The cloud is continuing its relentless march into contact centers in 2014. According to recent research from IDC, the majority of enterprises in the US are already either using or evaluating a cloud contact center solution. Only 23% of enterprises it surveyed were using an on-premise contact center and were not evaluating a cloud-based alternative. This compares to 39% who were using a cloud service and another 38% who were evaluating one.
There were a number of reasons cloud was proving so attractive to enterprises. “End consumer demands combined with a need for speed, flexibility, and cost reduction are all driving companies to evaluate hosted and on-demand solutions,” comments Melissa O'Brien, Research Analyst, Worldwide Contact Center Services, IDC.
This strong preference is reflected in IDC’s prediction that spending for US cloud contact center services will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.5% to reach $1.6 billion in 2018. It measures hosted contact centers separately, and predicts that spending on these services in the US will grow from $1.1 billion in 2013 to $2 billion in 2018.
improving customer experience
The analyst says that cloud contact centers can play a key part in helping improve the digital customer experience. “Many enterprises have found that using hosted or on-demand contact center solutions enables more flexibility and other benefits to help meet customer expectations,” explains IDC’s O’Brien. “By outsourcing contact center business processes and applications, enterprises are often able to achieve greater flexibility and quicker access to new channels as customers demand support on those channels.”
This is echoed by analyst the Aberdeen Group, which surveyed cloud contact center adopters and found that 45% of them chose the technology to improve customer experience. The other main drivers were improve agent productivity (32%), reduce IT and other maintenance costs (26%) and improve business agility (26%) [respondents were able to choose more than one option].
scalability reducing churn
The scalability provided by the cloud contact center platform was a key factor that contributed to improving business agility, because “unpredictable customer traffic was the top challenge impacting how contact centers utilize their existing resources to address customer needs,” said Aberdeen Group.
The flexibility to scale up and down means that enterprises can access more contact center resources when required, thereby reducing call abandon rates – which it says are 4.5% in cloud contact centers compared to 6.2% in on-premise deployments. This helps reduce customer churn says the Aberdeen Group, which calculates that cloud contact centers enjoy 27% lower costs from customer turnover than on-premise alternatives.
choosing cloud contact center provider
With these benefits its little surprise that cloud contact centers are so popular. So how should enterprises go about choosing a cloud provider? In its advisory report on Asian Contact Centers, Current Analysis has some advice on choosing a hosted contact center provider. It recommends six factors that enterprises should take into account:
- infrastructure capabilities including call collection, service uptime guarantees, failover/disaster recovery and customer data backup/recovery;
- contact center roadmap including the flexibility in implementing functions across either a group of agents or geographical locations;
- the extent of professional services available and how long is required to deploy the service;
- wholesale cost of calls for call collection through the provider;
- per-agent cost, especially where non-standard functions are included;
- ability to broaden contact center functionality into the enterprise to include other knowledge workers to help solve customer queries.
Are you using a cloud contact center? Was improving the digital customer experience a key driver for your choice?
After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.