If you're researching how to select a CCaaS vendor, kudos for taking steps to modernize your contact center. With the right CCaaS (Contact Center as a Service) provider, your business can cost-effectively upgrade the experiences you deliver to your customers and agents, while also giving it the capability to adapt to future trends and disruptions.
CCaaS arrangements are gaining in popularity as more and more organizations recognize the business benefits, and adoption of CCaaS received a shot in the arm (pun intended) from the pandemic. Because CCaaS solutions are in the cloud, they're easily accessed by remote employees.
The underlying cloud technology means that the CCaaS providers host and maintain the software and hardware, allowing their clients to shed the baggage and limitations of legacy on-premises systems. In addition to supporting remote work, cloud solutions tend to be more reliable, flexible, secure, innovative, and cost-effective.
The CCaaS software market is crowded, making the CCaaS vendor selection process a complex undertaking. Solutions range from simple to sophisticated, and you can find vendors that offer a comprehensive suite of solutions, and some that specialize in certain areas such as workforce management.
How to select a CCaaS vendor? Very carefully!
The complexity of the CCaaS market and the ever-increasing importance of the customer experience (CX) make it crucial for organizations to know what they want when they embark on the journey to find the right contact center software.
Detailed functional and technical requirements are essential for this process, but so is a more macro view of business goals, trends, and priorities. This article will discuss seven business imperatives that should be considered when determining how to select a CCaaS vendor.
Business imperatives to include in your CCaaS vendor selection process
Is your business experiencing high growth? Do you have an international customer base? Are you struggling with high agent attrition rates? All these factors, and more, should be included in your CCaaS vendor selection criteria.
Let's take a closer look at seven business imperatives that will have an impact on the long-term viability of your new call center software.
Business growth, contraction, and seasonality
If your business is growing rapidly, that could result in higher customer service volume, so you'll need a solution that will easily and quickly scale up. Conversely, if sales are declining and volume is lower, you don't want to pay for licenses or seats you aren't using. And if your sales are highly seasonal, you'll need a platform and pricing structure that expands and contracts with your business cycle.
Cloud software solutions are typically highly scalable - vendors usually have excess hardware and network capacity that you can quickly take advantage of when volume ramps up. Additionally, the best pricing structures only require you to pay for what you use, which is ideal for seasonal businesses or when customer service interactions are steadily decreasing.
Be sure to ask prospective vendors about scalability and pricing models to be sure they can flex along with your business cycles.
Constantly changing customer preferences
In this current digital age, advances in technology are swiftly driving changes in consumer behavior and preferences. Adoption of digital channels such as private messaging and SMS is increasing, and emerging technologies such as virtual reality may be commonplace in the not-so-distant future.
While it's difficult to accurately predict future consumer trends, it's fairly easy to mitigate the risk of your new contact center software becoming obsolete before it's time. A CCaaS platform needs to be agile enough to quickly and efficiently adapt to changing business conditions and customer expectations.
One way to ensure agility is to select a CCaaS vendor with a full suite of products. This will enable you to quickly and seamlessly add new channels and other capabilities. Additionally, assess every solutions' ability to integrate with other software. In the future, you might want to add a tool from a different software provider and it will need to "play well" with your core system. An abundance of open APIs and a strong developer community are two signs that a platform will be flexible enough to take your business into the future.
Agent engagement and experience
At a time when agents' roles are becoming elevated, contact centers need to focus on keeping more of their talented staff. Contact center agents are being asked to solve more complex problems and form stronger bonds with the customers they assist, making them more valuable than ever.
Unfortunately, customer service agents quit their jobs at high rates. Our latest research revealed an average agent attrition rate of 42% among survey participants.
Additionally, almost one third of participants were actively looking for new jobs.
Improving the agent experience can boost both employee engagement and agent retention. So, when thinking about how to select a CCaaS vendor, look for a solution that will make agents more successful at their jobs and remove the top frustrations of your current system. For example, a unified agent desktop puts all the systems agents use into a single user interface. This makes a single sign on possible and eliminates the annoying need to toggle through multiple windows while looking for the right application.
Additionally, today's workers want more work-life balance, which improves their experience and can make a contact center an employer of choice. Your new solution should improve work-life balance with features like flexible scheduling. Three out of four agents consider flexible schedules a requirement, but what does that actually mean? It means they want capabilities such as flex breaks and lunches, and split shift options.
In a nutshell, put yourself in your agents' shoes when evaluating new software, or include some agents on your selection team.
Depending on your industry and location, your contact center can have a whole host of data privacy laws and regulations to comply with, including HIPAA, PCI, and FedRAMP. In addition to industry standards, businesses also need to contend with regional laws such as those passed by the European Union and the state of California.
Plan for even more consumer data privacy rules to follow in the future - several states are considering laws similar to what California has in place. To future proof your operation from ongoing and new compliance requirements, look for a contact center solution with compliance best practices baked into the software and a CCaaS vendor that dedicates resources to compliance.
Contact centers collect and store a wealth of customer data that hackers would love to get their hands on. Data breaches can destroy relationships with customers, plus they are expensive to clean up. According to IBM, the 2022 global average cost of a data breach increased to $4.35 million, while in the US alone the cost was more than double the global average.
When thinking about how to select a CCaaS vendor, you might have concerns that data in the cloud is more vulnerable to hackers than data stored on site. However, data security is often better with CCaaS solutions because vendors can dedicate more resources to the task than the average sized business can.
Be sure to probe prospective vendors about their data security standards and how they stay current with security best practices. Hackers are always finding new ways to access sensitive data.
Mitigating the risks of a volatile labor market
We've already discussed high agent attrition rates, and now let's put that in the context of today's labor market. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, a record-breaking 10.9 million jobs were left open at the end of July 2021. And to this day, businesses are having difficulty filling open positions. You may have experienced this in your own contact center.
Organizations need to find creative solutions to staffing shortages or risk providing poor CX and burning out valuable agents. I suggest tackling this from two angles - reducing the need for agent assistance and using technology to supplement your agent workforce and make them more efficient.
What does this mean for vendor selection? You're new CCaaS platform should include a robust set of self-service options so that customers can resolve their own basic issues. Additionally, automation can relieve agents of simple, repetitive tasks.
If prospective vendors don't have self-service or automation capabilities, find out who they partner with for these solutions.
New workforce models - work from anywhere
The last few years have seen a seismic shift in where employees work. The COVID-19 lock downs forced most businesses to adopt remote work models, and that genie isn't going back into the bottle. Once they had a taste of working from home, a lot of workers wanted to continue working remotely.
As a result, businesses have become more flexible about where employees work, and many have permanently adopted a hybrid model, in which workers may spend some of their work week at home and some in the office. Or a portion of their workforce may be completely remote and the remainder completely on-site.
Fortunately, cloud solutions can seamlessly support a work from anywhere model, but giving employees access to systems is only one part of the work from home equation. Businesses also need to address aspects of the job that change when employees no longer work on-site. For example, the agents in our recent research cited factors such as inability to compare their performance with peers and reduced coaching as downsides of working from home.
When thinking about how to select a CCaaS vendor, ask prospective software providers how their solutions can address the issues in the above graph. Remote work isn't going away, and your new platform needs to help your business overcome some of the obstacles of a hybrid workforce model.
Evaluating new CCaaS solutions based on these broader business imperatives in addition to detailed functional requirements will help ensure you're choosing software that will take your operations well into the future.
If you want to know more about how to select a CCaaS vendor, NICE can help. Our NICE CXone platform is the industry leading CCaaS solution, in use by thousands of CX leaders across the globe. Visit our product page to learn more and watch a demo to see CXone in action.