The pandemic has changed how nearly every industry operates, but one of the most significant shifts has been in the contact center.
Contact centers are the perfect example of a traditional industry. Rows of cubicles, desktop computers, and landline phones bound by physical copper wires aren’t the usual suspect when it comes to innovation. But you’d be wrong.
Customer service didn’t stop during the pandemic. In fact, it spiked. Contact centers witnessed an increase of 300% more calls than usual during the early stages of the pandemic.
Consumers have higher expectations than ever before. A reported 76% of consumers expect businesses to have accessible support outside of regular business hours.
Higher demand for support and increased expectations from customer service teams resulted in one of the most extensive contact center trends in decades—a shift toward cloud-based support.
Today, you’ll learn:
- How cloud-based platforms are revolutionizing contact centers
- Why chatbots aren’t the future of support AI… and what is
- Which channel is most important for customer contact
Let’s get started.
How remote tools are changing the contact center
If you compare a cloud vs premise-based contact center, you might think the on-premise center would win. After all, it’s easiest to manage everyone in the same building. A phone system makes it easy to track hours. And so on.
But you’d be wrong.
Today, 75% of contact centers use cloud-based technology. In 2020, the same study reports, 69% of contact center employees worked at the office. In 2021, 64% worked remotely.
Cloud platforms give businesses integrated systems and a single platform. Data is easier to synchronize, and representatives can always stay up-to-date on customer information. The process is more seamless than ever before.
Perhaps more importantly for employees, the flexibility of working from home is now a reality. Without dependence on a local system, new opportunities have opened up.
The benefits of a cloud-based system
A cloud-based contact center offers all kinds of benefits for businesses, employees, and customers alike. Some of the benefits for businesses include:
- Larger talent pool. Without the requirement of location, a cloud contact center can hire talent from around the world.
- Seasonal employees. It used to be cost-prohibitive to hire seasonal employees. An on-premise center would need to invest in new infrastructure that would go unused for most of the year. With cloud technology, a center can scale its workforce easily.
- Less hardware. The more often a business needs to purchase hardware, the greater the overhead expense. With a cloud system, companies can spend less on physical technology and maintenance.
- Remote flexibility. With an on-premise center, a representative can only work in the office. But with a system in the cloud, anyone can work anywhere that’s internet-connected.
- Access to better data. Having inaccurate or outdated information can make a representative’s job harder. With cloud systems, all customer information is stored in the same place and is easier to access.
And customers see benefits in:
- A native experience. Cloud-based systems let customers interact with a contact center using their platform of choice. With more synchronized options, customers can continue the conversation on the platform they’re most comfortable using.
- Faster response time. Cloud systems work to reduce hold times and even route the customer to the best representative. That means shorter holds and fewer transfers—and a better customer experience overall.
- Better call quality. Instead of antiquated landline phones, cloud systems using VoIP have improved call quality. With advanced features like AI and call routing, customers can have a better experience even with the automated parts of the call.
How AI is changing the contact center model today
Many of the cloud contact center solutions on the market include artificial intelligence capabilities, but AI goes beyond chatbots.
AI can learn from customers and provide optimised solutions rather than just looking for keywords in what the customer is saying. For example, AI can understand which solutions customers prefer and start recommending the same solution in the future.
An AI system can also help manage and improve upon customer data. A reported 47% of contact center leaders said their biggest data challenge was having data scattered across systems. A cloud-based contact center solution with AI can improve data storage.
An on-premises solution might struggle to integrate data from different centers, platforms, and devices. But a cloud-based system is designed for that exact purpose.
With AI, a system like this can understand what the customer wants and act accordingly. The future of technology is adapting to customer intentions and engagement for continual improvement.
What intelligent call routing offers for businesses and customers
Intelligent call routing works like a virtual operator, linking up callers to the best-equipped representative for their issue based on call history. Watch the video below to learn more about how intelligent call routing works + the different types of routes.
Contact center software can learn from customer calls and recommend better and better representatives based on availability or skill.
We’ve all experienced the frustration of talking to someone who needs to transfer us to a different department or rep. With intelligent call routing, cloud-based call centers can reduce the problem and improve the customer experience.
Contact center platforms with service level agreements that include intelligent call routing can reduce hold times and transfers. You could get directed immediately or almost immediately with the person who can answer your question.
How a cloud-based contact center can improve satisfaction with omnichannel support
It’s no secret that as customers, we want to communicate on different channels. You might prefer a phone call, while someone else relies on live chat or even SMS.
The result? A world with interconnected customer support. The cloud lets contact centers synchronize messages from different channels. That way, a customer calling into a cloud call center won’t have to repeat the issue they’ve already explained on another platform.
Even better, communication across all channels better fits with customer preferences. It creates a more open environment and can help customers who wouldn’t normally interact with the brand reach out before things worsen.
The right kind of contact center software can give the brand better business continuity that these centers require.
Most common channels with quality cloud software
- Live chat. Contact centers are set up to allow representatives to help customers with live chat. This is a platform that usually works on the company’s website in a popup window. The benefits for users include fast service without the miscommunication that can often happen over the phone.
- Voice calls. For many, a traditional phone call is the best way to get in contact with a brand. Voice provides live support and has a layer of empathy that can be missing in text-only communication. Cloud software can pull up archives from previous chats or messages with the same customer to provide a seamless experience.
- Video calls. One of the newer entrants into the world of customer support, video calls are quickly becoming a popular way to speak with customers. Innovation in this field is the one-way call, where customers can see the representative but don’t need to be on camera themselves.
- Email. Email support has most often been separate from other contact center tactics, but cloud software is helping bridge that gap. For a quick and helpful response, Email support connects with different types of communication
- SMS. The initials SMS stand for short message service, which defines the protocol behind text messages. Not to be confused with messaging systems like live chat, SMS is communication between phones. A cloud system can let representatives communicate with customer phones from any device. Savvy businesses can even run full SMS marketing campaigns on their phone systems.
Going with an omnichannel support approach can reduce the friction in outreach for many customers. But there’s another technique that not only improves customer satisfaction but reduces total contact center hours.
Self-service—the hidden secret behind customer satisfaction
It might surprise you to learn that customer communication isn’t the only way to deliver stellar customer service.
Many customers prefer to handle things on their own. Whereas previous generations might have turned first to a phone call, today, most consumers are tech-savvy enough they choose to do it themselves. Of course, only if the self-service answers are helpful.
One of the advantages a cloud contact center has over an on-premises center is that cloud services can continually serve better and better self-service options.
Cloud services can help map the most relevant and essential features to help customers get what they’re after on the first try. But most importantly, the AI features in cloud software can improve these results as time goes on.
Self-service can reduce call time and improve customer satisfaction. It’s a win-win: customers get faster self-service, and companies can save money by handling fewer support requests.
But it only happens with the right kind of system that can suggest, measure, and improve customer recommendations.
The final word about on-premise vs cloud contact center trends
Whether a contact center is looking to improve customer satisfaction, offer more opportunities to its workforce, or even just cut costs, cloud software can be an attractive option.
Cloud software is transforming the industry by allowing contact center representatives to work from home and deliver high-caliber service at the same time.
AI helps synchronize data and improve customer interactions, while intelligent call routing provides a better customer experience because callers face fewer holds and transfers.
At the same time, omnichannel support means customers can interact with a business on their terms. And better self-service lets customers seek to resolve issues on their own before they need to reach out to a representative.
All told, cloud-based centers have several advantages over on-premise centers. And every day, the industry is moving toward more and more cloud solutions.
Guest Author Bio: Meenz Nautiyal , Nextiva
Meenakshi (Meenz) Nautiyal is a Growth Marketer at Nextiva. She has a proven track record of scaling SEO and lead generation for SaaS brands like Outreach.io, VWO, and Freshworks through the last decade. During her free time, you’ll find her enrolled or learning a new skill or another.