The recent BCStrategies podcast where my colleagues discussed the advantages and disadvantages of moving one’s Customer Engagement Center (CEC) to the cloud is a “must listen.”
Note: I use CEC as a term of art because it better describes why the customer experience (CX) is much more than mere contact. “Contact”implies this is sport or some type of combat. As we all know, with CX now a top priority and those with CX in their title now the fastest growing C-level position globally, this is very serious business. It is about trust and redrawing the lines of buyer/seller relationships to be partnerships instead of adversarial.
Unfortunately, I was unable to be part of the podcast. The short version of the reason is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) informed me that my social security number and address were stolen and they had flagged an attempt to claim my benefits as fraudulent. Fortunately, not stolen or gained by the bad actors were my correct email and phone number. I will not bore everyone with the details. What I can relate is that establishing I am who I am (had to be done in person with documentation). In addition, the task of validating that I did not authorize a claim was illuminating and exhausting. What I can also say is the SSA and LifeLock (my third-party identity guard services) provide great customer experiences. I cannot say the same for credit validation company Experian. The latter’s IVR prompts and agent scripts need work. However, I digress.
As to the issue at hand on if an enterprise should stick with its premises-based CEC solution or move to the cloud, there is an old saying that seems appropriate. It goes as follows, “where one stands depends on where on sat,” or as several BCStrategies experts noted, “IT DEPENDS!”
All of the major premises-based CEC providers have done a reasonably good job of incorporating new features and functionality into their products, offer a cloud-based solution themselves, and accommodate “hybrid”solutions for those not anxious for a major forklift and/or have unique strategic business, governance, and other challenges. This is why “it depends” is the key consideration. The business cases for what makes the most sense now and over the longer term have a lot of moving parts to think about.
What does it depend on? Great question! It is more complicated than whether to own or lease systems, people and processes.
Just a few of the obvious, and maybe not so obvious, issues facing those with responsibilities for CECs follow. IT DEPENDS on:
- Who your vendor is and how you feel about their products, services, support and costs.
- Where in the lifecycle of a legacy solution you are; your comfort level with vendor roadmaps on critical functionality given your unique operational, financial and other constraints. You need specifics on what, when, where, how and for how much can and will be supported. The “where” should not be under-estimated, and neither should specifics on integrations with CRM, HCRM, and a host of other “mission critical” databases and processes that involve CX.
- The geographic dispersal of your workforce as it pertains to organization policies about remote vs. onsite supervision and training of employees.
- Corporate governance rules about where data can be stored, who has access and what levels of security are involved with handling data, customers and customer confidential data.
- Who controls the CEC budget is key in our era where marketing and not IT has majority budget control, and where CECs are core data hubs for all things CX. This includes external structured and unstructured data for enhanced customer profiling (aka “extreme vetting”).
- What will constitute “success” and which metrics will be used to determine it under the broad context of the equation people + products and services+ processes=performance.
As noted this is just the short list. When one gets in the true weeds of CEC digital transformations—particularly as it relates to things like introduction of innovations (AI, AR, IoT), security, attracting and retaining or outsourcing customer contact employees, security, and responsibilities for outbound versus inbound engagements, etc.—the list gets really long.
That said, just because your list is long is not cause for alarm. Indeed, putting together such a list should be viewed as a tool for engaging your organization to develop a longer-term holistic strategy and game plan for optimizing customer engagement. It means obtaining agreement from all internal stakeholders on roles, accountabilities as well as responsibilities on how to optimize the customer experience including the critical part of “sweating the assets” appropriately based on business objectives.
When, where, how, what and why should or should not be premise or cloud-based really does depend. What it most depends on is getting the analysis right, having detailed plans and C-level buy-in. This will enable you to stand tall regardless of where you sat.
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