THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC has underscored the value of basing contact center solutions in the cloud, where employees can access them at the office, from home, and anywhere else that’s needed.
When COVID-19 sent employees home and consumers online in early 2020, most large organizations had already transitioned to a contact-center-as-a-service (CCaaS) model, which is rapidly emerging as the next generation of customer support technology. Indeed, Gartner forecasts a 29% compound annual growth rate through 2024 for CCaaS, which already accounts for 90% of new contact center deployments, according to Steve Blood, a Gartner vice president and analyst.
Many small and medium-size businesses continue to struggle with legacy technology, however, which spells opportunity for channel pros. “Premises-based contact center technologies were designed to work in the office, on the company network. It is much more difficult, and in some cases too difficult, to use this technology to work at home,” explains Blood. As a result, SMBs have limited flexibility, scalability, and resiliency, which drives up their costs too.
CCaaS can help SMBs level the playing field with larger competitors. The cloud-based framework makes it easier to connect a workforce across various geographic locations, Blood notes, while rich APIs and SDKs add the flexibility to connect unified communications, CRM, service desk, and other third-party applications. Sophisticated real-time capabilities that improve customer support include CRM hand-off features, call recording, text and social media integration, and the ability to use chatbots and other AI tools.
“It greatly reduces the complexity of managing all the functions related to a center,” says Chris Nicoli, president of Teltek Systems, a Westminster, Md., provider of telecom and CCaaS solutions.
And because the architecture for CCaaS is very similar to that of video meeting platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Cisco WebEx, customer service organizations can get their staff up and running on cloud platforms very quickly, Blood points out.
The OPEX pay-as-you-go model is attractive to many firms too, Nicoli says. It virtually eliminates technology upgrades and obsolescence, and allows SMBs to enter the space with a smaller up-front investment.
Moreover, the flexibility of CCaaS not only improves relationships between businesses and their customers, but allows companies to attract and retain better employees, Nicoli says. “Companies can hire from anywhere and have workers anywhere. It changes the dynamics of how they operate a contact center.”