Customers are a crucial aspect of a business's success, so it's important to continually improve your customer experience. Excellent customer service builds trust and lets you form relationships with your customers, which keeps them coming back again and again.
A Contact Center as a Service platform, or CCaaS, can assist your company in providing the best customer service experience possible. In this post, we'll dive into how CCaaS platforms can benefit your business and improve customer satisfaction.
What is CCaaS?
CCaaS — or Contact Center as a Service — is a cloud-based customer service and support tool designed to improve customer experience. It includes a virtual phone system that exists by migrating contact center software to the cloud, eliminating the need for traditional desk phones. It works across multiple channels with no need for agents to be housed at a specific location anymore.
For years, traditional contact centers have worked hard to provide the best customer service possible, but it was not uncommon to miss the mark. As the world and technology change, so do customer expectations. Traditional contact centers no longer meet customer service needs.
With new technology and knowledge of changing expectations, CCaaS platforms were born. These platforms address the three main elements of customer service:
- Customer satisfaction through fast responses and successful problem-solving
- Performance of the agents in direct contact with those customers
- Business tools to analyze activity and help agents succeed at their jobs
With features like support for different channels, reduced wait times, better access to data, and more, a CCaaS platform allows businesses and agents to increase customer satisfaction.
Features of an Effective CCaaS Platform
CCaaS platforms provide many benefits to businesses and their customers. While different platforms vary in their specific features and approaches, some of the most standard features include:
1. Digital Resources
A downfall of traditional contact centers is the need for multiple resources to get a job done. Often, operating such a legacy call center would mean having a different piece of hardware or software for nearly every task.
Call center agents would often have to move between several resources to take care of the customer, leading to frustration for both the agent and the customer, who was left waiting for long periods of time.
CCaaS platforms operate with a single resource approach. Agents need nothing more than the app, on desktop or mobile devices, and the system does not require any additional hardware or software to run. CCaaS allows them to work across any channel from any device in any location.
2. AI-powered Conversations
Top CCaaS platforms utilize technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to provide real-time insights during a call. For example, live transcriptions help agents better focus on the person at the line rather than taking notes. If a customer calls to complain about an issue, agents can automatically receive in-call assistance to understand what to say to save at-risk calls and improve customer retention.
3. Substantial Savings
With a CCaaS platform, you only pay for what you need and know upfront how much that will cost (based on the size of your organization), making it easy to add to your budget. You can also scale CCaaS in just minutes to meet your needs as they change.
A major cost-saving factor of CCaaS is that there is no expensive hardware to pay for. You also don't have to worry about upgrading or replacing your software or hardware if they become obsolete and are replaced with newer technology. Software in the cloud is continuously upgraded over time to eliminate obsolescence.
CCaaS enables agents to work from anywhere and get better guidance and information during their calls, which translates to higher employee satisfaction and retention rate. Happier agents lead to a better customer experience, and an improved customer satisfaction level means retaining customers longer and more successful interactions created between the agent and the customer.
Other cost-saving benefits include:
- Reduction in downtime due to better reliability and the lack of hardware and software maintenance
- Decrease in IT staffing as the process is more efficient and requires fewer "hands on deck" to keep things running
- No expensive upfront investments for hardware and data centers
4. Contact Center Performance Monitoring
CCaaS platforms make it easy to collect essential performance data through practical analytical reports and insights. These reports include data about call volume, hold times, agent performance, and call resolution times. Your business can use this information later to make necessary improvements to processes and products.
Supervisors can also monitor this activity live. If necessary, they can then step in, provide assistance for difficult calls, redirect traffic to help meet the current volume and skills required.
5. Seamless Integration and Data Collection
Each time an agent interacts with a customer, data is collected (assuming compliance with applicable privacy laws) to help your company learn more about your customer base, their needs, and wants. Demographic information and other data points can provide invaluable insight to your business, as well as insight on product or customer success.
Unlike the past siloed systems, all of the data collected on your customers is kept in the cloud. Anyone interacting with a particular customer can see the data pertaining to them in order to serve them better.
6. Valuable Data for Training, Products, and Services
The data that CCaaS gathers about customers is comprehensive and can help an organization grow stronger. Training can be updated as new issues arise or as weak points are spotted. New products and services can be created to provide better solutions. With CCaaS, a company's growth potential is limitless as it can constantly learn and put new data to use.
How can CCaaS solutions benefit customer support teams?
Empowering customer support teams with the right CCaaS platform provides many benefits for the customers, the agents, and the business as a whole. These benefits can include reduced wait time, improved average handle time, simplified workflow, and more.
1. Reduced Wait Times
With traditional contact centers, there are two common customer complaints. One is that they rarely — if ever — get put in touch with the right agent to handle their issue. Another is that they waste precious time explaining their problem multiple times on their journey to the right agent.
In addition to these complaints being a significant frustration for customers, it also leads to issues within the company. First, unhappy customers mean a loss in business. Second, being routed through multiple agents increases the cost of staffing.
A CCaaS platform can help prevent this. It determines why the customer is reaching out and helps identify who would best help with their current problem. Thanks to intelligent call routing, the customer then gets dispatched to the correct department and agent. Getting to the best agent for the situation upfront decreases the amount of time the customer has to wait, increases customer satisfaction, and reduces staffing costs.
2. Improved Average Handle Time
Average handle time, or AHT, is a way of assessing how efficient a call center is as a whole and how efficient individual agents are. AHT considers the total talk time, total hold time, and the total number of calls handled in a given period.
There are several ways to reduce AHT in contact centers, including:
- Monitoring agents' performance to provide ongoing training and advice
- Using recorded calls as training resources, either for the agent who was recorded to pinpoint his or her mistakes or new hires
- Optimizing call routing and communication efficiency
These steps can easily be put to work with a CCaaS platform, reducing the agents' AHT. Additionally, some CCaaS platforms provide a feature that allows a supervisor to listen in on a live call. During this time, they can give advice and real-time coaching to the agent.
3. Personalized Service
CCaaS collects information to build a complete customer profile. While communicating with a customer, the agent can view their profile, including information on how long they have been a customer, if they have reached out about a similar issue, and more. This allows the agent to provide a more personalized experience.
For example, the agent can thank the customer for being a valued member for a certain length of time, apologize that they are experiencing the same problem, and offer a more targeted solution. It can also allow the agent to offer better products and services to meet that customer's needs.
4. Increased CSAT
A Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) can impact an agent's job and confidence, which can then affect their performance. Because a CCaaS platform can help your agents provide a better customer experience, CSAT, as well as other metrics, should increase. This increase should then improve confidence and increase motivation, which will result in even better performance.
5. Simplified Workflow
Being able to serve customers through a single platform helps simplify an agent's entire workday. With seamless integrations to their CCaaS platform, other systems such as CRM or help desk ticketing software are instantly updated with call activity. Agents can now spend their time exclusively focused on customer needs. An easy-to-use and uncomplicated workflow also improves job satisfaction, which results in improved performance, job satisfaction, and employee retention.
CCaas vs. UCaaS vs. CPaaS
Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), and Communication Platform as a service (CPaaS) are all designed to improve productivity and communication across multiple channels. While all are cloud-based services, they have some key differences.
When to Use UCaaS
UCaaS streamlines internal communications for companies and teams by unifying their communication channels. Instead of using multiple tools for video conferencing, virtual phone systems, and messaging, UCaaS combines all of these services on one platform.
CCaaS, on the other hand, is more focused on the customer service side of the business. If you’re looking for a solution that brings multiple internal communication channels together, go with a UCaaS.
When to Use CPaaS
Similar to UCaaS, CPaaS also focuses on internal communications. However, rather than being locked into a single UCaaS platform, CPaaS allows businesses to customize their tools as they see fit. It’s more a build-as-you-go approach for developers to add the communication features of their choice using various application program interfaces or APIs. If you’re looking for a highly customizable communications solution, CPaaS is the best option.
When to Use CCaaS
CCaaS is a ready-made, complete solution for customer support and contact center needs. UCaaS and CPaaS are more focused on improving the back end, internal processes, and functionality of your team. As such, UCaaS and CPasS complement a customer-facing CCaaS platform.
Now that you know how CCaaS platforms function, let’s look at some of the top providers.
When it comes to CCaaS providers, there are many options to choose from. Here are a few of our top picks.
Live transcription, sentiment analysis, and comprehensive call analytics are just a few of the key features of Dialpad Contact Center. Dialpad also integrates with HubSpot and other tools, making it easier for you to access customer information across both platforms.
Beyond CCaaS, Dialpad has one platform for a truly Unified Communications as a Service (TrueCaaS) experience that includes video meetings, SMS/MMS messages, and instant messages, as a center for all of your business communication.
Why we like them: Besides building both its CCaaS and UCaaS products instead of reselling third-party software, Dialpad also has its own AI, Voice Intelligence (Vi), which is built directly into its platforms. Not only does Vi transcribe calls in real time, but it also helps your agents provide better service and lightens the load on supervisors by giving agents tips in real-time and tracking when certain keywords pop up on calls.
The result: Agents get ramped up more quickly and can spend more time helping customers.
Cisco may have been founded in the 1980s, but it continues to churn out products fit for modern business needs. Their Webex Contact Center aims to please both customers and sales agents alike. This platform combines AI and omnichannel communications to improve customer experience, while also providing tools that make it easy for sales and customer service teams to collaborate.
Why we like them: While Webex is ready to go out of the box, Cisco provides additional support for those wanting to take advantage of all the platform has to offer.
Built to be a global enterprise from the start, Talkdesk aims to help companies find “a better way” to improve the customer experience. Self-described as “customer-obsessed,” Talkdesk has a CCaaS solution for various industries including financial services, healthcare, hospitality, government, eCommerce, and more.
Why we like them: Talkdesk realizes different industries require unique, industry-specific solutions and tailors its CCaaS options accordingly.
A popular choice among Gartner reviewers, Five9 makes streamlining your customer support processes and interactions light work. Their CCaaS platform integrates with Salesforce, a bonus for teams already utilizing that CRM.
Why we like them: Five9 offers an extensive range of CCaaS for both small and large businesses.
Like Cisco, Avaya is a technology company with longevity — and for good reason. Their products continue to help companies scale, collaborate, and execute. Avaya’s OneCloud CCaaS integrates with various CRMs and features AI predictive modeling, co-browsing, and customer sentiment analysis.
Why we like them: Security is a top priority for Avaya and they have implemented biometric authentication into their platform for an extra layer of security.
Delight More Customers with CCaaS
Providing excellent customer service is vital to your business, and it's essential to provide the necessary tools to make it happen. By utilizing a CCaaS platform for your customer support team, you are opening the door to many tools, benefits, and opportunities that ensure your customers remain a top priority.
This article was originally published May 18, 2021, and has been updated for comprehensiveness.