What Contact Centers Look for in a Cloud Service Provider

What Contact Centers Look for in a Cloud Service Provider

By Special Guest
Jacki Tessmer, Vice President of Cloud and Service Provider Strategy for Enghouse Interactive
  |  November 17, 2016

As technology advances, the challenges around customer care become greater for all parties involved. Customers have a multitude of options, for products and services, from whom to buy from and how they want to engage to buy. Customers also have unprecedented capabilities to share information about the products and services, as well as about their experience doing business with a company.

For businesses, this raises the bar for customer service expectations in many ways, and increasingly their existing investments in contact center technology are making it difficult, if not impossible, to keep pace. On the supply side, the emergence of cloud-based contact center platforms is disruptive to conventional vendors, but also an opportunity for service providers to enter this market with “as-a-service” solutions.

Service providers have their own disruption challenges to address, especially as their legacy contact center offerings are losing ground to Web-based cloud alternatives and an ever-increasing range of competitors. For a variety of reasons, service providers are looking to leverage the cloud, needing to remain a key partner with their clients and to tap into new revenue opportunities.

Cloud contact center is one such opportunity, and service providers are well positioned to enter this space, but only if they take a thoughtful approach. While the cloud represents a direct path to market, today it is a crowded market , so service providers need to understand what this market really needs in order to differentiate themselves from everyone else trying to do the same thing.

One way to do this is to consider what decision-makers will be looking for in a cloud-based offering, and this is much more than the core technology behind a contact center solution. To a large extent, the contact center technology and core feature set will be table stakes, and those will be addressed by the contact center application vendor that the service provider partners with.

Beyond the basics of features and technology, contact center decision-makers need to understand the value of a cloud-based solution. Their experience with premise-based solutions will set certain expectations for the cloud. For service providers to differentiate, they’ll need to address their prospects’ expectations and be able to deliver on what cloud contact center prospects need – not just in contact center technology and operations, but in real “value add” services.

There are many factors service providers should consider in their quest to position themselves as key to their customers’ cloud contact center success. As a starting point, this post will touch on four.

Financial model  

First and foremost, contact center decision-makers face financial constraints to upgrade their capital-intensive infrastructure to meet today’s customer needs. Moving to the cloud becomes viable if they can build a business case for CCaaS. The pros and cons need to be carefully assessed, but once that’s in place, they’ll be ready to consider the solution itself. Successful service providers engage with their prospects to help define the value of the cloud model and work with their prospects to build the cloud contact center business case

Performance 

Cloud adoption is growing, but reservations still exist in terms of its reliability and performance quality compared to premise-based systems. Key indicators will be service uptime, Quality of Service metrics and business continuity due to network disruptions. These concerns are especially important for contact center decision-makers, as they may be less familiar with cloud platforms than their colleagues in IT. Smart service providers proactively educate their prospects about what they offer for service level performance and describe how they are oftentimes better positioned to offer security compliance and services such as geographic redundancy, which improves business continuity.

Managing complexity

The contact center has evolved as customer expectations have become more demanding. Complex technology is required to manage the increasingly connected and interactive communications between customers and agents. Contact centers face similar operating pressures to IT, and have limited resources and expertise to stay on top of today’s technology, let alone what’s coming tomorrow. This is a major pain point that communication and application service providers can address by serving as a single point of contact, not just for deploying and operating the CCaaS application, but also by providing integration services and “connectors” between the cloud contact center platform and the other applications in the prospects’ contact center operations.

Flexibility  

This is a core attribute of the cloud, and will resonate with the contact center prospect in many ways. First is the ability to right-size operations by scaling seats and licenses up or down as demand dictates. Second is the flexibility to fully deploy CCaaS or deploy in a hybrid model where some elements remain premise-based and are integrated into the cloud applications. When a service provider has the ability to offer a range of applications as well as contact center best practice expertise, they help their prospects move closer to an omnichannel solution, where customer – agent interactions are connected and contextual. This is becoming an important driver for contact centers of all sizes; there is a need to better manage their customers’ experiences and map the customer journey. Service providers should look to become part of an extended contact center business solution.

Conclusion

This set of key success factors is far from comprehensive, but represents a strong set of attributes that contact centers will be looking for in a cloud-based solution provider. They are looking for a different way of doing business than they had with their incumbent, premise-based contact center vendor. Cloud contact center prospects aren’t just looking for a different technology; they are looking for improvements on what they have, changes in how they pay for it, advice on how to improve their contact center operations and, ultimately, a more involved partner that engages with them to improve their business.

Communication and application service providers are ideally positioned to give their cloud contact center prospects what they need – a real partnership where the partner has the right applications, operational capabilities and contact center technical and business expertise. When service providers excel on these fronts, they will have a competitive advantage. And when cloud contact center prospects choose a service provider that understands and communicates how they are best able to meet their needs, the provider and the customer are on the path to joint success.

If you would like to explore more on the topic, please see the article authored by DMG Consulting What Contact Centers Want Most from Cloud Technology Providers posted on our website.




Edited by Alicia Young
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