Cloud-based contact centres taking hold thanks to ROI

Gareth Cartman is a digital marketer with a particular passion for CRM, having worked with a number of CRM businesses.

Recent research by Nucleus put the focus on contact centres. Their claim was twofold – firstly that there was significant ROI to be had, but equally that choosing the cloud route allows for more cost-effective customer service – if not better customer service. 

Looking purely at cost, the case for the cloud-based contact centre is clear – the initial and ongoing costs are a fraction of on-premise options, for all the reasons that we’re already well aware of (software, hardware, staffing & resourcing). However, the claim that businesses who move from on-premise to the cloud are likely to recoup their investment solely through the savings on licences is a startling one.

More interesting, though, is the intangible aspect of moving your contact centre to the cloud – the aspect that says “your customer service will improve”. Isn’t this what we’re all looking for? Essentially, the means of delivering excellent customer service is of no consequence – it could be in the cloud or in the clouds themselves for all our customers care. All we’re looking for are ways of making our customers happy – so how does the cloud drive this?

The single-view dashboard

Cloud technologies bring together the wide range of potential channels of communication, from e-mail and phone transcripts to tweets and scanned-in documents. Customers will then benefit from a more personalised service, where conversations can carry on regardless of who within the centre they are talking to.

Warren Butler, Marketing Director at Dynamics CRM Partner Preact, says that the benefits of a 360-degree view are multiple: “Contact centres are the busiest hub of any business – that’s where customers invariably end up, and it’s essential that every point of contact within the centre can pick up the thread seamlessly. The challenge that cloud technology meets head-on is that multi-channel challenge – one customer may have tweeted, e-mailed, called on several occasions, and could now be on the phone. That combined history is pure gold for the customer service representative.”

Technology that always advances

Cloud contact centre technology has evolved to include features such as call queuing and mobile VOIP, putting it technologically ahead of on-premise solutions. Effectively, you’re cutting down the time it takes for a customer to get an answer to their problem.

Constant upgrades in the cloud give you permanent access to the latest technology with no installation and no IT intervention. You’ve cut down cost, and at the same time (this is a rare thing), you’ve improved the end product.

Nucleus call it “less disruptive innovation”, which is apt. You can’t assume that contact centres with on-premise technology don’t want new technology – they’d just have to experience significant upheaval to get it.

A flexible workforce, for flexible customers

Nucleus found that companies were increasing adherence and occupancy through the cloud, using that technology to offshore and allow remote working with no visibility to the customer. Now, with Marissa Mayer’s famous declaration that all Yahoo home workers are to cease remote working, the “WFH” culture is under close scrutiny, but be under no illusion, there is a serious financial and environmental case for remote working.

O2 in Slough discovered that a one-day experiment in home working with 3,000 employees increased productivity, saved money and reduced their carbon footprint. Now, one might think that a day away from Slough would reduce anyone’s productivity, and while the study may not be as scientific as it could be, it underlines the importance of flexibility.

If you can combine increased productivity with increased ability to direct phone calls according to different tiers (e.g. certain levels of technical support to offshore locations), then you benefit from the best of both worlds.

Your flexible approach is mirrored by that of the customer – they expect an instant response from someone, regardless of the time of day and of the method of their enquiry. The cloud-based contact centre has the technology to achieve this.

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