What is CCaaS (Contact Center As A Service)?
In an effort to reduce costs, provide a more personalized customer experience, and limit agent churn, customer service leaders have been rolling out contact-as-a-service (CSaaS) platforms at an unprecedented rate.
In this article, we’ll tell you all you need to know about this nifty tool. After reading, you’ll know what CCaaS is, its common features, how it can improve your business, and how to go about evaluating different vendors. Let’s dive in!
What is Contact Center as a Service?
Contact center as a service (CCaaS) is cloud-based customer experience software that powers contact centers — the departments from which customer service agents manage customer communications.
The main purpose of CCaaS is to help businesses improve their customer experience while also reducing operating costs. To understand how CCaaS platforms accomplish these goals, we first have to look at what as-a-service really means.
As-a-service is a software deployment approach that enables businesses to buy only the technology they need, at an affordable monthly rate, from the CSaaS vendor, who operates, updates, and maintains the software. This saves you money on IT, tech maintenance, and licensing fees you’d otherwise pay for an on-premise contact center.
Additionally, after buying CCaaS, you’ll likely have access to support or even a dedicated account manager who will assist with the implementation of the platform, rollout of new features, and any technical issues that arise, thereby saving your businesses more IT dollars.
As for how Contact center as a service helps you provide a better customer experience, let’s take a look at how the software itself works, and how managers and agents use it.
How Does CCaaS Work?
CCaaS platforms enable customer service agents to communicate with buyers through multiple channels (live chat, call, email, etc.), all from one digital platform, while equipping them with other tools like conversational AI suggestions and 360-degree customer views that help agents work as effectively as possible.
But, customer-facing agents aren’t the only ones empowered. Customer service leaders and managers use a CCaaS platform’s analytics and reporting features to gain visibility into the customer service process, monitor agent performance, and locate areas for both individual and operational improvement. They can also design workflows and intelligent call routing systems.
To save these agents and leaders time, many platforms also come with automation functionality that either streamlines manual processes or completely takes the reins, as is the case with conversational chatbots and AI-powered Interactive Voice Response (IVR). These both automatically handle conversations and enable fast self-service.
Before moving on, let’s address a common confusion we hear, namely, CCaaS vs. UCaaS. The difference is that CCaaS handles external customer communication and unified communications as a service (UCaaS) handles internal colleague communication.
Now that we’ve covered how teams use contact center as a service, we can get a bit more detailed about how the software works by listing and describing the exact features you can expect to find in a high-quality CCaaS platform.
Features of Good CCaaS Software
CCaaS software gives agents and managers access to numerous time-saving, customer experience-enhancing features that help them do their jobs more effectively. Below are some important features, divided into four overarching feature categories: omnichannel customer journey, agent desktops, reporting and analytics, and coaching.
Omnichannel Customer Journey Features
These features are focused on helping businesses create and execute an omnichannel communication approach, where agents can interact with customers across multiple channels in an organized manner from one central platform.
Below are some common geared towards providing an omnichannel customer journey:
- Voice, Chat, and Messaging: Communicate with customers on whatever channels they prefer right from the platform.
- Channel Switching: Move to a different channel in the midst of a conversation without rerouting the customer and disrupting the flow.
- Visual Workflows: Create automated call routing that sends customers to the perfect agent for the job, as well as workflows that guide agents through the resolution process according to your business’s best practices.
- Self-Service Features: Use AI-powered chatbots and interactive voice response features to guide the customer to a resolution.
Armed with these features, businesses can empower their customers to use whatever communication channels they prefer, while increasing agent productivity.
Unified Agent Desktop Features
These tools are mainly concerned with helping agents execute fast and effective resolutions without sacrificing that essential human element of customer service.
Here are some of the main CCaaS features in the unified agent desktop category:
- Call Recording: Record calls and go over them with agents, pointing out both the good and the bad, with the goal of helping agents see how they can do better next time.
- Call Whispering: If an agent needs help, hop into the call incognito and give advice that only the agent can hear.
- Customizable Metrics: From overall customer satisfaction to an agent’s average handling rate, track metrics that help you measure performance and spot lagging skills to work on with agents.
When customers reach out, they expect a speedy resolution with a competent customer service rep. Empowered with these tools, agents should have an easier time helping customers in even the most complex situations.
How Can a Business Benefit from CCaaS?
The ultimate payoff of adopting a CCaaS platform is the substantial increase in your business’s bottom line. But there are more specific business improvements provided by CCaaS that lay the groundwork for this rise in profit.
Namely, here are some benefits businesses receive from contact center as a service software:
- Improved Agent Experience: The features in CCaaS like agent desktops and automated suggestions make an agent’s job less stressful and personal success more attainable. They’ll be less likely to leave, thus saving you hiring and training costs.
- Better Customer Experience: Because resolutions occur at a faster rate, customers experience lower waiting times and more productive conversations with agents. So, customers will stick around, not to mention tell their friends.
- Lower Customer Service Costs: CCaaS removes the costs associated with maintaining and upgrading hardware and software. Plus, there’s less reliance on IT. Efficiency gains also enable businesses to do more with fewer agents.
- Enhanced Flexibility and Scalability: If you have some unfamiliar surge in customer service activity, due to business growth or something else, you can easily adjust your plan to unlock the functionality you need to meet the demand, then drop back down if need be.
Regardless of your exact business goals, having a more adaptive, competent, and fast-acting customer service department should help you reach them, and CCaaS can help your business build out the best team possible.
Who Should Use a Contact Center as a Service?
Contact center as a service is an ideal choice for growing B2C businesses, small and large, that want to create scalable, cloud-based contact centers at an affordable monthly cost and with no technical hassle.
Furthermore, a CSaaS solution is perfect for those businesses looking to gain a competitive edge by giving their customers personalized communication through their preferred channels, whether it be live chat, text, email, phone, or social.
Cloud contact center software is also a good option if you value customization. Most platforms are flexible and enable you to do things like create call routing flows or assign user permissions. Essentially, you can configure the system to fit your current best practices and processes.
Lastly, if you are thinking about saving rent and increasing employee satisfaction by creating a remote contact center , CSaaS is a must-have. With features like call whispering and shared notes, it replicates many of the coaching and collaboration aspects one expects to find only in an office environment.
What to Consider Before Selecting CCaaS for Your Business
Before you start evaluating different CCaaS solutions, it’s important to do some soul searching (yes, your business has a soul) to figure out what you’re looking for in a platform. There may be specific features or service aspects that your company needs, and others that you can do without. Doing some reflection will ensure you find the right software at the perfect price point.
Below are some questions to ask yourself and your team to get a better idea of your needs:
- What Are Your Goals? Write out the goals you want your customer service team to hit over the next few years. During software demos, ask sales reps how this solution will help you achieve them.
- What Are Your Growth Plans? Figure out how many agents you have now and how many you plan to have in six months, a year, and two years from now. Will it be a big jump in the number of agents? If so, find a tool that accommodates this increase.
- Which Features Do You Need? If you’ve done some research on CCaaS tools already, there may be some features that are non-negotiable. Write them down. If you are unfamiliar with the tech, check out our common CCaaS features section above.
- What Software Do You Want to Integrate? Do you have a CRM, email tool, or other apps that you want to be integrated into the software? Check with the vendor to ensure they can arrange this marriage between your specific tools and theirs.
- How Much Support Do You Want? Based on your internal IT resources, think over how much support (onboarding, 24/7 live support, etc.) you want from your vendor.
Like most software tools, contact center as a service platforms vary in the features, support, integrations, and customization options they offer to customers. It’s therefore important to take your time and ask plenty of questions when evaluating the different options on the market.
The Future of the Contact Center as a Service Market
CCaaS solutions continue to evolve to meet customer expectations and are becoming increasingly commonplace in businesses around the globe. Grand View Research predicts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.4% from 2022 to 2030.
Source: Grand View Research
Below are some of the most impactful trends in the cloud contact center software market:
- Increased Focus on Self-Service: As the IVR and chatbot software improves, they will be able to handle more complex queries without human intervention, and will become the default resolution mode.
- More Conversational AI: Advancements in data processing are enabling chatbots to better serve customers, and giving agents access to real-time customer insights and suggestions.
- An Evolution into XCaaS: More vendors will start offering experience communications as a service, the combination of CCaaS and UCaaS (internal communication).
The feature sets offered by contact center as a service platforms are expanding in scope and deepening in functionality. This all means one thing: the software is improving. And those improvements will carry over into your contact center, enabling you to provide an increasingly satisfying customer experience as time goes on.
A CCaaS platform can drastically improve the performance of your contact center, helping your team provide customers with speedy resolutions and personalized experiences.
But, remember, for software adoption to actually make a positive impact, your agents need to be on board. They need to use the platform and its features effectively.
This is why many businesses are choosing Contacto, a simple-to-use yet high-tech contact center as a service platform built with agents in mind. Check it out to learn more.