Developing your Hybrid Contact Center Strategy
Companies are looking to connect with their customers in new ways, levering the flexibility and cost savings of cloud communication platforms, while realizing additional value from their premise environments. Companies that plan ahead and do it well, can have the best of both worlds, a true hybrid contact center strategy.
For many years companies invested heavily in premise-based contact center infrastructure to deliver an exceptional customer experience. In today’s environment, customers are connecting with businesses in ways not even dreamed of 10 years ago. Communication channels like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Twitter push the limits of today’s premise environments, requiring systems and agents to adapt to these new ways of interacting with their customers.
Premise + Cloud
Hybrid contact center strategies combine the best of their pre-existing premise communication environments, from companies like Avaya, Cisco, Aspect, and more with modern cloud communications and social media platforms and services, like Twilio, Nexmo, and Amazon Connect. Great strategies go beyond just offering silo’d communications stacks.
With today’s customer mindset of “anytime, anywhere, any device”… great customer service requires providing customers with the ability to engage the way they want to engage…not how businesses want them to…and to be able to quickly convert a digital conversation to a phone call to continue the engagement.
Some of the critical goals of a true hybrid contact center are:
- Connecting with customers across all channels
- Providing a ‘single pane of glass’ experience for the agents
- Routing traditional voice calls with non-traditional channels (like WhatsApp) through a single routing logic and presence engine
- Consolidating metrics across disparate communication channels and effectively combining them with relevant business data
Companies are exploring several implementation options for their hybrid contact centers. One scenario is when businesses leverage their existing premise voice channel and add cloud channels, like SMS and Video. They continue to take voice calls via their premise phone system and then handle other channels like SMS or Video through a cloud platform.
Another scenario is when companies continue to use their premise environment for one group of agents, while creating teams dedicated to cloud communication stacks. At home agents are good candidates for this type of approach, as they can utilize public-facing cloud platforms through a home internet connection without the need for dedicated corporate network access.
Certain events may trigger a company to consider a hybrid strategy. Businesses may be looking to expand the number of agents, and the agent license costs may be cost prohibitive, or perhaps the premise platform is unable to handle the latest channels.
Regardless of the cause or the approach, companies are advised to plan ahead to ensure they maximize the benefits of their hybrid configuration.
Hybrid Contact Center Advantages
Hybrid configurations offer significant advantages over traditional setups. The cost of adding cloud communication channels is typically based on a consumption model, so as companies ramp up on channels like SMS, WhatsApp, the initial costs are minimal. Overtime, the cost of operating a full-time cloud platform can rival a premise license, so performing a detailed cost analysis is important.
Dynamic scaling is also easier in a hybrid environment. For seasonal or campaign-based spikes in customer interactions, companies can scale up the number of agents much more quickly than through a premise-based infrastructure. Handling spikes with an on-premise system, requires extra capacity be parked and unused, waiting for the spikes to occur, while cloud communication platforms can be activated in real-time without a pre-investment in capacity.
Along with some challenges
Even with the many advantages of a hybrid contact center configuration, there are some challenges as well. Without a robust integration strategy, it’s more difficult to consolidate metrics across disparate communication platforms. Measuring the effectiveness of SMS and Facebook Messenger compared to your inbound voice channel is difficult to do without a platform that can consolidate these metrics and combine them with relevant business data. Combining channel data across platforms with CRM data is one of the most critical advantages of a hybrid strategy, but also one of the more difficult to achieve.
Enterprise routing across platforms is also a unicorn in the contact center realm. Being able to use a single routing platform for channels from different vendors is one level of achievement. It’s a whole another level to also route non-channels through the same routing rules. Companies are looking to route work items like cases and leads using the same queues and agent skills as they do for voice calls and SMS. DaVinci is an example of a platform that can manage agent presence across channels and facilitate routing across the enterprise.
Best of Both Worlds
True Hybrid strategies deliver tremendous value for the enterprises that can do it correctly. Being able to interact with your customers seamlessly across a variety of communication platforms, while providing your agents with a single pane of glass experience gives you the best of both worlds. With the right platform and partner, the next generation contact centers are within sight.