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Cloud contact center benefits include simplicity, integrations

More organizations are putting their contact center in the cloud to simplify and integrate their agent communications. But other organizations are taking a hybrid approach.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Coca-Cola Co.'s contact center configuration was like stir-fry. At least that's what it looked like to Glenn Gemmill, vice president of the beverage company's customer care center.

"We threw in ingredients over time and ended up with a pot of stuff," he said. That "pot of stuff" consisted of contact center services from multiple vendors, including Cisco, NICE and Avaya. The company had overlapping features in its North American contact centers, which include five sites and 1,600 agents who field calls for various departments, such as HR, equipment service calls and customer sales.

Coca-Cola, based in Atlanta, needed to revamp its on-premises contact center if it wanted to achieve its business goals of refranchising the North American market share by the end of 2017, as it expanded its ownership in the bottling market.

"We knew, as a contact center organization, that was going to put a lot more demand on us as a centralized service now trying to support a very diverse and empowered bottling and franchise system," Gemmill said.

Its on-premises contact center configuration, however, was unwieldy, with limited integration across the contact center suite, which made it difficult to update and expensive to maintain, he said.

To create a contact center model that was simpler, offered better integrations and reduced costs, Coca-Cola turned to a cloud contact center deployment.

"We wanted to be more flexible and scalable with current apps and as we add new apps," Gemmill said. Coca-Cola consolidated to a single cloud contact center vendor, Genesys, and deployed new capabilities, such as workforce management, quality management and call recording. Since the migration, Coca-Cola has felt cloud contact center benefits, including reducing its contact center operating expenditures by 50%, he said.

Growing trend toward cloud contact center

According to MZA Ltd., a business communications advisory firm based in the U.K., the global contact-center-as-a-service market is seeing 21% year-over-year growth.

For most organizations making cloud contact center deployments, they find the cloud future-proofs their technology infrastructure and enables omnichannel capabilities through integrated platforms, said Sheila McGee-Smith, principal analyst of McGee-Smith Analytics in Amherst, N.H.

A seamless integration between platforms was a driver for Inogen, a respiratory product provider based in Goleta, Calif. Inogen has three large offices, with 350 internal and 18 external sales workers. The company needed to break down collaboration silos and get employees working from the same system for customer relationship management (CRM) and telephony, said Julie Bobbitt, sales manager at Inogen, at an Enterprise Connect panel discussion of organizations that upgraded their contact centers.

She said Inogen chose Salesforce for CRM and NewVoiceMedia for telephony and launched the new contact center in July 2017. The integration between the two platforms has benefited the company.

"End users have no reason to differentiate the two; they see it as one platform," she said. The integration offers additional cloud contact center benefits, such as flexibility and the ability to scale the contact center as the company grows.

Taking a hybrid approach to contact center in the cloud

Not all organizations upgrading their contact centers will immediately go all-cloud. One-third of organizations evaluating the cloud plan to have a hybrid contact center deployment, McGee-Smith said. While organizations may not move everything to the cloud initially, they will be cloud-focused as they grow and move forward.

Mercy, a Catholic nonprofit health systems network that includes 44 hospitals and 350 outpatient facilities, needed to update its contact center platform when it launched a virtual care service in 2015. Mercy maintains its own on-premises data center built on Cisco, but operates some cloud services such as CRM, said Edmund Siy, vice president of business transformation at the nonprofit, based in Chesterfield, Mo.

"As we look forward, we have to look at cloud," Siy said. "We're patient-first, but we also have to extend our capabilities to other organizations."

Mercy's virtual care center is a four-story building in St. Louis that houses its telemedicine services, including virtual hospitalists, home monitoring and telestroke. The virtual care center also has partnerships to provide telemedicine services to healthcare organizations, including Penn State Health and University of North Carolina Health.

Siy said Mercy's contact center is the glue for its virtual care offerings. 

"At the end of the day, our goal is this frictionless, seamless experience whether you access us via phone, website or mobile app," he said.

This was last published in March 2018

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