Cloud-based call centers now the “new normal” within the enterprise
Cloud-based call centers have gone from risky experiments to a business standard over the course of the last decade. According to research from IDG, 62.4 percent of global enterprises now use cloud (or virtual) contact centers to facilitate their customer service and outreach operations, and for good reason.
For starters, this reflects an overall trend of enterprise decentralization, where companies are no longer beholden to a data-center-centric network architecture based around hardware at headquarters. As a rule, modern enterprises are taking strides to rely less on physical infrastructure and instead off-load connectivity, leveraging cloud platforms, SaaS tools and direct internet access (DIA) for traffic delivery (versus all-MPLS).
Historically, contact centers can be among the most hardware-dense (and maintenance-heavy) operations in the enterprise. Back in the 90s, enterprises saw outsourcing as the answer to their otherwise costly call center operations. But while the pros (no equipment cost, no staff training and no maintenance) made outsourcing to a third-party a markedly cost-effective alternative to on-prem, new concerns emerged that in the end made null any meaningful ROI, including:
- Security concerns when business and customer data was managed by a third-party provider
- A lack of product knowledge when contact center reps technically work for an array of vendors
- The risk of leveraging hardware and software that belongs to an off-shore provider, meaning it might not be up-to-date or compatible with the latest tech
- No control over quality standards -- both where users were involved, and when it came to actual call performance.
By moving to the cloud, businesses are now able to topple each of these cons, while actually making their contact center operation more performant (and less costly) from the top-down.
For instance, security in the cloud, in general, has come a long way, and assurances are now part-in-parcel with many contracts. To that end, the amount of money that would otherwise be allocated to managing equipment can go back into people training, as contact center software delivered as SaaS allow businesses to pay on a per-user basis, which is more predictable than traditional licenses.
Most importantly, all businesses need to do is find desktop applications and Softphones to get teams up and running. Because workers can leverage their solutions via the cloud, they don’t have to be physically tied to a data center at HQ and can work from any of the company’s remote sites across the globe. This allows the enterprise to make their contact center scalable and flexible, allowing them to be responsive to market change and flexibly staff as needed, and where it’s needed most.
But closing the loop on quality concerns can be a bit tricky. The same issues that plague any operation going to a decentralized, cloud-dependent workflow plagues the call center, but often with greater impact.
IT teams will need to support some of the most demanding web apps at call centers, including help desk ticketing and, video and voice-over IP (VoIP) tools. This category of tools requires a solution that can actively measure total network capacity as well as latency, voice loss and voice jitter over the wire between locations.
These aren’t features that come standard in most network management toolkits (think SD-WAN), which may only scratch the surface when it comes to giving teams the granular details they need to suss out (and prevent) issues at the call center.