Bojan -

CCaaS is the role model for the contact centre of the future

Anne-Meine Gramsma, chief commercial officer at ContactCenter4All, discusses the case for shifting to cloud-based contact centre-as-a-service (CCaaS) solutions

Initially spurred on by the Covid-induced shift to remote working, many companies are turning to cloud-based platforms such as Microsoft Teams for an easy to deploy, cost-effective solution.

Cloud-based systems are now becoming an inevitability – analyst research demonstrated a 16.3% decline in traditional infrastructure while public cloud spend surpassed $10bn.

There are many reasons why cloud-based collaborative solutions are an ideal choice for businesses operating contact centres both remotely and on-premise, and why platforms such as Microsoft Teams are an ideal solution – and not just because they can be rapidly deployed.

The popularity of Teams is rising as the platform matures and broadens in capabilities. This has been fast-forwarded by recent global events that have sparked major demand for greater collaboration between remote users, but Teams is now a highly mature platform in its own right. Now with Skype for Business service on course to be phased out, shifting from one Microsoft platform to another is a logical roadmap for many businesses.

Teams has grown from 75 million daily users in April 2020 to 145 million in April 2021 due to business continuity efforts and remote work strategies. Since the annual major update in November there’s been a further huge boost in Teams capability, improving the user experience and enhancing developer tools.

Teams alone is not enough – here’s what you need to add

Typically, standalone, “off the shelf” unified communications (UC) platforms require further integrated software to make them suitable for roles such as dedicated contact centre operations, consistently delivering the high level of customer experience that consumers today expect as a minimum standard.

Microsoft is continually expanding its Graph API (application programming interface); once this reaches completion, solution developers will be able to add further features to ensure agents and the end-customer enjoy a consistently high-quality contact centre experience. Businesses need extra functionalities such as call recording, queue monitoring, interactive voice response and reporting on top of Teams.

Microsoft Teams also offers excellent third-party integration capabilities, allowing businesses to deploy dedicated, cloud-based contact centre solutions on top of their existing Teams deployment.

These solutions offer powerful extra features such as omnichannel, skill-based routing, call-back capability, queue recording, reporting and enhanced supervisory and operator capabilities. This enables supervisors to listen in and “barge in” to agent-customer interactions for assistance with particularly challenging queries.

For companies looking to migrate from legacy in-house systems to Teams and integrated contact centre software, a phased migration can make this a seamless experience and avoid the need for disinvestments from an existing deployment. Businesses still assessing their approach to migration would be strongly advised to consult with a trusted partner and discuss how to shift in this way.

At this initial stage businesses can identify workflows, assess department suitability for migration and develop a proof-of-concept for migration. It is important to identify systems and departments that can be shifted early on, then gradually broaden this migration, retaining the legacy system where necessary. Flexible cloud-based deployments greatly accelerate this shift.

The shift to Teams should be swift and fully cost-neutral. The bottom line remains unaffected if deployment is handled correctly with a fit-for-purpose partner.

A contact centre-as-a-service (CCaaS) approach offers the flexibility to migrate in a staggered manner, on-boarding staff at a measured pace without incurring significant costs. This “pay as you go” model also enables businesses to scale up capacity during surge periods of high demand – making migration swift and cost effective.

Businesses are now primed and ready for cloud adoption

Whether businesses opt for Teams or an alternative platform, cloud-based solutions will be key for ensuring business continuity in the event of future disruption. Yet many regions are at varying levels of maturity in their cloud adoption journey.

In Europe, remote working is much more advanced than other regions, with many contact centres shifting to fully remote operations during the pandemic. These companies are currently playing the waiting game and assessing the options for migrating to a more advanced platform before pushing ahead, but are well-placed to begin exploring a phased migration of departments and operations.

Remote working is ultimately on course to remain the norm, with many large companies already starting to offer the choice for staff to return to the office or remain working from home indefinitely. Quarter one surveys of UK workers are already demonstrating positive opinions of continued remote work, with others keen to split their working time between home and office work.

With many businesses keen to establish flexible, modern working strategies in 2021 and beyond, setting up cloud-based contact centre facilities with remote working capabilities should be a top priority. A proven UC platform such as Teams will be central to the success of any CCaaS approach, offering an easy to deploy, cost-effective framework on which to build and develop a first-class contact centre experience.

Read more on Unified Communications (UC) Services