Three Critical Points in Evaluating Omnichannel Cloud Contact Center Solutions

Customer needs are complex. But aging on-premises call centers systems limit many contact centers. Most customer experience and IT leaders recognize that extending the life of a patchwork of siloed channels and complex integrations offers only a temporary solution that’s expensive and difficult to maintain. The cloud offers a better option.

Cloud-based solutions deliver greater business agility and flexibility with simplified solution management. And these subscription-based services let companies scale up or down, based on changing business demands. It’s no wonder some of the most competitive companies are moving their contact centers to the cloud.

Moving to the cloud might be a straightforward decision but selecting the right technology provider to team with is challenging. It’s important to research different vendor offerings. Very few providers can deliver a true omnichannel cloud contact center solution. Let’s break that phrase down to reveal three factors on which to evaluate vendor offerings.

  1. Omnichannel

The prefix omni– means all; a true omnichannel cloud contact center solution should be able to handle not just all channels, but also all elements of the customer journey. It should create a frictionless experience for end customers and employees.

Practically speaking, this requires the power of one — a single platform that includes one routing engine for all channels to enable unified data, reporting, journey analytics and desktop capabilities. It also should leverage native Workforce Engagement Management (WEM) to streamline scheduling and agent performance management across all channels.

Many cloud contact center vendors present a compelling narrative that’s focused on omnichannel, regardless of what they can actually offer. Many are too focused on the channels and not focused enough on the experience of using them.

Evaluate omnichannel based on these critical criteria.

  • The power of one: Does the solution deliver all the necessary capabilities from a single platform? Or will it take multiple vendors and partners to achieve this?
  • Routing: It uses a single, native routing engine for self- and assisted-service across all channels — no partners required.
  • Data: There’s a single source of truth for customizable interactive dashboards, historical data and analytics.
  • WEM: There’s a built-in native artificial intelligence (AI)-powered workforce optimization (WFO) engine, including quality management, intraday monitoring, call recording, omnichannel forecasting scheduling and more.
  • Desktop: An omnichannel desktop has user-driven design, web-based experience, and built-in collaboration and escalation tools.
  • Blending: You have the ability to blend native inbound and outbound voice that includes preview, predictive, campaign management, scripting, best time to call and extensive support for regulatory compliance.
  • Multimodal self-service: It’s self-service beyond IVR — other modes across channels, including chatbots and messaging platforms, use the same design environment as for agent-assisted interactions.
  1. Cloud

Companies that haven’t moved their contact center technology to the cloud yet are missing out on a set of powerful, known benefits — namely, the agility from a smaller IT footprint, easier capability enhancement, smoother adoption and less change management. They also would get agent empowerment, an open platform and an AI-infused feature set. But these benefits are not intrinsic to every contact center solution marketed as “cloud.”

Evaluate the viability of cloud-based solution using these key criteria.

  • Origin and development: Was it born in the cloud and developed based on Software as a Service (SaaS) design principals?
  • Architecture: Is it a true multitenant and microservices-based public cloud architecture, with options for private or hybrid cloud services?
  • Complete: Does it offer native Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and Contact Center (CCaaS) options from a single platform, with a consistent user experience across devices?
  • Flexible: Are there choices for voice infrastructure, such as Bring Your Own Carrier (BYOC), cloud or on-premises, or a 100% cloud-based provider voice option?
  • Open: Does it use an open-platform approach and a robust third-party ecosystem for options to build, buy or extend?
  • Enterprise-grade: Does it have all the critical “abilities” of a true enterprise-grade solution, like scalability, reliability, capabilities and security? (Ok… that last one doesn’t end in “-ability,” but it’s still a must have.) Does it also have a global presence and published, real-time availability data that’s accessible from public website?
  1. Contact Center

Not all vendors who offer a contact center solution have deep contact center experience. Ideally, you’ll want a cloud application that’s not only technically superior, but that has evidence of best practices that are “baked in,” as well as deep, proven expertise in contact center migrations and a culture of sustained commitment to delivering customer experience innovation.

Look for these specific characteristics when evaluating contact center experts.

  • AI: Will you gain AI-based capabilities that use machine learning to dynamically take input and respond to interactions that span customer and employee engagements?
  • Customer success: Your journey doesn’t end after the go-live party. Does the vendor offer a programmatic model of guidance and services that help you get the business outcome you wanted — quickly? And will you continue to derive value going forward?
  • Innovation: Is there a track record of investment in customer experience innovation, a strong roadmap and continuous delivery of new features.
  • Migration experience: The vendor should possess provider-delivered, on-premises-to-cloud migration experience that includes proven, published methodology.

Finding the Proof

As Charlie Godfrey noted in his blog about creating an omnichannel customer service strategy, “Omnichannel strategy is much more than just technology. It’s leveraging technology to enable true business outcomes. It’s the process of mapping your technology capabilities to business results.”

  • Is there proof to substantiate all of the above, to demonstrate maturity and success, not just in terms of deployments but in value and measurable business outcomes?
  • Are customers and independent third parties willing to go on record, and even put a face with the story, to share their personal experiences with the solution or vendor?
  • Is there both published (peer site reviews, case studies, videos, webinars, blogs, research reports, etc.) and confidential validation (analyst recommendations, reference calls, site visits) readily available?

Choosing a new customer experience solution involves more than feature-level comparison. Evaluating solution providers based on their overall ability to help you achieve your business goals is critical. You want a true business partner who will ensure your success — throughout your entire journey to an omnichannel cloud contact center.

Download this guide to learn more about areas for consideration. Then take the first step to build your omnichannel CX Blueprint.