Report» Beyond the Checklist: 10 Attributes of Successful Cloud Contact Centres

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1 Report» Beyond the Checklist: 10 Attributes of Successful Cloud Contact Centres

2 The Cloud is Old News The move to The Cloud started as a blatant play to save money by cutting capital expenditures on new equipment and software. The argument gained strength as companies discovered that cloud-based computing and communications service providers can deliver capabilities, features and functions that may be on the wish list for their premises-based contact centre, customer relationship management (CRM) and workforce optimisation (WFO) systems. Consideration of cloud-based alternatives is given great importance as companies strive to up their game to support the highest quality customer experience (CX) to individuals whose tastes, preferences and activities are shaped by experience and expectations that result from hours of time spent on social networks and the omnipresence of mobile devices, especially smartphones and communicating tablets. This white paper looks at the trends that are driving the evolution of cloud-based solutions, examines how the traditional checklist for evaluating cloud contact centres has become inadequate, and introduces 10 new attributes to consider for selecting your cloud-based contact centre. Conversational is The New Normal The topology of the contact centre has changed dramatically over the past two years, primarily in response to demands from Generation Mobile, who are also members of Generation Social. These individuals must be engaged on their own terms, using devices and talkpaths of their own choosing. They carry out communication on the Web through clicks, keystrokes or chat; over phones, via text, clicks or voice; or via chat, tweets, likes or any means that keeps a conversation going for the duration of their personal journeys. Support comes from Cloud Computing and XaaS The move to The Cloud is lost on nobody. Synergy Research Group recently reported that global revenues for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings were over $2 billion in the first quarter of Think of this as XaaS (You-Name-it as a Service). It is having a profound impact on the communication and information infrastructures underlying contact centre, CRM and self-service resources. Given the highly personal and private nature of B2C (business-to-customer) communications, decision-makers used to look exclusively at premises-based solutions for customer care and customer relationship management. They now routinely look into what their as-a-service options are and they are fuelling double-digit growth in spending for what Opus Research calls The Conversational Cloud. Implication for Contact Centre and Marketing Managers The contact centre is one of the first enterprise domains to embrace cloud-based, hosted or on-demand services. Dating back to the 1970s, high-volume telemarketers, credit card issuers, travel and hospitality companies and customer care specialists called on their long-distance carriers to offer interactive voice response (IVR), custom routing and call handling services. As a result, cloud-based services have been ingrained in contact centre workflows for decades. Today, the use of cloud-based resources to support phone-based sales, telemarketing and customer support is no longer a large enterprise phenomenon. Medium-to-large enterprises are finding reasons to look to thirdparties to support their network-based marketing and customer care efforts. Opus Research estimates that enterprises of all sizes will spend roughly $3 billion on outsourced voice applications and contact centre services offered by scores of firms around the world. 2

3 The Starting Point for Vendor Evaluation Over the years, a steady give-and-take between enterprise customers and hosted contact centre solutions providers has resulted in a check list of standard features and functions that every cloud contact centre specialist must offer. Enterprises include these as the basics of most RFPs (request for proposals) that are issued for contact centre technologies and hosted contact centre solutions providers have come to see these as the table stakes for staying in competitive bids. Culled from multiple RFPs and product literature, these minimum offers are illustrated in Figure 1 on the following page. Hosted and cloud-based contact centre service providers offer packages that cover most or all of these features and functions. They customarily bundle their offers into basic services, which start with basic call answering and routing, then add other functions to support specific application requirements. For instance, if a company is turning to a hosted service provider to support outbound notice of an overdue bill, the emphasis will be on outbound, with added call recording, WFO and analytics to ensure compliance and help train agents. In other cases, a hosted service provider may put emphasis on IVR applications and self-service functions. Figure 1: Cloud-based Contact Centre Checklist - Inbound routing - Outbound routing - Preview - Progressive - Predictive - Blended (Inbound and Outbound) - Universal Queue - CTI support (for screen pops, etc.) - IVR (Interactive Voice Response) - Auto attendant and Voic - Speech processing (ASR, TTS, speech applications) - Web chat - SMS text (outbound alerts and inbound) - response - Administration tools - CRM integration - Application design tools - Call recording - Agent screen recording - Workforce optimisation (WFO) - Speech analytics SOURCE: OPUS RESEARCH 2013 Vendors can distinguish themselves by competing based on price usually expressed on a per agent/per month basis. When last we checked, the street price for a basic bundle of call handling services averaged around $100. But more realistically, by the time a company has added applications, monitoring, reporting and other necessary functions, pricing for even a basic (dare we say commodity ) package exceeds $125 and can reach $200 or more. A Hierarchy of Service Providers Over the years, the range of solutions providers has expanded, reflecting advances in technologies and heightened competition. The incumbent telcos find a marketplace that is getting crowded as scores of hosted contact centre 3

4 service providers have rushed in. Once there, they find that a group of voice application service providers (Voice ASPs) have already made headway into the high-end market. It is at that high end that the long-time premises-based solutions providers have moved into the cloud by introducing virtualised versions of their premises-based solutions. For premises-based solutions providers, the move to the cloud provides a framework for them to offer highly flexible consumption models to their installed base of customers. Figure 2: The Solution Provider Continuum Innovative User Experience Conversation Specialists Voice ASPs Hosted Contact Centres Telcos Virtualised Contact Centre Infrastructure Business Processes Basic Innovative SOURCE: OPUS RESEARCH 2013 Resistance is Futile The move to The Cloud is inevitable and inexorable. Yet decision makers may put up resistance to migrating major elements of customer care resources outside the firewall. Chief among the objections is the fact that existing solutions are working just fine. No business organisation endorses change for change s sake. What s more, in most businesses, existing contact centre resources have been customised over the years to suit immediate needs and requirements. Companies move off of their existing solutions at great peril. There are organisational and personnel situations as well. Migrating resources that are in the critical path of real-time communications with customers or prospects is not a task that any business should take lightly. And they do not. From a personnel point of view, the individuals that have been most conscientious in taking care of existing systems meaning the ones with the deepest institutional knowledge of their capabilities, strengths and shortcomings are also the ones who may feel that their jobs are most threatened by the move to The Cloud. 4

5 New Checklist for GenMobile and GenSocial While existing in-house staff and IT infrastructure may be resistant to change, they must still meet the needs of the hypermobile, always-on customer base. When premises-based systems fall short, cloud-based service providers stand ready to step in with a new set of solutions that go beyond the table stakes mentioned earlier in this document. The core attributes of the modern, Cloud Centre provider are enumerated in Figure 3. Figure 3: 10 Attributes of Successful Cloud Contact Centres 1. Reliability, redundancy and security 2. Hooks into existing infrastructure 3. Flexible deployment models 4. Professional services and support 5. Support of multiple channels, devices, modalities 6. Global reach and span 7. Scalability 8. Partnerships 9. Vertical knowledge 10. Reusable, proven applications and app development tool The Conversational Cloud SOURCE: OPUS RESEARCH 2013 This new list starts by addressing the well-known concerns of contact centre and IT staff and proceeds to take on fast-changing needs created when communications must be carried on with end-users that employ a broad variety of devices, around the globe in real time. Addressing the Known Knowns 1. First on the list are Reliability, redundancy and security. Not all cloud-based service providers can promise that their resources can be put in the critical path of customer care solutions. A prerequisite is to operate multiple data centres and have well-defined failover procedures should something go wrong in one location. Security might well be its own category, but it is included in the number one position because moving customer care to the cloud heightens the importance of protecting personal information on behalf of customers and prospects. 2. It is also very important for cloud-based solutions to be well-integrated with existing back-end systems. These include CRM, WFO and elements of ERP. The objective is for the cloud-based resources to interoperate and internetwork through a company s firewall efficiently and in real time. 3. In the ideal, a cloud-based service provider should offer several deployment options including a hybrid approach which allows enterprises to keep some data and information processing elements inside their firewalls and on premises while engaging with cloud-based resources on an as-needed basis. That is precisely what item 3, Flexible deployment models, refers to. 5

6 4. Professional services and support refers to the ability of a hosted service provider to engage their staff of consultants, designers, programmers and technicians as needed to support a client s business objectives. In many cases, a standard set of professional services are brought to bear as non-recurring expense to get a service up and running. After the initial period, the cost of ongoing support is often included in the monthly charges. Now for the Known Unknowns 5. Supporting multiple channels, devices and modalities is the next item on the list. During each customer s journey, the time, place and nature of the ongoing conversation cannot be predicted. Analytics can be used to predict the purpose of a call and the best course of action for call treatment, but the best advice is to be prepared for almost any situation. Context management and orchestration resources become very important in providing the best customer experience and the highest probability of a caller successfully completing his or her goals. 6. Many of the most attractive customers are world travellers. The move to The Cloud opens the possibility of supporting conversations and transactions originating from all over the world. That s why Global reach and span is ranked number six on our list. A global footprint for a service provider is vital and will grow in importance as companies with global operations increasingly adopt cloud-based contact centres. 7. Such geographic scope speaks directly to the seventh quality of distinguished solution providers: Scalability. A proven ability to handle high call volumes is very important. 8. Partnerships is next on the list because no single vendor can keep up with fast-paced developments on all fronts of customer care and marketing. The best hosted services providers will have go-to-market partners, often with specific knowledge of a company or vertical industry and best practices, to ensure that implementations meet requirements. They may also have long-standing relationships with technology providers who can bring specific point solutions in such areas as authentication, Big Data storage, analytics and mobile app development and management. 9. Whether through partners or direct experience, cloud service providers should bring solutions that can address specific vertical requirements with best practices. GenMobile and GenSocial can be pretty granular in their expectations for highly responsive, rapid treatment of their requests for service. The best Cloud providers take advantage of cross-pollination of vertical best practices to offer an edge to their customers. 10. Finally, enterprises should be able to benefit from the ability of a cloud-based service provider to bring proven solutions to bear on their behalf. Reusable, proven applications and app development tools are musts. They are important for accelerating new deployments and quickly introducing new capabilties. New Requirements for a New Age The move to the cloud is not a change in technology for change s sake. It is a customer-driven shift that is accommodated by changes in service delivery architectures. As a happy outcome, the move to the cloud has resulted in the ability for enterprises to shorten the time-to-service of introducing new services to their customers and better support their ability to use their own new devices. It also puts cloud-based service providers in a better position to absorb and implement new technologies from other service providers. Taking advantage of the new cloud-based capabilities relies on enterprise decision-makers to be well informed of their options and alternatives. They well know the specific requirements in their organisation down to individual business units and workgroups. With this document, we hope you are now armed with a new checklist to support customer care and marketing objectives in ways that are consistent with your brand and market vision. 6

7 Sponsored by About Opus Research Opus Research is a research-based advisory firm providing critical insight and analysis of enterprise implementations of software and services that support multimodal customer care and employee mobility strategies. Opus Research calls this market Conversational Commerce with tailored coverage and sector analysis that includes: Self-Service & Assisted Self-Service, Voice & Call Processing, Web Services, Personal Virtual Assistance, Mobile Search and Commerce and Voice Biometrics. For sales inquires please or call +1 (415) This report shall be used solely for internal information purposes. Reproduction of this report without prior written permission is forbidden. Access to this report is limited to the license terms agreed to originally and any changes must be agreed upon in writing. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believe to be reliable. However, Opus Research, Inc. accepts no responsibility whatsoever for the content or legality of the report. Opus Research, Inc. disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. Further, Opus Research, Inc. shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or interpretations thereof. The opinions expressed herein may not necessarily coincide with the opinions and viewpoints of Opus Research, Inc. and are subject to change without notice. Published November 2013 Opus Research, Inc. All rights reserved. 7

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