Culture. Service. Growth: The Mega Combo of Cloud and Contact Centers
Let’s first put a definition around the term “cloud computing” using the definition provided by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): “Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.” By its very definition, cloud computing is indeed disruptive, as it changes the role of the traditional IT organization. By providing on-demand capabilities, an organization no longer needs to wait for month or years for state of the art capabilities.
We started our outsourced call center about five years ago with the goal of taking advantage of everything the cloud had to offer. The primary driver was getting access to the same contact center technology capabilities available to big companies that had been in the space for decades. And we wanted everything immediately with minimal to no capital investment. We saw the cloud as our vehicle to even the competitive playing field, virtually eliminating all barriers to entry. Turns out, it gave us big company capabilities and even more.
It also gave us the ability to do some really creative things for clients in days that would normally take them months, or longer. This gave us an attractive edge in the outsourcing space, allowing us to build test capabilities for Fortune 500 capabilities, with minimal investment. We’ve grown our contact center to almost 700 employees in five years, and as we’ve grown, the cloud technology we use has grown with us. We don’t have to worry about projects to expand infrastructure. We don’t have to worry about long term enterprise licensing agreements (ELAs). As our business requirements ebb and flow, the cloud ebbs and flows with us. Our cost structure is almost completely variablized, which in turn make the financials of our business extremely predictable.
Another great benefit to cloud computing is ease of use. Given that the modern cloud providers have leveraging the past two decades of UI understanding, the amount of time it takes to train employees, from management to CSR’s, is minimal. And, we have all our data related to the contact center in one place, eliminating the pain of collecting data from multiple systems just to understand what happened today, yesterday or last month. This has allowed us get new leaders productive in the contact center very quickly.
“We believe our rapid growth is directly correlated to our ability to tell our customers “yes” and be able to deliver solutions that are well beyond the original requests”
We believe that cloud technologies in a contact center are going to become a business requirement. Few companies have the luxury to spend millions of dollars and countless months, or years, on infrastructure that is not really a competitive advantage. The cloud companies also know that their entire business model is based on how well they provide extremely high availability and robust security. We continue to see traditional IT organizations use those discussion items as red herrings, mostly out of self-preservation. We have seen the investment in infrastructure made by the best cloud providers and they are now serving reliably at the large enterprise level, often with greater reliability than the traditional premise based solutions. Lastly, one key goal of mature IT organizations is to leverage re-use to its’ fullest, as this provides economies of scale and lowers the overall cost structure for the consumers of that technology. Interestingly, that’s the same premise that cloud technologies are using. Built robust infrastructure, and make it economically better for other organizations to leverage.
Gone are the days of doing presentations to sell your services – the cloud allows companies to create solutions in real-time and launch projects in days. We believe our rapid growth is directly correlated to our ability to tell our customers “yes” and be able to deliver solutions that are well beyond the original requests. We’ve created “participative” sales meetings where potential clients get to experience what their new live environment feels like before they get back to their office. This approach allows companies a non-disruptive way to try some new channels to deliver service without big upfront investments or risks. Almost weekly, we’re getting requests from companies to establish a cloud based “sand-box” that allow them to play in a live environment - something that is easy to make possible.
After having lived in the “old world” of contact center technology, we’ve embraced the cloud. It’s allowed for lightning fast changes and given us a growth plan without having to spend a ton of capital. We’ve created a road show called “the art of the possible” and it’s focused on building a fully functional call center; and we take it live within 15 minutes. When we launched five years ago, we focused on our backgrounds and experience as the company’s competitive advantage – we’ve quickly learned that embracing the cloud has allowed us a new kind of advantage that let’s large companies move as quickly as a start-up.