In today’s competitive business environment, customers’ expectations are higher than ever. They want 24/7 access to customer service help and they expect to be able to access all customer service channels at any time, day or night. Your company’s ability to respond to customer support calls rapidly while delivering a high-touch customer experience is a necessity. Positive customer support establishes brand loyalty and customer engagement, and it’s the lifeblood of your business.

To provide that golden standard of customer service, your contact center must rely on multiple tools and several layers of technology. These disparate systems and applications must also work together to deliver a complete view of the customer.  Contact center software and integrated business tools should empower customer service agents to quickly access customer data as well as support protocols that help solve customer issues quickly.

Cloud-based contact centers take off 

The added complexity and increasing demands placed on today’s contact centers could help explain the uptick in cloud-based contact centers over the past several years. In fact, the cloud-based contact center market is expected to grow some 24% from 2016 to 2021, per a December 2016 report from Research and Markets. That’s an increase in market size from $5.4 billion in 2016 to $15.7 billion. (Source: TMC News December 1, 2016.)

The benefits of a cloud-based contact center range from greater flexibility and scalability to lower startup costs. Other benefits include:

  • Greater agility
  • More complete and professional service offerings (i.e. multiple language support, high-tech chat functions, etc.)
  • SLAs ensuring consistent and reliable customer interactions
  • Shared resources in the cloud make startup costs lower
  • Ability to focus on key business initiatives

However, selecting the right vendor is critical in capturing the full benefits of a virtual contact center model. If you’re considering this route, it’s important to ask the following questions:

1) What reporting and analytics can you provide?

It used to be that the primary function of a call center was to take customer calls and to answer questions about products or services. Today, most contact centers need the ability to provide technical support, as well as check order status, process returns and orders and much more.

These touchpoints with customers are extremely valuable and may be one of the only one-on-one interactions customers have with your brand. Having KPIs in place, BI metrics and real visibility into what the customer experience is actually like are critical.

Dashboards and reporting- Ask your hosted contact provider if their cloud software has dashboards and reporting tools that will let you see how many calls are in the queue, how long customers are waiting, when and if customers jump ship, etc. Once the call center managers have that level of detail and analytics about customer interactions, they can better accommodate demand and improve service.  

2) How will your technology integrate with mine?

Because contact center agents need to access many tools at once, it’s imperative that the contact center software plays well with other business applications. Ask the vendor:

  • Will your cloud application integrate with my CRM applications, chat app, e-commerce system, and social networking platforms? How much is automated? The smoother business tools integrate with call center software, the more efficient and productive your team will be.  Imagine if when a note is created in your call center software, it also creates a note in your e-commerce platform? Or when a chat session is finished, the transcript is automatically saved to the CRM customer contact? These meaningful details captured and referenced can elevate your contact center to a more strategic function of your business.

3) How will your cloud platform make my life easier?

The right cloud-based contact center services improve business continuity because they ensure the same high-level of customer service is delivered across the organization. It also unifies multiple locations and remote agents on a single, integrated platform. That means when you make changes to your customer support strategy, such as launch new training on products or update procedures on handling support issues, you’ll be able to communicate plans once. By establishing a cloud-based contact center you can easily streamline operations and maximize productivity.

A unified platform can also help contact center managers perform lead generation, conduct surveys and obtain customer feedback using the same applications.

4) What support options are available?

Be sure to ask vendors what happens when something goes wrong. What are the service level agreements in place to ensure expectations are met? Make sure your potential providers offer consistent and reliable technical and customer support. A company that will stand by you when questions arise, integrations fail and glitches happen will pay dividends over the long run.

Companies looking to replace on-premise contact center solutions with integrated cloud-based models, stand to realize major improvements in business continuity. A cloud contact center strategy can also deliver cost savings and give companies the ability to offer more comprehensive and professional customer support options that help build customer loyalty. However, the key is to ask the right questions and find a provider that partners with you to meet your company’s needs.