Tapping the Cloud for Customer Service

By Steven Thurlow

If you’re betting that cloud computing will have a big impact on the future of your call center, you’re in good company. Vendors around the world are investing heavily to offer branded, cloud-based services at infrastructure, platform, and software levels. The move to cloud computing is a technological transformation, but it also requires business transformation. Call centers are finding that cloud-based call center initiatives are helping to deliver the cost efficiencies and agility necessary for their operation.

Because of cloud-based customer service functionality, the concept of the call center is more of a process rather than a physical location. Call centers are increasingly migrating away from on-premises systems to cloud-based systems, which can offer cost-savings and greater business flexibility. Migrating software, systems, and data to the cloud can save call centers money with monthly pay-as-you-go subscription fees – derived from operational budgets rather than capital budgets. Cloud computing lets organizations bypass the expense and bother of buying, installing, operating, maintaining, and upgrading the networks and computers found in data centers.

Today’s modern call center in the cloud enables them to establish a profitable cost basis and differentiate their offerings through exceptional customer service. Tapping the benefits of the cloud for customer service provides benefits from a cost, flexibility, and agility perspective, enabling call centers to deliver a rich and responsive customer experience that keeps existing customers happy and influences new customers to seek out their services.

This model is also scalable, which is advantageous to call centers that want to start out with cost-effective customer service resources to support fledgling cloud-based business books and then expand these resources as their business grows. Cloud-based services can be turned on and off and processing power can be added as needed, providing scalability for peak periods and cost savings when usage is low. With many of today’s cloud-based call center solutions, businesses pay per agent per month.

In the call center rooted in the cloud, customer service software is delivered as a Software-as-a-Service or Platform-as-a-Service. This model of software delivery is incredibly agile – new capabilities can be rolled out quickly to address new needs and requirements, and even new channels. This ability to adapt quickly to new trends and consumer demands is key to responsiveness. Call centers are no longer impeded by legacy systems that don’t offer the latest capabilities, such as mobile or social media.

One of the most arduous, time-consuming and costly activities in call center deployment is the effort to integrate automatic call distributor (ACD), predictive dialer, work force management (WFM), and voice recording, as well as multiple channels and desktop service functions. By integrating best of breed components, a cloud-based customer service provider can offer a lower cost-per-agent fee, without the risk or hassle of integration.

The call center in the cloud provides the ideal customer service platform: flexibility and agility, with access to next generation capabilities to interact with customers via their desired channels, in a cost effective manner.

This enables call centers to place their full focus on delivering a good customer experience as opposed to managing infrastructure, since customer experience is key to success in the highly competitive cloud-computing market.

Steven Thurlow is the head of worldwide product strategy for Kana Software. Kana provides customer service solutions delivered on-premise or in the cloud.

[From Connection Magazine May 2013]

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