Cloud Contact Center: What Are My Options?
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A cloud-based contact center, also known as Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), can play an important role in elevating customer experiences (CX). Increasingly, CX leaders at customer-focused organizations are partnering with their IT teams to migrate their contact centers to the cloud so they can accelerate and enhance their CX initiatives. Specifically, CCaaS allows CX leaders to:
- Proactively identify, resolve and prevent customer issues with real-time visibility into omnichannel customer journeys.
- Better understand their customers and drive revenue growth through rich data insights.
- Make it easier to do business with streamlined processes that reduce customer and agent friction.
- Build brand loyalty and increase customer satisfaction by keeping experiences fresh with the rapid deployment of new features and capabilities.
Together, these cloud capabilities can help shift the contact center from a cost center to a strategic value center for customer engagement.
In this article, we'll cover the basics of cloud contact centers — deployment models, CCaaS platforms and software integrations — so CX leaders can confidently discuss cloud migration with their IT teams.
Contact center deployment models
First, it's important to understand where you can host your contact center. Organizations can choose from four deployment models: on-premises, public cloud, private cloud or hybrid cloud.
On-premises (no cloud connectivity)
An on-premises deployment model means an organization owns, manages and acquires all the software and hardware for its contact center, including agent headsets, licenses, servers and more. Traditionally, organizations in highly regulated industries have leveraged on-premises contact centers to ensure full control of their security. However, on-premises contact centers come with significant risks.
Because IT is responsible for conducting all necessary maintenance, patches, upgrades and integrations in an on-premises contact center, it can take weeks or months to add new features and capabilities. On-premises contact centers also require significant upfront setup costs paired with ongoing maintenance fees for a fixed number of licenses.
A public cloud deployment model means a third-party public cloud service provider owns, operates, maintains and delivers your cloud contact center resources for public consumption via the internet. The public cloud can be a good fit for organizations with limited budgets because it requires minimal upfront costs and leverages a pay-for-usage model. It also enables contact centers to scale and deploy features rapidly. Tasks that can take months to deploy on-premises require just a few clicks in the cloud.
The potential downside to the public cloud is that it is a multi-tenant environment, meaning customers have dedicated, secured storage space but share computing resources. Sometimes this can be problematic when abiding by strict security and compliance requirements, like FedRAMP and HIPAA.
A private cloud deployment model means cloud contact center solutions are exclusively owned and maintained by your business in a single-tenant environment. Private clouds can be physically located on-premises in an organization's data center or hosted by a third-party cloud service provider. This deployment model allows organizations to leverage the flexibility and agility of the public cloud while maintaining complete control over their contact center data and security.
A hybrid cloud deployment model allows organizations to run contact center resources across both public and private clouds (including multicloud environments). This model provides organizations with the flexibility to individually select where applications and workloads are located based on their business and IT requirements.
While it's not the CX leader's responsibility to determine the right contact center deployment model, understanding these options can ensure more productive conversations with IT teams. Next, let's dive into the specific Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) platforms to add to IT's shortlist.
Leading Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) platforms
There are hundreds of CCaaS platforms on the market. Where should you start?
Our contact center experts have extensive experience helping organizations evaluate, test, architect, implement and deploy cloud contact center solutions. Based on our in-depth knowledge and partnerships with leading contact center vendors, we recommend mentioning these CCaaS platforms to your IT team:
Webex Contact Center
Designed and built from the ground up as a cloud solution, Webex Contact Center brings organizations the innovation, flexibility and agility of the cloud with the security and scalability customers expect from Cisco. Brands like Vivint Solar, Office Depot, the City of Buffalo and Veracity Networks leverage Webex Contact Center to better serve their customers and deliver customer delight.
Ranked #1 globally in cloud contact center innovation by Frost & Sullivan, Genesys Cloud CX provides an all-in-one cloud contact center solution for delivering proactive, predictive and hyper-personalized experiences that deepen customer connections. Successful brands like PayPal, Whirlpool, Singapore Airlines, Vodafone, Quicken, Swisscom, Western Governor's University (WGU) and Xerox use Genesys for their contact centers.
Five9's mission is to transform contact centers into customer engagement centers of excellence. Its contact center solutions help large brands like Omaha Steaks, AdventHealth, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, BISSELL, Under Armour and Regent University reimagine their CX and exceed customer expectations.
Cloud contact center solution integrations
When investing in your CX strategy, choosing a Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) platform should be top of mind. Once selected, the next step is to identify third-party software integrations that further enhance the contact center experience and create a true purpose-built solution.
We recommend investing in these three areas:
- Agent experience and management
- Contact center operations and management
- Artificial intelligence (AI)
Agent experience and management
The relationship between improved employee experiences (EX) and a positive CX is well established. Workforce optimization and management (WFO/WFM) software empower your contact center agents to provide the best service by ensuring they are trained, scheduled, rewarded and engaged. Leading vendors include:
- Verint: Named as a leader in workforce engagement by Gartner and Forrester, Verint's software platform helps organizations achieve optimal staffing levels, improve the quality of customer interactions and gather rich insights across all engagement channels. Brands like Instacart, Google, U-Haul, Lyft and Navy Federal Credit Union use Verint to help manage their contact center workforce.
- Calabrio: Calabrio's workforce management platform focuses on empowering employees so they can provide the best customer service. Brands like Netflix, Dyson, GE Appliances, Patagonia, Capital One and Shopify depend on Calabrio to help maximize agent performance and deliver a better CX.
- Webex Workforce Optimization: As part of the Webex Contact Center solution suite, Webex Workforce Optimization offers workforce management, quality management and analytics capabilities to provide smarter, more streamlined experiences for customers and agents.
Contact center operations and management
Technology downtime and operational issues can have a negative downstream impact on the CX. Performance management software, like IR Prognosis, provides visibility into your contact center and network operations so your IT team can proactively identify and resolve voice, connection, availability and system issues that may interfere with delivering a superb CX.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Many leaders are prioritizing AI to increase employee productivity and improve operations across their organizations. AI for the contact center is no different. Cloud-based AI platforms, like Google Contact Center AI (CCAI), and robotic process automation (RPA) can deliver advanced capabilities such as natural language processing (NLP), chatbots, sentiment analysis and more to help augment agents so they can provide top-notch customer support.
Start collaborating with your IT team today
CX leaders don't need to be cloud experts, but they do need to know what's possible. Understanding the basic differences between hosting on-premises versus in the cloud, as well as being familiar with the leading CCaaS providers and software vendors, allows CX leaders to influence their organization's contact center strategy.
If you're still unsure how to start the conversation with IT, we have resources to help. Our Cloud Contact Center Buyer's Guide can serve as a valuable framework for IT, contact center operations and CX leaders to leverage when evaluating and selecting cloud contact center solutions. In this guide, we help leaders navigate and accelerate the contact center decision-making process by providing:
- Key steps for identifying and prioritizing solution requirements
- A framework for making the right contact center technology decisions faster
- Tips for maximizing return on investment (ROI)