What is a cloud call center?
Cloud call centers, or cloud-based contact centers, are the hub of a company’s customer service and sales departments. Every customer interaction occurs within this unit, making the company’s contact center solution critical to its success.
Now, you may be wondering, “I understand call centers, but where does the cloud come in?”
Keep reading to learn more about a cloud-based phone system, the difference between call centers and contact centers, omnichannel cloud contact center platforms, and more.
What is cloud-based calling?
For most, the term “business phone system” prompts an image of a bunch of phones that are wired into the building. For on-premises contact centers this is still the case. These systems, both those that use SIP trunking and those that don’t, make all of their connections through the company’s physical contact center and its on-site hardware. With the growth of cloud connectivity,however, this is no longer the average or best option for customer communications.
Instead, cloud contact center software features connectivity made entirely on a cloud-hosted platform. Every process works through an internet connection, allowing agents and management to use the system from any connected device. Rather than relying on their own equipment, businesses get access to the systems their vendors operate and maintain in the cloud. These platforms, sometimes called IP PBX phone systems, facilitate phone calls and more. Whatever these businesses need to get in touch with customers, they can use their cloud-based system to achieve it.
The technical side of call routing can get confusing, so here’s what is important to know about the differences between cloud-based call center software and on-premise solutions:
- All connections must go through a system on the company's premises
- All equipment and hardware for the system must stay on-site, so special connectivity is required for any off-site connections
- Updates and new features must be added manually, often requiring new software
- Unifying communications is difficult, leaving most business tools siloed
Cloud call center solutions
- Platforms are owned and managed by software providers, not the contact centers or businesses
- Beyond computers, phones, and headsets, all hardware and equipment is hosted on the cloud
- Updates and new features are added automatically or through the provider, on a frequency you determine
- Expand your system with new capabilities, often within minutes of your order
- Total unified communications, keeping every team and effort connected
We’ll talk more about the specifics of contact center solutions (and cloud contact center software, in particular) next.
What is call center software?
Call center software encompasses the tools that make connecting with your customers possible. These tools can range from simple call distribution and call transfer to interactive voice response (IVR), intelligent routing, and predictive dialers.
With increasing customer demands for multiple communication channels and greater connectivity in today’s digital world, you can’t run a successful operation without the right cloud-based call center software. For both inbound and outbound call centers, the solution you use can mean the difference between excellent customer satisfaction and missed goals. To make sure you see team and customer success, you have to equip your contact center with the right resources.
What is the difference between a call center and a contact center?
So far, we’ve been using the terms “call center” and “contact center” interchangeably, but it’s important to know the differences between them.
What does a call center solution do?
Call centers (and their cloud call center software) are designed to connect agents and customers over the phone. For an inbound call center, for example, this means taking customer calls and working toward total customer satisfaction. In an outbound call center, however, you won’t see any inbound calls. Instead, a sales team uses the customer data on your center’s software to find leads they can convert to customers. Though they have different goals, both teams conduct all of their work over one channel - the phone!
What does contact center software do?
Contact centers, in contrast, use multiple channels for lead and customer engagement. To improve customer experiences, omnichannel contact center software allows agents to interact with customers through whichever channel they prefer. One person may prefer a live chat with sales while another may choose to use a mobile app or social media to get in touch.
Either way, expanding your capabilities allows you to increase customer satisfaction with everyday interactions. Best of all, you can still own your phone game, using features such as automatic call distribution, smart queuing, and dialers to offer excellent phone service.
Let’s put the focus on cloud-based contact centers.
How to choose my cloud-based contact center’s software
Now that you know the basics of cloud contact center solutions, it’s time for the most important question: how do you find the right option for your business? Your software provides the framework for your customer service, so you need to choose the solution that offers everything you need, like RingCentral Engage Voice:
Now that you know what a top cloud contact center solution looks like, let’s dive into the specifics. In this section, we’ll go over the benefits of using a cloud platform and the features you should look for when choosing your tech.
Benefits of cloud contact center platforms
1. Perfect your customer experiences
For both cloud-based call centers and contact centers, the customer experience is a top priority. Cloud connectivity keeps your contact center connected to every other area of your business, creating a knowledge base of each customer’s information that agents can access to meet expectations. With a cloud solution, you can enrich your service for greater satisfaction.
Which features should I look for?
Customer relationship management (CRM) integration is available for any top solution providing cloud capabilities. Seamlessly integrating with your CRM tool gives you and your agents more control over your customer data center, allowing you to fully personalize your customer service.
As you compare product after product, you should also look for a solution that offers custom call center options. From your agent’s desk software to content management and communication features, you should have the ability to adjust your platform to meet your specific needs. Availability is always important for contact centers, so look for an option with excellent uptime so you can guarantee business continuity in every circumstance.
To perfect your customer experience, you first need to give your agents the tools they need to do great things. With a cloud solution, you can give employees resources that an on-premise option can’t offer. Three of the most important tools include company-wide connectivity, integrations with top apps, and workforce optimization.
Which features should I look for?
First, search for cloud contact center software that offers both customer/lead channels and internal collaboration tools. Accessing an internal resource library or an expert on a new product should be quick and easy. This is especially important for a virtual call center that has agents spread across long distances. Whenever an agent needs help, information, or advice from management, make sure the rest of your team is within easy reach.
We mentioned CRM integration above, but that is just the tip of the iceberg for most cloud solutions. Every contact center has a range of tools that simplify and strengthen its work. Maintain your processes and productivity by choosing a software option that seamlessly integrates with these third-party apps. Some platforms only offer a select list of integrations, so be sure to find an option that allows custom integrations with every tool you use.
Once you’ve equipped your agents, further optimize your contact center with workforce optimization tools, such as workforce management. You should have the option to scale up or down on demand, offer conflict-free scheduling, and achieve maximum efficiency throughout your contact center. When your employees are happy and productive, you can continue making gains in satisfaction and sales.
Your contact center is one part of a bigger picture. Though you focus on customer happiness, your business has the larger goal of making money. Providing excellent results increases revenue, but it also helps your business maintain positive investor relations. To keep everyone happy, your contact center solution should help you cut costs while also supporting your customer service efforts through all current and future demands.
Which features should I look for?
Cloud platforms already lower costs by eliminating the need for extensive hardware and the price of continuous upkeep. Scaling, adding new features, and maintaining your system are also more cost-effective with a cloud-based solution. And savings are just the beginning. You can also use your new tools to increase your results.
The right software solutions stay on the cutting edge of technology without neglecting the basics. You don’t want omnichannel capabilities with poor call quality or real-time analytics without historical reporting. Instead, look for a reasonably priced option that optimizes your customer relationships with a wide range of helpful features.
Improve interactions with call recording and agent coaching. Minimize frustrations with call-backs and smart queueing. When your system’s benefits are reflected in your customer stories and satisfaction, you’re sure to see improvements in revenue and sales as well.
Customers expect faster service than ever, so your contact center needs to remain poised to deliver at any and all times. Moving your call center to the cloud dramatically increases the consistency and reliability of your availability, a necessity for today’s customer service environment.
What is availability in call centers?
Availability refers to your ability to connect with customers whenever they call or message. For contact centers, this involves two factors: your agents’ availability to take communication and your system’s ability to receive it, also known as uptime.
Which features should I look for?
Moving to a cloud platform ensures your contact center is live at all times, even when you have a power outage or lose service in your area. Since your system is hosted online, agents can connect with customers from any location, at any time.
Every provider has its own uptime guarantee, so look for an option with near-constant capabilities. RingCentral, for example, offers 99.999% uptime, which means your system will only be down for a few minutes per year.
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