Making the Business Case for Contact Center Transformation
Organizations at all levels are increasingly leveraging new technologies and service offerings to transform legacy contact centers in order to extend and enhance levels of customer engagement, improve revenues and seize productivity gains.
Whereas contact centers were once thought of as a means of providing essential customer service, modern day centers now deploy end-to-end solutions that integrate voice, email, and social media channels to provide what today's customer expects: an excellent customer experience.
From a technical perspective, optimal transformation requires centralized deployment, with sufficient redundancy and diversity to ensure operational continuity and availability. It should also leverage SIP-based common intelligent distribution applications (e.g. ACD) that allow for the integration and federation of cloud-based solutions. The combination of SIP, advances in cloud computing and versatile Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings make centralization of the contact center infrastructure a straightforward and attractive option.
A SIP/cloud-based contact center platform allows adoption of SaaS solutions that can quickly and easily enable an organization to amp up contact center operations. Solutions in the SaaS space can cover everything from IVRs, ACDs, CTI plug-ins, quality monitoring/speech analytics, workforce management systems, and social, to name a few. Employing SaaS as a model translates to a larger portion of spend moving from capital to operational expenses; this produces alignment of expenses with peak business cycles and maximum use of assets aligned with cost.
But even beyond the capex/opex and resource allocation question, the business case for a SaaS/cloud contact center is strong. In the majority of cases, the ability to easily add functions such as those described above will result in enhanced customer experience, which in turn will (hopefully) translate to more business revenue. In addition, organizations can expect improved speed to market of up to 30% over other options such as dedicated greenfield premise-based solutions.
To measure the benefits, baselining revenue and customer experience need to be part of business case. Customer service metrics can captured from surveys, CSAT (customer satisfaction scores), social media, monitoring via quality recording or speech analytics, or more traditional contact center metrics. In terms of investment, transformation to a properly vetted business case and selected SaaS/cloud-based contact center typically produces a return on investment within 12-24 months.
In a nutshell, here are the most compelling reasons to consider SaaS/cloud as a solution:
• To centralize technology and/or centers/operations, whether consolidating centers, outsourcing some functions, or controlling routing of inbound communications
• Simplify management of the center and its architecture – reduce the cost of support
• Improve business focus on deliverables, including enabling a better customer experience, and/or revenue – shift tactical operations to focus your teams on the customer or revenue
• Your existing platforms are at end of support or this time is approaching – avoid major capital outlay that lacks an ROI
• The current solution lacks functionality or requires significant upgrades
• You lack in-house talent to build or expand current solution to meet your business needs and desires
• You seek agility and speed of delivery
• Lack access to capital to invest
• You have highly seasonal business (e.g., two months of the year drive 80% of contacts)
While these are tactical, the benefit to the organization's brand and customers is greater. With the implementation of SaaS solutions, the organization can realize higher rates of first-contact resolution of issues, cross- and up-sell capabilities and scalability to upsize/downsize in sync with customer demand, such as holiday sales periods when traffic is especially high. But ultimately, a customer service experience builds a loyal and happy customer base that will love the organization's brand, an invaluable trait that can greatly differentiate the company from its competitors.
Mark Allen and Mark Minorik are directors of Transformation for Alsbridge, each having 20-plus years of experience in complex telecommunications design, architecture, development and delivery including Interactive Voice Response systems, contact center software and hardware, speech recognition applications, and back office communication platforms. Alsbridge (www.alsbridge.com) is a global consulting firm that that helps companies transform and optimize the way they purchase, manage and leverage technology and business processes.