What is a Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)?
A CCaaS offers cloud-based customer experience solutions. Opting for a CCaaS model enables you to purchase only the technology your business needs. That saves both time and money by reducing the need for internal IT resources and support.
Because you’re investing in a cloud software solution, the initial investment costs are often lower than they are with traditional contact centers. As you might suspect, moving to cloud-based CCaaS solutions provides the substantial cost savings that most “as a service” cloud migrations offer, allowing a business to benefit from:
- Lower upfront investment
- Fewer operating costs
- Minimal cost of ownership
- Reduced IT staffing
- Decreased workforce management
- Streamlined billing
- Reduced downtime
- Ability to support remote agents
- Business continuity in the event of a disaster
- Scalability up or down on-demand
- Monthly updates in the cloud
- Assured security and compliance
The new wave of CCaaS technology in contact centers gives you the freedom to:
- Effectively manage remote teams with collaboration tools such as team messaging and video
- Interact with customers through their preferred channel--on the phone or through chat, SMS, social, in-app messaging, to deliver a unified customer experience
- Use real-time and historical dashboard monitoring for analyzing call history, activities, interaction volume, and patterns for quick root cause analysis
- Take advantage of artificial intelligence with open APIs that integrate with leading AI engines, natural language platforms, and machine learning technology
- Boost workforce optimization via tighter scheduling, quality management and speech analytics
- Take advantage of ready-to-use contact center integrations, with open APIs with CRM applications
What’s the Difference Between UCaaS and CCaaS?
Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and CCaaS work hand-in-hand. But they're typically purchased by separate departments and used for different purposes. CCaaS offerings enable multi-channel communication via a single cloud-based platform. Where UCaaS is more apt for internal collaboration, CCaaS is designed for customer communication.
What is the difference between a call center and a contact center?
Customers call you in a call center, while contact center solutions let them contact you through any customer service channel—including email, live chat, social media, etc.
A call center is focused on incoming and outgoing voice calls, while a contact center can operate through several channels including digital ones. Contact center agents can manage customer interactions from agent desktops and through applications like email, web-based chat, and instant messaging.
In addition to phone calls, a fully functional contact center offers customers text and visual communications. Often, a contact center also uses agents who can manage multiple forms of voice and digital communications.
An IP contact center takes advantage of IP communications' inherent benefits, including the fact that both voice and data communications can be efficiently routed to any agent who has access to a broadband or an IP connection. This eliminates the need for a centralized call center since it’s possible to use a widely distributed agent pool across multiple locations.
Inbound and Outbound Call Centers—How Do They Differ?
An inbound call center receives inbound calls from customers. Support teams typically monitor inbound centers since the calls tend to come from existing customers with issues or questions.
An outbound call center is the exact opposite of an inbound call center. Rather than having the majority of your calls come into your call center, agents in outbound call centers are, for the most part, making outbound calls.
Most outbound call centers are sales oriented. When agents make phone calls from the call center, they’re focused on a list of customers or potential customers that they’re targeting as sales prospects.
Contact Center Options Explained
There are several different types of contact centers. Here are some of the most popular.
Omnichannel Contact Center
An omnichannel contact center lets customers reach out on the channel of their voice without repeating themselves each time they switch channels. As a result, customers can change how they communicate with ease.
What is a Cloud-based Contact Center?
Hosted in a data center, cloud contact centers handle all inbound and outbound customer engagements. Cloud contact centers enable agents to interact through voice, email, social media, and the web from virtually anywhere.
Cloud-based vs. On-premise or Onsite Call Centers
On Premise Call Centers
This configuration means that your call center’s communication hardware, software, and infrastructure are stored and operated at your place of business. The dedicated communication servers can take different forms, such as PBX or IP PBX.
Under this system, your IT team is responsible for installing, maintaining, and handling everything from phone servers to headsets and software support.
Cloud Call Center Software
Cloud-based call center solutions are hosted in the cloud by CCaaS providers. Access is entirely web-based so no installation is required.
This solution relies on internet access with sufficient bandwidth to comfortably accommodate all users and other internet activities. Your business or call center data is hosted in the cloud, and the corresponding servers either belong to the CCaaS provider or a third party.
Cloud call centers are attractive to many organizations because they can be deployed in a matter of minutes. With lower upfront costs than on-premise solutions, these call centers allow companies to take advantage of cloud technology and state-of-the-art capabilities.
The benefits of using CCaaS solutions include:
Some highly regulated companies such as financial institutions, healthcare and others may feel their data is more secure in-house. However, it’s important to note that costs associated with managing and maintaining an on-premise environment can run much higher than the expenses associated with cloud solutions. There’s no way around the fact that on-premise solutions require an investment in hardware, software, IT employees, maintenance and more.
How to Choose Contact Center Software
With many potential combinations, selecting the right call center software can be challenging. Contact center software buyers should consider contact center performance and include features such as data reporting, speech analytics, routing methods, and artificial intelligence.
Depending on what functionality your business needs, you can narrow your search for call center software solutions by searching for one or more of these commonly used customer support communication tools:
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR): Software that comprehends touch tones from a dial pad or voice input from an individual to respond or take the next appropriate action.
- Automatic Call Distributor (ACD): ACDs handle how calls are routed to find the right rep or automated system for the caller’s needs.
- Call Center Monitoring: All call analytics that can be tracked and measured are part of call center monitoring software. These details allow training reps to better serve customers and improve call center performance management. The most sophisticated solutions offer multi-channel text and speech analytics.
- Predictive Dialers: An automated calling system, typically used by sales teams. Numbers are automatically dialed and connected to a rep who is free to talk to a customer.
- Call Accounting: Call Accounting, also known as call logging, collects and records phone usage within a call center.
- Call Analytics: Speech analytics tools that track metrics to enable reps and managers to evaluate the success of call campaigns.
Tips on Finding the Best CCaaS Vendor
As you may surmise, not all CCaaS vendors are alike. So, how do you ensure a cloud call center service is staying on top of CCaaS trends and has the right functionality for your company?
There is plenty to consider when evaluating vendors. Look into what pricing plans are available and which features are included. Ask if the CCaaS vendor if it can deliver:
- Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) and Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
- True omnichannel capabilities – universal routing and queuing of voice and internet channels, such as email, webchat, SMS, social media, and video
- Chatbot capability – self-service and assisted-service interactions and transactions
- Proactive contact – including outbound dialing and SMS, push text and email notifications
- Inbound, outbound, and blended calling abilities – that can be easily added or removed based on company needs
- Open API – integrations with any existing or future software
- Access to customer data – connections to existing web-based applications or CRM solutions via an adapter or web technology toolkit
- Support of virtual operations – your remote workforce can be anywhere, including from home
- In a Collaborative Contact Center, agents can reach out beyond the contact center to subject matter experts throughout the enterprise
- Exceptional customer relationship tracking and management – applications, operational support software including reporting, analytics, sentiment analysis, and self-service capabilities
- Compliance with data privacy standards, regulations, and mandates like HIPAA
- 24/7 customer care support
- Business continuity: An on-premise contact center does not support your business in disaster situations.
- Scalability: Add or reduce headcount on-demand during busy seasons, peak hours or as your business expands.
- Up-to-date technology: Take advantage of the latest advances in technology with monthly updates in the cloud.
- Peace of mind: Our compliance certification is refreshed yearly, with top security talents from public cloud networks so customer data is protected.
As customer expectations increase, companies are looking for every possible competitive advantage, making the transition to cloud contact centers an urgent priority.
The best cloud contact center software solutions offer always up-to-date, state-of-the-art contact center features, data loss prevention, security features to ensure business continuity, scalability to meet business requirements, and a seamless migration process.
Ultimately, your unique business needs will determine what needs to be included in your CCaaS.