Contact centers have a mounting list of priorities and criteria to make the customer experience a success. But much of that hinges on your technology and what it allows your team of agents and leaders to do. And right now, outdated technology is holding CSAT scores in a guillotine choke. Companies are looking for ways to push past the bounds of current CX standards and transform the way they do business, but decades-old contact center platforms hold them back.
To transform your customer experience and leave the CX stragglers behind, you need flexibility, ease-of-use, and tools with a lower financial burden. That’s where cloud technology comes in.
To understand digital transformation, we put two industry titans on a call. Then we siphoned out every ounce of knowledge we could and put it into a 30-minute presentation. Sheila McGee-Smith, President and Principal Analyst at McGee-Smith Analytics and Pam Hynes, COO of Sharpen, talked through what it takes to move your contact center to the cloud.
In Part II of our webinar series on digital transformation, Pam and Sheila pooled their decades of industry experience and shelled out actionable tactics to help you pilot modern-day cloud migration.
Here’s what the two titans said about moving to the cloud and all the benefits a modern-day migration can bring to your business.
How modern-day cloud migration looks different from early-day migration.
Early-day cloud migration teased the benefits of the cloud, but companies couldn’t get the full value of a platform built with inherent flexibility. Today, cloud-native platforms offer up more value, at scale. As you type a few keywords in the Google search bar and kick off your hunt for a contact center partner, know what to look for. It’s crucial to go into your search with 20/20 vision to spot the differences in all the cloud tech that’s out there.
“This notion of being in the cloud, it’s something that companies looking to move from premises have to look at. Where on the cloud journey is the vendor that they’re speaking to? How do you differentiate one cloud vendor from another? Because everybody is using that terminology, but they’re using it very differently.” – Sheila McGee-Smith
Pam’s life in the contact center industry placed her in the throes of early-day cloud migration about 10 years ago. In those early days, on-premises vendors started looking for ways to hitch their kite onto the cloud-based movement. The solution then was to offer up single-tenant, hosted cloud tech as an aside with the on-prem software.
As an early solution, hosted tech gave a glimpse into the practicality of the cloud. But it still had a few kinks to work out. For instance, Sheila said, there’s a massive gap in a company’s elasticity. It’s still a very manual (and painful) experience to scale up or down on those hosted solutions. Companies need systems that can bend when they bend, but a single-tenant, hosted solution just doesn’t have that kind of flexibility. Then you’re stuck going through painful upgrade cycles when their vendor releases new features or security updates.
Modern cloud technology makes efficient scalability possible. At Sharpen, Pam heads up our operations and helps contact centers migrate to the cloud. And while she held this type of role in the early days, this time, she’s setting users up with a cloud-native platform with inherent scalability. The scalability that comes with today’s cloud solutions let you scale based on your business needs, without thinking about hardware or maintainability.
And with a company’s ability to scale comes a vendor’s ability to iterate and enhance your end-user experience. Modern cloud architecture lets folks like us make changes (big or small) to products without disrupting clients and all the customer experiences they power.
In today’s corporate landscape, Pam said, it’s crucial to think about how the team you partner with makes changes to their product. And how those changes will impact your goals and your customer journey.
Your partner vendor should empower customers with the know-how to use features or change configurations at their discretion when it makes sense for their customers’ journey.
Thinking back to our last webinar, the ability to shift and change in a pinch was a factor high on HotSchedule’s criteria list. Ray Gallagher, their VP of Customer Care, needed his contact center leaders to have the autonomy to make changes to their platform without tagging in IT. As Sheila put it, “to IT, you’re one of the many parts of the business that require attention. So, your request, while crazy important to you, is just one of the many things the IT department has to do.” She continued, “So, the ability to make your own changes is such a big part of the modern cloud environment. And it’s really something that isn’t possible with single-tenant cloud solutions.”
In the past, with single-tenant solutions, companies didn’t have the flexibility to make changes to systems on their own. A task as simple (albeit important) as changing an IVR script required companies to go through their IT team or vendor.
The criteria that matters when companies choose a cloud contact center solution.
Pam and Sheila shared the repeat reasons decision-makers share about why they jumped to the cloud.
- Security and compliance. Today’s fast-paced security and compliance landscape require you to make speedy changes to customer platforms to stay safe and compliant. Hosted or premises-based solutions take too long (and are too painful) to update. Cloud-native platforms let your vendor tackle security updates efficiently and effectively.
- The ability to scale, and scale efficiently. Companies don’t have to worry about changing their entire infrastructure or missing important timelines. Again, the elasticity of cloud platforms lets businesses shift as they need to.
- Easier implementation and updates. Nobody wants a solution that’s going to disrupt their customer journey. (It wouldn’t really be a solution, then, would it?) Cloud platforms cut down on implementation timelines and can push updates without downtime or frustrating experiences.
- The cost of ownership. Cloud platforms put dollars back in your company bank account by removing barriers to maintain, manage, and update your contact center tools. Plus, when you add in the opportunity cost of a better CX, cloud solutions are much more cost-effective.
- Vendors are investing in the cloud. Even vendors with thousands of customers using their on-premises solutions are putting their money on the cloud. The cloud is where vendors are investing time, spend, and innovation to improve offerings for their customers.
How do you ensure a successful migration?
First and foremost, you need a project plan that both you and your vendor of choice follow and work through.
From a customer’s perspective, it’s mission-critical to explain your business needs and the needs of your team to your vendor partner. The right partner tailors your implementation and experience to your specific business case, so you can reach your customer and revenue goals. From the perspective of your potential partner (like us) it’s really important that they understand the goals and expected outcomes of our customer.
At Sharpen, we recommend every contact center include an agent in the project planning process. Your agents are the end-users. Their voices need to be heard so you can ensure a smooth transition and foster champions for change.
Lastly, step back and identify what you need to make your customer journey successful. Don’t overthink it and jump ahead of yourself with shiny, new features clouding your brain. Document the key improvements you need to make at the kick-off of your transition. Then, create a roadmap for how you’ll continue to improve. Don’t try to introduce too much, too fast.
Moving to the cloud is a big change in and of itself. Start there.
“Life is better in the cloud.” – Sheila
Listen to the full recording of the webinar and get even more details on how Sheila and Pam navigate cloud migration in the contact center. Click here!