The demand for digital transformation is driving new investments and strategies aimed at modernizing today’s contact center, namely shifting functionalities to the cloud and leveraging artificial intelligence (AI).
Research and Markets estimates that the cloud-based contact center segment will be worth $45 billion by 2025, representing a 23% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) going back to 2019.
Much of this growth is attributable to advances in cloud computing that make supporting newer service channels easier than ever before.
Companies are migrating contact centers to the cloud in droves and are trading cumbersome on-site infrastructure for more agile and flexible pay-as-you-go solutions, allowing organizations to focus on their core competencies.
On-premises contact centers require hardware, software, and operational requirements, all of which consume IT capacity and budgets.
The cloud, on the other hand, provides the benefits of front-end capabilities without the challenges of back-end administration. In other words, it offers a more efficient and cost-effective path to building out high-performing contact centers that customers appreciate.
As time goes on, the solutions and innovations available through the cloud will only get better.
Today, companies already have access to next-gen AI-powered digital and voice-powered technologies, including intelligent virtual assistants and chatbots that augment human skills. For instance, AI assistants can authenticate customers, complete transactions, identify fraud, redirect calls, share account information, and more to free up live agents for more complex tasks.
What we’re seeing is the popularization of a new AI-powered contact-center-as-a-service (CCaaS) model that improves every year. Still, there are pitfalls of going the CCaaS route. As brands start to outline (and carry out) their 2022 New Year’s resolutions, they must be aware of them to make the most of their CCaaS investments. Otherwise, they risk disrupting and winding down reliable contact center operations without enjoying the benefits of the cloud.
With this backdrop in mind, here are the three most common issues organizations encounter when deploying CCaaS models.
1. Moving to the Cloud Too Quickly
Adopting cloud-native solutions and infrastructure doesn’t guarantee things will run better than they were on-premises. While the cloud certainly offers the potential to elevate IT operations, leaders must make careful decisions and get a clear understanding of what they are trying to accomplish through the cloud.
The problem is that many brands rush to the cloud without mapping out what they are transforming and how. Instead, they migrate quickly, thinking they’ll be able to flip a switch to turn on a new and improved contact center function.
The truth is that cloud-based contact centers take work to optimize. Each on-premises application or service offered through a contact center must be reimagined for the cloud.
For instance, an interactive voice response (IVR) system that a company fine-tuned over the course of 15 years won’t translate immediately to a modern CCaaS platform. It’s unreasonable to assume the cloud will automatically out-perform something that took years to get right.
Yet brands make this assumption all the time. And it can lead to disruption. Before that happens, leaders have to set reasonable expectations around how their cloud solutions will perform relative to the legacy on-premises systems. And take these steps:
- Slow down and evaluate every aspect of the contact center before moving forward with migration.
- Articulate how the cloud will enhance present-day workflows and map out all dependencies.
- Identify what needs to be rewritten/enhanced, create strategic roadmaps, and make sure to list all the actions needed to optimize the CCaaS solutions once they are up and running.
The more contact center managers do upfront, the quicker they recoup their investments.
2. Lack of Integration Experience
The second challenge brands face in implementing a CCaaS model arises during the actual migration.
When companies are transitioning, it’s common to see integration issues emerge between a new cloud solution and existing workflows or applications. These issues can interrupt customer service and create a host of problems for contact center managers. Downtime typically leads to higher call volumes and frustrated consumers.
There are bottom-line consequences. In today’s competitive environment, where customers have more buying power than ever, one bad experience can be enough to push a person to a competitor. And it’s hard to win these individuals back, even after launching a new cloud-based contact center.
Beyond higher call volumes and lower customer satisfaction, there are other ways a poor migration can cause downstream challenges.
For example, a minor drop in IVR containment caused by an integration issue can eat into savings and staffing efficiency. Human agents who should be dealing with more complex issues end up getting caught up in minor requests that an effective phone tree could handle. This is especially true for IVRs that have been optimized for specific vertical use cases.
Brands looking to replace on-premises contact centers can’t afford to have any integration issues when it comes time to migrate.
Again, the key here is to plan carefully and think about everything that could go wrong. Create contingency plans and train agents on what to do should anything happen during the transition.
It may also make sense to bring in a third-party consultancy with technical expertise and domain experience. These firms can validate migration plans and highlight potential bumps in the road before getting started.
3. Finding the Right Partner
The third mistake brands make when switching to a CCaaS model is believing their provider can match all the functionality previously supported on-premises, from engaging and serving customers to upselling them effectively.
Companies tend to be overly optimistic about providers because of how much demand there is right now for cloud-based contact centers. So many organizations are going in this direction it creates the illusion that all CCaaS providers are created equal and superior to on-premises models.
But there’s more under the surface that contact center managers should consider. For example, not all CCaaS providers have advanced natural language processing capabilities, and few are sophisticated enough to create seamless and automated omnichannel experiences.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to people who understand how hard it is to achieve such an ecosystem in the real world. It takes time, money, and energy to optimize the contact center and ensure consumers always have high-quality interactions regardless of when or how they initiate conversations.
Elite CCaaS providers will be open about what they can and can’t do for a business. They will also help contact center managers determine how they can generate long-term return on investment (ROI) versus short-term cost savings on the cloud. Having this type of guidance is helpful for brands that are just beginning to explore what’s possible.
However, if the ultimate goal is to incorporate conversational AI capabilities into contact center processes, the best approach is likely to find a partner that specializes in contact center AI implementations.
The right partner can help upgrade what’s already on the cloud and implement best-in-class tools that enhance customer service experiences dramatically. Therefore, contact center managers can increase ROI and create value for their businesses that were previously unattainable through on-premises infrastructure.
The important thing to recognize is that proven experience matters in this area. And it’s hard to find that experience in CCaaS providers.
The capabilities that separate good cloud-based contact centers from great ones aren’t often accessible through CCaaS providers themselves.
Consequently, managers should expand their searches to include companies that specialize in delivering cloud-based AI solutions.
Starting 2022 on the Right Foot
Looking ahead, brands that create exceptional customer experiences through the digital contact center will separate themselves from the pack.
In a world where consumers have all the power, it’s only becoming more important for companies to upgrade their abilities to provide omnichannel experiences that leverage AI to its fullest potential.
Contact center managers who figure out how to facilitate productive partnerships between human agents and AI will be immensely valuable to the enterprise going forward. And they’ll deliver the experiences that consumers expect when interacting with their favorite brands today.
Fortunately, now is the perfect time to set out on an exciting journey to transform the contact center forever.
There’s tremendous upside for leaders who approach the journey with caution, keeping the most common mistakes highlighted here in mind.
As with most digital transformation today, success is easier described than achieved, especially when it comes to longstanding enterprise functions, like customer service, which organizations have refined over time.
The good news is that there are excellent CCaaS providers and contact center AI specialists out there who know what it takes to thrive. The hard work is in sifting through the noise to find those partners.