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December 11, 2013

Ease and Speed of Updating and Upgrading May be Cloud-based Solutions' Killer Differentiator

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

While most business people are familiar with the advantages of cloud-based solutions today – little to no upfront capital investment, payment as an operating expense instead of a capital expense, reduced need for in-house IT resources to manage the solution and the flexibility to use it from any location – there is a key benefit that often gets overlooked. It’s about the availability and ease of upgrades, updates, patches and changes.

The contact center is a busy and evolving place. New media channels are added regularly. Consider the social media channel alone: while Facebook and Twitter (News - Alert) might be the two vehicles of choice today, new trends rise rapidly (witness the speed with which Pinterest and Instagram ascended). Since it’s almost comical to use the words “rapid adaptability” and “premise-based solution”  in the same sentence, it’s important to understand that this benefit of a cloud-based solution over its premise-installed cousin is critically important.

For companies wedded to the premise-based model, they may not even be aware of what they are lacking. Some of the benefits offered by newer cloud-based solutions were unimaginable even just a few years ago, and some companies may be quick to write them off as “fads.” Yet it’s unlikely that your customers consider them fads, and customers today are more demanding and more tech-savvy than ever, according to a recent whitepaper on the “upgrade or replace” discussion by IP telephony solutions provider Mitel (News - Alert).

“Gaining the ability to leverage the latest technology to address your sophisticated customer base: this is a critical reason to upgrade your center. You’ll also be able to take advantage of multimedia contact capabilities, inbound/outbound/blended dialing, more efficiently measure and manage your contact center, improve workforce management, improve employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention—as well as creating happy customers.”

It’s not only about social media. It may be about mobile apps – more and more of your customers today are using their mobile devices to shop and seek assistance, and mobile apps are as dynamic as the weather. It might be about gaining outbound or blended capabilities where there was once only inbound. It might be about adding features such as analytics, voice recognition, extra layers of security such as better authentication, an improved interactive voice response (IVR) system or even a dialer, all of which are available cloud-based today.

Servicing customers today is more critical than ever before. Companies are having a hard time differentiating themselves from their competition, and smart companies have determined that the best way to do it is via quality of service. While the premise-based model has some advantages – better security, or at least a perception of better security – are one of them, those advantages do NOT involve quick and low-cost changes and upgrades. And if you cannot keep up with your contact center today, what hope have you of keeping up with your customers? 

Edited by Cassandra Tucker
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