For service providers in the Call Center environment, the requirements and framework conditions for professional voice communication have fundamentally changed again in the last 10 years. Essential terms such as “cloud telephone system” and “VoIP” (Voice over IP) convey the technological core of contemporary telephone systems. In order to map the broad requirements of customer service, cloud telephone systems must be able to interact with systems such as CRMs (Customer Relationship Management), ticketing systems and eCommerce management systems. Under this premise, a Cloud Call Center becomes a core element to assist Helpdesk, eCommerce and customer service processes, integrating them in the organization to extend the customer experience and to obtain valuable data for relevant decisions. Moreover, its technological flexibility must offer extended possibilities in which, for example, highly professional teleworking can take place securely at any time.
From Classic ACD System to Cloud Call Center
The Cloud Call Center is a special form of ACD (Automatic Call Distribution), i.e. a system that distributes an often very large number of calls to a large number of respondents, mostly in-service centers. As early as the 1970s, the first systems implemented functions that can still be called ACD today. Stationary ACD technology was commonly used as early as in the first decade of the 21st century, and some of these systems are still in use today. Compared to stationary ACD systems, cloud telephone systems have the advantage of being flexible in their configuration and location-independent, even without a technical background.
The topic of redundancy to avoid potential failures in the Cloud Call Center can also be implemented much more cost-effectively and reliably. The location independence can go so far that it comes to the establishment of purely virtual service centers, in which telephony agents interconnect from the home office to virtual teams of teleworkers.
Between IVR, Inbound and Outbound - Basic Functions of a Cloud Call Center
What should a cloud telephone system be able to do today? What happens when a customer dials a 01806 or 0800 number? Basically, the cloud telephone system first brings callers and agents together, both in inbound, i.e. for incoming calls, and also in outbound, where agents actively call out. In both cases, it is important that calls are processed according to defined rules, following a predefined logic. Which employee should receive the next call? This could simply be controlled after the longest waiting time for an employee in the Call Center. But it is at least important that employees are grouped into meaningful groups according to their skills, so that customers experience the most ideal user journey possible. This is a requirement that is a key success factor, especially in the Helpdesk area. To facilitate this, the cloud service should be able to provide the agent with information related to the reason of the call before picking up the receiver. This certainly enhances the customer experience, indicating to the customer that he/she is relevant, by the agent knowing many of the details related to previous calls or contacts that may have taken place over different channels of interaction.
IVR (Interactive Voice Response) describes the technology behind this query process. By pressing a button or by voice input, the caller is guided through decision trees in order to be able to connect with the most suitable employee. This saves callers and employees time by an efficient process.
Cloud Service and the Queue - Necessary Evil or a Chance for Smarter Alternatives?
For a Cloud Call Center, it is important to offer alternatives and to address customer waiting times in advance. For example: How does a cloud telephone system handle callers who cannot receive an instant connection to an agent? What should happen if an employee cannot immediately assist? If an employee cannot answer a question or cannot solve a particular case, the cloud telephony systems should offer the possibility to route calls to a second level agent by forwarding the call. This forwarding can take place automatically or manually, by what is called “direct forwarding” or “assisted forwarding”, in which the first agent explains the present case to his colleague and then transfers the caller to him/her.
If no agent is available, which occurs especially in peak times – i.e. a temporary but not always predictable increase in call volume – the caller often hears the typical waiting loop. Here it is the task and function of a Cloud Call Center to make the queue meaningful. How long should someone wait on hold? What alternatives are there to waiting? Do I want to put the caller on hold or offer him/ her an alternative right from the start? A few cloud telephone systems offer the caller the option of hanging up and being called back directly from the queue without third-party tools. Currently, this is no longer an option, but a must-have for any professional Cloud Call Center.
Cloud Call Center as All-rounder in customer service?
The Cloud Call Center does not cover the wide range of customer service requirements alone. The strength of a VoIP system, besides its inherent possibilities, above all is based on its interface competence. Often CRM systems, Helpdesk applications and eCommerce systems have to be linked to obtain complementary information that takes customer service to an exceptional level. If a caller has already been in contact with the company, the service employee must be able to see this when the call is received, e.g. by automatically opening a case or customer file. In this way, a personalized service can provide the customer with a better experience, allowing him/ her to feel important and not just another case in the customer queue.
Personnel management and allocation of resources are mandatory for successful planning. Considering that multi-skilled agents are able to perform their tasks for several different services, all KPIs and metrics must be independently evaluated and instantly be passed from the Cloud Call Center to the business units that can draw essential conclusions and take decisions.
Cloud Call Center - quo vadis?
A technological directional decision has been made with the cloud telephone system and certainly integrability is a mandatory aspect no one can avoid. Extended advantages such as video chat, AI, Chatbots, etc. should be integrated to facilitate further work. The developments of the next few years can be anticipated, but VoIP providers must maintain their standards and openness in order to grow organically with the requirements. They must also utilize their skills to be one step ahead of developments and to exploit business communication in a win-win situation.