The stark truth about the UK economy is that many areas have been slow to respond to digital transformation. While there are always frontrunners and early adopters, the country’s generally conservative approach to change has hindered its capacity to fully reap the benefits of the technology on the table.
As the service industry grows its proportional contribution to the UK’s GDP, many companies still lack elemental components of building a competitive edge, such as access to historical customer interaction data. While cloud capability powers storage and infrastructural capacity for increasing numbers of businesses, almost two thirds of businesses still depend on premises-based technology for their customer engagement.
When it comes to contact centres themselves, there’s plenty of room for improvement. A lot of cost-heavy custom hardware and software deployments still power the traditional contact centre, but a decade of austerity, coupled with lower margins and leaner competition, increases the pressure to save costs and deliver flexibility.
On the other side of the experience, the majority of customers operate in the mobile digital world, which has shaped their expectations of brand service and responsiveness. Social proofing empowers disgruntled customers to punish brand reputations through negative online reviews over those growing and easily unmet expectations. The pressure is on businesses to deliver.
Customer service professionals are responding. Those who recognise the need for greater efficiency and effective collaboration are seeking the technology to enable their efforts to improve. Burdened by high-maintenance, expensive on-premises hardware, contact centre managers and IT leaders are turning to cloud providers for modern solutions. By 2022, contact centre as a service (CCaaS) will be the preferred adoption model in 50% of contact centres, up from approximately 10% in 2019.
Why cloud? Why managed software? While different businesses see stronger benefits in certain areas, there are a handful of general benefits that can make a big difference to a business’s bottom line.
1. Flexibility in operation
Unlike fixed systems, CCaaS allows managers to easily add seats when scaling, or remove when scaling down, as well as monitoring the seasonality of demand. Inbuilt staff scheduling can be managed flexibly, enabling workforces to plan and work responsively at unpredictable times. This helps contact centre managers to achieve the balance between delivering quality of service and keeping within staffing budgets.
2. Improved employee experience (EX)
While there’s an inescapable element of unpredictability to the nature of contact centre work, intelligent software can help keep that to a minimum, providing agents a much-needed degree of stability. Integrations with popular CRM software allow agents direct access to customer contact records so they have maximum context for every interaction. A collaborative in-house chat tool enables agents to ask questions to the team and get responses right away, which contributes to first call resolution.
The ability to provide genuine value to customers, and not be hampered by cumbersome tools or complicated processes, gives employees a higher feeling of job satisfaction, which is then passed on in their professional and personal lives.
3. Improved customer experience (CX)
The enablement of employees to provide first call resolution has a direct positive effect on the customer experience. Smart call routing via an interactive voice response (IVR) system enables customers to be routed directly to the right agents to solve their query. If an existing customer is calling, agents can see who it is thanks to CRM integrations and can immediately provide a personalised service.
The improved employee experience feeds into creating an improved customer experience, which not only improves business performance in terms of direct revenue, but also in terms of its share value.
4. Ability to meet your customers where they are
Customers dislike being passed around to find the correct person to speak to, and also dislike having to repeat the same information in order to get a resolution to their query. Given the popularity of interactive channels such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, customers expect to be able to interact with brands on their preferred medium. Integration with all these channels allows customers to communicate with agents over their channel of choice, allowing your business to meet its customers where they are and build valuable relationships.
5. Cost savings
Software as a service saves money through the avoidance of hosting on-premises hardware, which is expensive to install and manage, and often requires the retention of specialist skills in-house or the added cost of outsourcing to an external specialist. An internet-based telephone system is cheaper to run than a traditional line-based system, as it connects using voice over IP (VoIP), which is charged in terms of data rather than minutes. VoIP really comes into its own when applied to a global call centre setting, as VoIP and video messaging services can offer cheaper or even free calls globally.
Other benefits can be more nuanced or distributed, such as improved business continuity, integrated workflows, or a knock-on reduction in other business costs such as office space or travel expenses. It’s a fact that premises-based contact centres are becoming more expensive to maintain as businesses try to keep up with growing customer expectations. Any upgrade or functional change to a fixed system – especially at scale – requires a lot of planning and implementation time. Cloud based systems offer a greater level of flexibility at a significantly lower cost, which is tipping the balance in today’s fast-paced, zero-budget economy.