Numerous businesses rely on contact centers to field customer inquiries and manage customer service issues. Any disruption in network connectivity to these contact centers can lead to a loss of business and lost customer loyalty. Given that contact centers often support customers in stressful or frustrating situations, the need for high-quality service is even more vital to company longevity. If an already unsatisfied customer is faced with a dropped call or degraded audio quality during their contact center experience, it can reinforce their dissatisfaction and perhaps cause them to give their business to a competitor.
Business and IT leaders have taken note of the impact contact centers have on overall customer satisfaction and have invested in tools to optimize these experiences. As a result, the contact center market has witnessed a tremendous evolution over the past decade giving birth to the concept of contact center as a service (CCaaS). CCaaS is a cloud-based customer experience solution that allows companies to leverage a contact center’s software for its own customer service operations. Now, as organizations are looking to partner with contact centers that offer cloud-based services over traditional on-premise offerings, contact centers are adapting cloud-based voice and messaging capabilities to remain competitive.
Transitioning contact centers from on-premise hardware to the cloud can deliver numerous benefits, including greater flexibility, better cost structures, faster deployment times, easier provisioning, as well as outsourced management and maintenance of distributed sites and agents. Additionally, cloud-based contact centers also reduce the burden on IT teams, allowing them to focus their resources on other strategic initiatives to grow revenue.
Despite the growing popularity of cloud-based communication services and the multitude of benefits they offer, some contact centers and businesses are still reluctant to make the switch because of the investments made in current infrastructure and staff. Given contact centers are so vital to a company’s bottom line, understandably it can be unnerving to switch from utilizing traditional telecom services to migrating services to the cloud. However, if done with attentive and strategic planning, the transition from traditional telecom to cloud-based contact centers can be smooth and ultimately result in ample process improvements.
Steps for Migrating Your Contact Center
To ensure minimal disruption and business as usual, IT teams and business decision-makers should approach contact center cloud migration with a thoughtful game plan. Below is a checklist to help enterprise leaders simplify the process of migrating contact centers to the cloud, from planning to execution.
Before starting the migration process, consider the needs of customers and the contact center. Examine what the contact center does well and what needs improving. What channels are being used? Does the center or business support voice, chat, email, self-help, SMS and social? Evaluate what systems would be best supported by a cloud provider and use data to support this evaluation.
Create Realistic Objectives and Anticipate Challenges
With an understanding of the contact center’s needs, IT leaders can begin to develop a plan to meet their goals. Having a plan in place will provide oversight and structure to help the IT and customer service teams stay on track during migration. For the best results, the plan should include phased steps of the migration and address questions such as:
- What features should be migrated first and why?
- How and when should the migration be communicated internally to employees?
- What type of training will be provided to employees?
- How will service changes be communicated externally to customers and partners, ensuring transparency on any sort of changes or delays?
Select a Provider
With a plan in place, the organization is now ready to find a partner who can support their journey to the cloud. Enterprise leaders evaluating providers should consider the following:
- What features does the provider offer that align with the needs of the contact center?
- Do they offer a flexible pricing model that works with available resources?
- How quickly do they deliver new capabilities and features?
- Can they support the industry’s regulatory operating environment?
- How reliable and secure is their service?
- How do they report performance and satisfaction?
- What service and support options do they offer and how do their customers rate them?
- How can they support scalability and customization?
Casting a wide net and evaluating cloud-based communication service providers from every angle will ensure that the contact center and, ultimately the business, finds a vendor that can meet immediate needs, as well as a long-term partner that can grow with them as they continue to evolve.
Trial and Test solutions
To ensure migration to the cloud is successful, it is essential to pilot and test services before going live. Testing enables the business to familiarize itself with the contact centers new features at its own pace to ensure the new offering is fully operational before going live to customers and service representatives. Given that a contact center is often the first touchpoint for many customers, it’s crucial that any new technology runs smoothly in a test environment before being deployed for customers in public use.
Further, testing services within a controlled setting such as a sandbox environment creates a safe atmosphere for any errors—it also offers employees time to ask questions and learn about the new features. After testing has been successfully completed, it is a best practice to provide trial offerings to select partners or customers letting them know the parameters of the pilot and new features.
If a business takes a hybrid approach, implementing cloud migration on a step-by-step process while maintaining some aspects from their legacy communications infrastructure, they can test features independently. This phased approach can help the business zero in on and become familiar with the workings of each type of communication feature as it pertains to customer interactions throughout the migration process.
Evaluate Customer Needs and Be Proactive
In today’s competitive and customer-focused marketplace, a business must stay on top of its customers’ changing needs and preferences to remain successful and ensure brand loyalty. With 87% of customers saying brands need to put more effort into providing a seamless experience, expecting instant and flawless voice and text services, contact centers have a responsibility to deliver. Anything less than stellar service has the potential to negatively impact a company’s bottom line, resulting in customers considering competitive solutions.
After making the switch to the cloud and migrating calling and messaging services, a business should remain active in evaluating its customers’ needs and anticipate any shift in preferences. This could include customer surveys, monitoring responses on social media or hosting focus groups.
Anticipating customers’ preferences will help ensure the long-term success of the migration and the resulting offerings. Thankfully, cloud-based solutions allow businesses to be nimble as customer needs and industry offerings shift over time. Given the scalability of cloud-telecom services, once a company has migrated, it can easily integrate new customer engagement capabilities such as messaging into existing applications to foster better collaboration, which creates a more tailored and unified customer experience.
Plan and Prepare Well to Minimize Service Disruptions
As contact centers continue to play a vital role in a company’s success and ability to satisfy customers, optimizing contact center experiences also need to stay top of mind. Business leaders considering migrating services to the cloud will find success as customer engagement preferences continue to evolve.
To avoid common pitfalls and ensure a smooth migration from legacy telecom to a cloud-based communication solution, businesses need to evaluate customer and company needs, outline their goals and create a plan to meet those goals, partner with a trusted provider who is right for them, pilot their offerings and monitor for success. Making this effort will ultimately ensure a successful migration, with minimal to no interruption in customer service, and help companies stay of ahead of competitors.