May 10, 2016

Migrating Your Call Center to the Cloud

On premises or in the cloud? It’s a question all companies struggle with: Should they invest more into local solutions or move critical infrastructure off-site? Many services, for example data analytics and storage, have quickly gained a cloud following while others — such as payment portals and line-of-business services designed in-house — have been slower to transition.

One area enjoying substantial growth is the transition from a premises-based call center to a cloud based contact center, like XO Contact Center Services (CCS). According to PR Newswire, this market will reach $14.7 billion by 2020, more than triple its current size. Yet what’s driving this migration? How do companies make the switch, and what are the key benefits? Here’s a quick primer on shifting your call center to a cloud provider.

How it Works 

What does a product like XO CCS look like? Essentially, it’s the same call center services you’re used to, just originating from a different location. You get the benefit of premises-based functionality, add-ons like voice mail, call waiting and interactive voice recognition (IVR), but instead of paying for all the necessary hardware, you pay only for the services used. You’ll need to pay a license fee per agent or per seat (less than $100 is our starting price for an agent seat), in addition to a low per-minute rate. In other words, you lose the hardware capital spend, keep all the features, and then pay a monthly fee per agent to access the cloud-based services.

Why Bother? 

Many companies wonder if moving to the cloud offers the “right fit” for their business needs. In some cases, for example, if you’ve just spent millions on a new PBX or SIP Trunk (what is it?), migration may not offer the best short-term gains. There are a few telltale signs, however, that indicate it’s time for a switch.

Consider the case of Sacramento, California. When the city’s 311 information line infrastructure began to age — agents reported that the system was hard to deal with and didn’t interface well with other city software — the decision was made to move this small contact center to a cloud provider. As noted by chief information officer Maria MacGunigal, the system “outlived its useful lifespan, its performance is low, it’s hard to maintain and costly.” If you are saying similar things about the hardware-based PBX/Call Center in your organization, it may be time to consider the cloud.

Communication at Scale

XO Contact Center Services operates on the same basic principle as on-premises options; you’ve identified a need to move from existing communication tools. Though what’s the big benefit in moving to the cloud? First up is scalability. This takes two forms: the instant-on scenario of sudden call volumes during the holiday season or after a particularly favorable brand review in national media, and the long-term situation of continued global growth. In these cases resources can be easily scaled to meet your demand, rather than forcing you to scramble for extra bandwidth, new hardware and server space to handle the deluge. In the case of temporary need, you can simply scale back to your original service levels, rather than carrying forward larger costs for no reason. Bottom line? A cloud-based contact center gives you control over what to scale, when and for how long.

Uninterrupted Services

What happens if your employees can’t make it to work due to inclement weather or local server stacks are knocked offline during a major storm? Global consumers don’t know — or care — why they can’t get through to live agents or ask questions, and many are willing to quickly abandon your brand if the problem persists for more than a day.

Cloud-based contact centers, meanwhile, solve this problem by distributing resources across multiple locations, effectively allowing them to act as hot-swap backups should the need arise. If employees can’t make it to work, for example, many platforms allow them to log in from their home computer and continue helping customers. If you’re still running local stacks with a cloud backup, you can switch to the fail-safe without any loss of quality or clarity.

Better Over Time

It’s also worth noting that CCS comes with included hardware maintenance and troubleshooting — since servers and routers aren’t owned by your company, they’re also not your responsibility to maintain. What’s more, system upgrades and improvements are provided automatically and often at no cost to clients. Many providers now offer customizable solutions that let you pick and choose the best-value features for your company, rather than being locked into a feature set offering minimal functionality. Since cloud-based communications are the primary focus of cloud based providers, offerings tend to get better over time as providers improve their networking and transmission technology.

Get Secure

Security is also a key feature of cloud-based contact centers. Think of it like this: Cloud providers are able to encrypt not only data you send to their servers but everything they send, meaning both incoming and outgoing calls are protected from prying eyes. What’s more, this focus on security takes the burden off local IT professionals and allows them to focus on efforts that directly benefit your cloud call center deployment — such as ensuring existing network technology is able to handle the upstream and downstream bandwidth needed.  And if your business needs an added level of security, performance, and control – XO can provide CCS over a dedicated MPLS IP-VPN connection.

When it comes to cloud migration, it’s worth considering what you’re going to move, when and how quickly. Just like any other cloud implementation it’s worth taking the time to find and review potential providers — in the case of cloud providers, look for companies with proven track records in consistent, secure call delivery and that aren’t afraid to answer direct questions about their pricing, infrastructure and the portability of data once it’s on their servers. Moving to the cloud also requires an internal culture shift; employees must be given a combination of training and time to adapt. Often, this goal is best achieved through a measured implementation of cloud services rather than a sudden move. This helps ensure that new investments don’t go to waste and agents are comfortable in their new cloud environment.

Considering CCS? With the right provider, it’s possible to enjoy the benefits of better service quality, improved features and scalability on demand.

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