To remain competitive, organizations must deliver the best possible customer experience through all channels of engagement. One technological approach to accomplish this is to enable a contact center to handle all the channels through which customer interactions with the organization are routed and acted upon. The contact center continues to need to handle telephony, of course, as this remains a channel that carries a significant portion of interactions. But new channels continue to be added to the interaction mix. With the advent of cloud computing, enabling systems and technologies to be managed on the Internet rather than on the premises of an organization, contact centers can be established and interaction channels can be added and configured far more easily.
Our latest benchmark research into contact centers in the cloud finds that with consumers having embraced the internet, particularly through their use of social media and mobile devices, customers today are communicating with companies through more channels than ever before. The top three channels remain established ones: inbound calls, email and outbound calls. However, the volumes of interactions are expected to grow either somewhat or significantly in a number of digital channels, among them the customer portal (82%), email (66%), mobile apps (63%), social media (70%), as well as the telephone (62%). The research also shows that many companies plan to support additional channels such as video calls, outbound text messaging and web-based chat.
Supporting multiple customer contact channels can be challenging. To deliver a seamless and consistent customer experience, organizations must integrate channels of communication, share all available information among the employees and systems handling interactions, apply the same rules in all of them and maintain context as customers move from channel to channel.
Cloud-based contact centers offer easier and more cost-effective ways to add new channels and connect them with existing ones. It thus comes as no surprise that in the effort to modernize and expand their contact centers, companies increasingly are willing to consider and adopt cloud-based systems.
This is particularly true for the need to embrace new channels of communication, as cloud-based applications largely obviate the need for dedicated technical resources in-house and can be easier, faster and less expensive to implement than on-premises products. These cloud-based systems offer the ability to support a range of channels, a capability needed to achieve the benefits expected from investments into contact centers. While organizations have historically preferred to manage their own contact center systems internally, this is among several factors inclining them to be more disposed to use the cloud to embrace, for instance, mobile and social channels of interaction using text or voice.
Our research finds that the most frequently cited benefits of cloud-based contact center systems are cost savings, a reduced need for in-house resources and better financial visibility and control. Furthermore, cloud computing typically enables access to systems through a web browser, which can enhance usability, the criterion that organizations most often (72%) said is very important in evaluating contact center software, whether deployed in the cloud or locally. (Our latest research on vendors and products for contact centers in the cloud can help and can be downloaded easily.)
CEO & Chief Research Officer