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Life Before the Cloud: A Reminder for Contact Center Agents

April 08, 2014

By Tracey E. Schelmetic,
TMCnet Contributor

In the very near future, many contact centers may no longer have very many employees who remember working on a premises-based solution. It sounds odd, given how “new” the cloud is to the contact center industry, but given that we are far past first generations of cloud-based solutions (and given the turnover in the contact center industry), there may be a critical mass of employees who don’t actually remember what it was like working with technology solutions that were located in a dusty IT room in the basement.

To remind them what the old days might have been like, we’ve prepared a short memory refresher course:

Once upon a time, you would have known the IT workers better than your best friends. Premises-based systems were often so ‘glitchy’ and poorly integrated that their mysteries were beyond even the savviest contact center agent to overcome. In these cases, you had a panic button – or at least memorized the extension numbers of the IT support crew – so you could summon them up from the basement to get the desktop applications working again.

No, you couldn’t transfer that call. While it may be beyond the memory of the average young contact center worker today who is used to cloud-based solutions, if a customer needed to speak with a representative at another facility, the call simply couldn’t be transferred. You would have to say to the customer, “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to call our Dubuque office at 800-XXX-1515. Good-bye.” The idea of hanging up on a customer before an issue is (or should be) incredibly foreign to us today.

The IVR hadn’t been reconfigured since the Carter administration. IVR systems, once giant dusty boxes that lurked in IT labs, were so difficult to change that only one person in the organization had ever known how to do it…and he had left his job 15 years ago. Companies made due with the same ineffective IVR menus they’d been using for years, if not decades. And the hold music hasn’t been cool since the average contact center agent was in pre-school.

Companies with multiple facilities had to buy separate software licenses for each facility. Since the solutions were installed at the premises, it required one set of licenses for each facility. Many companies used to send so much money out the door in software licenses it rivaled labor costs.

Software licenses collected a lot of dust. If you’re a seasonal business that needed to add personnel or capacity during certain times of the year, recall that software licenses did not have any flexibility. Companies needed to buy what they would need at the busiest time of the year, and let those paid-for licenses waste money during the slower times of the year.

No working from home. Is there a weather emergency going on in your area? Is your child sick? Would you like to work from home? In the days before cloud-based contact centers, the answer would have been, “Tough luck…not possible.” Today’s cloud-based platforms allow agents to be agents from anywhere, and companies to ensure that there is coverage no matter what. (Read about the adventures of a cloud-based contact center headset here.)

Contact center solution installations took longer than most contact center agents’ tenure. With premises-based solutions, the installation process was so long and drawn out, many agents began work during the implementations and left before they were even up and running. Today’s cloud-based solutions have taken these implementation times from months and even years down to days or even hours.

If you’re still using a premises-based solution and any of these points seem particularly painful, perhaps it’s time to consider the cloud. Your customers and your agents will thank you.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi