IT professionals who are migrating contact centers from on-prem to the cloud have a series of weighty decisions to make, from determining the best contact-center-as-a-service (CCaaS) product to preparing for the migration itself. If they don’t do this prep work, they risk creating an issue for their agents — or worse, headaches for their customers trying to contact them.
For perspectives on migrating contact centers to the cloud, No Jitter tapped site contributors Melissa Swartz and Steve Leaden, both members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants (SCTC) International
, for their advice as communications consultants. Sharing their hands-on experience with CCaaS implementations, Swartz and Leaden highlighted several key areas that enterprises, and their IT decision-makers, need to consider before they even sign on the dotted line for a new contact center service. These are:
1. Know What Features You Have, Need, and Want
Before planning a migration, Leaden said it's crucial to understand your current contact center environment and the features that your agents use. Not only should IT and decision-makers assess what features they currently have, but they should think "blue sky" on what might be possible with a new platform.
CCaaS offerings often have a ton of features, but it's up to IT professionals and contact center management to ensure that they are brought over to (or enabled in) the new environment. Many of the newer CCaaS offerings have a full set of contact center features, and enterprises can benefit from analyzing what's there either by doing an internal analysis or receiving outside help, Leaden said. In doing so, enterprises can find ways to integrate the different technologies to improve the experience for agents, Leaden shared.
Leaden also suggested enterprises look at things like AI, which has already improved the customer experience (CX)
through chatbots handling basic calls and scheduling and confirming appointments. Typically, contact centers have standard rules for abandoned calls (2-5%) and average speed of answer (a target of 80% of voice calls in 20 seconds), and AI bots — if used properly — can reduce those metrics close to zero, dramatically improving the customer experience in the process, Leaden said. "If you had no limits on what your organization was going to look like, how would you handle calls?" Leaden asked.
2. Review Documentation — If You Have It
Hunting down and reviewing documentation for your current call center environment can be a big part of understanding what assets and features your current set-up has, Swartz explained. IT professionals make "a lot of changes to contact centers over time," and having an inventory of the phone number, SIP trunks, call flows, queues, and information about any integrations that an enterprise has can be crucial to a migration, she said. Unfortunately, Swartz admitted that few enterprises have a solid inventory of their contact center technologies, and when she does find that documentation, "it's a gold mine."
3. Assess Service Reliability and Availability
Contact center reliability is also absolutely crucial, but enterprises shouldn’t solely rely on a nice-sounding service level agreement (SLA), Swartz said. Some SLAs contain reliability goals (which are essentially unenforceable), while others have hard metrics tied to financial penalties. "I think you have to think hard about the level of reliability you're looking for, and then look deeply into that provider, and how they provide that level of reliability," Swartz said. She added that enterprises need to ask their provider if they can even deliver the service to their area with the numbers that they own (if the numbers aren’t toll-free).
Leaden also stressed the importance of reliability and SLAs, noting how many enterprises are used to a five 9s model or a 99.999% uptime, which equates to up to a five-minute outage annually, essentially “always on.” Enterprises need to ensure that their CCaaS providers can deliver this level of reliability — from a contractual and design perspective — and an "ideal" provider will offer credits or "contracts outs" in the event of these outages, Leaden explained.
4. Decide on a Public or Private Cloud Option
Another aspect to consider before selecting a CCaaS offering is whether it's a public or private cloud option
. While "public nets are pretty good," Leaden shared several important caveats like sharing resources with other contact centers, which can drag down the service during peak hours. Typically, public CCaaS options are ideal for small and medium-sized businesses, while large enterprises will likely want to go for the private CCaaS option, Leaden said.
5. Understand How to Integrate Different Systems
Though providers often tout the ease of use of SDKs and APIs as ways of integrating different systems, Swartz said it's not always like "Legos where you just snap it together; it's not that easy." The devil is in the details; APIs are not always written with the depth needed or for the intended purpose as the organization has in mind, Swartz explained.
Also, according to Swartz, if you have a customer relationship management (CRM) platform other than one of the more widespread choices like Salesforce — which many CCaaS providers support — you might have a harder time integrating the two systems. Even if you are doing a Salesforce integration, she noted that there are different ways to integrate Salesforce with your CCaaS platform like having the CCaaS client embedded into the Salesforce application or pulling data from Salesforce into your CCaaS solution.
6. Factor in Your Compliance Needs, What Providers Offer
Lastly, Leaden noted that compliance, especially for healthcare and financial institutions, and how CCaaS providers address it (or not) needs to be carefully examined. Many CCaaS providers are now delivering HIPAA and PCI compliance, which are critical for ensuring privacy in healthcare spaces and financial transactions like copays adhere to regulations, respectively, Leaden added.
Want Great CX? Start With a Great Migration
For many enterprises, improving CX first starts with deciding to move to the cloud and finding the CCaaS platform that fulfills their business requirements.
“Clearly, your contact center technology can enhance, or limit, your ability to implement your vision for improved customer experience,” Swartz said. “Selecting the right foundation is essential, and there’s a lot to think about.”
So, if the proper attention and effort aren’t placed on finding that right foundation, enterprises not only risk the chance of wasting time and resources on the endeavor, but they also risk eroding faith in their agents — and more importantly — their customers.
In the second part of this multi-part series on migrating to CCaaS, we take a deeper look at what enterprises need to know about factoring in AI and omnichannel capabilities into their purchase decision.