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What is Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)?

To learn more about CCaaS and how it can make your business more efficient, we have presented this blog on behalf of our partners at Avaya.

Contact center as a service (CCaaS) is a cloud-based customer service application that manages and tracks customer journeys, employee interactions with clients, and any other inbound or outbound customer communications. These communications are tracked across voice and digital channels, such as email, web chat, and text messaging.

CCaaS platforms are managed and accessible through the cloud. No stand-alone infrastructure is needed, which empowers CCaaS companies to automatically push capability updates in real time with no software downtime or business disruptions, similar to how Facebook updates its application.

Contact Center vs. Call Center: What’s the Difference?

A contact center is a business department or operating unit that manages inbound and outbound customer interactions across voice and digital communications channels. Contact centers use various types of technology to serve customers, track interactions, and capture performance data.

Cloud-based contact center solutions support the flow of communications and information between customers and employees. A CCaaS solution helps organizations manage customer interactions—both voice and digital—and track performance information in real time using customer-based data and metrics.

Call centers are a business model that most organizations associate with traditional customer service. Call centers are typically in-office, with employees ready to accept inbound and perform outbound calls. This is usually supported by onsite hardware and software―something that a cloud-based contact center doesn’t need.

Let’s say a customer needs to reach an employee about a specific concern. If they interact with a call center, that customer speaks with a random employee they may have no personal connection with.

However, if a customer contacts a company using CCaaS, they get connected using the channel they prefer—voice or digital—with an employee who can quickly access their personal information, which includes insights on the customer’s behavioral, purchase, and customer journey trends. These data-driven insights enable the employee to provide the customer with a faster, more accurate, and personalized experience.

Key CCaaS Capabilities that Modernize and Simplify the Customer and Employee Experience

As customer communication options continue to expand along with customer expectations, organizations need to create experiences that matter—for both customers and employees. A cloud contact center solution pulls everything together, acting as a central point from which all customer interactions across various communication channels and devices are managed and served. A CCaaS solution enables organizations to go way beyond just answering calls to truly understanding customers more deeply: who they are, what they want, and how organizations can do better with every interaction.

Customer Experience Elevation

Today’s customers want to use their smartphone or tablet to interact with organizations across a variety of channels including voice, email, text messaging, and social media. With CCaaS, organizations deliver the effortless experience that customers expect—across different touchpoints and devices. The platform empowers intuitive and proactive interactions between employees and customers, offering the consistent, personalized service that’s needed to build customer loyalty and brand advocacy.

For example, companies with CCaaS features like intelligent attribute-based routing can use customer demographics (location, history, etc.), situational context (time of day, weather, breaking news, etc.) and employee characteristics (gender, language, location, specialty, etc.) to match customer interactions with the right employees.

CCaaS solutions also eliminate the need for organizations to pay for expensive software and servers by switching to an easy monthly subscription model where they only pay for services consumed. Another added benefit is that organizational IT resources can be redeployed to other projects since the CCaaS vendor manages all infrastructures, upgrades, maintenance, and support.

A huge benefit of CCaaS is being able to ramp up and down as business environments dictate. Take a retailer for example. It’s Black Friday and the retailer needs to add 50 new employees to the contact center to take on the unusual workload, but then scale back when the season ends. A cloud contact center that works seamlessly with remote and in-office employees makes this possible. All an organization needs to do is add 50 employees to the monthly subscription, provide them with a web browser and they’re serving customers in no time. And when the season ends, the retailer simply reduces the employee count to get back to the normal subscription rate.

Modern Browser-based Employee Desktops

Whether employees work in the office, at a branch location, or at home, employees must have access to the same tools, expertise, content, and applications, and their experiences must be effortless and hassle-free to keep them engaged and motivated.

Without a seamless workspace, employees are forced to jump from app to app and screen to screen in search of information needed to serve the customer in the moment. Employee efficiency is jeopardized, as is customer and employee satisfaction.

CCaaS solutions — such as the one offered by Avaya OneCloud — employ a modern, consolidated, streamlined workspace that brings contact center employees the information and insights they need to immediately serve customers. The unified desktop experience provides employees with a consolidated, simplified desktop view of everything they need across voice and digital channels, available anywhere, anytime using a web browser.

Customer Journey

Understanding where customers are in the buying journey is among the most powerful data points for providing a personalized customer experience. CCaaS platforms with customer journey intelligence let employees answer questions such as:

  • When did the customer last interact with the organization?
  • Did the customer interact using voice, web chat, or text message?
  • And what was the intent and result from the interaction?

Customer journey intelligence provides a timeline view of customer interactions across multiple channels that helps ensure employees are informed and equipped to proactively serve customer inquiries. The customer journey timeline can be sorted on category, time, and channel to help employees make informed decisions for each step along the customer’s buying journey.

Intelligent Routing

Today, it’s not good enough to just find the next available person to assist a customer. Organizations need to place customers with the best employee within the organization – whoever that happens to be, wherever they are located. Visualize the value of being able to route a customer who is highly likely to cancel their service to a top retention specialist. Or routing a caller located in a nearby suburb to an employee who lives in a neighboring city to help foster a personal brand relationship.

Intelligent attribute-based routing transcends and enhances traditional call center routing methodologies. This means considering questions like;

  • Are there weather issues where the customer is?
  • What time of day are they calling or chatting with an employee?
  • Are they a customer retention risk?
  • What about the employee they are interacting with:
     — What are their skills?
     — Can they speak multiple languages?
     — Where are they located?

Better matching of customers to employees using business rules, internal and external context, and desired business outcomes has a dramatic impact on the customer and employee experience. Powerful attribute resource selection capabilities assign the right customer interactions to the right employees. Advanced market-leading algorithms consider situational contexts (location, weather, time, day, social posts) with customer data (demographic, device preference, contact details, social posts, purchase history, retention risks) and employee attributes (skills, experience, performance, location, language, gender) to match customer inquiries to the right employees.

Self-Service Automation

Customers expect an effortless self-service experience. Nothing is worse than getting stuck in a complicated or endless self-service loop. Intelligent, automated services — like Avaya OneCloud CCaaS — offers support for self-service customers, freeing employees to handle more complex inquiries. It is critical to empower customers to take action(s) and get the information they need using natural language speech or touch tone automated systems with easy options to speak to an employee when needed. Remember, this experience must be intuitive, fast, and easy to navigate. Otherwise, an organization’s reputation and brand will be damaged.

BYOC: Bring Your Own Channel

With integration of social media messaging and web chatting features, CCaaS lets organizations bring their own homegrown or common digital channels into a single system. For example, an organization can add a Facebook Messenger link to services like Avaya OneCloud CCaaS. This means that customers would not be routed to a random associate, but to a contact center employee who understands their individual customer journey based on their history, buying habits, and past interactions. This access to customer data lets employees build real relationships, which increases brand loyalty and customer retention.

Workforce Engagement

Every company struggles with keeping employees engaged and motivated. Satisfied and empowered employees have a direct impact on the bottom line. And because contact centers are especially vulnerable to turnover, it’s critical to provide the proper support, tools, and coaching right from the start. CCaaS options that help organizations get more for — and from — contact center employees is providing insights across processes and performance with call and screen recording, performance scorecards, quality management, and interaction analytics to identify bottlenecks or training gaps. A Workforce Management application can simplify planning, forecasting, and scheduling to ensure that the right people are doing the right things at the right time, every time.

Unified Reporting

CCaaS makes it straightforward to keep a pulse on performance and the overall employee and customer experience. Historical and real-time reporting provides easy-to-read information across interactions to monitor, measure, and improve customer experience and employee performance. Employee, channel, and attribute routing performance insights help diagnose and resolve problems with staffing, routing strategy, business processes and more. Contact center leaders can share reports, dashboards, and insights across the entire organization to further improve the entire business.

Future Proof the Contact Center

The digital workplace is already here. Employees expect to seamlessly work from anywhere, anytime they want. This means organizations must keep everyone—inside and outside the contact center—connected with immersive collaboration tools so employees can make faster, better decisions and act in the moment.

No longer does the workday need to start at 8 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. All employees need the right tools to call, message, share files, and meet via video on any device, in any location, at any time, to collaborate on projects or key customers. Since customer inquiries are becoming more and more complex, contact center employees need quick and easy access to subject matter experts from across the organization to assist with complicated customer inquiries.

Pairing Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), with CCaaS can be a game-changer for problem-solving and process and productivity improvements by infusing an immersive employee experience with customer experience.

Want or need to further innovate? Add Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) capabilities to quickly refine and redefine customer and employee experiences. CPaaS platforms offer simple drag-and-drop tools that make it easy to tailor the customer and employee experience.

How to Choose a CCaaS Vendor

It may be difficult to select the right CCaaS vendor. It is important to consider numerous factors, including the size of your organization, business growth, challenges, industry, and perhaps even intangibles like economic trends. It’s also important to align strategic objectives with the CCaaS vendor’s capabilities, expertise, and industry reputation.

Consider listing the pros and cons of each vendor you’re considering or presenting the findings to colleagues. Feedback and a second or third set of eyes are key to making well-educated decisions in the world of contact center selection.

CTI can help you unlock the world of CCaaS for your business. If we can help you make it happen.