To cloud or not to cloud?
Across the enterprise software industry we have seen many different software functions move to the cloud. CRM, HR, ERP and many other functions have seen significant movement towards the cloud; ever heard of a little company called SalesForce.com? It’s different in the cloud contact center world however; there are just enough telephony complications, and privacy and security requirements that most contact centers have not yet migrated to the cloud. In fact according to a Nemerets study published in 2012, only 14 percent of companies had leveraged cloud platforms for customer service and contact centers.
Most of the movement we have seen here has been for smaller companies. What is holding other organizations back from making the leap to a cloud based customer engagement or cloud contact center model? There are a few challenges that hold people back:
- The telephony challenge: some cloud vendors require you to consume your telephony services as part of the contact center offering. For some organizations this is a good option, for others it just drives up telephony costs.
- The privacy and security challenge: Account numbers, social security numbers, personal data of all sorts can be part of the discussion you have with your customers; organizations are always nervous about letting that critical information out of their hands.
- The amortization challenge: That ACD down in your basement may not be pretty but it also may not be fully paid off yet. Most companies are not interested in paying for services in the cloud at the same time they are still paying off their current infrastructure on their site.
Judging by the fact that there is more text below here I must have some ideas on why these issues don’t have to be showstoppers to keep you from thinking about utilizing services from the cloud. A big part of this is to realize that there is no need to “move to the cloud” at all. Instead, think of your options as “adding into the cloud”. There are ways to expand your business in the cloud that don’t require you to move all of your operations there. The right implementation strategy will allow you to consume software and services on your premise or in the cloud in ways that are appropriate for you in a given moment; you may even see yourself start a function in the cloud and move it to your premise or vice versa.
- Help during peak season: Many organizations use the cloud as a sort of safety net, to allow them to handle high volume seasons; many organizations have peak times that they must cover; retailers during the holidays, florists on mother’s day, the IRS in April. Using a cloud solution to scale up temporarily and then give that capacity back to the vendor is often an appealing idea.
- Expand functionality through the cloud while you continue to pay off your old equipment: Voice Self Service lends itself to being delivered through the cloud and many companies mix cloud self service with agents on their premise. There may be new electronic channels that would be good to try in the cloud to better understand how best to meet your customers on the channel of their choice. You can provide services to your customers via Mobile, or email, or chat and integrate those systems into your on premise contact center while you pay down your ACD without having to make that big decision on moving ACD function to the cloud.
- Mix your telephony environment: It is possible today to have your core customer engagement services provided through the cloud while still managing your telephony environment on your premise.
- All at Once: For small organizations, either departments in large enterprises or small, and independent companies, a quick cut to a cloud based contact center may make sense; get rid of your equipment, keep capital outlays low and let someone else worry about the troubles of running your day-to-day operations.
The cloud is a lot like Gertrude Stein’s appraisal of Oakland: “There is no there there”. The cloud is not a destination. The cloud is about consuming services that help you serve your customers in new ways that will make a difference to your business. Your only responsibility is to make sure that whatever cloud solutions you consume are linked intimately with your on-premise tools so you can provide a seamless experience for your customers and you have the flexibility to move functions from the cloud to your premise whenever it makes sense for your business.
Check out our recent Ovum white paper on the benefits of moving to a cloud contact center today!