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Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS): A Comprehensive Guide

Jan 30, 2024

Customer experience is crucial for business success. With 60% of consumers reporting they’ve switched brands due to a negative contact center experience,1 implementing an effective customer service solution should be a top priority for companies that want to stay competitive.

Contact center as a service (CCaaS) platforms are becoming the go-to choice for delivering exceptional customer service. CCaaS adoption is accelerating, with the market expected to reach more than $15 billion by 2029.2 As more organizations pursue digital transformation initiatives to improve customer interactions, migrating from outdated on-premises systems to flexible cloud-based CCaaS solutions is a clear opportunity to upgrade the contact center experience for customers and agents alike.

Read on to learn everything business leaders need to know about CCaaS, including how it works, its benefits, and tips for selecting the right solution for your contact center.

What Is CCaaS?

CCaaS, short for contact center as a service, is a cloud-based contact center software solution delivered over the internet. The CCaaS vendor hosts, monitors, and maintains the contact center platform offsite in a secure data center.

With CCaaS, businesses can manage customer interactions across multiple communication channels – voice, email, live chat, mms messaging, video conferencing, and social media – from one unified interface. Contact center agents gain a 360-degree view of the customer journey with interaction history to deliver personalized, efficient service.

What Are the Differences Between Call Centers and Contact Centers?

Traditional call centers focus solely on voice calls for customer service and sales interactions. Contact centers expand communication capabilities to the digital channels that today’s consumers prefer. Here are some primary differences:

Call Centers

  • Handle inbound and outbound voice calls only.
  • Require on-premise telephony equipment like PBX.
  • Offer limited functionality.
  • Can’t adapt easily to changing needs.

Contact Centers

  • Support omnichannel customer conversations.
  • Delivered via cloud-based software.
  • Highly flexible, scalable, and customizable.
  • Enable seamless customer experiences.

What Are the Disadvantages of On-Premise Contact Centers?

While legacy on-premise contact centers give companies more control over their customer service operations, they have several downsides. Some disadvantages of implementing an on-premise contact center include:

High Upfront Investment

The initial investment in hardware, software licenses, telephony equipment, and setup are expensive, and upgrades add more costs over time.

Complex Deployment

The installation, configuration, and integration of various contact center systems require extensive IT effort, and deploying new features typically takes 24 months.3

Inflexible and Hard To Scale

Expanding agents or capabilities means purchasing additional infrastructure, which takes more time and money.

Limited Functionality

On-premise contact center systems lag behind cloud-based software advancements like AI and omnichannel integrations.

Higher Ongoing Costs

Maintenance, updates, IT personnel, and management costs add up over time. Plus, on-premise hardware eventually becomes obsolete and must be replaced.

On-Premise Contact Centers vs. Cloud Contact Centers: A Comparison

Cloud contact center solutions offer faster deployment, increased agility, advanced innovations, and lower overall costs than legacy on-premise systems. Here’s a comparison of the main differences between on-premise and cloud contact centers:

Cost

An on-premise contact center requires high upfront investments in hardware, software licenses, telephony equipment, and integration services. Additional IT staff are needed to maintain systems, and upgrades add more CapEx spending over time.

Cloud contact center software is paid for through a monthly subscription model, eliminating large capital outlays. And because there are no costs for hardware or maintenance, CCaaS provides predictable operating expenditures and flexibility.

Deployment

Deploying an on-premise contact center operation requires extensive upfront planning, complex on-site installation, systems integration, and testing, which can take six months or longer.

CCaaS solutions can be implemented in weeks or days since the infrastructure is already hosted in the cloud, allowing businesses to get their contact center technology up and running quickly.

Scalability

Expanding an on-premise contact center means purchasing and deploying additional servers, software licenses, and telephony equipment.

Cloud-based CCaaS solutions allow businesses to scale capacity up or down easily based on needs. IT teams can easily add new agents to subscriptions without costly hardware.

Functionality

On-premise contact center systems have limited built-in capabilities, and integrating new tools like AI requires extensive IT effort and customization.

CCaaS providers can deliver the latest features and innovations through cloud software updates, ensuring customer-facing teams can access the newest capabilities without delays.

Management

An on-premise contact center requires hands-on infrastructure, software, and security management by IT teams. Any upgrades and patches also need planning and testing.

CCaaS solutions are maintained by the vendor behind the scenes, removing the burden from internal IT staff to manage day-to-day operations and tech issues.

Accessibility

Since on-premise contact center systems reside inside a company’s facilities, contact center agents must be physically present to access the equipment and software needed to do their job.

CCaaS solutions are based in the cloud, so agents can work remotely from anywhere using an internet-connected device.

Reliability

Server failures, connectivity issues, and outages present reliability risks for on-premise contact center solutions. Failover and redundancy mechanisms are required to ensure continuity but may be complex to implement.

Leading CCaaS vendors provide enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure with extensive failover capabilities and geographic redundancy for maximum uptime and reliability.

What CCaaS Features Should Businesses Look For?

While the specific features your contact center needs will vary, several tools can help your teams deliver exceptional customer experiences. When evaluating CCaaS solutions, consider features such as:

Omnichannel Customer Engagement

The CCaaS platform should allow customers to interact on their channel of choice – phone calls, email, live chat, social media, SMS/text messaging, and more. By unifying multiple channels, your agents can create a seamless customer experience.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems allow customers to self-serve for common needs like checking account balances or resetting passwords, freeing up agents for more complex issues. Evaluate IVR capabilities for automatic call distribution, speech recognition, and self-service options.

Intelligent Virtual Agents

76% of contact centers currently leverage chatbot technology, and of those who don’t, 31% plan to implement chatbots in the near future.4 Chatbots and other virtual agents use AI and natural language processing (NLP) to understand requests and handle routine customer inquiries.

CRM Integrations

The CCaaS platform should enable viewing customer data from customer relationship management (CRM) systems like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics within the CCaaS platform streamlines agent workflows.

Workforce Optimization

Look for a CCaaS solution that includes workforce optimization tools like AI-powered forecasting, gamification, and real-time agent coaching can help maximize staff efficiency.

Real-Time Reporting

The CCaaS solution should provide robust reporting dashboards that offer visibility into contact center call volumes, service levels, agent performance, and other trends.

APIs and Third-Party Integrations

Look for a solution with open APIs and pre-built connectors that allow for integration with other essential business systems for data sharing.

Omnichannel Agent Desktop

A user-friendly, intuitive CCaaS interface for managing customer interactions across multiple channels can help improve agent productivity.

Security and Compliance

Leading CCaaS platforms offer comprehensive security, access controls, encryption, and compliance with regulations like HIPAA and PCI DSS to protect sensitive data.

What Are the Benefits of Implementing a CCaas Solution?

Implementing the right CCaaS solution can provide many advantages for your business, including:

Increased Cost Savings

CCaaS eliminates large capital outlays for on-premise hardware and software, and the subscription model provides predictable costs. AI-assisted interactions help agents work more efficiently, while automation handles repetitive tasks. Altogether, CCaaS drives significant cost savings.

Omnichannel Customer Engagement

A unified communications platform allows agents to seamlessly switch between handling a voice call, live chat, email, SMS, and social message. Customers can use their preferred digital channel to contact your organization, resulting in higher customer satisfaction.

Enhanced Customer Experiences

CCaaS solutions optimize every customer touchpoint. Customers spend less time waiting with call routing, and intelligent virtual agents provide constant support with self-service options. Agents have a full customer history to deliver personalized interactions, and analytics offer proactive solutions.

Valuable Business Insights

The reporting offered by CCaaS generates insights across channels to improve customer service and sales strategies. Trends, sentiment analysis, peak times, and employee performance metrics help optimize routing, staffing, processes, and training.

Increased Flexibility

43% of business leaders say accommodating rising customer demands is challenging.5 CCaaS systems scale up or down quickly, and new capabilities can be added based on your contact center’s changing needs.

Faster Innovation

CCaaS providers can deliver the latest features to your contact center software quickly via the cloud so your business can access new capabilities without needing lengthy upgrades or new equipment installations.

Business Continuity

Cloud technology ensures consistent access and mitigates downtime risks so your agents can work remotely. Plus, multichannel redundancy can ensure business continuity by keeping your customers and support team connected during outages or disasters.

What Are the Differences Between UCaaS and CCaaS Solutions?

UCaaS and CCaaS are both cloud-based software as a service solutions, but each is designed for different business needs.

  • UCaaS (unified communications as a service) provides a suite of collaboration tools for real-time communication between employees, including phone calls, video conferencing, messaging, screen sharing, and more.
  • CCaaS (contact center as a service) streamlines customer communications for support and sales teams. They leverage cloud-based digital channels to provide access to flexible, scalable contact center operations on any device with a working internet connection.

How Can Businesses Choose the Right CCaaS Provider?

Here are some critical factors to evaluate when selecting a CCaaS provider for your business:

User Reviews and Testimonials – Research impartial third-party review sites to understand the real-world pros and cons of each CCaaS provider. Look for consistently positive customer feedback and satisfaction.

Feature Needs Analysis – Create a list of must-have CCaaS features now and in the future based on your business needs and customer engagement goals. Ensure potential vendors meet both current and forward-looking needs.

Scalability Assessment – Look for flexible subscription plans and on-demand scaling to ensure agents and new capabilities can be added easily to adapt to changing needs.

Reliability and Uptime – High reliability is essential for any contact center, so examine the CCaaS provider’s system availability and uptime history, as well as redundancies built into the platform architecture.

Training and Support – Quick issue resolution can improve team productivity. Seek providers with robust onboarding, employee training programs, and responsive ongoing support.

Security and Compliance Review – Verify that the CCaaS provider employs enterprise-grade security, encryption, and access controls and meets regulations relevant to your industry, such as HIPAA compliance.

Total Cost of Ownership Comparison – Look beyond monthly subscription costs. Consider the value the CCaaS solution will deliver across customer experience, agent productivity, insights gained, and other operational efficiencies.

Contract Terms Evaluation – Review contract length, service level commitments, and terms and conditions closely, and understand termination policies.

Leverage CCaaS With Support From Granite

As customer expectations continue to rise, delivering exceptional service across every interaction is crucial for business success. Migrating from outdated call centers to a modern CCaaS solution can provide immense value through increased agent efficiency, lower costs, and improved customer satisfaction. However, selecting and implementing new technology can be complex. That’s where working with an experienced managed services provider like Granite can help.

Granite offers end-to-end support transitioning businesses from premise-based systems to modern cloud-based platforms that unify voice, email, chat, SMS, and other communication channels. Our team of experts can streamline phone system deployments, ensuring your new platform aligns with your specific business needs now – and provides room to scale as your customer engagement needs grow.

Don’t let contact center complexity hold your business back from delivering better customer experiences. Reach out to Granite today to book a consult.

Sources:

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2023/06/26/100-customer-experience-stats-for-2023
  2. https://www.uctoday.com/unified-communications/the-ccaas-platform-market-map-for-2024
  3. https://www.twilio.com/docs/glossary/what-is-an-on-premise-contact-center
  4. https://www.8×8.com/blog/15-statistics-that-forecast-the-future-of-the-contact-center
  5. https://fitsmallbusiness.com/ccaas-statistics/

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