Managing a contact center is tough any day. But the rapid strides in technology over the last few years, and its widespread adoption by consumers have introduced new challenges for contact centers. In an attempt to keep pace, and of course reduce costs, many contact centers are turning towards cloud based operations. Per a recent survey by Magnetic North, 71% of contact center decision makers are actively considering the move.
Scott Vassar, SVP Global IT Solutions at Sitel, believes that cloud based solutions are the way forward for contact centers. “Cloud solutions enable contact centers to deliver rapid response times while maintaining a differentiated customer experience. Unlike on premise systems, a secure cloud infrastructure lowers total cost of ownership, delivers greater flexibility and offers enhanced functionality”, he states.
InContact’s Chief Marketing Officer, Mariann McDonagh encourages the move, “Make the switch and do so ASAP. Cloud contact center technology allows organizations to shift their costs away from capital expenses to operational expenses. Your organization will be able to integrate multiple systems and easily share data between them and quickly build a true all-in-one solution which combines mobile, web, CRMs and other business operations”.
“Challenge your company to leverage your new investment in new ways, develop contests, test your teams, identify power users of the new cloud platform to lead the charge and motivate their departments to use the cloud platform to its full potential.” – Chris Pyle
“Migration from legacy systems to cloud systems is not a “flip of the switch” activity. Thought and leadership is needed in order to be successful” added, Chris Pyle, CEO of Champion Solutions Group. He and his team have helped thousands of companies migrate to the cloud. He shared some insights on the movement.
Choose the right partners
An important part of transitioning successfully is choosing the right vendor. McDonagh advises to pre-screen vendors by checking their reliability, security metrics and certifications. “Choose the right provider for you. Do your research so that the fit is right for your organizations. If the provider is too small they may not last. If they are too big, you may not be their priority.” One also needs to ensure that the vendor has the full range of capabilities your business requires, for example multi-channel support.
Map out the requirements
Once the right vendor is identified, a crucial and often slighted part of the planning is mapping out a full blueprint of the current premise and operations. Pyle’s experience backs this, “The biggest challenges that we have seen is that the client doesn’t fully understand what they have on premise today and the features they need. Understand what you have today on premise. What functions/ features of your applications are most used in your on premise solutions? Make sure that you rank them from the most used to the least used. Do you have vendors, partners, clients that are accessing your on premise solution today? How can they access them in a cloud solution?”
Vassar offers a simple solution to handle this aspect, “Get the cloud services provider to do a full analysis of the current premise based infrastructure. This includes adjunct or customized functionality that has been adapted to the existing premise based system and will require replicating those systems to work with the new cloud solution.”
Managing the Migration
The next part of the process is then working out how long the migration will take, and which are the key parts to transition first. An important part of the transition is how long it will take to get running on the new system and to start getting the value. You don’t want the business to suffer any longer, or any losses, in a drawn out transition.
This may prompt some to attempt to migrate important functions over earlier, but, as Pyle cautions, it can actually be counter-productive, “Start with the features that are not the most popular, then after you have mastered those, work your way up to the most frequently used. Also, make sure that you build an emergency exit into your project plan. If things don’t work out as expected in the cloud, you should have a way to dial back to your on premise solution, just in case, without affecting your business. “
End User Adoption
Once the business has migrated fully to cloud based operations, it’s crucial to shift the focus to end user adoption. Cloud based technology offer greater features and flexibility than premise based. Many companies fail to leverage these benefits and continue their new cloud operations in the same manner as their earlier premise solution. McDonagh emphasizes“Recognize and prepare for change: cultural changes and general operational changes to how things work. Be open-minded as change can be hard, but worth it on the other side. The positive side to all of this change is that we will be with you throughout the process. The cloud is a relationship, not merely a product”.
Pyle draws from his extensive experience and advocates engaging the teams and end users to find innovate ways to leverage the full benefit of the cloud operations. “Challenge your company to leverage your new investment in new ways, develop contests, test your teams, identify power users of the new cloud platform to lead the charge and motivate their departments to use the cloud platform to its full potential.”
For many companies, the initial pull to cloud based services is primary the lower cost – especially since the repeated infrastructure upgrades are no longer required. However many companies find themselves staying on cloud operations for other strategic reasons. Pyle shares emphatically, “The biggest success cloud stories come from those that leverage the cloud to help their companies improve productivity, move more swiftly, and focus on business transformation related activates not just technical activities. We have had not one client move from the cloud back to on premise solutions.”