Top Benefits of a Cloud-Based Contact Center
Building a cloud-based contact center with APIs delivers 10 major benefits. Learn how these benefits can take your customer experience to the next level.Check out Twilio Flex
Top Benefits of a Cloud-Based Contact Center
Most of the contact centers in operation today are running on old technology and call center software that can’t keep up with the way customers and businesses now communicate. A cloud-based contact center is a modern alternative to on-premise contact centers using the latest in communications technology. It offers many benefits to businesses who want to continually meet and exceed their customers’ expectations.
If your business still depends on legacy contact center technology, you’re likely feeling the pain of your system’s limitations. You may not be able to add new channels (such as SMS or Facebook Messenger) or easily update your phone menu. Perhaps you’ve adopted a cloud solution or two, but they remain siloed from the rest of your systems and can’t talk to each other. This is a frustrating position to be in. It’s hard to help customers when your technology works against you.
With the rise of communications APIs for contact centers, however, contact centers are finally evolving. Building a cloud-based contact center with APIs is easier and faster than ever. You can add new features and channels as you need, in far less time than it takes to write an RFP. This type of contact center is built with APIs — the software building blocks that are powering modern communications.
This approach delivers 10 major benefits:
1. Improve customer experience
All of the benefits of a cloud-based contact center ultimately come back to this all-important one: improving customer experience.
Let’s say your business runs an inbound contact center. Your customers are reaching out because they want something they can’t find on your website or app; perhaps they need tech support or want to place an order. Regardless of whether they contact your business by phone, in-app chat, or via a social channel, your customers expect to connect to someone who can help them right away.
If your customers get stuck waiting on hold, or worse, trapped in a never-ending IVR menu, what kind of customer experience do you think you’re delivering? This experience has a direct impact on your business’s bottom line. Twilio’s recent Customer Communications Report found that after a poor communication experience, 38% of customers will switch to a competitor or cancel orders or services, 66% will tell a friend about their experience, and 41% will stop doing business with the company altogether.
Of course, you would never create a bad customer experience on purpose. The constraints of a legacy contact center systems can make it difficult to keep up with evolving customer expectations. With APIs however, you can create an experience that anticipates your customers’ needs and provides top-notch service. You can gather data about your customers from multiple sources and provide a tailored and personalized experience every time.
2. Scale your contact center elastically
It’s natural for business needs to shift over time — you shouldn’t be constrained by your licenses and hardware. When you build a contact center using APIs, you can simply scale up or down with no penalties as your needs and use cases fluctuate. Ready to connect with your customers in new ways, such as in-app chat or video? Adding more agents to your contact center? Because APIs scale automatically, you’re in control of creating the customer experiences you need to stay competitive. And you can do so with little to no telecommunications knowledge.
As your contact center changes over time, simply adjust—in real time—without worrying about capacity and hardware planning. And since APIs are structured on a pay-as-you-go model, you can grow flexibly with technology that scales with your business, without the risk of oversubscription charges.
3. Add communications channels easily
Digital technologies have changed communication styles. The majority of your customers would prefer to connect with your business in other ways besides the telephone. In fact, research shows that nine out of ten users worldwide want to use text messaging to talk to businesses. With API-based contact center software, you don’t need to replace your whole system in order to add new channels like SMS/MMS or social messaging apps. Since APIs work like building blocks, you can add new channels to your existing contact center with ease.
For example, when web-based chat is an option for your customers, they are connected directly from your app or website to an agent in your contact center. The agent receives context from the customer’s interactions in the app to help provide better customer service. Similarly, there are times when face-to-face conversations are better, such as for identity verification, content sharing, or visual problem resolution. That’s when you may want to add video to your channels of communication.
4. Frequent iteration
Great customer experiences are not built in a day. Chances are, your customers’ needs and desires will always be changing and evolving. To provide an ongoing superior customer experience, you need to experiment, gather customer feedback, look at the metrics that make sense for your company, roll back the things that didn't work, and keep the things that did work. Ideally, you should test and measure the components of your contact center just like you do with your webpage or mobile app.
According to Hubspot, most companies redesign their websites every six months to two years. That’s an entire redesign, above and beyond all the copy updates and new webpages added even more frequently. Similarly, the most popular mobile apps get updated every 30 days or so, according to mobile intelligence platform Sensor Tower. Businesses with complex legacy ecosystems can’t treat their contact centers the same way, however, because it often takes months of meetings, expensive consultants, RFPs, and negotiations to make any changes.
However, with a modern contact center built on APIs, it’s easy to use analytics to track, measure, and iterate so you can constantly improve the customer experience.
5. Global reach
When you expand your reach to multiple countries and regions, cloud-based communications provides a deep local inventory of numbers and unrivaled reliability through global carrier connectivity. This allows you to skip the contract negotiations with carriers in every country in which you do business. Because APIs are based in the cloud, you can get instant multi-region connectivity and on-demand phone numbers from one platform. This global infrastructure lets you provide a local experience from anywhere in the world.
With Twilio APIs, you can expand globally with instantly provisionable Twilio phone numbers in a growing number of countries worldwide (currently more than 100). You can add new country coverage in seconds, without requiring codebase changes, carrier negotiations, or dealing with the quirks of global connectivity.
Getting numbers in each locale is just the beginning of what you can do with Twilio. Twilio offers unique localization features so you can also go global with your calling and messaging apps and send messages in whatever language your users speak.
6. Increased reliability
Because they aggregate the requirements of tens of thousands of customers, cloud-based contact centers offer greater reliability than what most can afford to implement independently. By moving your communications out of legacy premise systems and into the realm of APIs, you can expect uptime that exceeds the 99.99% SLA. That means the cloud platform is only down, on average, less than 0.01% of the time (under one hour per year).
Since modern contact center APIs are cloud-based, they connect calls through carriers worldwide using geographically-distributed data centers around the world. Calls are optimally routed to reduce latency and provide the highest quality experience. This level of reliability is difficult to find in premise-based call center systems.
7. Cost control
That all sounds good, you might be thinking, but how much is this going to cost? With all of these benefits, surely APIs must be the most expensive contact center option out there, right?
Actually, it’s the opposite. By moving communications out of hardware and into the realm of cloud-based software, you can create a multichannel contact center with only a modest investment. Most customers tell us they experience significant cost savings by switching their existing on-premise infrastructure to Twilio APIs.
Without compromising quality, you can prototype, build, deploy, and rapidly iterate, improving with each cycle. Twilio APIs integrate with your current CRM, contact center infrastructure, and existing channels. Rather than enforcing a set of certified applications and relying solely on in-house developers for innovation, Twilio draws on a vast pool of developers in the wider community, who are constantly building their own solutions and sharing the code with other Twilio users. Armed with this knowledge, your in-house team can build, integrate, and test with little or no impact on your operating budget.
8. Intelligent routing
When there’s a queue of customers waiting on the line to be served, most businesses agree: getting those customers connected to the right agent as quickly as possible is a high priority. In an inbound contact center built with APIs, intelligent routing allows you to connect your customers to the right agent faster. Attribute-based routing assesses the needs and context of each caller and connects them to the most qualified agent available with the skills to address those needs. Priority-based routing lets you elevate the most important callers to the front of the queue.
Twilio’s TaskRouter is an example of an intelligent omnichannel routing API, for calls as well as other channels of communication, such as SMS messages, or interactions from any other system such as email. When your contact center software offers intelligent routing, customers not only have their needs met quickly, they have an overall better experience. You can also use routing intelligence to offer customers additional ways to receive service. Adding support channels such as SMS, chat, and video to existing IVR call flows gives your customers more ways to have a great experience. Natural language understanding transforms conversational dialogue into structured data, and provides another way to add context and improve your routing intelligence when you’re building with APIs.
Intelligent routing isn’t just beneficial for your customers. It also increases agent productivity by ensuring that agents are working on the right task at the right time, instead of prioritizing less urgent tasks or working on tasks that they aren’t suited for.
9. Reporting and analytics
One of the most important aspects of a contact center is the ability to gather information about your customers. It would be a shame to spend so much time and money connecting with your customers without using the data you collect from them to improve your business.
Do you know who is calling you and why? Are they responding to a marketing campaign that’s working? Are they unhappy about a product glitch you didn’t know about? With the right call tracking and analytics, you can keep track of incoming and outgoing calls, measure the value of marketing spend, compile information about call times and agent performance, and much more.
When your contact center software is built on APIs, it’s easy to use analytics to track, measure, and iterate so you can constantly improve the customer experience. You can provide your agents with analytics reports from all your channels and data sources that they can act on immediately. With a data rich dashboard, you can easily monitor metrics like call times, satisfaction ratings, and average wait times. You can also generate historical reports, track marketing campaigns, gauge department performance, and more, then use the data to constantly improve your offering.
10. Control your roadmap
Just like the first benefit listed in this article—improve customer experience—is the motivating factor behind the other nine benefits, all of the benefits I’ve described have one underlying theme in common: When you implement your contact center with APIs, you control your own roadmap. When you build your call center with communication building blocks, you have the freedom to build the exact customer experience you want with the specific capabilities you need. You aren’t locked in to a vendor’s limited roadmap or restricted by the abilities of telecommunications hardware.
As you’ve seen, you can scale up or down as needed, add channels easily, iterate as frequently as you like, expand globally, depend on your contact center’s reliability, route customers intelligently, and continually improve based on data and analytics. Because building your own contact center with APIs is so simple, you can start right away, in the web languages you already use. Building your own contact center with communication building blocks, like APIs from Twilio, is as easy as setting up an account, modifying an open-source quickstart,pressing "run" on your prototype. There’s no expensive setup fees or licensing costs — you only pay for what you use.
Utilize These Cloud-Based Contact Center Benefits
Now that you know the 10 top benefits of a cloud-based contact center, you may be wondering where you can find them all in one place. You may be surprised by how easy it is to build your contact center infrastructure yourself using programmable APIs. There's also a new option on the market: the programmable contact center platform. This contact center is instantly deployable out of the box and programmable at every layer of the stack.
The classic contact center model is based on inflexible and proprietary platforms. When you’re limited in that type of system, you can’t respond to disruptive changes in consumer behavior. With modern cloud-based APIs, you can build new applications to solve your communication needs. Or you can simply augment your existing solution with an application to extend the life and value of your existing investments.
You can also take a migratory path. If you are running an existing contact center system and want to take your time making the switch, building with APIs lets you migrate your current infrastructure one case or application at a time, without disrupting your existing business.
Free Download: DMG's Market Report
Every year, DMG Consulting releases their Cloud-Based Contact Center Infrastructure Market Report with in-depth information on this fast-growing market. In the 2017-2018 report, Twilio was estimated as the second largest cloud-based contact center infrastructure vendor based on number of customers, and the third largest based on seats.
DMG’s report simplifies the criteria to consider when evaluating contact center options and provides an in-depth look at the current top 12 companies leading the market. We’re offering a free download of key sections from this report here.
Sign up for a demo of Flex and learn how to run a fully programmable enterprise contact center out of the box, without deciding between build or buy.