Riki Samuel, Chairman of Sesui Ltd., discusses cloud technology and why having a complete picture of call activity in the contact center is paramount in this day in age as he sits down for an interview with ContactCenterWorld.com
ContactCenterWorld: In your opinion, what has been the greatest challenge the contact center industry has faced in the last 12 months?
Riki Samuel: The move to the cloud has been, and continues to be, one of the great challenges that organizations face. It’s a disruptive technology that is changing the manner in which companies operate due to its flexibility and accessibility.
Equally, the rise of flexible working and employee rights to request flexible working options have been topics of increasing interest over the past 12 months. Failing to consider the change this represents to the working landscape when looking to drive call center efficiency could result in the tools and technologies for achieving long-term gains being overlooked.
ContactCenterWorld: Why do you believe has this been a challenge?
Riki Samuel: There are many benefits to the cloud but with them come new challenges to businesses in integrating infrastructures and developing new ways of working. With this comes a need to change policies and procedures, and the security and integrity of data remains an area of concern that is subject to constant changes through compliance and regulation.
This change of pace in the industry is rapid, leaving many businesses in danger of barely keeping up rather than getting ahead. For example, as the trend towards remote working grows, businesses are keen to ensure their infrastructure enables them to maintain visibility and connectivity with remote workers, wherever they are.
Likewise, with companies that operate regional call centers across multiple locations, the importance of having a complete picture of call activity is paramount. However, the individual telephone systems that support regional call centers often operate in isolation or are run by different providers – thereby clouding the situation. As call centre agents do become more dispersed, executives must have the ability to manage agents centrally and retain company culture.
On top of this, today’s always-on consumer world of eCommerce and 24/7 customer interaction is placing pressure on all organisations to deliver an ever more immediate service, whether public or private, SME or B2B. Keeping up with this demand is a challenge in itself, but as businesses get quicker at responding to their customers via email or social media, they risk the quality of response suffering as a result, so the telephone continues to be the consumers’ preferred means of contacting businesses, as they opt to then ask questions or seek clarification ‘in person’.
ContactCenterWorld: What technology do you believe will have the biggest impact on the industry over the next 12 months?
Riki Samuel: Cloud technology continues to gain increasing momentum within telecommunications strategies. Not only does it provide an opportunity to enhance customer interaction and drive operational productivity, it can also help maintain business continuity and support strategic decision-making with real-time insight. In an environment that’s floating inexorably towards the cloud in most other areas too, cloud telephony gives organizations a platform to explore an increasing range of data services that can transform business functionality, unlock new revenue streams and improve customer experience.
Crucially, cloud telephony allows companies to re-imagine the contact center environment, in particular, adding mobility, flexibility and connectivity to historically restrictive telephone systems. Everything is brought together into a central system, meaning remote workers have access to the same system as those on-site – and, crucially, deliver a consistent customer experience.
Similarly, the centralized system enables regional teams to be joined together – with significant operational benefits. Local resources can, where necessary, be flexibly redeployed to support other regional campaigns that may need temporary reinforcement. The cloud enables agile and responsive decision-making. In addition, it can unlock value-added bolt-on services to enhance the customer interaction. These include intelligent call queuing to reduce abandonment, accurate re-routing to help handle peak call volumes and on-screen scripting to support inexperienced operators. Centralized cloud-based systems also give management instant access to robust performance metrics – providing a holistic view of call activity across all contact centers, and generating real-time data to inform resourcing decisions, campaign strategies and performance management.
The flexibility of the cloud means a single cohesive platform can be delivered containing all the functionality required across the distributed contact center, including modules to ensure PCI compliance or regulatory call recording, regardless of the location of the agent.
ContactCenterWorld: What contact center technology or other innovation excites you the most right now?
Riki Samuel: Cloud telephony gives the ability to utilise innovative overlay technologies, which sit on top of the existing systems so that companies no longer need to rip and replace the current infrastructure, but can have access to the cloud-based solution with full contact center functionality in a matter of weeks. As the technology works on top of organizations’ legacy infrastructure – whether that’s analogue, digital, IP or mobile – it can be scaled to suit any business’s telephony needs. The process is quick, simple and cost-effective – and it provides a platform to introduce additional high-value data services as and when they are appropriate to the business.
This enables more businesses to bring together resources and act as a contact center, where previously they were too small to justify the cost of the on premise technology, and therefore missed out on efficiency saving processes such as collaboration.
Doctors’ surgeries, for example, where there are a number of sites operating together under the same Practice or group, are beginning to utilise Cloud telephony to manage calls and reduce call-waiting time by directing calls equally amongst different sites and working collaboratively to manage demand. Performance increases, as does overall efficiency. The cloud model ensures there is no reason for a ‘contact centre’ to be off air. Business continuity and uptimes improve with the ability to effectively overflow calls so the customers can always be in touch.
The scenario is applicable to any organisation, whether a team of 5 or 5,000, the flexibility and affordability of Cloud-based solutions is creating a level playing field for companies of all sizes to reap the benefits, such as collaborative resources and flexible working options for employees.
ContactCenterWorld: Lastly, what do you think 2017 holds for the industry? (Good or bad and where/how etc.)
Riki Samuel: 2017 will see further consolidation of the Cloud in telecommunications, as more organisations benefit from its vast potential. As they do so, the contact centre by definition will begin to change as we see more organisations on-board that are outside the scope of the traditional contact centre.
More and more call centres will be brought back in-house, reintegrated under the flexibility of a cloud infrastructure to the benefit of not just the customer, but the business as a whole. The flexible working environment that can be established via the cloud will make recruitment an easier prospect as companies can step outside of their current geographies to access a larger talent pool that can work remotely. Cloud telephony solutions provide the flexibility and the check and balances needed to ensure a productive and efficient working environment and an enhanced calling experience for the customer.
About Sesui Ltd.:
Sesui is an award-winning provider of cloud contact management softwar. Established in 2003, we work with the public and private sector to tailor make cloud communications solutions, covering everything from virtual contact centres, Internet calling services and PCI DSS compliance, to caller insights and disaster recovery. We specialise in complex problem solving. Our Sesui Cloud Call Manager offers a range of customisable features, from basic NTS to everything needed to get a full-scale contact centre up and running within a matter of hours. In 2016 we became a proud recipient of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation, adding to a string of industry awards including Computing’s Cloud Excellence Award in 2017.
Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2017
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