The impact of cloud on contact center operations continues to grow, even as the industry is well into its second decade of leveraging cloud for everything from supporting home agents to reducing the costs of traditional infrastructure associated with large enterprise deployments.
The cloud is now enabling new applications, including those based on Artificial Intelligence (AI), Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML).
Global market intelligence firm International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that by 2020, 67% of enterprise infrastructure and software spending will be for cloud-based offerings, including contact center migrations from legacy circuits, switches and expensive on-premise equipment.
Moving to the cloud continues to change the game as more and more organizations benefit from a pure OPEX model (with little to no upfront costs required to move to a modern system) and enjoy the natural scale when call volumes increase or decrease seasonally.
Securing is a second plus; whereas the world questioned the security of cloud solutions for many years, given new software and platforms being rolled out, cloud contact centers can be even more secure, and in compliance whether with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard or HIPAA for health applications. Even new regulations like GDPR and similar legislation around the world are more easily addressed when contact centers have the right security measures in place, with SSL encrypted IP sessions, encrypted call initiation, multi-factor authentication and more.
Now that economics and security are more firmly established, companies are starting to roll out advanced cloud-native applications which bring sophisticated software and new opportunities for improving agent performance, often using big data analysis that can be performed in the cloud, with data including digitally recorded voice conversations converted to text, making all conversations text-based and analysis worthy.
For omnichannel service, this is a huge step forward as now it is possible to literally capture, store, analyze and create notifications, alerts, compliance reports and agent training and improvement better, including sentiment analysis on an entirely new level.
“Delivering the ultimate CX has become a competitive advantage, and with the transformation of the contact center industry, given advances in everything from chat to cloud, being able to deliver CX as a Service – CXaaS – may be the only strategy for organizations moving forward,” according to Joe Galvin, CEO of CustomerView, a Denver-based start-up backed by CR-X, a data and analytics company based in Australia which has been serving the telecom and contact center industry for over a decade.
“By this we mean rethinking the way we monitor, measure and optimize digital conversations with individual customers – whether they are web-based requests responded to by chatbots in a self-service model or direct voice calls into contact centers, or a mix of the two, with advanced software platforms, hosted on the cloud,” Galvin continued.
Statistics from Forrester prove a huge ROI for every increase in Net Promoter Scores, facts and figures which are driving executives in companies across industries to invest in CX.
Where should CIOs, CISOs, contact center operations leaders, and those who benefit from data start when it comes to transforming their legacy contact centers and related application so they can tap into more and more data as their sales and services become more and more digital?
“There really is no way to capture, translate, analyze and create useful applications at the scale required to be meaningful without the cloud,” Galvin said. “We believe CXaaS, or Software as a Customer Experience as a Service is not just a trend but the future.”
CustomerView is not a freestanding system – it is an AI-based software platform that enhances other large platforms, including Genesys where CustomerView is a part of their cloud offering and AppFoundry.
“Customers expect businesses to respond quickly and understand their needs, likes, preferences and history during their interactions, despite protestations regarding privacy,” Galvin said, “and growing and building a relationship is more possible when either chatbots or agents, and preferably both together, can understand and serve. But when there are thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions of interactions taking place every day – how is it possible to deliver this intelligent, responsive and extremely personalized service? This is where CXaaS comes in.”
Architected properly, CXaaS can be implemented as an opex-only enhancement, served from the cloud where information is securely stored, and analytics can be run in real time, and can be paid for on a subscription or per-transaction basis.
CXaaS is delivered through technology ecosystem partnerships, so companies currently taking advantage of Genesys-powered contact centers, for example, can simply add in CXaaS enhanced services/
“By its very nature, CXaaS is omnichannel when we create data lakes with information pulled from every source. Great CX happens whenever customers interact, and organizations make sure that every interaction matters. That includes offering the best experience regardless of channel: voice or video communications, text, email, and social,” Galvin explained.
“The other great advantage of CXaaS is the ability to combine forces and integrate applications using APIs – programming CX platforms based on specific offerings, products, services and business models,” Galvin said. “There is a huge future in this, and our customers are innovating in areas that would have been impossible to develop applications for without cloud, APIs and secure networking associated with platform approaches.”
Windstream Enterprise also believes in the future of CXaaS. In a blog last year, the company wrote “Whether asking about a suspicious charge, upgrading a subscription, or getting help, we’ve all been in IVR purgatory. We diligently provide the needed information, navigate the prompts and test our patience on hold, only to be disconnected before our problem is solved, or are asked to repeat the exact same information once we talk to an agent. While botched online experiences can be just as frustrating. When these negative experiences happen, the company we’re trusting for good service seems to be sending us a clear signal they don’t care about our business– and chances are, they likely won’t keep it for long. Fortunately, a great customer experience (CX) has the opposite effect. Studies show CX is a key decision factor when making a purchase.”
Windstream pointed to a survey by the Harris Poll, which made it clear that customers make their decisions based on service, not just product.
“It is hard to grow revenue but it is even more difficult when hard-won customers leave due to a poor customer experience,” Windstream wrote. “Not only do you need to sell more, but the cost to acquire a new customer can be 5x greater than retaining an existing customer. Because of this, companies onboarding new customers need to proactively deliver a positive CX at every touch point to increase satisfaction and ideally, loyalty.”
Will 2019 be the year of not just cloud contact centers but CXaaS that makes new applications possible – while reducing costs, and contributing more information and insight to organizations? We’ll continue to monitor this space.
Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.
Edited by Maurice Nagle