How cloud technologies are helping to future-proof contact center

– Written by Helen Johnstone

The recent shift in working practices has acceleration the adoption of cloud technologies. Unified Communications as-a-Service (UCaaS) is one of the fastest-growing technology sectors and Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) has also seen increased demand.

  • 75% of companies prefer a cloud-contact center over on-premises (source Metrigy)
  • CCaaS market to reach USD 10.06 Billion by 2027 (source: Fortune Business Insights)
  • CCaaS will be the preferred model of adoption for 70% of all new contact centers by 2024 (up from 20% in 2019). Source: Gartner, 2020

Before the pandemic, telecoms businesses had a relatively low growth profile but were extremely resilient. Now, many voice providers are having to consider how to provide feature-rich telephony, within a collaborative platform, such as Microsoft Teams. With contact center managers and Customer Experience CX leaders wanting solutions that are adaptable and scalable. Equally, customers have high expectations when interacting with companies.

  • Around 57% of consumers say that change is crucial to evolve the contact center. Source: Salesforce.
  • The recent Global Customer Engagement Report shows that the number 1 frustration, with 66% of UK consumers, was when they “have to repeat themselves to different people.”
  • Research, from Salesforce, shows 92% of customer interactions occur by phone

Mobile apps and bots are now front and foremost for accessing a brand, yet there is still need for contact center voice services, with Agents providing support for more complex queries and escalations. The contact center has proved indispensable for customer care and communications, both inbound and outbound. And voice is a foundational element, providing a more ‘human’ response. Some may say their voice channel has gone down in usage but up in value.

Unified communication channels are key in the evolution of the contact center. It is recognized that a disjointed digital strategy creates data siloes. Making the Agents work harder. Over the last year, this has been evident with many planning on leaving the industry. Yet the work from home (WFH) strategy is not being abandoned by contact centers.

  • 57% of companies are planning to continue a WFH strategy for their Agents (source Metrigy).
  • 91% of contact center professionals are planning to leave their roles in 2021 (Source: Enghouse)
  • Those that adopt workforce engagement management tools and processes are 60% more likely to have highly engaged and motivated employees. Source: Frost & Sullivan, 2021

Having a unified experience not only helps resolve issues quicker, increase customer retention and improve revenue and customer satisfaction, it also makes the Agents job more manageable and rewarding.

Convergence of CCaaS and UCaaS

For the contact center, the ability to seamlessly add communication solutions into everyday workflows is critical. The siloed, inflexible communications bundles of the past are no longer suitable.

  • Microsoft found that around 66% of companies are using at least 3 communication channels to connect with brands. Source: Microsoft.
  • 84% of business leaders agree that the coronavirus pandemic is fundamentally changing their contact center operations. Source: Forrester Research, 2021
  • Companies that utilize integrated unified communications (UC) and contact center (CC) solutions from a single vendor reported close to an 86.5% revenue increase (Source Metrigy Research)

Integration of UCaaS with CCaaS is becoming more common. One of the biggest benefits of CCaaS is that it makes it easy to align omnichannel contact center environments. Whereas through UCaaS, such as Microsoft Teams, agents can be more focused and productive, and increase the number of resolutions they can achieve each day. Contact center managers are looking to provide digital solutions that support Agents with the data, communication and collaboration tools they need.

When migrating to the cloud Contact Centre Managers should consider the integrations, open interfaces and product development roadmap of the solution being chosen. Ensuring the solution will meet future needs. Contact center and voice providers need to provide options that can be bundled to meet market requirements. Perhaps consider solutions that support hybrid models of both on-premises and cloud. As contact center managers can combine all the features that they are looking for, whilst minimizing the risk of transition.

Integrating popular contact center solutions with Microsoft Teams is a common need. By adding the Call2Teams UCaaS solution there is no need to rip and replace existing telephony. It is possible to deliver a direct routing solution that allows agents to interact with customers from any Teams endpoint.

What next for the contact center?

There is a common understanding that CCaaS provides flexibility, with innovation and scalability that is quick to deploy. With remote Agents, the management of the contact centre relies, to a certain extent on virtual monitoring and management tools. Security is also a greater challenge with a disparate workforce. And with a greater number of digital channels to manage reporting is key, with management dashboards needing to provide a picture of not just customer journey analysis, Quality of Service (QoS) monitoring, cost management but also employee engagement. Yet the rewards are worth it, with a greater employee and customer satisfaction and ultimately business revenue.

With greater use of digital channels, we are seeing the rise of AI-enabled intelligent automation and gamification. These technologies are being used to support the Agent and motivate better customer engagement. Delivered as a managed cloud service, automation is within reach of contact centers of all sizes. Virtual assistants delivered through chatbots is now widespread. Originally used as self-service channels, chatbots are increasingly being used to identify customer intent, provide contextual information and so support the Agent in delivering a better service. The adoption of gamification can also be a powerful tool in supporting and so motivating Agents, keeping them connected despite working from home. Gamification is one element of workforce engagement management (WEM) increasingly available within contact center platforms.

More immediately contact center managers and CX leaders are recognizing the need for unified solutions that eradicate data siloes. The line between UCaaS and CCaaS is being blurred. With the marketplace providing closer integration, reflected in the recent announcements by Mitel and Five9, as well as the XCaaS offering from 8×8. This is being driven by the need to deliver customer-centric solutions that deliver a five-star service.

The shift in working practice brought about by the pandemic is bringing innovation to the solutions that support contact center. Like many communications services, contact center has benefited from cloud technologies. CCaaS is rapidly growing and evolving, and is sure to bring changes that will have a wider impact across the whole of the communications sector.