People Working at a Call Center

The History of Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)

As technology advances, the business world adapts to it. Things like video calling, content management systems, and fast fiber optic internet enhance business operations. Contact centers are another valuable modern service that improves the efficiency of your business.

Even though communication styles and mediums have changed over the years, reliable communication has always been essential for businesses. Today, Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) is the most efficient way to communicate effectively with customers. Let’s take a look at what CCaaS is and how it came to be.

What is Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)?

Contact Center as a Service is a cloud-based contact center. CCaaS programs were invented to function in the cloud, and they operate as an all-in-one service for customer interactions. They can route calls, track customer details, and allow customers to communicate through a variety of mediums, such as:

  • Live chat rooms
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Phone calls

The automated nature of CCaaS simplifies operations because it does not require expensive on-site software. Companies only have to purchase the technology they need, which saves a lot of money due to:

  • Reduced IT staffing
  • Streamlined billing
  • Reduced employee downtime
  • Lower operational costs
  • No upfront investments

CCaaS is the most efficient way for contact centers to grow and scale as their operational needs change. Contact Centers as a Service easily allow businesses to add or subtract customer service agents depending on customer demands. Customers lose patience and interest when navigating long on-hold times and confusing routes to problem resolution. CCaaS software tracks customer wait times and high call-volume periods, which enables your business to adjust accordingly and provide a better customer support experience.

CCaaS is also ideal for employees because the software synthesizes all critical information onto a single screen. As a result, representatives have quick desktop access to all the tools they need, saving time and frustration for both parties.

Data is essential for business growth, and CCaaS can quickly gather customer data. Recording data such as abandoned calls, questionable language from agents, and caller queues helps businesses make ongoing improvements for customer and representative interactions.

The Origin: Call Centers

Before we had CCaaS, we had call centers. Call centers originated in the 1950s, and they were often referred to as “phone rooms.” Telephone operators answered inbound calls. Call centers existed for:

  • Customer service
  • Placing orders
  • Calling the “operator” for phone call assistance
  • Telemarketing

In the 1960s, technology continued to advance. For example, automatic call distributor (ACD) technology became popular to manage high volumes of calls. ACD technology developed an algorithm that automatically assigned agents different calls instead of relying on a human operator.

Shortly after, toll-free customer service numbers were introduced. You may remember calling in to vote for a contestant on a television show using a toll-free number. Technology developed further in the 1970s when customers could use Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to tell the business why they were calling based on voice recognition commands.

Once the internet took off in the 1990s, e-commerce companies needed a reliable way for non-local customers to contact them, inquire about products, and place orders. Call centers were the widespread solution for internet-based companies. Additionally, telemarketing was at an all-time high.

In 1991, customer backlash to telemarketing prompted Congress to pass the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA restricted telemarketing calls by setting a limit on when calls could be made. In addition, solicitors were required to honor the National Do Not Call Registry, and companies were no longer allowed to use pre-recorded messages for sales calls.

Eventually, many companies in the early 2000s realized that it was cheaper to outsource customer service calls outside of the United States. As a result, businesses outsourced their calls to call center companies overseas, which often caused frustration for customers and employees alike.

With internet improvements and the addition of social media, the call center landscape needed to adapt. Many younger customers wanted alternative ways to contact customer service representatives, while many older generations wished to keep the option of a traditional phone call. Eventually, Contact Center as a Service was born.

Adapting to CCaaS

As customer demands for internet-based service options increased, call centers had to adapt. In the 2000s, companies realized that there was an opportunity to create call center software and host it in the cloud. This change allowed representatives to access call center software from any internet browser, not just their specific computer in a call center.

While original CCaaS providers found success, there were still bugs and issues to fix. The original software was built during a transitional time of technology. Most codebases were still produced for on-site systems, not the cloud. The downtime was often significant, and the effort to make basic improvements would require long development cycles.

As technology and coding improved, CCaaS systems began to get built natively in the cloud. This improvement removed the time-consuming and confusing process of attempting to integrate two differently designed systems. As a result, CCaaS systems can now operate at a rapid pace with fewer errors and downtime.

Where We Are Now

Today, Contact Centers as a Service are the standard way for businesses to communicate with customers effectively. CCaaS benefits are endless, offering faster speeds, simpler processing, lower costs, and multiple avenues for customers to reach out.

Integrated Communications is honored to bring high-quality customer service to your company by partnering with the following contact center groups:

  • Five9
  • Evolve IP
  • inContact
  • RingCentral
  • TalkDesk
  • DialPad
  • Genesys
  • Sharpen
  • Aspect
  • Vonage
  • CallTower

CCaaS Continues to Adapt

Improvements are constantly being made to existing CCaaS software. If we have learned one thing from the history of call centers, it is to continually change and shift to meet customers’ needs. Thankfully, modern CCaaS software has the capacity to adapt easily.

If your business needs a new or updated CCaaS system, contact us at Integrated Communications. We are here to help you save money and enhance productivity.

Build a Customer-Centric IT Team

shutterstock_134102588IT personnel are an integral part of businesses and are instrumental in making sure processes run smoothly by monitoring and ensuring the health of the company’s networks and applications. Until recently, IT professionals primarily performed an internal role, providing services to employees but having little to do with external, customer-facing assignments.

However, that dynamic is changing. As network functions become more integrated with customer-service functions, companies must ensure their IT teams are ready and able to provide customer-facing IT functions. Attracting and retaining IT personnel who can deliver both the critical internal IT service and the customer-facing services necessary in today’s environment can offer a competitive advantage.

Break Away From the Typical IT Mold

When looking for IT personnel who will work well in customer-facing processes, consider candidates who deviate from the typical IT stereotype. IT personnel tend to be introverted and more comfortable working with code than with people.

When identifying internal or external candidates for customer-focused IT roles, seek a different personality type than the typical IT employee. Consider candidates with different skills and personalities that can expand the IT team’s capabilities. Outgoing, passionate, socially focused people will typically function better in customer-centric roles than quiet, shy individuals.

To identify and attract such candidates, examine hiring processes and develop a strategy for meeting the company’s core customer-service requirements. It’s important to show candidates how their contributions will be valued and offer flexibility and opportunities to grow and advance.

Offer Customer-Focused Opportunities

Many IT departments have adopted systems that streamline interactions with the IT department but also tend to eliminate interpersonal interactions that are critical in customer-focused processes.

In order to regain customer-facing skills, companies can offer opportunities for internal IT employees to interact with customers. This might mean visiting customer operations or shadowing customer-facing employees. In addition to sharpening customer-service skills, such opportunities can help IT staff better understand customer needs, requirements, and the relation to the company’s IT systems.

Address Company Culture

While attracting and training customer-focused employees is important, making sure the company’s culture and reputation reflects strong customer-centric values is also critical. Potential candidates are likely to be attracted to companies that are stable, innovative, and willing to take risks. Clearly demonstrating how employee contributions affect customers can motivate candidates to become a part of the team.

Customer-service values should not just be presented to outside candidates but be embraced by internal IT teams, contractors, and business partners. Emphasize the value of both the internal and external customer as well as the critical role the IT team plays in both areas.

Finding, hiring, training, and retaining IT personnel capable of providing traditional internal IT services and customer-facing interactions is a likely key to success. For a successful and long-term fit, companies must not only find the right candidate for the job, but also demonstrate why they should want to be part of the company.