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How to Plan a Smooth Contact Center Cloud Migration

“A goal without a plan is just a wish,” said Saint-Exupéry, a French writer and poet. Consider the situation of many contact center and IT executives, whose goals for moving to the cloud likely include offering an omnichannel customer experience, expanding desktop services for remote agents, and providing the flexibility to increase or decrease capacity on demand.
Once your contact center cloud migration initiative has been approved, you must start the hard work of planning a smooth contact center cloud migration to attain those goals. Where should you start?
While every organization has a different situation, broadly speaking, your plan needs to answer these three important questions.
1. Which contact center elements should we move to the cloud?
The first step is to prioritize what to move to the cloud by strategically assessing what your contact center does well and what needs to improve. Experienced contact center managers are reluctant to migrate every legacy element because it’s complex and risky. By examining each system category -- core systems (ACD, IVR, dialer, caller queue, CTI), management systems (workforce optimization, quality management, analytics and reporting), and service applications (CRM, scripting, knowledgebase systems) -- you’ll be able to identify which elements are ready to move to the cloud.
Initially, a hybrid contact center may be an appropriate strategy. Or, consider cloud services with APIs that can automate and accelerate contact center migrations. To start, it may make sense to migrate mission-critical elements of your current system so that you can deploy new services such as omnichannel, increase flexibility, and gain the cost benefit that you expect.
Once you know which components you’ll be migrating, you’ll want to determine what data should be migrated. Moving and storing data costs money, so identify which data is essential. If you have old customer data or historical data that is rarely used, maybe it should remain on-premises.
2. Should we redesign customer journeys and applications?
Next, look at the different ways to move to the cloud. “Lift and Shift” is a common method that moves the complete contact center element with no changes. Many contact centers choose this approach because they are under pressure to move fast and reduce costs. The other motivation for taking this approach is wanting to set a baseline for application performance in the cloud, and this approach enables an apples-to-apples comparison. However, with this method applications are not rearchitected and therefore may not be able to take advantage of cloud-native features. There may also be associated performance issues, and the costs to run some applications in the cloud might be high.
An alternative is to redesign contact center applications to take advantage of cloud-specific features and enable those applications to run cost-effectively. There are different levels of redesign. A redesign could be as simple as layering in new cloud-native features to existing applications with minimum design changes. Or, there could be complete overhaul of the application design and the customer journey. Redesigning applications entirely can extend migration time; hence, some companies decide to first move existing applications to the cloud and then redesign applications and call flows once in the cloud.
3. What new contact center agent skills will we need?
For many contact center cloud migrations, adding true omnichannel customer experience is the Holy Grail of the migration. But true omnichannel is more than connecting channels and moving data between them; it requires agents with omnichannel skills. Similar to the traditional contact center channel silos, agents have also become siloed in that they are familiar with only one channel. Voice agents know how to interpret the customer’s intent based on data and the customer’s verbal explanation. They are good at communicating verbally. Chat agents know how to interpret the customer’s intent based on data and reading the customer’s texts. They are adept at handling multiple real-time (chat) and asynchronous (social media) workflows at the same time.
Agents need to be upskilled to effectively handle omnichannel interactions. Beyond the basics of voice- and text-based communications, agents increasingly need to handle more complex issues because customer self-service is taking care of the simpler tasks. This may require integration of more knowledgebases with your new agent dashboards. In addition, to manage more challenging customer escalations, agents need better soft skills, which may require additional training.
Successful migrations mean you need to take a hard look at the skills your agents possess. You’ll want to start by determining the mix of skills (hard and soft) that you need to support your new customer journeys. You may need to acquire tools and create training curriculum to teach those skills, and you may be able to leverage the skills of your top agents to assist with that training. At the same time, the need for new skills may impact your hiring practices as you seek to recruit agents with those skills. Last but not least, implement modern KPIs that measure agent success based on the customer’s omnichannel success.
Goals — with a plan to achieve them
Contact center cloud migrations are strategic initiatives that require thorough planning. Contact center executives are under pressure to take the least expensive and fastest route to migration—but that route may not deliver a true omnichannel customer experience, service flexibility, or reduced costs. Make sure you don’t skimp on the planning. Start by answering these three questions and understand the many ways to perform a contact center cloud migration and prepare agents for success. A solid plan can turn your cloud contact center dreams into a reality!