As we enter into the “era of the cloud,” many new services are emerging using this unified and remote technology. Other than cloud storage and back-up, we are starting to see other business solutions such as cloud contact centers appear.
A cloud contact center is a facility that a company may use to manage its client contacts. These centers use a variety of communication methods, such as online chat, email, fax, letter, and telephone, whereas call centers only correspond with clients by telephone. The need to recruit employees for contact centers is growing rapidly as the capabilities and the ease of implementation of these facilities increase. The areas where a contact center can be of greatest benefit to the company include: telemarketing, lead generation, claims processing, shipping support and customer support. These benefits are highlighted below.
Those unfamiliar with the term may think of contact centers as merely a customer service department (the difference explained). However, businesses actually use these outsourcing services for a variety of solutions for their staffing needs. Modern businesses are frequently at their maximum capacity for providing customer service and other functions that require communication with large numbers of end consumers. Contact centers allow these businesses to exceed their own limits for contacting customers, especially in areas such as billing, marketing, procurement and sales.
Telemarketing is a method of directly marketing to end consumers that is also known as “telesales” in the United Kingdom. It generally involves a salesperson soliciting prospective customers over the phone to buy a client’s products or services. The immediate objective of telemarketing is usually to convince the customer to participate in subsequent contact with the client, which may occur over the phone, in person or via a web conference. Business professionals often view this marketing technique as obsolete, although a cloud contact center may still be able to use telemarketing to increase sales. With the cloud, telemarketers may perform this function from any location.
Lead generation is a specific type of marketing that attempts to obtain contact information for the purpose of making a sale in the future. Cloud contact centers often perform this service for businesses that specialize in lead generation as well as those who sell products and services to end consumers. Lead generation can help a business improve its sales by initially identifying potential buyers, then later contacting them to make the actual purchase.
Claims processing generally refer to the practice of collecting unpaid debts on products and services that the customer has already received. Third parties such as cloud contact centers often perform this function, although they were not a party in the original contract. The creditor typically assigns accounts to the contact center on a contingency-fee basis, meaning that the contact center collects a percentage of the recovered debt, commonly known as the pot fee. Claims processing is an economical use of contact centers because it usually doesn’t cost the creditor anything beyond the communication costs, which are typically very low.
A service level agreement provides the specific terms between the creditor and contact center. The contact center does not necessarily need to collect the full balance of the debt to receive the pot fee. The SLA may specify that creditors must pay this fee even if they cancel their collection effort before collecting the debt, a practice commonly known as “no collection – no fee.” The need to follow up on an unsettled debt is a common reason for using a cloud contact center, although this requirement can detract a company from focusing on its core business. Cloud contact centers are typically well qualified to perform claims processing.
Businesses that produce a physical product must deal with shipping that product to the customer. This requirement creates the possibility of delayed shipments and customers needing to know the status of their order. Cloud contact centers are becoming a popular method of performing shipping support since performing this task in-house often requires a dedicated staff since the best shipper for each order can change rapidly. Contact centers generally use the concept of “best way” to select the shipper, meeting that they choose the shipper for each order, rather than requiring the client specify the shipper. The best shipper may be the one offering the lowest rate, but contact centers must also consider other factors such as transit time and insurance rates.
Customer support typically involves answering technical questions from customers and assisting them in using a product. It’s an especially common requirement of businesses in the computing, electronics and telecommunications industries. Businesses that perform services such as banking and utilities also have large requirements for customers support, as these businesses must regularly answer customer questions on accounts and payments. Cloud contact centers may also handle customer complaints and execute strategies to retain the satisfied customers.
Cloud contact centers are home to some of the most commonly outsourced services in the world. Businesses from many sectors such as banking, logistics and retail can benefit from these cloud services. The primary benefit of a cloud contact center is to allow clients to concentrate on their core business, giving the contact center the responsibility to perform functions that may lie outside the client’s area of expertise.
About the author: Zack Kirchin is the editor for the technology blog The Tech Fortress. Zack aims to provide the readers of The Tech Fortress with insight on new technology and security through off-beat observations of why this new tech is worth talking about. Follow Zack and The Tech Fortress on Twitter and Google +.