Customer Service with Cloud Computing

“Push your business technology in to the cloud and get back to focusing on your core competencies” – Tom Cochran

The newest ‘weapon’ around that will help take your company’s customer service to unprecedented heights is the ‘cloud’. Cloud computing offers speed, flexibility to companies while offering customers a plethora of options with multi-channel service. For agents it provides easier access to whole set of complete and in context information allowing them to function at superlative levels. Managers have access to real-time information regarding the performance of the teams and the entire call center.

Customer expectations and engagement are changing rapidly and this is posing a serious challenge to companies in trying to figure how to service customers with the highest standards. Customers want to be served on their own terms across the life of their relationship with the company and companies have to comply. Being agile and formulating customer experience strategies is becoming critical in responding to this new trend that is fast taking root. A customer service strategy would be considered successful only if these criteria are met. To become successful and remain current, many organizations are jumping on the cloud-computing bandwagon. They are using cloud deployment models to power on their customer service and call center operations to effectively and swiftly manage customer engagement and experiences. This software helps them effectively manage customers across multi-channels in a cost effective way. Managing customer interactions across so many communication channels is otherwise a significant cost and requires constant monitoring. Cloud based software enables a company develop a unique customer centric culture that translates in to a sustainable competitive advantage. It allows an uninterrupted flow in the customer service processes. Cloud based software enables customer service through four critical stages – implementation, consolidating, optimizing and transforming.

Cloud computing is the new mantra for sending your customer service ‘to the clouds’ and cutting costs and ensuring ease and efficiency of operation. So what is cloud computing and how exactly does incorporating cloud based software and computing in to customer service help and what are the benefits:

Cloud computing is basically the capacity to merge multi applications to streamline office processes and operations. It makes it easier on people within the organization to collaborate and work in tandem. Many cloud based technology and software is available today and almost all can be tailor-made to suit the unique requirements and operating structure of the business. Cloud computing is cost effective as many applications are merged and are thus able to support the business needs of the company – for example the merged apps can support operations, finance and customer service – all these functions must collaborate for the smooth running of the business process. In customer service pertinently, cloud computing is extremely advantageous and companies are turning to this technology to raise the level of customer service:

– Consolidation of multi applications in to a single ‘cloud’ results in cost savings. The savings come from having lower maintenance costs, reduced power consumption and reduced cost of hosting multiple applications. Automation also means a reduced requirement of staff and faster processes and greater accuracy.
– Cloud computing makes access and use of applications easier and everyone in the organization can benefit. In customer service the teams can quickly learn the use and application of this new system which reduces the amount, time and expense required on training and managing many applications. Customer service staff has a high stress job and so whatever can be done to reduce the pressure always boosts morale – cloud computing helps therefore in positively impacting customer service staff to do a better job.
– Cloud computing also helps to increase the ability to work remotely and can be extended to a large number or the whole of the customer service department. This reduces the demand on office resources of space, power and other related resources.
– Since everyone is connected through a single application, it improves capability and collaboration between the ‘remote’ and ‘on-site’ customer service staff. The staff is able to provide quicker and better resolutions to customers thereby reducing the time for customers as well. They are able to get a resolution from one interaction rather than having to call back or wait for the team to revert.
– It serves to deliver a consistent level of customer service and customer experience across all the channels brought under the single ‘cloud’ raising customer satisfaction levels.
– It improves the quality of self-service portals for the customer who has better control over the troubleshooting or other processes.
– Customer service staff is constantly updated on customer interactions and receive information regarding a variety of customer information
– Staff learns a new technology and thus is able to increase productivity and incorporate the intuitive design to ramp up their skills and knowledge base
– Brings together and harnesses the knowledge and relevant information across all the organization and for all staff.
– Real-time information on staff performance provides solid base for improving service levels. Areas that are doing well can be strengthened and what is not working too well can be tweaked to improve.

The technology provided by cloud based customer support is finding its way in to companies rapidly due to being flexible, cost effectively and expandable. This has opened the field to many service providers as well who are offering a variety of packages but organizations need to take in to account factors that will improve service levels and productivity for them. A thorough check of the service provider’s ability to offer the solutions long term and also the effectiveness of each solution is a must. They should be able to provide packages that improve on current processes, raise levels of operation, support all the emergent mobile and social media channels and will help the company to deliver consistent customer service excellence. Customers are playing these tools to their advantage and are redefining their expectations of service levels and the interactions they have with companies. They are actively using the mobile devices available freely to access the services and interactive experiences provided by a company, be it for a query or a bigger troubleshooting problem.

Customers expect highly interactive and one time contact responses and also wants to receive highly customized service. Customers are completely engaged with and active on social media channels and are not reluctant to use them for sharing opinions, concerns, feedback and comments via these highly visible platforms and so it makes sense for companies to be connected and up to date with these and all channels. Just relying primarily on telephone support and interactions does not quite cut it now. If they do not engage via a wide variety of channels they are bound to lose their customers to their ever willing competitors. Cloud computing makes this syncing happen while saving costs, time and the need to have added man-force. Businesses can rapidly reach out to many customers and this provides a huge opportunity to provide the top of the line customer service and customer experiences.

Cloud computing is a company’s big chance to embrace advanced technology without having to wrack their brains about any elevated expenditure or capital expenses. These single cloud applications speeds up all applications and supports the integration of many communication channels without much hassle. It is obvious that companies must not only compare the cost model but also take into account their current technology, infrastructure and applications and what the cost would be to maintain the new technology. Their ability to incorporate this new technology would also depend on the ability of the current staff, training them to learn the new technology and or deploying staff from outside to manage it. They would need to understand the overall changes required and the revamp they need to do on their systems and technical staff currently employed.

As with any technology, there are some limitations of cloud computing but those are far outweighed by the benefits. Customers are willing to wait only as long as they know that it is for something better and far superior customer service.

“Investigate how cloud solutions can lead to improved availability, reliability and lower total cost of ownership, facilitating investing the savings back in to the business” – Kamesh Pemmaraju

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