The cloud has changed a lot for the contact center industry. It has reshaped the entire cost model, switching it from an upfront expenditure of capital to a predictable, monthly outlay of operating expenses. It has brought new features online that many companies couldn’t afford before. It has allowed for better integration of media channels, and offered important options such as social media monitoring. It allows for better analytics and reporting, and means companies can overcome geographic limitations with satellite offices, distributed contact center locations and home-based agents.
For some companies, this latter feature has become extremely appealing. Shutting down the physical contact center structure and running with home-based agents has enormous cost savings potential. Tying together disparate contact center locations into one cohesive whole can find huge efficiencies. What a cloud-based contact center shouldn’t be, however, is an excuse to put the contact center out of sight and out of mind, which was a mistake many companies made with outsourced contact centers. There is a psychology at work here, according to a recent article by Silicon Angle’s David Coursey.
“What an on-demand contact center doesn’t offer is a license for laziness,” Coursey wrote. “Placing a contact center out of sight can also lead to out-of-mind, especially among execs far away from customers’ screaming fits and gnashing of teeth.”
It’s simply too easy for the executive layer of a company to start believing its own press releases and think it’s doing a great job with customer service. Reality seldom sets in until a critical mass of disasters take place and a company’s reputation is taking a beating on social media. In addition, says Coursey, a contact center cannot be run in complete isolation from the rest of the business.
“There are also some circumstances in which a contact center can’t be run as a standalone part of the business and needs a closer interaction with sales and even product development and should be co-located with them,” he said. “In some cases, it may make sense to limit what the on-demand call center can do and escalate problems to a separate staff closer to the company. The handoff from one to the other must be seamless to be effective.”
Customer service should never be an after-thought. Lingering attitudes about the customer support function being a “vampire” on the business and a necessary evil lead to customer experiences of the ‘80s and ‘90s – disjointed, siloed affairs in which companies seem to believe they are doing customers a favor – which cannot occur in a twenty-first organization…not one that hopes to stay in business, anyway.