Should SMBs Have Their Heads in the Cloud?


Wayne Lockhart, Sr. Product ManagerFor many years, the customer contact landscape could be divided into three segments: large companies with the resources to invest in on-premise solutions; start-ups whose operations didn’t warrant a call center; and small and midsize businesses (SMBs). These growing enterprises were often caught in the middle: they had significant call volumes but weren’t large enough to establish in-house operations. As a result, many companies had to outsource their contact center operations to third parties.

Cut to today, when the promise of cloud-based solutions encompasses a wide range of systems and applications. Recent research from Frost & Sullivan indicates that many contact center organizations are turning to cloud-based solutions for a wide range of systems and applications:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Automatic call distributors (ACDs)
  • Interactive voice response (IVR)
  • Chat, social media, and mobile contact
  • Outbound/proactive customer contact
  • Quality monitoring
  • Workforce management
  • Data analytics

Cloud solutions can provide SMBs with much-needed flexibility, both from a cost standpoint and an ability to scale as a company grows. In addition, cloud-based contact center solutions deliver a range of benefits that enable SMBs to:

  • Present an enterprise-class service face to the customer marketplace. The wide range of available hosted solutions and the flexible scalability of hosting effectively levels the service landscape among companies of different sizes.
  • Acquire quality monitoring and analytics tools. Cloud hosting allows more companies—not just those that can afford to buy the application outright—to integrate these tools in order to improve customer and employee satisfaction.
  • Raise the service quotient at lower price points for advanced services. By enabling better service delivery, the cloud effectively ratchets up the competition within vertical sectors to provide better service.
  • Support new contact channels such as chat, social media, and mobile devices. At many SMBs, the onus for driving these initiatives falls squarely on the contact center. Hosting provides a lower-risk way of adding support for social media, customer portals and communities, and proactive customer contact without monopolizing in-house IT resources.
  • Boost agent efficiency and support staffing efforts. The cloud model allows SMBs to manage on-site and remote agents cost-effectively, including at-home agents or experts who can be added dynamically to customer interactions.

Compared with large companies, SMBs are more flexible, open to change, and closer to their customers—all traits that make them well positioned to capture the value in cloud-based applications. At a time when agility has become a crucial component of winning strategy and execution, the cloud offers SMBs a direct, affordable path to enhanced capabilities.