Today technology is at the center of any discussion regarding competitive advantage, sustainability, and growth. As it specifically relates to the contact center space, the ability to deliver and communicate with customers using the latest channels has never been more important. And yet, despite the emphasis on offering the latest in customer communications, the vast majority of businesses are still basing their service delivery on old, inflexible, and costly premise-based solutions. Which begs the very obvious question, why?
For one, while there is no denying that smartphones and the age of social media are quickly transforming the communication landscape, the tried and tested concept of calling-in is still not dead. In fact, 73% of customers still prefer to speak to a representative, which is far greater than those choosing to use Twitter to communicate at 22% (Forrester). And this shouldn’t come as a surprise when you consider the generational breakdown of today’s customers, from Baby Boomers (79 Million), to Generation X (52 Million), to Generation Y (75 Million), to Generation Z (Still growing); with every one listing the phone as a primary means of contact except for the last. So, yes, premise-based solutions are surviving by virtue of those generations, but the trend is quickly moving towards email, social, media, and web, so keeping to the old way of things may not be the wisest of strategies. At the very least, it will not support any long-term competitive advantage your company may otherwise have.
As our dear friends at Zendesk have shown (infographic), the contact center is far from dead. It is, however, changing to meet a far more aggressive and fast-paced business environment, so one needs to have the technology to adapt and thrive. So where does cloud come in versus premise-based solutions? A few things to consider:
IT Staff Reliance: Premise-based solutions are complicated and generally designed in such a way that its up to you to mold your business and processes around theirs [on-premise solutions]. What’s worse, they generally require you have access to or hire expensive IT specialists to manage, maintain, and upgrade the platform. Unfortunately, if flexibility is the key to staying in touch and ahead of your customers, the limitations brought on by using such an expensive approach will quickly offset any of the benefits. With a cloud contact center solution, however, your business can dictate the solution(s) and mold it/them to your existing infrastructure without the need for expensive staff or consultants. Much like downloading an app to your iPhone, cloud allows for rapid setup and implementation of new solutions as your needs dictate. No need to be a Jedi Knight in technology, instead you can focus on running your contact center with the right tools powering your initiatives.
Cost: The ongoing cost argument between cloud and premise-based solutions is not new. And while we could easily get stuck in the weeds assessing ROI and the merits of pay-per-use, the reality remains that cloud owes the majority of its cost benefits to the flexibility and convenience it provides as it relates to first call resolutions, employee retention, customer satisfaction, and adaptability; not to long-term savings a SaaS model may or may not offer. Instead, if you consider the value of lowering employee turnover by virtue of providing better technology, or the benefits of extending a customers life-time-value due to improved FCR rates, or the competitive advantage of quickly adapting your contact center to changes in market demand, then cloud easily sells itself without much effort.
Reliability: What’s the point of having all bells and whistles if, at the end of the day, the reliability isn’t there. While premise-based solutions still account for over 70% of the contact center space, much of the ongoing migration to cloud is partly due to the expensive cost of managing downtime brought on by the heavy patching of legacy systems. In fact, cloud contact centers experience less downtime (2.4 hours versus 3.7 hours per year) per an Aberdeen study. Regardless of how you measure the expense, time is money, and in a world were time is short, every hour minute counts.
Premise-based solutions still have a place in the contact center arena, but much like the older generations, the time is coming for the old-guard to give way for the new. Cloud is the new.