Business Continuity and the Cloud
New Urgency Drives Adoption
Perspective from the Field
By Frank Tersigni, Chief Customer Officer
We’ve been busier than usual for the past few months. Like all other businesses, our customers across North America had to react swiftly in March to safeguard employees. They sent home everyone they could including contact center agents. We geared up to help ensure continuity for contact center and similar customer-facing operations. Contact center and associated technologies are our specialty.
Contact centers are among the most critical functions within an enterprise because they deal directly with customers. The successful move to remote work and distributed operations that these contact centers made is a good model for the rest of the organization.
Business Continuity in Times of Workforce Disruption
In my role as Chief Customer Officer, I get to speak with CIOs and other executives across a wide sweep of companies. Business continuity and disaster recovery planning has always been a topic of keen interest. However, the focus of most plans has been on physical infrastructure failures rather than what we face with COVID-19—workforce disruption.
Thankfully, many businesses have been able to switch to a remote work model. This switch was largely improvised as a stop gap measure. However, it is increasingly clear that remote work is viable for the long term and desirable for many situations.
I think we will see reduced rigidity around schedules, rapid adoption of distance learning, uptick in videoconferencing, and a mix of part-time, full-time and freelance workers across organizations. There will be more interest in AI-enabled technologies and self-service applications. These are all changes that the gig economy was starting to drive. COVID-19 has forced a heavy foot on the accelerator to ensure business continuity.
Taking Care of Business…from Home
The first and most urgent action our customers needed was to get their agents remote. Virtually all major contact center software vendors stepped up to the plate, offering free interim licensing. We offer free services to help our customers get remote and continue serving their customers. It is a positive, feel good story from that perspective.
We at Altivon have been entirely virtual for about a decade. We have no brick and mortar office. That change allows us to hire and retain the best talent no matter where they live. It enables greater schedule flexibility and employee morale. We leverage contact center software and team-oriented tools to stay connected with our customers and our teammates. Our experience with work at home has certainly come in handy as our customers jumped in with both feet.
Increasing Capacity for Surge Demand
The second big action many of our customers needed was increased capacity to meet rogue waves of demand. Customers in certain industries have surges that go beyond what they were already set up for from a maximum capacity perspective.
For many of these customers we are setting up brand new cloud deployments to handle additional demand. These deployments have been a mix of information-based messaging, call diversion, and call containment (where self-service functions can substitute for agent involvement).
Our partner Genesys and others have stepped up to the table with licenses and deployed them in literally 48 hours on a no-charge basis. For example, City of Helsinki wanted to set up an information line for their population over 70 years old. They were able to get that done, literally, in about eight hours, and up and running, and taking calls. It was an astonishing response.
The move to the cloud was certainly accelerated for many out of necessity. Cloud architectures can get up and running quickly, flex with demand, and serve agents distributed between homes and offices.
Cloud Contact Centers Lead the Way in Innovation
Cloud is the big overarching trend across the entire spectrum of technology, quite frankly. But I will admit I was a bit of a naysayer. I'm old enough to remember constructs like Centrex and the old IBM mainframe service bureaus, where those were, essentially, early forms of cloud.
I think the lightbulb went on for me when I understood the essential difference between those older approaches and the cloud today. Simply put, new cloud architectures enable rapid adoption of rapid innovation.
The ability to consume innovation in almost real time—that's a game changer. The long wait for software releases and IT evaluation are over. With the cloud, businesses can consume functionality on an as-needed basis, shortening time to value. We think that is a trend to stay.
Hyper-Personalization and Business Acceleration
Cloud software itself is easy to deploy. All of the infrastructure components are eliminated from project timelines. I’m really excited about the possibilities for fine-tuning operations for both better customer experience and improved business outcomes.
In the past, a tremendous amount of energy was spent by IT departments and system integrators on setting up and maintaining premise-based systems. Now with the cloud, much of that work has been offloaded. As a result, there is more opportunity to tune the system for the needs of each business and its customers. Our role is to help our customers take advantage of continuous innovation.
Artificial Intelligence Facilitates New Interactions
There is certainly lots of talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI). There are also plenty of misconceptions. People often think about AI as a tool for self-service such as bots, chat bots, and voice bots. In the same way that Amazon and Google have impacted the home voice assistant world, these bots are impacting the self-service world in a very positive way.
Many are beginning to see AI as a fundamental enabling technology. It accelerates decisions. So, every decision point is an opportunity for AI.
In the contact center, AI can make true personalization a reality. This experience-as-a-service meets each customer in the moment and time of interaction. That is what is going to be required to deliver trust and true loyalty.
Personalization requires data and strong analytics that spot trends, both on a macro level and an individual level. Personalization leads to predictive engagement (understanding what the customer wants next) and predictive routing (understanding where to send the customer next). AI and analytics both require incredible computing power, which is available in the cloud.
A Truly Engaged Workforce
One of the big lessons coming out of the pandemic is that business success depends on both customers and employees. I expect there will be renewed attention on workforce engagement, and contact center agent engagement in particular.
Workforce engagement is a hot area for contact center technology research and development. There is a lot left to learn. We at Altivon know from experience that team cohesion, morale, and good business outcomes stem from processes and technologies designed for engagement.
Keep Moving, But Look Both Ways
People are trying to run their businesses while trying to consume the great functionality that technologists are trying to deliver to them, and it is hard work.
Our goal is to help our customers consume innovation without being swept away by it. After all, when you live at the corner of complexity and velocity, it is best to look both ways before stepping off the curb.
Every year, Genesys® delivers more than 70 billion remarkable customer experiences for organizations in over 100 countries. Through the power of the cloud and AI, our technology connects every customer moment across marketing, sales and service on any channel, while also improving employee experiences. Genesys pioneered Experience as a Service℠ so organizations of any size can provide true personalization at scale, interact with empathy, and foster customer trust and loyalty. This is enabled by Genesys Cloud™, an all-in-one solution and the world's leading public cloud contact center platform, designed for rapid innovation, scalability and flexibility.
Altivon designs and implements Genesys-based contact center solutions across North America. Leverage our more than 25 years of experience to deliver great customer experience, increase employee engagement, and enhance business outcomes.
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