In the wake of the global pandemic, companies across the world have had to contend with an exponential rise in customer contact volumes. Gartner reckons that more than 40 percent of customer service and support leaders have experienced increased service volumes compared to original projections. According to a survey cited by Forbes, there has been a 34 percent increase in hold times for customer service calls. Not only are enterprises overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of volumes, but they are struggling to keep up with the pace at which Customer Experience (CX), impacted by digital, is evolving.

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Traditionally, contact center platforms have been a white elephant, so to speak, that is difficult to maintain and puts a strain on an organization’s resources. In an inflexible environment like this, any transformation or modernization efforts become a big-ticket item that takes a long time to get off the ground and requires a huge upfront investment with a multi-year business case. On-premise contact centers – characterized by significant physical presence, use of legacy systems and lack of integration – can hinder organizations that are looking to be agile, scalable and cost-effective in the way they deliver CX.

Cloud-based contact centers, on the other hand, underpinned by digital and an omni-channel approach, are enabling enterprises to prioritize innovation and flexibility in CX delivery. In recent years, the adoption of cloud technologies has increased markedly paving the way for a better commercial model, and improved CX and time-to-market. This is validated by Business Transformation After the Digital Tipping Point, a global survey report by WNS-Corinium Intelligence that delves into the state of digital transformation in 2021 and beyond. 48 percent of the survey respondents said that they have finished migrating data, applications and services to the cloud.

Undeniably, COVID-19 has fueled the growth of Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), even as omni-channel capabilities, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and analytics become integral to business survival and growth. Gartner projects that CCaaS revenue will register a 29 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) to reach USD 17.9 billion by 2024.

Cloud contact centers are proving to be a game-changer in a number of ways, namely:

Flexible, on-demand pricing: Cloud contact centers bring into play a consumption-based or pay-as-you-go pricing model that negates the need for any upfront investment. Granular visibility makes it possible to develop pricing models from the ground up. For instance, Amazon Connect enables enterprises to build pricing for usage per minute or per message. Similarly, Genesys Cloud drives per agent or per month pricing.

It will not be an exaggeration to say that such flexible and transparent pricing enables organizations to scale up / scale down their operations in a matter of minutes. More importantly, there is no fixed cost involved and the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is 30-50 percent lower than that of a traditional, on-premise contact center.

Superior CX led by modular, easily integrable features: On-premise contact centers characteristically work on a “walled garden” approach. Typically, they have closed structures with fixed features and are slow to respond to change. In stark contrast, cloud contact centers are programmable platforms with open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and a vibrant marketplace. Twilio Marketplace Add-Ons, AWS Marketplace, Genesys AppFoundry and NICE CXone are some shining examples of third-party providers offering bolt-on solutions to augment the capabilities of the base platform.

Cloud contact centers enable the easy integration of add-ons available in the marketplace. Alternatively, enterprises can utilize the platform’s APIs to develop bolt-on features on their own. For instance, Google and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have introduced Google Cloud Contact Center AI (CCAI) and AWS Contact Center Intelligence (CCI), respectively, that natively integrate with various cloud contact center platforms enabling the accelerated adoption of new capabilities. This makes it feasible for organizations to deliver a unique CX and stay in line with market demands.

Accelerated time-to-market: An on-premise contact center takes anywhere between six to eight months to go live. By simplifying the setup process, a cloud contact center not only dramatically shortens this timeline, but enables organizations to focus on the customer journey rather than provisioning hardware.

Unlike on-premise solutions that are characterized by time-consuming hardware configurations, cloud contact centers are driven by network-based services rapidly deployable by providers. Cloud contact centers enable backups and are reinforced by robust security and disaster recovery features. With all this heavy lifting being taken care of by the provider, organizations can get their contact center operationalized in a matter of weeks.

The rapid adoption of cloud-based contact center solutions will continue as they outperform traditional contact centers on various key aspects – flexibility, scalability, security, time-to-market, CX and setup costs. Another notable characteristic of cloud contact centers is the seamless integration of remote agents and work models. A strong security and governance foundation means that enterprises can implement an elastic workforce, leveraging on-demand resources to meet business variability.

As omni-channel and analytics-led hyper-personalization become central to the new normal of CX, cloud contact centers, with their highly agile and scalable approach, are the way to go in a digital-only world.

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