Contact centers look to the clouds

    The contact center, like virtually every other region of the private sector, is increasingly under pressure to adopt advanced solutions to remain competitive with the rest of the business world. While there are a number of transformations happening to the office phone system to support these changes, the ongoing adoption of cloud computing throughout the enterprise is often cited as the most disruptive.

    A recent report by cloud computing consulting firm CoreMatrix noted that the proliferation of hosted technologies is giving organizations around the globe increased access to a wider array of mission-critical services. Additionally, firms are able to access much more information regarding customers through social networks and other online resources used everyday in the consumer setting.

    Although the advent of advanced online technologies has introduced a number of new opportunities for the business world, it has also forced decision-makers to adapt, the report said. Consumers now want contact centers and other service desks to communicate with them through multiple channels, beyond voice. If companies want to keep clients satisfied, they need to embrace these changes.

    "We believe one of the primary forces driving the increase in demand for innovative contact center solutions is that customer service is one area where a company can innovate and distinguish itself from competitors," said Paul Nix, co-founder of CoreMatrix.

    The emergence of the hosted contact center

    Unlike many technologies before it, cloud computing gives contact center agents the unique ability to analyze customer behavior and share these assessments with colleagues inside and outside the facility. This capability is especially important in terms of keeping clients happy, as individuals don't like to repeatedly give the same information to contact center agents over and over again.

    "Today's advanced cloud-based solutions allow organizations to deliver innovative service and support to customers - when and how customers want it," Nix said. "In particular, companies that embrace social to add value to customer interactions will increase customer satisfaction and retention rates. They will be tomorrow's industry leaders."

    A separate report by Frost & Sullivan highlighted the flexible work options is also driving the hosted model in the contact center industry. When supporting a virtual contact center, managers can schedule, monitor and record agent activity, regardless of location. This allows organizations to remain productive despite working outside the traditional confines of the office.

    Furthermore, contact centers using a hosted phone system can have access the latest technologies, improve operational flexibility and enhance their business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities, Frost & Sullivan said.

    As the business world continues to make its way to the cloud, contact center decision-makers should consider embracing this change and adopt the technology to improve customer relationship management and meet evolving consumer demands. While neglecting the use of the cloud computing will not necessarily introduce dire consequences, it will make it harder for organizations to remain competitive with rival firms, which can have long-term effects on the overall survival of a business.

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