By Rich Fox
Cloud-hosted call centers help ensure business continuity, improve agent productivity and lower costs. But despite being the customer service “front line,” the contact center is often overlooked when IT teams and executives are evaluating areas to improve or transform. It’s understandable when an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality takes over — customer IT pros are tackling dozens of pressing projects. It’s in these overlooked communications initiatives, however, where channel agents and managed service providers can deliver a true value-add for customers and prospects.
A simple analysis of a customer’s call center and its general phone system can provide a “lightbulb moment” for internal managers and channel partners alike.
Consider a few scenarios when traditional PBX systems fall short:
- Speed of service: A caller being on hold for an extended period could have a long-term negative impact on the bottom line. For many consumers, their last interaction with a company is the only one they remember. One instance where a customer “waited forever” for an agent or was bounced around different departments can cancel out years of good service and drive them into the arms of a competitor. Yet, with many premises-based systems, call-center managers and executives don’t realize how long callers are waiting, or even how many hang up before speaking with a representative. One of our customers thought they had plenty of staff and that no caller ever waited to speak to an agent. On the first day we moved the client to a new system, the company realized customers were experiencing 30-minute hold times. You can bet that was an eye-opener.
- Capacity insights: Many clients lack visibility into the number of inbound phone lines they need. In fact, after we deployed a hosted call center with robust reporting capability, one of our customers discovered they were receiving twice as many calls as they realized. The IT team never knew volume exceeded their phone line capacity, and that customers regularly received a “fast busy” signal.
- Disaster preparedness: While many companies put disaster-recovery plans in place for other components of the IT infrastructure, it’s the communications systems in a call center or within the organization that signals that a company is still open for business. With an on-premises system, a physical issue at the office, a power outage or some scenario that prevents associates from making it to the office can crush business continuity. With a cloud-based system and on-the-fly routing, your client’s employees can operate via any device, regardless of location.
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Make the Sale
Key customer benefits of a cloud-based call center include enhanced insight into business systems, cost savings, flexibility and seamless updates. For your channel business, hosting and cloud management revenue is a line you want to pick up. Some points to make with clients:
- Cloud systems can predict and handle demand spikes. Every call center will experience peaks and valleys. With many premises-based systems, an organization can only estimate when demand will spike. But with a hosted call center, internal teams can get granular reports, seeing exact peak days and hours in real-time. Supervisors can ensure that staffing schedules and break times are coordinated accordingly. And should an unforeseen event send demand through the roof, a cloud service can scale up quickly.
- Cloud systems are continually updated. A hosted call center delivers many features that are possible only with next-generation technology. For instance, with reporting capabilities, call-center managers can uncover data on the number of calls in a queue, how long callers are waiting and the frequency of abandoned calls. As new functionality is developed or security issues are found, the cloud-based contact center is updated centrally.
- Cloud systems are flexible. Call center as a service allows agents to maintain functionality no matter where they are, enabling a “follow the sun” strategy. Calls are always recorded and can be delivered to any location or any device without loss of leadership control and visibility. Hosted call centers also provide the opportunity to directly improve the customer experience by offering advanced routing capabilities and seamless integration into business applications.
One note: Any major switch, including from on-premises to cloud, should be carefully planned. Thorough and thoughtful agents understand how large IT deployments will impact a customer’s communications platforms — and they know that to be considered a trusted business adviser, they must provide this insight.
At Evolve IP, Rich Fox is the contact center director, which means he helps organizations use cloud technology to provide enterprise class telephony, network, and security solutions.