CIOs need to evaluate certain criteria in order to smoothly migrate from an on-premise solution to a cloud based deployment, says Shaheen Haque, Territory Manager, Middle East and Turkey, Interactive Intelligence.
The tech savvy next-generation customer uses myriad devices and expects that each of these can be utilised as a powerful tool for support. The contact centre playing field has been dramatically altered by the extensive use of mobile devices which have now overtaken the telephone and PC as the preferred means of communication. Customers now demand round-the-clock support and are increasingly voicing their opinions and requests through social media channels.
Adapting to these changes and offering support through new channels can lead to more efficient engagement, a holistic overview of customer requirements and, most importantly, happier customers! Unfortunately, companies often fail to act due to outdated policies for customer support, a culture that is resistant to change, budget restrictions that limit new spending and lack of insight into customer comments and opinions. Additionally, many companies in the region have built their contact centres upon ageing hardware and software solutions. Because they are yet to extract the desired return on investment on these systems, they are stuck with legacy systems that inhibit their ability to dynamically respond to market changes and customer demands.
Even if budgets do permit, accommodating changes through the deployment of disparate premise-based point solutions creates an IT management nightmare and subjects IT teams to the worries of never-ending product upgrade cycles. The time spent on the deployment and maintenance of these solutions would be far better invested in efforts that actually drive business.
The need for flexibility and scalability and the ability to rapidly respond to changes in market demands, make a compelling case for cloud-based contact centre deployments. Cloud solutions enable companies to offer a greater degree of flexibility and, if implemented through the right vendor, can even translate to significant reductions in the cost of operations. These cloud customer support solutions now represent a fast growing market segment in the Middle East and support a dynamic market environment to drive real business value.
Cloud contact centre solutions enable companies to adopt leading-edge technology solutions to deliver a compelling customer experience and provide a connected cross-channel experience. Reaping the benefits of a cloud-based contact centre, however, depends heavily on selecting a solution from the right business partner, which will meet both present and future business requirements.
Selecting a cloud contact centre solution
Smooth migration from an on-premise solution to a cloud-based deployment, with the minimal impact on day-to-day operations, is vital. Ensuring this seamless transition is possible by taking steps to identify the right vendor for the job. Here is what organisations need to do when selecting their cloud solutions:
Identify and categorise business objectives
The decision to move to the cloud may be based on the need for new functionality which would have otherwise called for a large investment. Business makers need to identify their requirements and categorise them into short and long term. It is best to choose a solution that offers a range of capabilities which meet basic to highly specific requirements. This will allow dynamic scaling up or down depending on business needs at a later stage.
Avoid force-fitting as a means of cost control
One of the reasons companies have been reluctant to embrace cloud contact centre solutions has been that solution vendors offer a single fixed solution which they expect their customers to force-fit their operations into. Each company has a unique set of requirements which needs to be individually addressed. For example, certain customers, particularly those with stringent security and compliance requirements, prefer to have the voice path, recordings and/or other sensitive customer data stay within their internal networks, while others prefer to have everything up in the cloud. A company should never compromise its operations and policies simply because the cloud solution cannot accommodate changes without additional expense.
Evaluate the flexibility of the proposed solution
Companies should avoid solutions which lock them into a fixed configuration. In fact, choosing vendors who employ an open standards approach is best as this will both prevent costly vendor lock-in and will also allow reverse migration i.e. back to an on-premise solution if circumstances demand such a move.
Determine compatibility with existing infrastructure
Initially, migration of all services to the cloud may prove to be both difficult and risky. Organisations are therefore likely to adopt hybrid models which retain portions of their existing contact centre infrastructure such as voice communications systems and voice paths. Compatibility should hence not be overlooked when evaluating cloud solutions.
Transitioning to a cloud-based contact centre can enable organizations to create an entirely new and exciting experience for their customers. Leveraging technology in order to proactively support the changes in customer behaviour will result in superior customer experience and improved reputation of the company.