Contact Center 2.0: More Than Just Going to the Cloud

Contact centers are facing unprecedented change, and decision-making has never been more challenging. The new technologies can be daunting and disruptive, but in many ways, they offer great opportunities to modernize in a hurry. None of this is really news for No Jitter readers, but when new research comes along to validate the state of things, it's worth looking at the data.

One such study has crossed my path recently, and the findings illustrate how complex decision-making is becoming in the current environment. RingCentral commissioned CITE Research to conduct the study, titled "Contact Center Digital Transformation," drawing insights from 500 contact center respondents in managerial and supervisor roles or higher at a wide range of enterprises by size, ranging from 50 to 10,000+ employees, in the U.S. and U.K.

Aside from being timely, the data lines up with what I've been hearing at all the various industry events in recent months. In short, as contact centers look to the cloud to address their challenges, they have more to consider than updating phones or IVR systems, and they must tie their buying decisions into bigger things.

RingCentral's take is to position all of this as a re-boot opportunity -- what it calls "Contact Center 2.0." I'd like to take this one step further, and in this post, will show how building a next-generation contact center means more than migrating from on-premises systems to the cloud. To do that, I'm going to tie together data points across four separate but related themes -- digital transformation, a focus on customer experience (CX), cloud migration, and integration of contact center with UC.

Theme #1: Digital Transformation

These days, enterprises can't not be thinking about this, but like "UC," digital transformation can be a vague term. This is good for anyone selling to enterprises, since they're all free to fashion a solution that addresses such a broad need. Of course, this makes your life harder as IT decision-makers, not just for evaluating offerings, but also in knowing when you're done. This "transformation" may never be complete in our lifetimes, so you need to think about this differently from clearly defined point solutions that have lifecycles of just a few years.

That said, the research found that 70% of respondents have some form of a digital transformation strategy. Only 15% said they don't, so overall, this validates the trend's strategic importance. Things get more interesting when considering the focus of that strategy, as summarized below:

Table 1 – Focus of Digital Transformation Strategy % of Respondents*
Digital technology integration 71%
Customer experience 71%
Operational agility 50%
Workforce enablement 46%

*Multiple responses allowed (Source: Contact Center Digital Transformation)

As one might expect, the focus is largely on adapting to digital technology as a means of improving operations across the organization. However, CX rated just as importantly, and of all the attributes surveyed, it's the only one with an external focus -- and that brings us to the next two themes.

Theme #2: Focusing on CX

Anecdotally, we know how important CX has become, and that's certainly validated in the research. The table below summarizes the top challenges contact centers face, and from a longer list of 17 challenges, CX ranked highest. The ordering in the table below reflects the percentage of respondents who gave each of the listed challenge a one, two, or three (out of five) ranking.

Table 2 – Top Contact Center Challenges % of Respondents
Improved CX 32%
Cost savings 30%
Improved customer satisfaction ratings 26%
Integrating new technologies 24%
Improved agent performance 21%
Better meeting the needs of today's customers 19%

The first and third challenges above are highly related -- CX and CSAT -- so on this level, the tie between digital transformation and the contact center is evident. However, while the data in Table 1 shows that CX is a key driver for digital transformation, the data above doesn't support the opposite.

In other words, when thinking about contact center challenges, it's all about the customers and agents -- and not so much about supporting a broader digital transformation strategy. This view is more tactical, so there's a danger of leaving decision-making here solely in the hands of contact center personnel. There's a bigger picture to consider, namely that contact center planning needs to be aligned with organizational imperatives, and that leads my analysis to the next theme.

Before going there, however, it's worth noting how cost savings is viewed as being just as much of a challenge as improving CX and CSAT. This brings to light a fundamental challenge all contact centers struggle with, namely the impossibility of reducing costs and improving CX and CSAT.

Essentially, these are conflicting priorities that an organization can't address at the same time. The survey didn't explore that dilemma, and doing so here would take the analysis off track and in another direction entirely. I'm citing it here as a sidebar, but let's stick to the four themes for now.

Continue to next page for a look at cloud migration and UC integration