by Adam Rennert, President of PeakView

The cloud contact center has gained momentum among businesses of every size thanks to its demonstrable ROI. The benefits of capex savings, operational streamlining, and support for mobile and remote agents are clearly understood. What’s not so clear, however, is how to choose the right contact center platform for your specific business requirements.

With the interest in cloud contact centers at an all-time high, the options in the market have proliferated. Here are the top five criteria to consider when choosing which one is right for you.

No. 1: What’s Under the Hood?

Plenty of cloud contact centers offer pretty interfaces, bright colors, and cool graphics—but what’s really driving the applications? While an intuitive user experience is important, it’s also critical to remember that contact center functionality can be the lifeblood for your business; what happens if agents can’t access features, or customer histories? What if the whole system has an outage? Is there a strategy for coping with these kinds of failures?

With that in mind, it is important to consider the level of redundancy that’s built into the system, from a network and data center perspective. Questions to ask include whether the network is geographically redundant, so traffic can seamlessly be re-routed in the event of a fiber cut or natural disaster; whether the provider offers a back-up carrier and what the failover thresholds are; and how is the server stack configured—is it modularly redundant with tri-level resiliency? Are there backup servers?

No. 2: A Proven Track Record for Scalability

In addition to under-the-hood configurations for uptime and reliability, it’s also crucial to consider whether the platform is proven and scalable.

A platform that does well supporting 20 customer service representatives in one location may do a great job, but what experience does it have supporting CSRs globally, or in larger numbers? It’s often useful to request case studies or references to gain a clearer understanding of what kind of heavy lifting a company’s technology is able to do. Depending on your enterprise profile, you’ll want to ensure that whatever platform you choose can scale both domestically and globally for your business.

No. 3: Feature Set

Contact centers continue to evolve, and the ways in which they allow CSRs to interact with customers constantly changes with new generations and demographic trends. As a result, it is important to select a contact center that updates its platform on a regular basis, and makes good on its technology roadmap.

Part of this is evaluating the maturity a platform has when it comes to multi- and omnichannel environments. Some options are proverbial “one-trick ponies”; some provide solid voice capabilities, with tracking and analytics. Then there are specialty companies that provide services such as advanced SMS interactions. Some companies like to build a modular, best-of-breed approach to their contact center needs, whereas others want a platform that can provide voice, SMS, video, chat and social media, all in a centralized view of the customer.

Similarly, depending on your needs, you may want to find a platform that integrates easily with third-party software via open API environments, whether that’s with known platforms like Salesforce, or a homegrown system.

In all cases, ease of use—both on the administration and the user side—should be one of the top criteria when selecting a provider. If the features are enabled but too difficult to learn how to use easily, the broadness of the platform becomes a moot point.

No. 4: White-Glove Service

Along with the technical features and functionality offered in a cloud contact center, the kind of customer service and support that backs it up can be just as important when it comes to decision-making. A lot of companies can spin up a compelling technology, but if there’s an issue, you’ll want to rest easy that they have your back.

White-glove service starts with implementation—the system should be implemented properly and in a timely fashion, and any issues that come up, especially in the first 60 days, should be resolved quickly.

At PeakView, we schedule meetings with every supplier we consider, to talk about their platform and determine whether we would want to recommend it to our clients. If we find they don’t have a true and proven support structure, but are rather relying on, say, an 800 number and one guy in the back to field calls, we don’t add that company to the mix.

No. 5: Cultural Fit & Cost Flexibility

Finally, it’s important that you match up with someone that understands your needs. For instance, if you’re in startup mode deploying a new platform, your provider should be one that understands what that means and can work with you in selecting the right technology. Similarly, if you’re an established company shifting from a legacy platform, there are additional considerations for building a proper migration path.

Cost flexibility is an important consideration. Some providers are firm in their pricing, regardless of what the requirements are. But we believe that contact centers should be personal and customized. For instance, if a company is moving away from an existing on-premise solution, it’s likely that avoiding cost overlap will be a consideration. In terms of contract terms and ramps, as well as licensing models, it’s possible to find the provider that will work with you depending on your specific needs.

In one situation, we had a customer who had a specific budget cycle, but also needed to hit the ground running by a certain date. The vendor was able to implement the solution, while giving our client a six-month ramp on paying for it. In another example, we had a new organization that was growing fast, but which didn’t have a lot of resources on staff. The vendor provided four months of a full-time resource to help get the project up and running, and deployed properly as part of the overall contract.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Channel Partner

With so many facets to consider, it may seem overwhelming to select the right provider for your cloud contact center implementation. Fortunately, we at PeakView are your trusted advisors. We sit down with our customers to understand their specific needs, and then, using a comprehensive scorecard, we evaluate the market options than would best fit those needs.

A provider doesn’t need to be the best in every one of these areas—it’s a balance. But generally speaking, everything should be easy and intuitive, there should be credibility in the market around the platform and ability to deliver, and it shouldn’t be complicated to have questions answered. We have the experience to help you sort through the options, and find the perfect, balanced provider for you.