For most businesses that haven’t already migrated their contact center to the cloud, the ultimate decision that needs to be made is not “whether” to take the step, but “why” and “when.” While continuing to acknowledge the cost and productivity benefits of making the transition, solution providers can also provide a plethora of additional incentives, including dramatically enhanced flexibility, creating a competitive advantage and increased functionality. As always, cloud solutions were plentiful at Call Center Week. In this report, three innovative vendors discuss the added capabilities and economies offered by cloud contact centers.
What do you consider the most important benefits cloud contact center platforms provide for organizations?
Daniel Lonstein, CEO, AireContact (AireSpring) Flexibility, future-proofing and financial responsibility. Your company could pay half a million dollars for a state-of-the-art phone system and hope that it keeps up with your competitors until you’ve fully depreciated its value. But at the current rate telephony is developing, that’s a losing bet. Smart companies are moving to the cloud at a rapid rate because it offers them the greatest flexibility, automatic software updates and in many cases, a significant cost savings as well. It’s one of those decisions that really makes itself.
David Howard, Director of Marketing, Bright Pattern The cost-reduction and productivity improvements that come from moving to a cloud contact center platform are well documented now – contact center operators can focus on their core business and transfer IT operational costs and headaches to their cloud vendor. Beyond that, there is an opportunity to leverage cloud-based platforms as the basis for building entirely new applications that are business-unique and/or deliver competitive advantage. In many cases, this will involve cloud-to-cloud communications between the contact center platform and other services, such as big data business analytics. This will enable companies to develop new operational insights that provide actionable intelligence in near real-time.
Charles Studt, Vice President, Product Management/Marketing, IntelePeer While capital cost advantages are frequently cited as a key benefit of cloud contact center platforms, they also provide tremendous flexibility, minimize vendor lock-in, and shift maintenance cost and complexity to the service provider. Cloud-based contact center platforms also allow organizations to deploy virtual contact centers where agents are able to work from multiple locations or even from their home – offering additional flexibility and cost advantages.
What specific advantages does your solution offer that differentiates it from others in your space?
Daniel Lonstein, CEO, AireContact (AireSpring) Most cloud services are delivered over the customer’s existing Internet service which is certainly a quick and easy way to get a product up and running. We are well equipped to offer a customer a fast and friendly set-up. Unfortunately, the risk is that the client won’t have adequate bandwidth, security or network management to support the product. When the service fails, who’s at fault? AireContact helps solve this problem by providing an enterprise-class secured Internet connection via our MPLS Mesh and Nationwide Managed IP network. This allows us to monitor the customer’s network 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. On top of that, we provide Do-Not-Call compliance software which was built with an intuitive user interface, and the easiest product management system in the industry.
David Howard, Bright Pattern We have developed an innovative platform that provides our partners, and contact center customers the flexibility to deploy however they want, (SaaS, private cloud, hybrid), and build and differentiate their solution by essentially custom ‘skinning’ the core contact center functionality with add-on applications.
The Bright Pattern platform provides operators with the ability to develop one-of-a-kind applications that provide service differentiation, distinct competitive advantage, or help solve unique business problems. Customers have successfully leveraged the platform to introduce new lines of business and grow revenue.
Charles Studt, IntelePeer Our CoreCloud SIP trunking for contact centers allows contact center managers to tailor their communications package to fit their specific business requirements. SIP trunking offers not only attractive pricing, but also the ability to quickly scale up call capacity to ensure customers pay for what they use, without a need to purchase excess capacity for call spikes, seasonal campaigns, and other changes in contact center activity.
Our solution also offers greater deployment flexibility, supporting both on-premise and cloud-based deployments while eliminating the need to replace on-premise equipment. Because CoreCloud SIP trunking is certified by every major contact center platform, cloud-based and on-premise, IntelePeer offers exceptional deployment flexibility compared to other SIP offerings.
In addition, IntelePeer SIP trunking comes with built-in support for high-strength TLS (transport layer security) and SRTP (secure real-time transport protocol) encryption ensuring compliance with PCI, HIPAA, GLBA, FISMA and similar information security programs, enables multi-channel contact center capabilities including HD audio and video, and connects key features like Interactive Voice Response (IVR), Automatic Call Distributor (ACD ), Computer Telephony Integration (CTI), and other applications directly into network services, enabling a best-of-breed vendor and hybrid cloud architecture, something not all vendors can offer.
What market segment is your area of focus: small and medium sized businesses (SMBs), enterprise level organizations or companies of all sizes? Which vertical markets do you serve and what is your rationale for targeting these segments?
Daniel Lonstein, AireContact (AireSpring) While a company of nearly any size can enjoy the benefits of AireContact, we’ve chosen to target the 10-500 seat small to mid-market segment. Having to hire staff to support a premises-based system is a major burden for companies of that size. Via the magic of the cloud, we can improve the options and support these customers can afford. Plus, we help cut their overhead requirements as well. More features, more flexibility, lower total cost. We can put a company of any size on an equal playing field with their largest competitors.
David Howard, Bright Pattern Keith Dawson, an analyst for Ovum, has explained our market positioning best in his “On The Radar” report for Bright Pattern:
“Instead of emphasizing the cost advantages of the cloud, Bright Pattern has developed a platform that starts with features aimed squarely at the mid-market: essential core functions such as PBX, IVR, ACD, and outbound dialing, plus applications for quality control, customer feedback, forums, and chat. Mid-market enterprises are less concerned with the issue of cost than with getting top-level feature sets, room for expansion in the channels supported, and high-level reliability… The company has headed off all of the objections mid-sized clients may raise. In addition, it has looked at the market and, through sophisticated features, positioned itself to move upmarket just as quickly as any of the legacy vendors in the space.”
Our Rich Contact Experience feature set, introduced in our June, 2014 release of ServicePattern provides an mobile API and advanced set of features targeted at mid to large sized inbound contact centers looking to reduce costs and improve the customer experience by decreasing reliance on Interactive Voice Response systems – which nobody likes – and inbound toll-free numbers.
Charles Studt, IntelePeer In the traditional enterprise space, IntelePeer focuses on the mid-market—business from approximately 500-5,000 employees. IntelePeer primarily leverages channel partners (agents, VARs, SIs) as the primary distribution channel for this market. Additionally, we serve contact centers, BPOs, contact center application providers and media marketing providers (i.e., automated messaging, survey/polling applications, etc.), as well as select large enterprise accounts via a direct sales model.
In addition to ACD, IVR/self-service applications and call recording, what functionalities do you see as important for driving demand for cloud-based contact centers?
Daniel Lonstein, AireContact (AireSpring) Contact centers are much more than phone support these days. We’ve positioned ourselves to constantly evolve toward the leading edge of the industry. Currently, we allow agents to handle customer issues via phone, chat, email, SMS and social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. While many companies may not feel the need to interact with customers via Facebook and Twitter, they are sure to ‘suddenly’ identify this as an opportunity area one day very soon. And rather than having to buy a new software suite to handle the need, it’s already built into AireContact.
David Howard, Bright Pattern The functionalities mentioned are ‘stock-in-trade’ contact center applications that our cloud competitors essentially ‘cut and paste’ from on-premise solutions into the cloud.
In our increasingly connected world, where everyone has a smart phone, brands need to leverage those functions to deliver richer customer experiences that enable more first call resolutions, ensure less ‘in-queue’ waiting times for their customers, and deliver more efficient customer engagements, while operating at a lower cost.
(We asked IntelePeer a specific question about its focus on SIP trunking)
Why have SIP trunking and VoIP technology become vital elements in the success of cloud-based contact centers?
Charles Studt, IntelePeer SIP trunking is a natural for cloud-based contact centers, because everything from platform to the voice connection is digital and optimized for a cloud environment. Furthermore, many cloud platforms offer increasingly advanced features that require certified SIP trunking to support optimal performance for key features. Legacy telephone and network connections simply cannot support those advanced features – and have the added disadvantage of higher costs. In addition, SIP trunking offers significant quality advances. Higher call quality leads to improved IVR, call mining and analytics performance, increased first call resolution and overall higher customer satisfaction.
What else would you like CRMXchange readers to know about your company?
Daniel Lonstein, Aire Contact (AireSpring) Customer research shows that one of the biggest problems in the industry is inconsistent call quality and security, leading to finger-pointing between the cloud contact center provider and the customer’s ISP. AireContact is supported by AireSpring, which is a next generation IP network carrier. Not only is our contact center software pushing the envelope of what is possible in the industry, but it is supported by a comprehensive global IP communications and network solution as well. We provide an end-to-end managed IP network to deliver our service. Our solution is a complete offering with a single vendor at highly competitive prices. By buying directly from a carrier, you get the savings of the network elements and cost of calls passed through with no middleman. Our solution thus provides security, savings and satisfaction.
David Howard, Bright Pattern We have thousands of agents deployed worldwide on our platform, both in a Software-as-a-Service model and private cloud deployments. We sell direct and through channel partners. Aspect Software is a strategic partner.
Charles Studt, IntelePeer Our CoreCloud SIP trunking is ideally suited for cloud-based contact center platforms, allowing contact centers to be deployed rapidly. CoreCloud SIP trunking also supports the most advanced voice and multimedia communications features, and provides service economics that provide impressive value in the market. IntelePeer offers a flexible and easy migration path with minimal business disruption, and can rapidly scale capacities up or down to match dynamic business changes from rapid growth to short-term marketing or political campaigns.