As we discussed in our last post, the contact center plays a key role in the “unified commerce” model that is critical to success in today’s retail environment. However, customer satisfaction with contact center interactions has declined over the past year, signaling the need for retailers to rethink their contact center strategies to address changing consumer demands.

A unified communications (UC) platform can form the foundation of an advanced contact center solution that integrates multiple communication channels. This enables contact center agents to interact with customers seamlessly across voice, online chat and email. And because contact center services reside in software, they can be delivered anytime, anywhere. This allows organizations to employ home-based agents, extend coverage hours and enhance business continuity.

The cloud provides an increasingly attractive deployment model for UC contact centers. According to a new report by Research and Markets, the cloud-based contact center market will see a compound annual growth rate of 23.6 percent over the next five years, from $5.43 billion in 2016 to $15.67 billion in 2021.

Cloud-based contact center solutions eliminate upfront investments in infrastructure and minimize the risk of obsolescence through a subscription-based service that is continually updated with the latest capabilities. In addition, cloud-based contact centers enable:

  • Business continuity. Because agents can access applications and data from any location instead of being tied to a physical phone system, contact center operations can continue with little or no disruption should a disaster occur.
  • Faster deployment. Instead of devoting resources to purchasing, installing and maintaining technology, organizations can focus on optimizing and improving their contact center solutions. Streamlined deployments and minimal capital costs also result in faster return on investment.
  • Greater flexibility. A cloud-based contact center can be scaled up or down to meet peaks in demand. The latest solutions can also be integrated with customer relationship management and other business applications to streamline workflows and maximize agent productivity.

Dozens of new players have entered the cloud-based contact center market, creating a more competitive landscape that has led to more choices and lower prices. Nevertheless, organizations still need to proceed cautiously. Moving to the cloud isn’t for everyone, and not all vendors and solutions are created equal. Organizations should evaluate solutions based on their business processes and goals, and make sure service-level agreements protect their interests.

IPC believes that the ShoreTel Connect Contact Center solution offers a strong mix of features and value. ShoreTel Connect Contact Center combines the robust features of ShoreTel’s award-winning Enterprise Contact Center platform with the deployment flexibility of ShoreTel Connect. When deployed in a cloud model, it lowers operating and maintenance costs by eliminating the need for dedicated IT staff to manage and maintain the contact center solution. Scalable to 1,000 users, ShoreTel Connect Contact Center also offers the elasticity required to accommodate seasonal traffic fluctuations or campaign peaks, and the ability to quickly add agents as needed. The pay-as-you-go model allows contact centers to grow organically without having to pay in advance for future capacity.

Consumers are increasingly demanding, and the quality of a retailer’s contact center can make or break the relationship. A cloud-based contact center infrastructure provides organizations with the tools they need to improve contact center performance and the customer experience in a cost-efficient OPEX model.