The following post by guest contributor Brendan Read, Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst, is the third and final in a series examining the “virtuous intersection” of customer experience and profitability.
The Cloud Reluctance
Even with all of the benefits of going to the cloud, there are many firms that are still reluctant to make the move. There are a few reasons behind this hesitation. Companies may not trust the cloud. Contact centers tend to be conservative and for good reason: as the “voice of the company”, the first and often only direct, interactive point of contact with their customers, the solutions they employ must work swiftly and reliably. Companies may also have no reason to go to the cloud. Either because their volumes do not fluctuate, they are in a mature business or their existing premise applications do not need replacing. This occurs when on premise solutions have some life left, or because they have recently invested in them.
Going to the cloud also creates a degree of additional IT and sourcing complexity. It is a different solutions delivery means, which must be tied into the premise servers. Frost & Sullivan anticipates a mix of cloud and on-premise or “hybrid” environments will be the case for companies for the next several years. Companies may have lingering reliability and security concerns, particularly if they are in heavily regulated industries like financial services and healthcare, but even there, some are moving to the cloud.
The Winning Cloud Choice
I started my talk about the virtuous profitable intersection of the customer experience and cost management, pointing out the importance of the customer experience as a marketplace differentiator. It is not just nice to grow both circles, it is essential for companies’ survival and future. The competition is stiff and growing as the economy turns around and there is more money to be made. At the same time not only must firms be the market leaders but they must also exceed, or at worst equal, the expectations of their shareholders.
Cloud/hosting can help firms enhance the customer experience and control costs by delivering sophisticated solutions, such as call blending, affordably and flexibly, on-demand, while at the same time being there for customers when disaster strikes. But companies must take the time to fully understand the cloud and see whether it can provide specific benefits to them in line with their needs and with their IT environment.
Once firms know what they want, and when they want it, they must take the most crucial step of them all. Finding and then working with the right cloud/hosting partner. That is, a company who can walk them through the cloud and explain it to them, answer their concerns, determine if it is right for them and if so how best to apply it with the right solution mix. Equally important, this cloud partner must be there throughout their customers entire journey. Because unlike premise-delivered solutions that are “sell and forget”, cloud-delivered solutions entail longer-term relationships between customers and suppliers. For just as companies need to provide an excellent customer experience, and at the right price, to retain and grow them so must cloud providers to the companies they serve.