Last Thursday, Sheila McGee-Smith, President and Principal Analyst at McGee-Smith Analytics and Ray Gallagher, VP of Customer Care at HotSchedules dove in on why contact centers are moving to the cloud and what it takes to get there. From cloud-native contact center platforms to hybrid and private cloud models, digital transformation is taking shape slowly but surely. Regardless, most future business investments point to the cloud, according to Sheila. In fact, Gartner says through 2022, enterprise IT teams will spend more on cloud-based offerings than traditional, non-cloud products, igniting what’s called the “cloud shift.”
We’re recapping the conversation and sharing details, here, so you can build your business case for a cloud contact center. Sheila talks on industry trends and the mainstays she sees with her customers. And Ray dives in on HotSchedules’ reasons for moving to the cloud. Plus, he shares actionable advice for you and senior leaders to put to the test during your decision-making process.
Here’s what you need to know about moving to the cloud, from the views of a few digital transformation veterans.
Who is HotSchedules, and what drove them to a cloud contact center?
HotSchedules is a global provider of software for the hospitality industry with a keen focus on restaurants, giving back-of-the-house staff the tools they need to manage labor, inventory, and general business operations. The 20-year-old company has 600 employees who serve more than 100,000 restaurants in 60 countries across the globe.
HotSchedules, like many other growing companies, felt limited with the flexibility and scalability of their decades-old, on-premises contact center system. The company attempted to grow with their prior contact center vendor, but to do so they dealt with countless painful upgrades and tacked-on professional services costs to manage system changes. But even more taxing than that, HotSchedules found their biggest pain in the service delivered by their vendor.
“One of our biggest pain points is that we didn’t feel like we were a partner. We felt like a number to a very large company, and we didn’t quite feel like we were getting white glove support, or feel like a human and a partner with them,” Ray said.
“We would come with questions or issues and we would get back scope of work or professional service fees, and we just really wanted to talk through things. It was very much treated as a business interaction and not a partnership.”
To top it off, Hotschedules struggled with their system’s outdated user interface, lack of flexible work options, and the extra staff they needed on deck to manage the complex system. In the end, all those pains coupled with poor integrations to their cloud CRM and ticketing system drove HotSchedules to seek a new contact center partner. And to match the compatibility and value of their current, cloud customer systems, moving to a cloud contact center became the only viable option.
“What I find as I work with companies like yours, is that once a company moves to a cloud CRM or ticketing system and they see the value that the cloud brings to that part of the business, they look with a new set of eyes at the premises-based contact center system they’re trying to make it work with,” said Sheila.
Pulse check: We asked listeners what they struggle with, too.
Two-thirds of respondents said they agree it’s difficult to integrate their on-premises platform with their CRM and other systems. Tied for second, listeners also backed the pains HotSchedules felt from expensive professional services and current systems reaching end-of-life.
Factors that drove HotSchedules’ vendor short-list.
Ray and the HotSchedules team built a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves to pick the best partner for their business needs. Here are a few factors that helped HotSchedules narrow down the vendor pool.
- A cloud platform
- Ability to forward interactions to mobile phones
- Modern user interface
- Salesforce integration
- Zendesk integration
- Custom IVR
- Business users in addition to end-users and admins
Why HotSchedules chose Sharpen:
Sharpen matched all the features on HotSchedules’ list of requirements and came out on top during the pilot trial compared to a competitor. Sharpen is a contact center platform built in the cloud and for the cloud, so the extensibility, scalability, and flexibility of the platform are all inherent. The cloud-native tech was easily compatible with HotSchedules’ other cloud systems and custom business needs.
During the pilot, Ray and his team looked for differences in how easy it was to implement the platform and make configuration changes, what the companies’ support looked like, and if they were treated like a true partner.
Beyond that, HotSchedules needed to move off their on-prem system by a set date. So, they looked for a partner who could meet their implementation deadline. Part of that deadline included going live on day one with a custom-built IVR. HotSchedules chose to partner with Sharpen, kicked off the build of their custom IVR, and went live in October of 2018 with no business continuity problems flipping the system to the cloud from on-premises.
“To go live on day one with really no major issues, outages, or missed requirements was a huge win for us.” – Ray Gallagher
Why a contact center migration to the cloud maximizes ROI.
According to a survey by Aberdeen, only 36 percent of contact centers use some form of cloud technology as of 2018. Cloud migration can seem daunting and unattainable when you’ve been using the same system for over a decade. But like many other companies, the pain Ray and HotSchedules felt from their disjointed, outdated system far outweighed the costs of migrating to a cloud contact center solution.
Even better, as Ray and the HotSchedules team built their business case and weighed the economics of the decision, they discovered the significant upsides to the cloud. You lower your ongoing costs, and you reduce your pain. Plus, Sheila noted that customers she works with find the cloud is actually safer than their on-premises systems. Vendors can efficiently push product updates to keep pace with the fast-changing requirements of security and compliance.
Ray’s advice to help you make the move.
- Get over your fear.
- Define your business case, your needs, and your goals.
- Have a great project manager.
- Run a pilot to compare your top two vendors.
- Take baby steps, then keep building.
“If you can do a pilot, I highly recommend it with at least your top two vendors. I know it takes time and resources, but it was highly valuable to us to make that final decision,” said Ray.
What Ray is excited about now that HotSchedules has a cloud contact center.
Thrilled with HotSchedules’ new-found freedom to innovate and build new ways to serve customers, Ray’s ready for what’s next. His team comes armed with better, more complete data from multiple systems to inform their decision-making. Admins can make configuration changes on the fly to meet customer demands and team needs. And, the company is thinking up the next, big building blocks to further customize their platform. On the horizon, HotSchedules is eyeing omnichannel, so they can use live chat and SMS.