Why the future of the contact centre lies in the cloud

A cloud connected to electronic devices
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Contact centres have always been a revenue driver for the channel. It’s one of the many markets that enjoys continuous growth. After all, more than 4% of the UK’s working population is employed at contact centres, and that number just increases year-on-year. As well as being a growth market, it’s also a market that is undergoing huge digital transformation.

It was over three years that analyst agency Forrester issued a report named ‘Contact centres must go digital or die,’ which outlined that firms' technology and staffing plans are not keeping up with consumer demand for digital customer services.

In order to satisfy the rising demand for support, contact centres and call centres must be able to scale rapidly, even as they develop new competencies. New digital channels and touchpoints are quickly emerging, changing the way consumers interact with brands. Multichannel, big data and the integration of the Internet of Things (IoT) also pose new requirements to the visibility of customer-related data.

Looking up to the cloud

The fact is that customer experience is paramount in order to stay competitive. So, put simply, for contact centres it’s a clear-cut situation; ‘go digital’ or face huge customer churn. With these market factors in full force, cloud adoption isn’t just an option, it’s a necessity to enable multichannel functionality and a future-proofed business. Customers want and expect a brand to have omnichannel communications capabilities. A traditional voice contact centre just doesn’t cut it anymore.

The most straightforward route toward digital excellence points directly to cloud technology. Modern customer communication services require solutions that are capable of integrating all communications processes into a singular platform, whilst at the same time being adaptable to changing demands.

As technology advances, businesses are realising that only cloud services offer the agility they need in order to adapt, with speed, to new clients, channels and requirements. Therefore there’s an increasing demand for contact centre services from the cloud. With time and cost pressures rising, contact centres are challenged to fulfil increasing customer demands and deliver even more business value in less time, and cloud platforms enable them to meet these ambitious goals.

The customer relationship management (CRM) sector also represents the largest segment in migration from traditional hardware or software products to cloud technology. As a result, it should come as no surprise that the contact centre industry is now following the lead, turning their backs on the obsolete infrastructure of on-premise systems in favour of modern, flexible, hosted technologies.

The future lies in omnichannel communication

The essential drivers for that trend are reduction of IT investment, operation and maintenance costs, as well as adaptability to perpetually changing market situations, maximum scalability and seamless integration with CRM applications. Furthermore, integration with cloud services is extremely straightforward, even more so when the contact centre and telephony systems are based on the same platform.

The scope for the channel this year, when it comes to contact centre market, cannot be understated. We may all be pushing different kinds of technology, but we are also consumers at the end of the day.

Just think about how you engage with a brand and what communications channels you expect? It’s certainly beyond voice, and we expect web chat and social media channels at a minimum. But looking even further ahead there are definitely opportunities with artificial intelligence (AI); contact centres must automate where possible to save costs, so its stands to reason the sector will also be a trailblazer for new voice recognition technologies.

The revenue opportunities are huge. Last year the UK Contact Centre Forum unveiled its latest market study, which found that 35% of contact centres still don’t have the technology to support multiple customer contact channels. That equates to thousands of contact centres that are yet to start their journey via the cloud and reap the productivity and functional benefits. With the opportunities primed, who knows what the future holds?

Myles Leach is MD for NFON UK