Few organizations with contact centers were adequately prepared to make the abrupt transition to a fully remote operation with at-home agents in response to COVID-19. According to a Gartner study conducted just a few months before the pandemic upheaval, nearly 90 percent of global organizations relied on-premises contact centers — either at their own site or outsourced to another company.
Most have scrambled to cobble together a variety of networking and voice services to allow remote agents to continue supporting customers. This has largely been possible with cloud technologies that can be implemented easily and scaled rapidly to support remote work on a large scale.
The transition remains a bit of an experiment for most organizations. They are still refining processes for handling omnichannel interactions, call escalation, ticketing, agent support and other issues. As organizations work through their immediate challenges, however, they must also begin developing a long-range plan for their operations.
CCaaS Uptick Likely
Once the health crisis has passed — however long that may take — it may not make sense to return to a conventional on-premises operation. The pandemic illustrates the danger of relying too heavily on in-house infrastructure.
For most organizations, Contact-Center-as-a-Service (CCaaS) solutions will provide the best combination of affordability, scalability and survivability. The cloud-based model enables rapid access to evolving technologies that can help them be more responsive to customer demands. Increased automation, AI-powered conversations, chatbots, intelligent routing and powerful analytics are among the leading drivers of the market.
In a new Dynata survey of contact center executives, 62 percent said they plan to implement a cloud contact center within the next 18 months. More than 90 percent said advanced features such speech-to-text, text-to-speech and self-service functions will create better experiences for customers and agents alike.
As with other cloud services, CCaaS delivers distinct cost advantages. It eliminates the need to purchase, house and maintain on-premises infrastructure, creating a predictable “pay-as-you-go” model. That eliminates a lot of expenses — given the rapid evolution of contact center technologies, the industry consensus is that contact center infrastructure becomes obsolete in just three to five years.
Beyond the cost benefits, there are significant strategic advantages. For example, it is easy to set up remote agents and managers in any location, enabling “follow-the-sun” operations. Agent assignments can be scaled up or down to manage peak or seasonal demands.
CCaaS solutions also make it relatively easy to integrate a variety of key business applications with application programming interfaces. Using APIs, organizations can integrate voice, video and messaging into customer-facing apps without the need for backend infrastructure and interfaces. Integration with customer relationship management apps makes it easy to collect relevant data about existing customers and push that information to the agent through screen pops, allowing more personal and effective service.
As we’ve seen in recent weeks, CCaaS also supports business continuity requirements. Geographically dispersed cloud data centers ensure redundancy — if a hosting center goes down, all functionality can be automatically switched to a backup site with no impact on customers.
Many of our customers are already looking at Mitel’s MiCloud Connect CX solution to drive their contact center operations in the post-pandemic world. Developed in partnership with Talkdesk, the cloud-native platform combines Mitel’s call control expertise and extensive global network of resources with Talkdesk’s modern cloud architecture. Based on a global network of cloud data centers, the solution has built-in redundancy and reliability. In the event of a network disruption, calls remain active and supported across multiple points of presence around the globe.
The transition to cloud-based contact centers was already well underway, but the pandemic has accelerated the shift. If you’re considering a more permanent move to the cloud model, give us a call. We can walk you through the benefits of CCaaS solutions in general and the Mitel platform in particular.