Cloudy outlook is clearing for customer service

Cloud computingCustomer expectations driving contact centres to the cloud, but protection of customer data is still a universal concern, finds new research.

The complex web of how we interact with the companies we buy from could be untangling, as a new survey from Aspect Software finds that more than three quarters (76 per cent) of contact centres in the UK intend to use at least one cloud-based service before the end of 2015.

According to Aspect’s study, which surveyed* the opinions of senior customer service professionals with at least one contact centre site located within the UK, more than 2 in 5 contact centres (41 per cent) already use at least one application or tool based in the cloud. A further 35 per cent have plans to introduce at least one cloud service in the next 12 months.

37 per cent and 24 per cent of respondents respectively named scalability and flexibility as the single biggest benefits of using cloud services in the contact centre. The results parallel findings from the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) earlier this year, in its report The Normalisation of Cloud in a Hybrid IT Market, which found that flexibility is cited by decision makers in all industries as the primary reason for adopting cloud services more often than any other (17 per cent), with scalability more frequently in the short list of all drivers (65 per cent).

aspect.kieron.dalton.image.2014Keiron Dalton, Director of Cloud Solutions EA at Aspect, commented on the key findings: “The industry is historically slow with adopting cloud compared to many other market sectors. It is still behind the CIF’s average of 78 per cent current adoption rates of at least one cloud-based service. The customer service industry is over a barrel.

“Their life is in their pocket: the notion of ‘anywhere, any how, any time’ has always been threatening to take over customer service initiatives but now more so than ever. The industry is recognising the crucial need to embrace cloud computing’s flexibility and scalability to meet these sky-high expectations of a quick, satisfactory resolution, with – most importantly – 100 per cent consistency between channels, whether that’s on the phone to a live agent, or sending a quick tweet. Adapted from the retail technology model, this omni-channel strategy can only be harnessed via the cloud, but it’s the way the industry is moving, and very quickly,” added Dalton.

The survey also found that almost half of the respondents (47 per cent) felt that using cloud technology would definitely improve the customer perception of their brand, including appearing “forward thinking”. Asked if they felt that cloud adoption would make customer service “better”, 61 per cent agreed that it would; only four per cent felt it would hinder the customer experience in this way.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM), a strategic and technological facet of customer engagement, was cited as one of the “most pervasive” applications by CIF in terms of 2014 cloud adoption trends, however, concerns over putting the contact centre in the cloud echo those of other sectors, as security was the most often cited source for stopping its use. 37 per cent of customer service professionals claimed “security concerns” outright was the main roadblock, whereas adding the second biggest concern in “lack of trust in the cloud”, and a fear of customer data leaving on-premises systems brings data protection concerns to over half of respondents, at 55 per cent. additional information See Aspect’s Company Profile and Aspect’s Blog

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