doesn’t have to worry about acquiring and configuring new equipment.
There are quantifiable gains in a move to a cloud-based contact centre. In a 2012 survey by the Aberdeen Group targeting mid-sized to large contact centres (average: 252 seats), 45 per cent of respondents said that cloud-based contact centres improve customer satisfaction, 32 per cent said they improved agent productivity, and 26 per cent cited reduced IT and maintenance costs and increased profitability. Improving business flexibility through scaling contact centre activities was also cited by 26 per cent.
In fact, the report noted:
“Scalability helps companies address this challenge [of unpredictable customer traffic] by providing adequate computing resources required to operate contact centers at different traffic volumes. As a result of this greater availability, contact centers can address a larger portion of customer contacts, which helps them reduce abandonment rates and ultimately drive down the cost of customer churn tied to unaddressed customer needs. Such reduction in cost of customer churn is the “hidden ROI” associated with scalability benefits cloud-based contact centers provide to organizations.”
It also pointed out that downtime in cloud-based contact centres was 36 per cent lower than in traditional contact centres.
The cloud also improves both agent satisfaction and call centre flexibility by allowing calls to be distributed to remote agents during peak periods, or on holidays, effectively creating a virtual contact centre that functions as though it were in a single location. Yet with monitoring tools, supervisors can still ensure quality is maintained.
In fact, Aberdeen’s survey showed that companies with cloud-based contact centres were much more likely to generate customized reports that help them assess agent performance, and to use the reports to provide agents with feedback for coaching and training purposes. They were also 30 per cent more likely to store activity information and analysis for future use in capacity planning and scheduling.
From a customer point of view, all this should result in shorter hold times as well as assistance from happier, better-trained agents.