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The Mistake Retailers Risk Making with Contact Center as a Service

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How can we serve customers more effectively? The question may be as old as retail itself, but in the last few years, some brands have found a fresh answer…shifting their contact centers to the cloud.

Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) is one of today’s fastest growing technology segments. The CCaaS market is expected to be worth well over $28 billion by 2025, with a CAGR of 23.8%; Gartner predicts the technology will reach mainstream adoption among customer service and support organizations in less than two years.

The advantages of CCaaS mirror those of other cloud-based enterprise technologies — lower TCO, increased scalability and the promise of continuous updates and innovation.

But many brands are finding the road to CCaaS is rougher than they expected. Retailers beginning their cloud contact center transformation can learn from their experiences and avoid their often-costly mistakes.

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1. They rush into the cloud when they should optimize into it.

Most established retailers have contact center systems that are the result of years of learning and optimization. These systems have evolved based on the questions shoppers actually ask, the support agents actually need, and many other hard-won insights.

It’s easy to underestimate the value of this optimization in the rush to shift your technologies and operations to the cloud. The performance of a retailer’s IVR, for example, might well have been honed, iteratively and continuously, for the last 15 years. Build a completely new IVR application with a CCaaS partner and the retailer risks throwing that learning away and investing time and money to rapidly create an IVR that can’t deliver the same level of service.

And for any major retailer, any drop in performance can prove incredibly costly; the impact of even a 1% decline in IVR containment will likely be measured in millions of dollars as service agents are forced to take up the slack.

The solution, as it is so often, is careful planning. Retailers must develop a clear understanding of the value their existing applications deliver and their contact center’s current and future needs.

2. They underestimate integration issues (and pay the price).

Integrating new contact center systems is high-stakes work. It demands a combination of industry knowledge and technical expertise that most retailers — and many CCaaS providers — simply don’t have in-house.

When brands underestimate the challenge of integrating new and legacy contact center technologies, migration can be a painful experience full of unexpected issues. For a retailer, this can mean interruptions to customer service, higher call volumes and lower customer satisfaction. And as we’ve already seen, the slightest knock to normal contact center operations can have hugely expensive consequences.

3. They expect too much and receive too little.

With so much hype around the cloud, it’s easy to imagine your chosen CCaaS provider will be able to deliver everything your on-premises contact center infrastructure does today. But that’s unlikely to be the case.

Every CCaaS provider does the absolute basics, offering routing to agents and an agent desktop application. Only some, however, support IVR, virtual assistant, chat, email and messaging engagements. Most don’t offer solutions for customer authentication and fraud prevention.

Perhaps most crucially, CCaaS providers lack advanced natural language processing (NLP) technology. Leading retailers increasingly rely on advanced NLP — and AI in general — to deliver automated, on-brand experiences across channels. So retailers that embrace CCaaS should also consider how they’ll build sufficiently powerful AI into their contact center operations.

Go Into the Cloud With Your Eyes Open

Cloud technology presents a huge opportunity for retailers and the teams they employ to deliver customer service, sales, and support. But CCaaS isn’t a silver bullet for contact center transformation — and no solution will meet all of a retailer’s needs.

Before rushing into the cloud, the smartest brands will take the time to evaluate the genuine strengths of their existing contact center infrastructure and what can be done to preserve them. They’ll check in with their ambitions around automated, personalized service and omnichannel experiences — and explore what’s really required to bring them to life.

In this way, they’ll make the most of the CCaaS opportunity while minimizing its risks. And they’ll make sure every step they take into the cloud is truly a step forward.


Tony Lorentzen has more than 25 years of experience in the technology sector, spending the last 17 with Nuance where he is currently the SVP of Intelligent Engagement Solutions within the Enterprise Division. Before that he served as the leader of several teams at Nuance including Sales Engineering, Business Consulting, and Product Management. A proven leader in working with the cross-functional teams, Lorentzen blends his in-depth knowledge of business management, technology and vertical domain expertise to bring Nuance’s solutions to the Enterprise market, partnering with customers to ensure implementations drive true ROI. Prior to Nuance, Lorentzen spent time at Lucent and Verizon where he led teams that applied the latest technologies to solve complex business issues for large enterprises. He received a B.S. from Villanova University and an MBA from Dowling College.

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