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CloudIs your contact center technology ready for what the future holds? While no-one can fully predict what will happen in five, ten or twenty years’ time, there are some things which are practically guaranteed.

For instance, contact center technology will develop, consumer habits will change, CRMs will adapt and businesses will expand nationally – and globally. Could your call center technology cope with any or all of these scenarios? And would these changes be easy or costly and long-winded?

Chances are, if you have an on-premise system, making any of these changes would be a difficult and expensive process.

Why on-premise solutions need retiring

Many on-premise systems are an inter-connected muddle of real-time feeds, batch uploads and SQL queries, but still many companies are worried about breaking another area of the business if they change their contact center infrastructure.

Plus, there are often so many add-ons that if there’s a problem it’s hard to tell which area is no longer working.

On top of that, it can often feel like you’re spending all your time and money just to “keep the lights on”. With operating systems to update, end-of-life enforced upgrades and other maintenance costs, it can be a struggle just to keep it ticking over – let alone developing or improving your solution.

There are also the restrictive costs to consider; with on-premise, you pay up front for hardware and software – and then have to pay to maintain and upgrade it.

You can feel like you’ve hit a dead end. If you want to adapt, you have to wait for the infrastructure to be built, making it hard to experiment with new techniques.

Finally, with many on-premise solutions you need your own IT team. This effectively locks the knowledge of your infrastructure inside a few people. If they leave, are ill or go on vacation you’ve lost the knowledge you need to make fixes.

What to consider before you switch

While the actual process of migrating to the cloud is risk-free, there are still plenty of things to consider when choosing a vendor and a solution.

Do you have a PBX that you can keep? If you have a private phone system, without call center capabilities, you overlay the cloud contact center on top of your PBX. If not, you can buy PBX and a contact center solution together, but if you replace the PBX you should switch to VoIP, so your vendor will need to check whether your network is ready for the demands of VoIP.

Does the supplier show its availability and performance stats? If your whole contact center relies on the cloud, you need to ensure the supplier has an outstanding availability record. You can see NewVoiceMedia’s record here.

Can you still take secure payments? The last thing you want to do is to have to turn a customer away because you don’t have the ability to take PCI compliant card payments. When choosing, make sure the vendor is able to deliver a PCI compliant solution.

Is there CRM integration? To ensure your call center works effectively, you need a clear, simple, out-of-the box CRM integration. This way, you can use CRM data to route calls, for reporting and also to provide agents with a clear overview of each customer straight away.

Advantages of moving to the cloud

So, how do you future-proof your contact center? Moving to the cloud is the only way you can be ready for whatever the future holds. Here are five of the main benefits:

1. Cost and licensing

Firstly, (and arguably most importantly), a cloud solution will lower your operational expenditure.

With flexible licensing, you only pay for what you need, allowing you to scale up or down and adjust to seasonal changes.

2. Ongoing new features

As you’re effectively renting the software, you’ll always get latest updates, allowing you to stay up-to-date at no extra cost.

3. Global reach

With cloud customer contact infrastructure, you provide a consistent service around the world. You can even set up a contact center in a new location in a matter of days.

4. Business-led changes

A cloud solution is so adaptable that if you want to add a new service, you can just do it, with no fuss, hassle or complications.

For instance, say you’re a travel company looking to open your call center on a Saturday morning for the first time. To do this, you need to change the opening hours and add some new team members. In our cloud solution, ContactWorld, making these changes takes a matter of minutes.

5. CRM integration

To function at its best, a contact center needs seamless CRM integration, which is best achieved if you work with a vendor who has a relationship with a CRM provider.

This allows you to establish situational routing, where you can route a caller through to the most appropriate agent based on CRM data. This also enables IVR self-service, for instance, allowing customers to check their balance without the need to go through to an agent.

Find your competitive advantage

At the end of the day, all this technology matters because it allows you to deliver a better customer experience.

And it’s customer experience which is the main differentiator, as it’s one of the hardest things to replicate. After all, how could any business replicate a hard-to-define positive experience? If you can get customer service right, you’ve found your competitive advantage.

A cloud solution is the only way to future-proof your call center, allowing you to provide a great customer experience for years to come.

Find out more, by downloading our whitepaper, 10 tips on migrating your contact centre to the cloud.

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About Tim Pickard

Tim joined NewVoiceMedia in July 2011 with over 20 years' experience as a leader in the IT industry. He served as VP and board member of RSA Security's international business for seven years where he ran marketing in EMEA, Asia Pacific and Japan. He spent two years as Chief Marketing Officer for SaaS/Cloud-based email management provider Mimecast.

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