The pandemic has forced businesses to figure out how to maintain the same quality of customer service while navigating a radically altered landscape. An unprecedented number of contact center agents are working remotely and in many cases handling an influx of calls. The scale and complexity of this challenge is daunting – but it doesn’t have to be.
In fact, it can serve as an opportunity: A chance to break with old, inefficient modes of customer communication and embrace a better way of doing things.
This is where SaaS solutions come in.
There are many advantages to SaaS solutions for contact centers and well-known to those who have made the jump, according to Gartner, which says that SaaS comprises the largest market segment of cloud-based services. It is, without question, the most popular cloud model. But for the many call centers still mired in an older paradigm, it is worth highlighting some of those advantages.
Saving money and time
SaaS solutions save money, sparing businesses the need to invest in costly hardware. Accordingly, SaaS solutions free businesses to scale up or down as necessary.
Eliminating hardware also eliminates the headache of keeping up with competitors in the race for new technology. With your SaaS provider handling the tech side of things, you can redirect your energy towards what your business does best.
SaaS solutions are just as useful for agents too, who can be brought on board without days or weeks of labor-intensive training, as SaaS solutions tend to be intuitive, with all necessary features built-in and easy to locate.
SaaS solutions offer ready-to-use, pre-set tools which can easily serve different clients’ informational needs. To maintain the same level of service with a standalone solution, you would need highly qualified staff, as well as the money and time that requires.
SaaS solutions allow for the kind of quick, data-driven decision making that is essential to the modern workplace, while keeping overheads comparatively low. Its tools are especially useful if you’re outsourcing your contact center, with SaaS providers making it easy to know precisely what’s going on, even when you’re managing from afar.
Contact centers are uniquely vulnerable to security breaches, as client data is an especially appealing target for cybercriminals. This is why most SaaS solutions offer a robust suite of security features which allow you to set precise, tiered permissions for who can see certain data.
Unfortunately, the contact center industry has dealt with a number of cases of internal data corruption over the years. Contact center agents have, on multiple well-documented occasions, been psychologically manipulated into surrendering valuable company data. By allowing only a chosen few executives to view vulnerable information, and by setting levels of access to other private client data, you can ensure this never happens.
SaaS trends to look out for in 2021
With the onset of a new year, and with a pandemic accelerating the adoption of SaaS solutions, it’s worth taking a look at how the technology will evolve over the next 12 months.
1) Increased growth
It has been reported that small business SaaS use climbed 400 percent between 2016 and 2019. And according to Flexera’s 2020 State of the Cloud report, shifting to SaaS was the biggest cloud-based trend for 2019 and 2020.
This trend shows little sign of abating, with Gartner forecasting that the SaaS market is set to grow to $120 billion this year and that 70 percent of organizations using cloud services today plan to up their investment in cloud spending because of the pandemic’s disruptions. SaaS solutions are fast becoming the new normal.
2) The shift to CPaaS
At the same time, the success of SaaS-based solutions has complicated their use for some small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). Having expanded their operations through SaaS, SMEs may find themselves in need of increased flexibility to accommodate the needs of their new customers, who will inevitably desire a range of options when it comes to communication.
Communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) is a fast-emerging solution to these and other issues. CPaaS-based solutions are more developer-friendly, allowing businesses to customize their offerings to include such things as A2P messaging, SMS and chats. With customer preferences shifting rapidly, this can be an invaluable asset and is reflected in the numbers – many sources project CPaaS to grow at an even faster rate than SaaS in the coming years.
3) AI/machine learning-centered SaaS
AI is rapidly extending its tentacles into every aspect of society and SaaS is not immune. Chatbots have now improved to the point that many customers can’t distinguish them from human representatives. As a filtering tool in an overloaded contact center, they can optimize the time of both your agents and your customers. AI/machine learning can also help businesses predict customer behavior, refine pricing and more. As AI tools grow even more ubiquitous this year, with a survey by O’Reilly revealing that 47 percent of organizations expect to deploy AI services over the next three years, it is inevitable that SaaS providers will continue to enhance their offerings accordingly.
The contact center as it’s existed for decades – dozens or hundreds of people plugged into headsets, fielding calls side-by-side – was obliterated by the pandemic and it is inevitable that, even after a critical mass of the population is vaccinated, an increasingly large share of agents will come to do their work at home. A new world is taking shape, and it will take some time to figure out. But one thing is clear: SaaS solutions can help keep things simple.
About the author: Lee Baptiste is a senior sales engineer at Voiso, an all-in-one call center software solution provider.