carloscastilla - Fotolia
Organizations have moved infrastructure and applications to cloud environments for years, but others have remained skeptical about the merits.
With concerns about management, performance, security, costs and keeping a competitive edge, CX leaders question whether they want to relinquish their tightly controlled contact centers to a third party. But this debate has changed as businesses realize the benefits of moving to a cloud contact center.
Initially, small contact centers with fewer than 50 agents were the most prevalent cloud contact center users. However, research has shown that contact centers with tens of thousands of agents in cloud environments have great success after the move. Cloud providers are plentiful, including those with both on-premises and cloud options, such as Avaya, Cisco, Genesys and Nice inContact, and those that are pure cloud providers, such as 8x8, Five9 and RingCentral.
Reasons for moving to the cloud
The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically accelerated cloud contact center migration. Multi-tenant cloud contact centers account for almost 36% of deployments, while single-tenant, cloud-hosted platforms comprise 25.3% of deployments, according to research firm Metrigy's "Customer Engagement Transformation: 2020-21" global study of 700 organizations. Overall, contact center leaders benefit from cloud environments more than ever before.
Before the pandemic, the top triggers for businesses moving to cloud contact centers included the following:
- On-premises contact centers reached their end of life, and replacing them was cost-prohibitive.
- Global expansion was a top priority but would take too long to expand in the desired time frame with an on-premises service.
- New executives in the C-suite mandated apps and services move to cloud environments.
- There was a corporatewide shift from a capital cost structure to an operational spending structure.
- Fluctuations in business required the ability to scale up or down to meet customer needs quickly.
While many of those reasons still apply, remote work has also played a critical role in cloud contact center adoption. As a result of the pandemic, many factors drive cloud migration, including the following:
- the need to support remote contact center agents and agents who remain in the office;
- the need to embrace emerging contact center technology, including AI, communications platform as a service (CPaaS) and omnichannel to meet customer expectations for digital engagement;
- global expansion that can quickly scale to support customers in new markets;
- cost savings from reducing on-premises server management, public switched telephone network connectivity and other infrastructure needs; and
- flexibility to quickly scale up or down to meet customer needs while ensuring quality management.
Benefits of cloud contact centers
Once contact centers started to operate in the cloud, most centers typically saw quick and measurable results in terms of ratings, interaction options for customers and cost. Organizations also found cloud contact centers prepared them better for advanced apps.
Metrigy has measured significant benefits of cloud contact center adoption and discovered that organizations using cloud contact center technology made up the largest segment of the success group.
Key benefits include the following:
1. Demonstrable improvements in customer service success. Metrigy defines success groups as those with the greatest customer satisfaction improvement in driving new revenue, cost reduction, CX improvement and improved agent productivity.
2. More interaction channels. Organizations with cloud contact centers also have more interaction channels, such as voice, email, text, mobile business chat and video, than on-premises contact centers -- on average, 6.31 channels vs. 4.71, respectively. These organizations said it's easier to add more channels with a cloud provider versus implementing and testing new, on-premises servers and supporting software.
This point matters because customers rate the companies with which they do business higher when they have more options for interaction. Ratings improve by 63% for companies with eight or more channels, compared to those with fewer than four.
3. Lower operational costs. Another benefit of cloud contact centers is their lower operational costs than those of on-premises software. The cost breakdown is as follows:
- hybrid contact center as a service (CCaas) -- $1,356 per agent per year;
- full CCaaS -- $1,905 per agent per year; and
- on premises -- $2,104 per agent per year.
4. Ability to futureproof. Perhaps the most important benefit of cloud contact centers is they prepare organizations for the future, so they don't fall behind competitors' innovations. Cloud users are more apt to adopt AI-enabled capabilities: 49.8% use AI with cloud contact centers vs. 25% with on-premises contact centers.
5. Built-in flexibility. Another benefit of cloud preparation is that organizations that want to stay on premises can still innovate in cloud environments with CPaaS providers, such as Bandwidth, IntelePeer and Twilio.