In today's fast-paced and ever-evolving business landscape, providing excellent customer service is more important than ever. With the rise of digital customer communication channels and an increasingly demanding customer base, traditional on-premise contact centers are no longer equipped to meet the needs of modern businesses.
Cloud contact centers offer a flexible, scalable, and cost-effective solution to help your business exceed customer expectations.
In this article, we will explore the benefits of cloud contact centers, the essential features to look for, and how to choose the right provider for your business.
Whether you're a small business just starting out or a large enterprise looking to improve your customer service, a cloud contact center is a smart investment.
- How Does it Work?
- On-Premise vs Cloud
- How it Improves CX
- How to Choose a Provider
- Best Providers
What is a Cloud Contact Center?
A cloud contact center is a centralized digital communication space that is hosted and managed by a third-party provider on remote servers. It allows businesses to manage customer interactions via multiple channels (e.g. inbound and outbound calls, email, chat, and social media) using cloud-based software solutions otherwise known as Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS).
CCaaS solutions eliminate the need for businesses to maintain and upgrade hardware, software, and infrastructure in-house, which is instead managed by the third-party provider. This allows businesses to focus on their core activities and better serve their customers, without the hassle of managing a complex contact center infrastructure.
How Does a Cloud Contact Center Work?
A cloud contact center typically works by routing customer interactions (e.g. phone calls, emails, chats, and social media messages) to agents who are equipped with the necessary training and resources to resolve the customer's issue. The omnichannel routing is typically done using advanced algorithms that take into account factors like agent availability, interaction type, and the priority of the customer's request.
The cloud contact center solution is hosted on offsite (remote) servers, which are maintained and managed by the third-party provider–not the end user. The solution is accessed by the business and its agents via the internet, and customer interactions are processed and managed through a web-based interface.
Contact center agents can access the necessary tools and resources like call scripts, customer information, and knowledge base articles from any location with an internet connection. This allows businesses to provide customer service from anywhere, implement remote teams, and quickly scale their contact center operations as needed.
Difference Between On-Premise and Cloud Contact Center
The main difference between an on-premise contact center and a cloud contact center is the location and management of the technology infrastructure.
An on-premise contact center is installed and run on the customer's own servers, within their own facilities. This means that the company is responsible for managing and maintaining the hardware, software, and infrastructure required to run the contact center. This also means that the business must invest in the necessary hardware, software, and personnel to manage the contact center–and pay upgrade and maintenance costs.
On the other hand, a cloud contact center is hosted and managed by a third-party provider on remote servers. The company accesses the cloud hosted PBX solution through the internet, and the third-party provider is responsible for managing and maintaining the technology infrastructure. This means that the business does not need to invest in hardware, software, or personnel to manage the contact center. End users also aren’t responsible for the costs associated with upgrades and maintenance.
In terms of capabilities and features, both on-premise and cloud contact centers can offer similar functionality, such as multi-channel support, advanced routing algorithms, and reporting and analytics. However, cloud contact centers are more flexible and scalable, as they can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection and can scale up quickly without the need to purchase additional hardware. Additionally, cloud contact centers offer more up-to-date features and integrations, as the provider is responsible for managing upgrades and maintenance.
|On-Premise Contact Center
|Cloud Contact Center
|Small businesses that wish to use contact center equipment they already have
|Businesses of any size that need to prioritize flexibility and mobility
|Available Communication Channels
|Voice, Chat, Email, Social Media
|Voice, Chat, Email, Social Media, Video conferencing
|Average Monthly Cost
|$8,000-$50,000 per month depending on the size of business, software licensing costs, equipment, etc.
|$20-$500 per month depending on the number of users and features
Benefits of Cloud Contact Centers
There are many benefits to using a cloud contact center, including:
Cloud contact centers can be accessed from any location and on any device with an internet connection, whereas on-premise contact centers are tied to a physical location. CCaaS platforms make it easier for businesses to implement remote work teams, provide customer service from multiple locations, and quickly scale operations as needed.
Additionally, without the need for maintenance and upgrades, cloud contact centers can free up IT resources for other initiatives such as hiring additional agents. Finally, cloud contact centers pay per line without equipment, licensing and installation costs, making it easier to scale down and budget appropriately.
Cloud contact centers can easily scale up or down to meet changing business needs. This means that as a business grows, it can add more agents or expand the system's capabilities–and only pay for the additional lines/features. On the other hand, on-premise contact centers require physical hardware and software upgrades, a time-consuming and expensive process.
The cost-effectiveness of cloud contact centers is mainly due to the reduced upfront costs, the ability to only pay for what you use, and the reduced need for IT support and upgrades.
With a cloud contact center all of the necessary technology is provided by the service provider so there is no need to make large upfront investments in VoIP equipment and software. Additionally, IT costs are reduced in cloud contact centers because maintenance and security is handled by a third-party provider. Finally, cloud contact centers offer key features that increase call center efficiency such as advanced, real-time analytics. Improved operations lead to cost savings in both the short and long term.
Cloud contact centers offer a range of advanced VoIP features that are not available in on-premise contact centers, including:
- Multi-channel support: Cloud contact centers allow customers to connect to businesses via multiple voice and digital channels, including VoIP voice calling, SMS, email, chat, and social media. This provides a more convenient and flexible customer experience, as customers can choose the channel that works best for them.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI): Cloud contact centers often include AI-powered features, such as natural language processing, IVR and IVA, automated self-service options, sentiment analysis, and automatic post-call summaries. These automated features help reduce call volume, improve customer satisfaction, and eliminate tedious agent tasks. On-premise contact centers typically don't have access to these cutting-edge AI technologies.
- Real-time analytics and reporting: CCaaS solutions provide real-time data and analytics that can track dozens of contact center KPIs and help businesses understand customer behavior and optimize their operations.
- Integration with other systems: Cloud contact centers can easily integrate with other systems, such as CRM and ERP systems, making it easier to share customer data and streamline workflows. On-premise contact centers may require significant effort to integrate with other systems.
- Workforce management: CCaaS features like call monitoring, analytics, real-time schedule adherence monitoring, and in-call coaching improve your business’s workforce optimization strategy. These tools track agent performance, anticipate workloads, and take action quickly to ensure that agent and company goals are met.
- Disaster recovery: CCaaS data is stored in the cloud, it’s accessible and recoverable. Top providers also offer built-in network redundancy, automated data backups, and real-time network monitoring.
Cloud contact center platforms are more reliable than on-premise contact centers, offering minimum guaranteed uptime of 99.9% thanks to:
- Redundancy and backup: Contact center technology providers generally store infrastructure in geographically redundant data centers to ensure the system is always available, even in the event of an outage. On-premise contact centers, on the other hand, are susceptible to outages and disruptions as they rely on a single physical location and hardware.
- Automatic updates and maintenance: With cloud contact centers, updates and maintenance are performed automatically by the service provider, reducing the risk of downtime or other disruptions. On-premise contact centers require IT staff to perform these time-consuming tasks, which are also subject to human error.
- Secure data storage: Cloud service providers employ advanced security measures to protect customer data, such as encryption, SSO (Single Sign-On), and multi-factor authentication. This reduces the risk of data breaches and other security incidents.
- Access from anywhere: Cloud contact centers make it easy for agents to work remotely or for businesses to provide customer support from multiple locations. On-premise contact centers are tied to a physical location, which can be a limitation in the event of a natural disaster or other disruption.
Essential Features of a Cloud Hosted Contact Center
A cloud-hosted contact center typically includes many features to help businesses manage customer interactions effectively and efficiently. Some of the most essential cloud-hosted features are:
- Omnichannel support: Ability to manage and provide a unified view of customer interactions through multiple channels, such as phone, email, chat, and social media.
- Advanced routing algorithms: Ability to route customer interactions to the right agent via round robin, time-based, relationship-based, and skills-based routing.
- Reporting and analytics: Ability to monitor and track key metrics, such as call volume, wait times, and agent performance, and generate reports for analysis and improvement.
- IVR (Interactive Voice Response): Ability to automatically route calls using a voice-controlled menu system.
- Call recording: Ability to record customer interactions for quality assurance and training purposes.
- Call monitoring (listen, whisper, barge): Allows supervisors to listen in on agent calls and intervene or take over the call when necessary
- Integrations with other systems: Ability to integrate with other systems, such as microsoft products, salesforce, and social media platforms, to provide a more seamless and integrated customer service experience.
How a Cloud Contact Center Improves the Customer Experience
A cloud contact center can significantly improve the customer experience by providing customers with more convenient and efficient ways to interact with a business, and by empowering agents with the tools and resources they need to resolve customer issues quickly and effectively.
Some specific ways that a cloud contact center can improve the customer experience include:
By allowing customers to interact with a business through multiple channels, such as text messaging, email, webchat, and social media, a cloud contact center can provide customers with more convenient and flexible ways to get help and support. Enabling customers to use their preferred communication channel increases customer engagement and creates a more personalized customer experience.
Faster resolution times
Advanced IVR, auto attendants, and omnichannel routing ensure that customer interactions are routed to the right agent quickly. Analytics can be used to track specific metrics such as average handle time (AHT) and average on-hold time to alert management of issues or to determine when peak call times are. These measures reduce wait times, improve business processes, and streamline the customer journey.
Seamless and integrated experience
By integrating with other business software, such as CRM systems, ERP, and social media platforms, a cloud contact center provides customers with a seamless and integrated experience, across channels. These integrations also give agents immediate access to full customer interaction and conversation history, so customers don’t have to repeat themselves.
Personalized and empathetic customer service
By providing agents with access to customer information, call scripts, and knowledge base articles, a cloud contact center can help agents provide personalized and empathetic customer service, building stronger relationships with customers.
Improved self-service options
The use of IVR (Interactive Voice Response), chatbots, and other customer self-service options help customers resolve simple issues quickly and without a live agent. This not only improves the customer experience, but agent productivity.
Consistent quality is imperative to building strong customer relationships. Call recording and monitoring features can help ensure that customer calls are handled efficiently and appropriately, helping callers to feel taken care of and increasing customer loyalty.
How to Choose a Cloud Contact Center Provider
When choosing a cloud contact center provider, there are several key factors to consider to ensure that you select a provider that meets your business needs and provides a high-quality customer service experience. Some of these factors include:
- Pricing and value: The first thing to consider with any contact center software provider is the pricing and overall plan scalability. When determining cost, don’t forget to look at which features are included in plans, and which ones are paid add-ons.
- Features and functionality: Research the features and functionality offered by different providers, such as skills-based routing, call center agent performance gamification, and automatic dialers. Necessary features will vary based on whether a contact center is inbound, outbound, or blended.
- Reliability and security: It is important to look into the provider's track record for reliability and security, and ensure that they have robust measures in place to protect customer data and maintain high levels of network availability.
- Integration capabilities: Businesses already using various digital tools should consider the call center software's available third-party integrations, APIs, and develop community.
- Customer support: Consider the level of customer support different providers offer, including support hours, channels, priority support options, and training/setup assistance–especially companies without an in-house IT team
- Ease of use: The ease of use and user-friendliness of the provider's platform is also important to consider. Ensure dashboards are intuitive and helpful for agents, supervisors, and administrators.
By considering these factors and carefully evaluating the different options available, you can choose a cloud contact center provider that meets your business needs and provides a high-quality customer service experience.
Overview of the Best Cloud Contact Center Solutions
Here is a quick overview of some of the best cloud-based contact center providers out there.
|4 paid plans from $149-$229+/month
|Large contact centers and enterprises
|4 paid plans from $75-$125+/user/month
|SMBs and remote contact centers
|Quote based pricing only
|Enterprise level contact centers with a high daily call volume
|$1 per active user hour or $150 flat rate per named user per month
|Startups and SMBs that need to a flexible, customized solution
|5 paid plans from $75-$150+ per month
|High volume contact centers that need advanced, real-time analytics