Posted by Matthew Vallance
2015 is definitely the year of the cloud. Investments in omni-channel cloud customer contact solutions across the service industry are increasingly on the rise, according to business consulting firm Bluewolf. Furthermore, three-quarters of CIOs and CFOs in a recent CIO Insight survey said they are missing out on revenue opportunities by not having cloud solutions in place. And 70% of respondents feared their businesses would become uncompetitive without cloud and infrastructure investment.
Cloud-based services have a distinct advantage over locally installed and maintained systems, as they are easier to set up, update, and operate on a pay-as-you-go model – eliminating capex spending while reducing operational expenditure. These systems enable faster business decisions, with greater agility, and more flexible scaling of contact center operations.
The Bluewolf research predicts that within three years, 64% of companies will have three or more channels integrated together using Salesforce Service Cloud. Additionally, 70% of companies are now diverting budget from the technology they used to install in their own office and spending it on cloud-based services. In effect, cloud technology is rapidly driving adoption of innovative plug-and play business models delivering CCaaS (Contact Center as a Service) or BPaaS (Business Process as a Service) solutions.
Elevating Customer Experience
What particularly interests me, in this era of omni-channel services, is the cloud’s potential to transform customer experience. Today’s customer service starts from the moment someone posts an inquiry (on social media, website, or over voice) and extends beyond the purchase process, providing seamless integration across the customer’s preferred contact channels. With a cloud-based approach, contact centers can more easily embrace these ongoing channel shifts governed by consumer behavioral patterns.
Let me illustrate the cloud’s service value, with an example. HGS uses a cloud-based business model to underpin our customer service for the UK Visas & Immigration (UK V&I). A dynamic cloud-based portal rides on the gov.uk website and is integrated with web chat, voice, and email to offer a complete multichannel support solution. This portal is powered by an intuitive knowledge base that feeds the same information to agents and customers, encouraging visitors to self-serve on the website. This cloud-based, real-time communication implementation allows UK V&I customers to access information via their channel of choice – from a browser or web-enabled device with no plugins or proprietary software at either end.
So, what’s the lesson here? Companies need flexible customer service more than ever. And brands that allow their customers to instantly interact with them, regardless of location, device, or channel, will gain a huge competitive advantage. Customer service teams can ill afford to invest in technologies, only to find that six months on, their customers are using channels that have not been configured, or are impossible to support.
I’ve always been more interested in how customer service is delivered, rather than the technology platform used. But now, it’s imperative to consider the technology that is flexible enough to support consumer behaviors, which we all know by now can change at the drop of a hat! Cloud is here to stay, as a key differentiator to optimize your customer experience and set you ahead in the marketplace.