You’re ready to take your customer relationships to the next level, connecting faster and more seamlessly than ever before. The problem is, your contact center isn’t quite keeping pace with your vision.
Maybe you’re still researching software options that can provide the streamlined customer service your customers expect. Or maybe your in-house software is overdue for another patch or upgrade, but your IT team is swamped.
If you’ve stuck with the same on-premise vendors for years, your call center infrastructure may be behind the times. CCaaS is a cloud-based customer communications solution that can save businesses serious time and costs over managing all their software needs internally.
What is CCaaS?
CCaaS stands for contact center as a service. In a nutshell, CCaaS is a software solution that allows for cloud-based customer support, exceeding the capabilities of on-premise vendors. This means supplying services like automatic call distribution (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR), and analytics to track KPIs and agent call activity.
In other words, if your agents have a computer or smartphone enabled with your CCaaS app, they’re good to go. Agents can take calls through a headset or even right on their mobile phones.
CCaaS providers operate through a subscription-licensing model. Businesses access the system through the cloud by using an app or a web browser. Like many other software-as-a-service solutions, CCaaS usually counts as an operating expense (or “OPEX”) rather than a capital expense (“CAPEX”), which some businesses might prefer for accounting purposes.
Compared to on-premise call center software, CCaaS offers easier, faster implementation, more flexible scaling, and a lower admin burden.
CCaaS vs. UCaaS: What’s the Difference?
Software options can start to look like alphabet soup after a while. When you’re researching CCaaS, you’ll probably encounter the term UCaaS as well (…like right now). Both of these services can benefit a business, but they’re not interchangeable.
UCaaS, or united communications as a service, offers cloud-based communications infrastructure. Think of a company like Skype: UCaaS typically offers voice calling, call conferencing, video, and text chat solutions. UCaaS can be useful for creating communications systems throughout a business, especially among and between employees.
CCaaS is different because it specifically meets the needs of a call center with features more focused on the customer experience. CCaaS provides telephony services like voice call and conferencing, but also automatic call distribution (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR), analytics capabilities, and other contact center-focused features. Supervisors can access a live feed or use coaching tools like “call whispering” to support agents in ways that usually aren’t available through UCaaS.
CCaaS functionality is especially useful to customer support and sales staff who spend most their time on the phone and require robust integrations to and from other business tools.
What Are the Benefits of CCaaS?
With the CCaaS industry growing about 50% per year, this is more than just a passing trend. So how do you know whether it’s worth it for your business to switch to CCaaS?
Here are the top features businesses value most in their CCaaS systems:
Does anyone actually enjoy shopping for hardware like desk phones or sorting through licensing requirements? From choosing software to setting up data storage and security, getting a call center up and running can take months. If you use CCaaS, however, creating a contact center could be as easy as installing an app on your computer system or employees’ cell phones.
Agents can work remotely as long as they have access to the CCaaS program, so you can even potentially limit the amount of office space you need to get started.
Improved customer experience
In a world in which big companies offer a variety of easy ways for customers to get in touch, many customers take it for granted that they can talk to support almost any way they want—whether through live chat, a phone call or something else.
Of course, bouncing between live chat, ringing phones, and other customer service channels is easier said than done. And it’s particularly tough for small businesses with limited operational bandwidth.
CCaaS works through your computer system, so you can get desktop notifications about incoming calls. That means less switching between phone and screen, fewer missed calls, and an easy dashboard that lets agents connect with other agents and customers quickly. CCaaS also integrates with many eCommerce, Helpdesk, and customer relationship management (CRM) tools, so you can seamlessly sync with tools you already know and love.
The best CCaaS providers continuously improve their software to meet modern customer expectations. In other words, they act on aggregate customer feedback and industry trends through frequent software updates, so you don’t have to worry about keeping up.
When demand surges, it can be a double-edged sword for businesses. Increased sales do mean increased revenue and profit, but also a higher volume of customer calls.
With a CCaaS system, the solution is easy. Pay for the level of service you need, and adjust your level of service as demand rises and falls.
If you’re handling your own contact center needs, you’ll face significant startup costs. These include hardware like backup servers, desk phones and software. Not to mention paying your staff for hours of research on the best systems and products to use, and the cost of software implementation.
What’s more, as hardware ages and software programs become obsolete, you’ll need to make additional purchases and upgrades. You’ll need to allot time for your employees to deal with ongoing management, improvements, and tech support. If your company runs on a lean team, this process can be extremely demanding.
Going with a contact center as a service can lead to substantial savings on equipment and maintenance. The CCaaS provider handles software admin like implementation and licensing, product updates, and troubleshooting. This level of software support often translates to cost savings, even if a CCaaS subscription is a more frequent expense than replacing equipment as needed.
Many traditional contact centers extend across multiple departments that may not share information effectively. Integrated contact center software collects all critical information—through CRM, Helpdesk, eCommerce and integrations with other critical business systems—in one place to simplify the information hunt. That means your agents will look more knowledgeable and be more helpful, leading to a better overall customer experience.
Before you decide on a CCaaS provider, review its services to make sure you’re getting all the features you need for your customer support center. Here’s a few features to keep an eye out for:
- ACD: ACD, or automatic call distribution, directs incoming calls to the agents best equipped to help, according to settings you select.
- Analytics: Data relating to call volume, wait times, and other KPIs give you the insight you need to plan improvements.
- Integrations: Modern businesses use lots of online tools to help them manage their employees and customers seamlessly. CCaaS enables valuable integrations with business tools such as Salesforce, Shopify, Slack, Intercom, Hubspot, Zendesk, Zapier and more—enabling your existing systems to work together.
- Call Recording: Recordings of customer interactions are useful to manage quality and improve future training.
- Click-to-Dial: Users can start a call with a mouse click, rather than dialing each number. This can save time for agents as they reach out to customers.
- IVR: A smart directory prompts callers for information (“Press 1 for Support…”) to direct them to the right department immediately.
- Live Feed: Give supervisors the ability to review moment-to-moment activity so they can respond in real-time to call traffic needs.
- Coaching tools: Supervisors can use whisper coaching to listen in on a call and advise the agent, without letting the caller know there’s someone else on the line. Other coaching tools include call conferencing with up to five people and warm transfers, which let agents or supervisors provide context information to each other before completing the call transfer.
- Virtual Call Center: One easy-to-use, cloud-based interface connects agents all over the world, whether in the office or working remotely.
CCaaS: Making the Switch
What if calling customer service were as simple and rewarding as dialing a friend?
CCaaS provides infrastructure to help you make that goal a reality by offering customers shorter hold times and quicker connections to agents with the answers they need. Businesses want speed, too, and it never hurts to save some money along the way.
If cloud-based contact center software sounds promising, take a deeper look at what CCaaS can do for your business.