Call Centres head into the cloud, says Siemens

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Britain’s contact centres are harnessing cloud computing and a series of multi-channel innovations to further boost customer service, cost savings and overall flexibility, says new research commissioned by Siemens Enterprise Communications, a premier provider of enterprise communications.

The survey, carried out last week, also showed that most organisations are already using or planning to use Cloud Computing platforms as a practical strategy for achieving more flexible and scalable service operations.

Researchers interviewed 103 IT directors and contact centre managers at a range of private and public sector organisations at the event. The findings provide a snapshot of the way they are driving service improvements, the type of technologies they use to achieve them and their future prospects.

The key findings were:

Nearly one third (31% of respondents) saw multi-channel service as the biggest contact centre trend followed by one fifth (21%) viewing Cloud Computing as the top market shifter

A clear majority (71%) were either using or planning to use Cloud computing platforms

Nearly half are integrating social media channels into operations – the most popular was Facebook (45%), Twitter (44%) and LinkedIn (21%)

Over half (56%) saw cost savings as the key benefits that the Cloud delivered while 42% named fast deployment as its main advantage

Over half of those questioned said social media gave them another customer communication route while 22% said it support their brand’s reputation

More contact centres are refining their customer service by integrating social media channels compared with last year. Nearly half of firms (45% for Facebook,44% for Twitter) have brought social media into daily operations. In the 2010 survey, fewer than one fifth of those questioned (17%) said they had brought some form of social media into call centre operations.

In addition, investment in Cloud computing is already yielding important cost and operational flexibility gains. Over half (56%) of interviewees said that cost savings was the platform’s key benefit, while another 42% see fast deployment as the technology’s top benefit. A further 16% say that the Cloud’s key advantage is providing support for remote workers and additional sites.

Despite their commitment to improvement, contact centre bosses still face tough demands. Asked to name their top challenge, one fifth of interviewees (20%) said integrating multiple channels followed jointly by customer service and improving first call resolution (both 19%).

The survey comes after Siemens Enterprise Communications has recognised the increasing demand for cloud computing and the requirement for broader resourcing options with its introduction of OpenScape Cloud Contact Center services at Call centre Expo. The new offering simplifies the agent interface, streamlines contact centre management and improves the customer experience at a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) than premises-based solutions.

Kathryn Penn, UK Contact Centre Portfolio Manager, Siemens Enterprise Communications, commented: “The survey shows how Britain’s contact centres, undeterred by the current financial climate, are continually innovating to drive higher customer satisfaction levels. It’s impressive that they are not only harnessing new ways to interact with customers and answer their queries more quickly, they are also achieving clear cost savings when they do.”