Tagged: Cloud Computing

Ten Reasons to Move Your Contact Center to the Cloud (Part 2)

cloud- 10 reasons

If you missed last weeks post, which includes reasons 1-5, you can read it here.

You’ve probably heard a lot about the benefits of cloud computing. But how does it apply to your contact center? There are a variety of reasons why more companies today than ever before are deciding to toss out their complex, expensive, on-premise contact center systems and move to the cloud. Continue reading

Ten Reasons to Move Your Contact Center to the Cloud

Why Cloud

You’ve probably heard a lot about the benefits of cloud computing. But how does it apply to your contact center? There are a variety of reasons why more companies today than ever before are deciding to toss out their complex, expensive, on-premise contact center systems and move to the cloud. Here are ten of the most popular: Continue reading

Counting on the Cloud During an Emergency (Part 2)

cloudPart one examined how the cloud prepares contact centers for emergency situations and how this is different from on-premise solutions. This article will look at how scalability, flexibility and cost-effectiveness provides a better solution for these conditions.

Most cloud solutions are built from the ground up with ability to scale. Changes are designed to be fast, in contrast to on-premise software where it can take hours or days. During an emergency this is particularly relevant. For example, when facing a crisis situation a center may need to add staff to handle a surge of incoming phone calls, update recordings in an IVR system to deliver up-to-the-minute information, or rewrite agent scripts. Continue reading

The At-Home Agent Advantage

Liz BlogThe following post is by Liz Osborn, vice president of product and solution marketing at Five9. You can follow Liz on Twitter @lizobiker.

The contact center industry is known to be pretty conservative. It’s often been said that contact centers are usually several years behind the enterprise when it comes to adopting new technology. After all, the automatic call distributor has been around for more than 40 years, and is still widely deployed as a core technology.

But a number of forces in the industry are causing dramatic and rapid changes in the way contact centers utilize technology and structure their operations. Two of these are interrelated: the adoption of cloud contact centers and the shift to hiring at-home agents.

As more companies move their contact centers to the cloud, they find that the technology greatly simplifies setting up at-home agents; all that’s required to start taking calls is a computer, a headset, and an Internet connection. This is leading to an explosion in work-at-home agents.

According to the National Association of Call Centers, more than half of the contact centers in the United States today (53 percent) have some percentage of their agent population functioning from a home office. Seventy percent of those currently supporting at-home agents plan on increasing the number in 2013.

Why the rapid growth in at-home agents? Most companies are finding that developing a program that allows agents to work at home is an incredibly effective way to reduce operating costs, while improving service levels as well. Among the benefits are huge cost savings, greater flexibility, a larger pool of qualified agents, reduced staff churn and absenteeism, enhanced agent and customer satisfaction, and greater productivity.

When agents work at home, companies no longer need to provide brick-and-mortar offices, equipment, and telephony. In addition, companies can save on salary rates, benefits, and disaster recovery planning by drawing from a larger geographic hiring pool. Many companies find that they can get better-qualified people for much less when they aren’t restricted to one small geographic area. A number of agents prefer the flexibility of working at home, and will take a little less money as a trade-off for having to make a daily commute.

At the same time, because at-home agents may be happier and more qualified, businesses should expect to see improved service quality, customer satisfaction, and reduced agent turnover.

Of course, having remote agents creates a whole new set of management challenges that need to be addressed. In order to run a successful program, it is necessary to apply a set of contact center management best practices to the unique needs of at-home agents. Here are several best practices, along with some tips and tricks clients have found to be useful in maximizing positive contact center results:

1. Hire qualified, motivated agents. When you interview, don’t do it face-to-face initially, and weight the remote interview more heavily. Your customers will never see the agent, so don’t be influenced by the person’s appearance or body language. Always conduct reference and background checks. When you employ home agents, you’re removing the 25-mile travel limitation that applies to brick-and-mortar offices, so don’t settle for anything less than the best. Build a profile of your most successful agents and hunt for others with similar backgrounds and personalities.

2. Focus on certification and skills. Make sure candidates have comprehensive product training, both from the start and on an ongoing basis. Tie incentives and promotions to certifications and skills.

3. Provide proper coaching and communication. Supervisors should be scheduled to be available through initial calls and to assist with that first round of questions. Consider collaboration tools such as chat for agents and supervisors and use coaching tools such as whisper coaching or other mentoring tools. Schedule regular one-on-one meetings with remote agents to discuss their needs; if you have a brick-and-mortar contact center, don’t forget to include them in any staff meetings.

4. Create clear expectations. Establish clear metrics and expectations, identify performance issues early, and take action immediately. Excellent reporting and management tools are critical to being able to track your agents’ performance. Monitor performance in real time and compare historical statistics whenever possible.

5. Design proper incentives. Think about implementing a pay-for-performance system. Agents who have direct rewards to work toward tend to be more productive. Give agents tools to see at a glance how they are doing and view the progress they’ve made.

6. Record 100 percent of your calls. Just knowing that every call is being recorded will increase agent awareness, which will improve quality. Recording calls is great for training and coaching, while maintaining security and compliance.

7. Choose a solid technical foundation. A strong foundation can make all the difference. Include agent chat for collaboration along with quality monitoring for supervisors. Reporting tools must be flexible and comprehensive. Look for productivity-enhancing tools such as queue callback and the ability to easily blend inbound and outbound calls. Make certain the platform can be rapidly deployed and will scale up and down easily.

Challenging Cloud Myths, Part 4

Fourth in a series debunking myths about the cloud…

Myth#4 – The cloud can’t be customized.

The idea that software in the cloud is not customizable is one that has been perpetuated by on premise software vendors and is simply false. In fact, software in the cloud can absolutely be modified to meet a particular organizations needs and in many cases it is less expensive to accomplish than with on premise software.  Open APIs enable cloud vendors to deliver low-cost customization options to customers. Most cloud software providers also offer tools that enable custom fields, tables, screens and reporting. Similar to other cloud software vendors, the Five9 cloud contact center solution is the same basic offering for all of our clients. However, we provide the ability to customize each instance based on a specific client’s needs.

At Five9, delivering our contact center infrastructure solutions via the cloud has helped our clients very quickly get their contact centers up and running – they only need to supply agents with computers, headsets and an Internet connection. Many of our clients have struggled with the misconceptions outlined above. But they’ve since discovered that, by shifting the burden of managing the contact center software to Five9, they are able to focus on their core competency – building a customer engagement center of excellence.

Beyond Cloud

Challenging Cloud Myths, Part 3

Third in a series debunking myths about the cloud…

Myth#3 – The cloud will replace IT.

As noted in this Forbes article, “The problem with the equation cloud computing = IT job losses is that it’s a gross oversimplification.” As more and more organization deploy cloud solutions, IT plays the critical role of understanding the overall enterprise strategy and takes responsibility for bringing together a myriad of cloud solutions. IT can help a company realize the full value of the cloud across the entire organization without the burden of day-to-day application management. In fact, the role of the enterprise architect is quickly becoming the most important IT staff job. The enterprise architect is responsible for the integration of virtualized IT environments and requires not only significant technical skills but also strong business communication skills.

I was recently at an event and was speaking with the IT Director of a $2+ billion company, and his thoughts echoed my own. He said, “The job of IT is changing, it’s now our job to solve issues like: How do we share data? Are we going to plumb the voice and the data together? When we buy another application or another group wants to join how will that work?”

Job Openings

Challenging Cloud Myths, Part 2

Second in a series debunking myths about the cloud…

Myth#2 – The cloud cannot scale for large enterprises.

The truth is actually just the opposite; one single organization is less likely to be able to scale more than a cloud software vendor. When delivering software in the cloud, the concept of economies of scale is key, so most cloud vendors build their solutions from the ground up with an innate ability to scale. In the contact center world this becomes particularly relevant, as contact centers often need to quickly ramp agents up and down for different seasons or campaigns.

One analogy that comes to mind when discussing the scalability of the cloud is comparing it to a power grid. In the mid-1800s during the industrial revolution, the electricity used to light factories was limited to specific cities and in many cases was unreliable and costly. Most businesses invested heavily in building their own power plants, which were expensive and required experts to operate. The emergence of the power grid created a vastly more efficient paradigm – individuals, communities and industries now had access to affordable, scalable and reliable energy giving them more time to focus on their business. Cloud computing is the same; cloud software providers can deliver robust, enterprise applications as a service which is affordable, scalable and reliable.

Power Grid

Challenging Cloud Myths, Part 1

First in a series…

Cloud Security

There is no denying that cloud computing is one of the hottest trends in the tech industry. While incredibly popular, the cloud is still fairly new. The move from “old school” on premise computing to the “new school” cloud is a significant shift that naturally comes with a certain amount of anxiety and uncertainty.

  • Let’s start by reminding ourselves of the significant advantages the cloud offers, it:
  • Enables businesses to focus on their core competency
  • Enables rapid time to benefit
  • Empowers individual business units
  • Simplifies technology decisions with sand boxes, preconfigured environments and the elimination of capital investments
  • Allows companies to control costs with “pay as they grow” or “pay for usage” plans
  • Lets a contact center easily increase or decrease the number of agents supported

Despite these benefits, technology buyers continue to have concerns about the cloud. I’m calling these concerns myths, because they are based more on hearsay rather than fact, and I’m going to debunk each one in this series of blog posts.

Myth#1 – The cloud is not secure.

Frankly, concerns about cloud security are no more valid than concerns about on premise security. Software providers that deliver solutions via the cloud have a vested interest in keeping the service highly secure. Unlike a single organization where security is part of one IT professional’s job, most cloud software companies have a team of security experts whose core competency and day-to-day job is ensuring a secure cloud environment. Typically, a cloud software vendor applies more effort and resources to security than any one single organization.

Security in the cloud has increasingly become more sophisticated. Most reputable cloud vendors use hardware that resides in security patrolled, disaster-proof data centers. Today, cloud vendors take advantage of multi-threaded distributed intrusion detection models, security information and event management systems and distributed application firewalls. We’ve also seen a proliferation of cloud security industry standards and certifications, such as the Cloud Security Alliance’s (CSA) Security, Trust & Assurance registry that encourages transparency of security practices among cloud vendors. In addition, the Service Organization Control (SOC) 1, 2 & 3 audit standards for data centers and the CSA developed the Cloud Control Matrix, a set of security controls.

Security threats in the cloud are no greater, and in many cases much less common, than those faced by on-premise systems.