Building an Excellent Relationship with your Cloud-Based Contact Center Infrastructure Vendor. April 2014

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1 Building an Excellent Relationship with your Cloud-Based Contact Center Infrastructure Vendor April 2014 Sponsored by: DMG Consulting LLC

2 Table of Contents Introduction... 1 Cloud-Based Contact Center Applications Need a New Support Model... 1 Establishing Cloud-Based Service Level Agreements... 1 New Cloud-Based Contact Center Infrastructure Lifecycle Model... 3 Who Has the Upper Hand in a Cloud-Based Relationship?... 5 Best Practices for Building and Maintaining a Good Relationship with Cloud- Based Contact Center Infrastructure Vendors... 5 Final Thoughts... 7 About Connect First... 8 About DMG Consulting i - DMG Consulting LLC

3 Introduction The benefits and value of using cloud-based automatic call distributors (ACDs) and dialers are well known. They include the ability to acquire a feature-rich contact center solution without making a capital investment, scalability, fully integrated applications, ongoing delivery of innovation and enhancements, simplified disaster recovery and ease of use. Companies of all sizes are realizing these benefits, and it is quickly becoming clear that while these cloud-based offerings are ideal for small and mid-sized businesses, they are also a good option for larger organizations. The cloud-based contact center infrastructure market has taken off. Over the last 5 years, the number of seats in the sector has grown at an annual rate of 44% because the benefits are real. DMG estimates that this market will grow by 27% in 2014, 24% in 2015, and 22% in 2016, as more companies decide that they don t want the burden of managing hardware and software, and prefer this flexible acquisition and implementation model. Cloud-Based Contact Center Applications Need a New Support Model Traditional on-premise support best practices are not effective in the cloud world. The emphasis is no longer on how quickly a vendor can respond and fix a problem, but rather on keeping the platform up and running without any service degradations or disruptions. The cloud infrastructure should essentially be invisible to the user. They should be able to depend on it without giving it any consideration. Users want the cloud infrastructure to function as a utility turn it on and it goes. This means that companies need a different set of key performance indicators (KPIs) and service level agreements (SLAs) to use in evaluating the performance of their cloud-based contact center infrastructure and application providers. Establishing Cloud-Based Service Level Agreements An SLA is a contract between a service provider and a business. It specifies the exact services the vendor is committed to deliver and the quality of those services. SLAs are critical in vendor management programs, as they provide the KPIs for measuring the performance of the contact center service or application, define the expected quality of service, and set forth the penalties and remedies when service levels are not met. A good SLA protects both the business and the service provider by setting realistic expectations and specifying each party s responsibilities for the proper use of the system DMG Consulting LLC

4 For cloud-based solutions, end users should measure the dependability and performance of the service in addition to its functional capabilities. Therefore, cloud-based contact center infrastructure SLAs need to be: 1. Real-time give users real-time access to performance data so that end users can constantly track service quality and take immediate corrective actions, as needed. 2. Accurate provide end users with the correct data regarding service, so that they have an exact understanding of performance. 3. Actionable create an environment that allows decisions to be made or actions to be taken immediately based on the information gathered from the SLA metrics. Service level agreements should address the contact center infrastructure and how it delivers services. Although the wording should be specific to each operating environment, the following definitions are helpful when drafting SLAs for cloud-based relationships: Availability: The total length of time that contact center services have actually been available for use. This metric is expressed as a percentage of the total available time measured during the end user s defined measurement cycle (month, quarter or year). Customer Support: Technical and functional services provided by the vendor to assist users in configuring the solution and resolving any questions or issues. Scheduled Maintenance: Improvements to the vendor s infrastructure, which are performed at scheduled and announced times. Response Time: The time between the moment when a malfunction (disruption of service) is first reported and when the vendor corrects the problem. Malfunction: Improper functioning of the infrastructure and/or service purchased from a cloud-based vendor. (Most of the malfunctions in the cloud-based world are the result of human error.) DMG Consulting LLC

5 Figure 1 provides a few of the more commonly accepted KPIs for measuring performance for cloud-based contact center infrastructure solutions. These KPIs address availability and Mean Opinion Score (MOS), which is a numerical measurement of the perceived voice quality. (The MOS is expressed as a single number between 1 and 5, where 1 is the lowest voice quality and 5 is the highest voice quality.). Other KPIs include the call blocking rate, vendor capacity, as well as a provisioning goal. End users should also consider using KPIs that address data center and network performance. Figure 1: KPIs for Cloud-Based Contact Center Solutions KPI Goal Availability 100% Mean Opinion Score (MOS) 4.5 (out of 5) Call blocking rate < 1% Vendor capacity 50% greater than peak Provisioning goal 4 hours Source: DMG Consulting LLC, April 2014 New Cloud-Based Contact Center Infrastructure Lifecycle Model Below is the typical lifecycle for a contact center infrastructure solution. See Figure 2. Users of cloud-based ACDs and dialers go through all of these steps, regardless of the size of their operating environment DMG Consulting LLC

6 Figure 2: Cloud-Based Contact Center Infrastructure Lifecycle Reassess Renegotiate Define require Select vendor Maintain Negotiate contract Enhance Establish SLAs Monitor Train Implement Integrate Source: DMG Consulting LLC, April 2014 There are a few interesting aspects of this lifecycle. Most striking is that the users need to be actively engaged in every step of the process, from making the selection through maintaining the application. Even if a company signs up for a managed service relationship where the vendor administers all aspects of the ACD or dialer, including handling the moves, adds and changes, the end user has to make sure that the work is done correctly and on time. These responsibilities do not go away, even if the application is not on the end user s site. Although the application is running in the cloud, the end-user organization is fully responsible for its performance. If something goes wrong, customers will not DMG Consulting LLC

7 care (nor do they even want to know) that the enterprise is not operating the system; they only care about getting their business handled accurately, efficiently and quickly. For this reason, companies that use a cloud-based contact center solution still need to dedicate resources to overseeing the application and making sure that everything goes as expected. Who Has the Upper Hand in a Cloud-Based Relationship? It seems as though the vendor controls a cloud-based relationship, because they have expertise and run the application on a day-to-day basis. The reality is that end users have less sunk cost and vendor lock-in with a cloud-based solution than with an on-premise contact center system. Once the initial contract term is completed, which may be anywhere from one month to five years, companies are free agents and can change providers without having to write off a capital investment. If a company is not satisfied with the features, service, price or anything else, they can readily go elsewhere without a financial penalty or hassle. However, if they decide to move to a different cloud-based provider, they will incur conversion and integration costs. For this reason, end users really have the upper hand in a cloud-based relationship. The vendors know this, and are much more responsive than most premise-based vendors post-sale. This is one of the major advantages of using a cloud-based solution. The vendors are aware that they have to earn their fees and respect on a daily basis. But end users should not abuse this advantage. It s better to build and maintain a mutually beneficial relationship, which is why it s essential to have clear and effective SLAs in place. Best Practices for Building and Maintaining a Good Relationship with Cloud-Based Contact Center Infrastructure Vendors Below are emerging best practices for building a strong and effective relationship with a cloud-based contact center infrastructure vendor. While end users may, in fact, have the upper hand in this relationship which is one of the primary reasons operations managers and chief financial officers often prefer cloudbased solutions the more balanced the relationship, the better it will be for all involved. Best practices for both vendors and system users 1. Establish a formal communication and reporting process to discuss system performance and opportunities on a pre-scheduled basis; be proactive, do not wait for something to go wrong DMG Consulting LLC

8 2. Use crowdsourcing to identify new enhancement opportunities, but don t lose sight of the need to upgrade core system and infrastructure components; end users rarely ask for these. 3. Provide training on an ongoing basis to update customers regarding system features and new capabilities. 4. Provide spare capacity to allow for the unexpected. Best practices for vendors 1. Make sure that end users understand the SLAs and their potential impact on the operating environment 2. Communicate any planned downtime well ahead of time; remind users at 24 to 48 hours in advance 3. Select maintenance periods that minimize the impact on customers, instead of choosing times that are convenient and cost-effective for the vendor. 4. Provide outstanding business and technical resources; it s as important to support the customer s business needs as their technical requirements. 5. Be transparent; when there are problems, inform customers about them and let them know on a timely basis what is being done to fix them. Best practices for end users 1. Assign primary and back-up personnel to interface with the cloud-based vendor; these people should know something about managing and using contact center applications. 2. Allow adequate time for planning; treat cloud-based vendors the way you would your internal group, and let them know what you need in advance. 3. Do not make unrealistic requests of the vendor, as it will just result in frustration on all sides. 4. Six months before the end of the contract, either renew or find a new provider DMG Consulting LLC

9 Final Thoughts When purchasing cloud-based contact center systems, there is no need to purchase support, because this should be a standard part of the offering. The challenge in the industry is that service and support mean totally different things to each vendor. Therefore, companies looking for cloud-based contact center infrastructure providers need to check out the vendor s platform stability and performance as well as their responsiveness to customer requests. When selecting a cloud-based provider, prospects should carefully evaluate their support processes and resources, as the quality and delivery of these services can make or break the vendor/client relationship DMG Consulting LLC

10 About Connect First Connect First is a leading SaaS telecommunications and cloud contact center software provider that focuses on customer satisfaction and elegant hosted solutions. Connect First offers a reliable platform, designed and supported by a team of highly experienced engineers, architects and business analysts, and backed with the APEX award-winning, in-house customer support team. Solutions include Cloud Routing, ACD, Dialing - Predictive and Connect First SAFE Mode, Call Tracking, IVR, Voice Broadcast, Disaster Recovery, Real-Time Telemetry, Extensive Reporting, Live Agent Chat and more. Through a consultative approach with each customer interaction, Connect First builds custom solutions to meet the needs of a discerning customer base and to elevate your business. Visit our website at or call for more information. About DMG Consulting DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. DMG provides insight and strategic guidance and tactical advice to end users, vendors and the financial community. Each year, DMG devotes more than 10,000 hours to producing primary research on IT sectors, including workforce optimization (quality management/liability recording), speech analytics, workforce management, performance management, desktop analytics, surveying/voice of the customer, text analytics, cloud-based contact center infrastructure, dialing, interactive voice response systems and proactive customer care. Our actionable solutions are proven to deliver a lasting competitive advantage, and often pay for themselves in as little as three months. Learn more at DMG Consulting LLC

11 2014 DMG Consulting LLC. All rights reserved. This Report is protected by United States copyright law. The reproduction, transmission or distribution of this Report in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of DMG Consulting LLC is strictly prohibited. You may not alter or remove any copyright, trademark or other notice from this Report. This Report contains data, materials, information and analysis that is proprietary to and the confidential information of DMG Consulting LLC and is provided solely to purchasers of this Report for their internal use. THIS REPORT AND ANY PROPRIETARY AND CONFIDENTIAL DATA, MATERIALS, INFORMATION AND ANALYSIS CONTAINED HEREIN MAY NOT BE DISCLOSED TO OR USED BY ANY OTHER PERSON OR ENTITY WITHOUT THE EXPRESS PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT OF DMG CONSULTING LLC. Substantial effort went into verifying and validating the accuracy of the information contained within this Report, but we cannot guarantee that all information is complete, accurate, or current or that the recommendations contained within this Report are adequate or appropriate for your particular situation. DMG Consulting LLC shall not be liable for any errors or omissions in the information or recommendations contained in this Report or for any losses or damages arising from use hereof.

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