Our benchmark research into the contact center in the cloud shows that almost all companies now support multiple communication channels to engage with customers. Most of them also involve multiple business units in handling inbound and outbound interactions. More companies now support at-home agents, and contact centers are becoming more distributed. These scenarios are a good fit for cloud-based systems, and the research finds that the top three ways organizations said they can meet these challenges, and thus improve the way interactions are handled, are to improve training and coaching, adopt applications in the cloud and adopt communications in the cloud. It also shows that organizations have high expectations of cloud-based systems, expecting them to require less capital expenditure, facilitate innovation in interaction handling, lessen demand on in-house resources, including IT and better support home-based agents.
The research shows as well that organizations have reservations about adopting cloud-based systems, among them likely responses times, overall performance, security of access and scalability. Because cloud-based contact centers are relatively new, there aren’t many examples of success to help allay these fears.
In this context I was pleased to see an announcement from Echopass that one of its customers has reaped multiple benefits by adopting a contact center in the cloud. Echopass was one of the first vendors to offer such a service, and it now offers services based on its Symmetry Architecture. As I recently wrote, Echopass has an interesting mix of third-party systems and in-house developments that it has combined to provide multimedia interaction handling in the cloud, and some elements of workforce optimization.
A number of business benefits cited by the customer in this case study concur with the primary benefits the research shows that companies expect by moving to the cloud, and the Echopass customer asserts that after using the services for five years it continues to realize these benefits. Closer examination of the case study indicates the company has achieved considerable cost savings and has seen its net promoter score rise dramatically. A part from pure savings in total cost of ownership in infrastructure and support costs, the company notes these:
- Average speed of answering calls has decreased, saving money and improving customer satisfaction.
- Average call-handling times have decreased. (Our research into contact center analytics shows this is the top priority for most contact center managers.)
- Targeted service levels have been exceeded.
- Agent productivity has improved, resulting in reduced head count.
- Call abandonment rates have lessened, improving customer satisfaction.
- Net promoter scores have improved because calls are being answered more quickly.
- The new quality monitoring systems and dashboard enable the company to focus agent training better.
One of the less tangible benefits is shown in this quote: “The Echopass solution allows us to focus a lot more on our customers and not worry about the technology or have it get in the way." Customers are what business is all about, and too often processes and systems get in the way of a true customer focus. This success story shows that a cloud-based system can take away many of the operational issues companies struggle with on a day-to-day basis and allow them to innovative with the customer as the focus. With that comes business success.
Our research shows that over the next few years more organizations will adopt cloud-based systems to meet pressing business and budget issues. They remain firmly on our research agenda. Keep following my blog and I will keep you abreast of new developments and similar success stories as they emerge.
Richard Snow – VP & Research Director