Is Cloud-Based For You?
The weather report for the contact center industry is – mostly Cloudy. The promises from the vendors are all there; let us manage your call center hardware and software so you can focus on managing your business, it’s lower cost and faster to implement, you get on-demand capability, you get automatic failover. In general the promises are valid. IF your cloud vendor has a full contact center solution or sharply delineated functional boundaries and IF you don’t need to integrate with your back-office applications, then Cloud might just be appropriate.
A full contact center solution entails everything; the phone switch or PBX, the IVR, the ACD, the agent desktop, the eMail system, the chat application, call and screen recording, knowledge base, real-time monitoring, and workforce management. Anything less is not a Cloud contact center solution, it is a point solution. A Cloud solution that delivers a call into the center is a point solution. To the extent it is functionally complete and has few integration points it could be useful. If your center is an integrated multi-channel contact center, the point solution needs to not only deliver calls, but chats, eMails, and any other inbound channel you have. That point solution also needs to handle your outbound channels. I call this a contact management solution. Integration is the enemy of Cloud solutions. If you are looking at a Cloud-based contact management solution and it doesn’t have all of the functionality mentioned above, you are left with integration that is potentially expensive to develop and implement, and potential run-time latency problems.
Desktop Cloud puts the agent desktop or CRM application in the Cloud. As previously stated, integration being the enemy of a Cloud solution, the desktop Cloud has little practical advantage for the contact center. It needs to integrate with the contact management solution, it needs to integrate with a screen/voice recording solution, with the WFM solution, potentially the company’s eMail application and chat application in addition to back-office applications and databases.
For the same reason the Desktop Cloud has little practical value, other solutions sometimes disguised as Software-As-A-Service, or SAAS, that provide point WFM, KB or QA solutions also provide little or no value. There is simply too much integration work required.
Even for the full Contact Center solution, integration requirements with back-office applications and databases can sway a decision. Dig deeply into vendor claims regarding integration. Press them for examples and current customers. One problem is finding a full Contact Center Cloud solution. No software vendor does it all. They need to partner and integrate, but this will be done in the Cloud so that a full solution can be offered. This is typically al-a-carte and done on a customer-by-customer basis.
Primarily what I see on the market are either Call Management or Contact Management Cloud solutions. Again, focus on clean integration and clean handoffs. You will typically need integration with the agent desktop and with quality recording applications. Ensure your requirements relative to response and latency are well understood by your vendor.
Cloudy is okay, just make sure the Cloud doesn’t rain on your parade.