Imagine it’s the early 1970s and you’re a regional bank manager responsible for hundreds of branches and thousands of employees. Your boss asks that you consider installing brand-new automated teller machines (ATMs) so customers don’t actually have to come into your branches for simple transactions. He explains that this new technology will provide customer convenience and that in the future, ATMs will be critical in evolving the way that banks interact with customers. You initially reject the idea because ATMs will encroach on your staff’s primary responsibilities, present possible risk, and require major changes to staffing, security, and infrastructure. You don’t want to lose the control that you have today.

Willingly, for the sake of your customers, you push past these fears, work through the technology advances, and embrace what has evolved to one of the most well-loved self-service technologies on the planet. Most important, you take advantage of the operational benefit the ATMs provide and focus your staff on providing new and value-added services to customers, improving your bank’s top-line revenue.

Today’s customer service organizations are pushing through similar technology and control issues when it comes to leveraging the cloud for improving contact center services. Like the ATM, the cloud introduces a new level of cost optimization and customer interactions that just hadn’t been practical in the past. When it comes to contact center services, the cloud can combine speech automation, intelligent agent routing, outbound notifications, and mobile applications to create unique, intelligent solutions for today’s busy consumers. The customer care cloud also incorporates the highest levels of compliance and security, provides rigorous monitoring, and hardware and software updates, ensuring that customers are getting the best interaction experience possible-all within an OpEx model with the highest levels of reliability and performance.

Just like the bank leaders of the 1970s, smart customer service leaders are making the decision to focus on providing more value to the business while delivering a superior customer experience-by moving their contact center infrastructure to the cloud; many of them starting with their IVR. According to Frost & Sullivan, hosted IVR is by far the largest and most mature segment of the overall hosted contact center market in North America. Revenues from hosted IVR are projected to grow at a CAGR of 8.6 percent to reach $1 billion by 2017.

Many companies, and their customers, could greatly benefit from a cloud-based delivery model. Still, the cloud might not be right for every enterprise. Here are five legitimate reasons for an enterprise to stick with an on-premise IVR:

  1. Organizations that have invested in the costly integration of modern IVR infrastructure and have developed the expertise to improve their applications at least as often as they update their website, plus meet their customers and business’ ever-changing needs with rapid improvement capability, should consider staying on-premise.
  2. Organizations whose annual caller experience audit confirms that their customers get a better self-service experience than that provided by their top five competitors might not need to consider a change.
  3. Businesses with IVRs that help customers interact effortlessly and include features such as personalization, natural speech recognition, and proactive SMS and phone notifications may not need to look for new ways to deliver value-added services.
  4. If a company’s IVR can keep pace with consumer preferences and dynamically scale for planned or unplanned events during the holidays, when a storm closes airports, when a product issue doubles call volumes, or when instead of calling, your customers adopt a mobile app for self- service, then the cloud probably won’t provide an advantage.
  5. Organizations that have created a method for incorporating caller behavior and preferences across billions of annual customer transactions are already benefiting from a form of “network effect” and might not further benefit from the cloud.

Of course, the above five reasons describe very few customer care organizations. Half of contact center operations today are embracing the cloud for IVR delivery, focusing on the ability to improve the value they can provide to their businesses and their customers.  By accepting and even driving transformation, these organizations are accelerating time to ROI while improving the customer experience.

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About Andrea Mocherman

This was a contributed post by Andrea Mocherman. To see more content like this, visit the Customer experience section of our blog.