Group VP of Marketing & Alliances at Enghouse Interactive Jeremy Payne took the time to discuss with Customer Experience Magazine why organisations should consider moving their contact centre to the cloud and what the common misconceptions are that people often have towards cloud contact centres.
Jeremy, tell us a bit more about yourself and the company you work for.
I have spent over 20 years in the software and services industry, working as a marketing leader within several blue-chip corporates across the globe. I am currently VP International Marketing at Enghouse Interactive – we are one of the biggest providers of customer contact solutions in the world, with our systems supporting over 1 million agents handling more than 1 billion interactions daily. I am responsible for the commercialisation of the company’s four key solutions of multi-channel contact centres, self-service, attendant operator consoles and workforce optimisation systems, across Europe Middle East and Africa. I am passionate about the need to continually improve the customer experience and have presented key market trends in this area around the globe.
Which communication channels do you consider as the most important?
There is no one size fits all answer here. The importance really depends on the market you are in and what your brand promise or positioning is – what do your customers expect from you? How can you make their lives easier, meet their needs and ensure a positive customer journey for each and every scenario?
For example, if you are a low-cost airline you will have automated as much as you can and probably pursued a digital by default strategy, creating digital services that are so simple to use that customers choose them every time. That means web self-service and social service are your key channels, supplemented by an “Email Us” form that acts as a backstop but is also likely to be automated.
However, at the other end of the spectrum, take a private bank working with high net worth individuals. These customers expect the personal touch, so you will use a lot more face-to-face, phone and video conferencing channels to ensure you build and strengthen the customer relationship through every interaction.
Most businesses will sit somewhere between these two poles – leveraging a balance of human and machine-based channels, depending on the needs of their customers. Within this strategy, companies will look to drive intelligent automation to make the journey seamless, embracing the idea of digital by design, so using digital channels where it makes sense. The best approach is to start with the customer and their needs – always have human escape routes from automation when things don’t follow a normal straight-through journey.
How would you define a successful customer communication process?
Many studies have explored what customers really want, and most seem to conclude that effortless customer service is at the very core of customer needs. Essentially customers only have to invest the smallest amount of their time and effort to achieve their goals. This often means using predictive analytics to anticipate what the customer is likely to want to do with you next, which in turn involves breaking down silos and connecting teams across your enterprise – using technologies like Unified Communications to make sure the right employees and service specialists are available when and where you need them.
In order to deliver this seamless service, many organisations use a collaboration environment like Microsoft Teams, alongside a Teams-friendly contact and customer interaction management centre that handles all of the inbound inquiries, irrespective of the communication channels they originally came through.
What are the benefits of implementing a cloud contact centre solution? Why should organisations consider migrating to a cloud contact centre?
The recent global pandemic has really highlighted many of the benefits of the cloud, with a particular focus on the ability to allow staff to work remotely and flexibly, which has been vital to continuing customer service operations.
However, this agility is not the only benefit. With cloud contact centre solutions, organisations are able to scale up and down quickly and for many there is an attraction around paying-as-you-go and for what you consume, as opposed to a larger upfront cost.
You free up your internal IT staff and gain best-in-class security and reliability, as well as access to the latest innovations, such as AI, from your suppliers.
However, again, the cloud is not right for everyone, as mitigating factors like the need for legacy system integration, for example, may make an on-premise or hybrid solution a better fit for your needs.
What are the common misconceptions people have about cloud contact centres?
In my experience, there are several major misconceptions that can hold back organisations from embracing the cloud. The first and probably largest is a concern about security and compliance (such as with the PCI process). Clearly, you are moving your data off-premise, but cloud vendors invest heavily in security and meeting the latest standards. And, because they are working with a wide range of clients they have the resources to develop deep specialisms and skills insecurity that would be beyond what a single organisation could build on its own. You can run processes such as PCI in the cloud, achieving compliance by putting the right security and auditing measures in place.
The second worry is around reliability and uptime. Again, providers have invested heavily in redundancy solutions to ensure that your service is always on, something that isn’t always guaranteed if there are problems with on-premise solutions. Companies also worry that it will negatively impact their IT department and add to complexity if they want to integrate different solutions in the cloud. Nothing could be further from the truth – IT can focus on more strategic innovations, rather than simply supporting business as usual, while open application programming interfaces (APIs) and connectors make integration straightforward.
Finally, there is the concern that you have to switch completely overnight from on-premise. However, it isn’t an ‘all or nothing’ scenario – using a hybrid approach means you can move at your own pace, for example implementing new solutions in the cloud, while gradually migrating legacy systems as and when you want. Overcoming these misconceptions is vital if organisations are to realise the benefits of the cloud – for themselves and for their customers.