Call Center Cloud Hints, Tips & Best Practices
Every year, the experts at CIO Review choose the top 20 contact center technology solution providers – those the publication believes are making a difference in this volatile market.
Monet Software’s cloud-based workforce optimization solution appears on this year’s list.
“Monet Software has been on our radar for some time for stirring a revolution in the Contact Center technology space, and we are happy to showcase them this year due to their continuing excellence in delivering top-notch technology-driven solutions,” said Harvi Sachar, CIO Review’s founder and publisher.
At Monet we appreciate the recognition from such a prestigious source as CIO Review. The press release announcing Monet’s selection can be found here.
Of course, our customers have known about the benefits of our unified WFO solution for some time. They have experienced how it has optimized the utilization of contact center resources, how it improves service levels and productivity, and how it can boost revenues with an investment much lower than what is required for an on-premise solution.
You can read the article on the top 20 solution providers on the CIO Review website.
If business patterns from the previous few years continue, 2015 will see more companies than ever making the choice to break away from the high cost and maintenance responsibilities of supporting their IT infrastructure in house.
The alternative – moving to the cloud – offers a number of significant benefits for contact centers in technology, efficiency and cost.
So far, so good. The challenge now for contact centers is choosing a provider that delivers an authentic cloud solution, rather than one attempting to exploit the benefits of the “cloud” name, while offering a product that is no different (and in some cases, worse) than a traditional hardware/software system.
If all hosted software offerings labeled as “cloud” are anything but, how can you tell the difference? It’s not enough to review the marketing collateral provided by vendors – do your homework first so you are already familiar with how a genuine cloud solution works, and which questions to ask to make sure you are getting the right product.
A true cloud solution is built from the ground up with software coded to perform better as a fully hosted solution. Applications can be customized in a way that will not cause complications as new product enhancements are introduced. And since all updates and upgrades are automatic, and do not require additional cost, your contact center is always assured of operating with the most up-to-date functionality.
If such product upgrades are delayed, it may mean you have been stuck with a fake cloud solution.
Result? A system with all of the problems and costs associated with an on-premise solution. It won’t be as scalable as the cloud, or as efficient. In addition to delayed and difficult product upgrades, a fake cloud solution will entail other drawbacks that will have a negative impact on your business. Don’t be surprised if downtime increases as a result of the limited resources of the hosting set up. Security could also be an issue, as the provider may not have the most important industry certifications, such as PCI-DSS security compliance, EU Safe Harbor certification, and SSAE 16 (SOC1) Type II audit completions.
Finally, any company that would misrepresent the most basic features of its product is one that will likely not be in business for the long haul. Imagine that worst case scenario – your service provider goes out of business, and you are forced to quickly find another vendor and make the switch, risking loss of data or data access. Or you can start over building an in-house solution, which will not be cheap.
The Qualities (and Quality) of a True Cloud Provider
True cloud solutions are typically more scalable and more reliable than hosting of traditional software, while offering the advantages that companies expect from a cloud delivery system, including:
• Automatic upgrades to new software versions
• Fast and secure system access from anywhere with web access
• close to 100% guaranteed uptime
• Advanced data privacy protection
• Easy integration with other applications
• No significant upfront investment
For more information on the differences between fake clouds and true clouds, there are a number of third-party resources available online which specify industry standards, while highlighting additional benefits of the cloud computing model. Here are just some of the most popular:
The Cloud Standards Consumer Council (cloudstandardsconsumercouncil.org)
The CSCC is an end-user advocacy group established to address the lack of a customer driven prioritization and focus within the cloud standards development process. The Council separates the hype from the reality on how to leverage what customers have today, and has established a core set of client-driven requirements to ensure cloud users have the same freedom of choice, flexibility, and openness they have with traditional IT environments.
Publications available on the website include The CSCC Practical Guide to Cloud Computing and The CSCC Practical Guide to Cloud Service Level Agreements.
The Cloud Computing Use Cases Group (cloudusecases.org)
While this site has not been recently updated, it offers two solid white papers on common use cases for cloud computing. It is also a helpful source for cloud information in Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
The Open Group (opengroup.org)
The Open Group is a consortium comprised of IT experts around the world who have developed several IT standards, while providing a number of assets related to cloud computing. These include The Open Group Cloud Computing for Businesses, a publication that can be downloaded for free, as well as several white papers including Building Return on Investment from Cloud Computing.
Cloud computing will continue to gain a larger percentage of the contact center industry because it offers benefits for businesses of every size and type.
However, with cloud computing growing so rapidly, many vendors are trying to position themselves as cloud providers by re-labeling and re-branding traditional on-premise software applications. This can lead to problems with upgrades, process integration and business viability.
Customers need to be able to recognize a true cloud solution as one that was designed from a web-based, multi-tenant, self-service perspective, and provides secure and easy access over the Internet, so contact center agents can work from anywhere at any time.
A few simple questions about cloud-computing and some time spent on researching the background and reputation of the provider should quickly clear up any uncertainty about the type of product being offered, and whether it qualifies as genuine.
Did you ever have that feeling of déjà vu? Sometimes, it’s a good thing.
Last month, Monet’s WFO Live – Workforce Optimization in the Cloud was selected as a TMC CUSTOMER magazine 2015 Product of the Year Award winner. As delighted as we were, we couldn’t help but think back to December of last year, when WFO Live was also selected by TMC as a recipient of its Customer Experience Innovation Award.
Such acknowledgment is always welcome, but it is especially appreciated when it comes from TMC, the world's leading business-to-business and integrated marketing media company, and a valued news resource to more than 3.5 million industry professionals. This is a company that knows contact center technology, and their recognition of Monet tells us that our products are meeting the needs of this industry as it continues to grow and evolve.
And while awards are great, it’s always the feedback from our customers that means the most.
Monet WFO Live – Workforce Optimization in the Cloud is a complete suite for contact centers to automate workforce management, call recording, quality assurance and agent analytics. The system creates efficient schedules for incoming call volumes, tracks key metrics in accordance with a company’s business goals, and monitors calls for quality, training and compliance purposes.
We know the difference that WFO Live is making in contact center efficiency because you have told us with your calls and emails. At Monet we’re already at work on new solutions and capabilities that will be announced later in 2015. Whether more awards are forthcoming or not, as long as we continue to receive positive feedback from you, we know we’re on the right track.
Find out more and read the official press release.
One of the many benefits of cloud computing is its accessibility for contact center agents whether they are at their desks, on the road, or even at home.
There are a lot of good reasons to consider a work-from-home situation for some of your contact center personnel. You can now hire qualified agents even if they live 100 miles or more away, since they don’t have to drive to work. Parents with small children might also enjoy the convenience of a home-based office, as long as it does not interfere with their professional obligations.
It is also a way to be more inclusive with your hiring practices, by providing home-based jobs to people with disabilities. Physical limitations could make it difficult for someone to travel to and from a contact center, but by accessing the contact center’s software from a home computer, such people could make a valuable contribution to your business.
These agents will also appreciate the flexibility in scheduling that is possible when contact centers employ workforce management software. Now, medical appointments or family obligations can be accommodated, and the agent does not have to worry about changing a shift when necessary.
The evolution of cloud software has accelerated this trend in hiring, as it provides the same service capabilities to an agent’s home computer as they would enjoy at the call center. No installation is required and data sharing remains secure.
Managers used to a more traditional contact center environment make require some adjustment, but most eventually appreciate the benefits of a telecommuting arrangement. One way to ease into the change is to create a pool of back-up agents for times of increased call volume, or for when there are too many unexpected absences. Occasional trips to these agents’ homes for monitoring and coaching are usually enough to keep their performance consistent. Plus, these visits give the manager an excuse to get out of the office for awhile, which is always welcome.
In case you missed our recent webinar about cloud-based workforce
optimization, you can now watch it on demand in our webinar video
archive. People who attended the webinar learned a great deal about the
cloud-based WFO in improving:
- Workforce management
- Quality Monitoring, and
- Performance Management
See yourself how Monet's cloud-based WFO can help gain more insights and
improve the performance and service quality of your contact center.
We invite you watch the recorded webinar in its entirety at your convenience - just click the link above.
For years, the term “cloud computing” spoke for itself. It referred to a
very specific kind of software delivery system, one that has grown much
more popular in recent years.
But lately, there has been a rise in products claiming to offer the
benefits of a cloud solution, that provide only a variation on
traditional technology, with all of its accompanying costs and
If you are considering cloud computing in your contact center, you can
maximize the benefits derived from it by choosing a trusted, reputable
provider and getting the right system in place, the first time.
Monet CEO Chuck Ciarlo was recently interviewed for an article that
takes a closer look at what defines a genuine cloud solution. As with
any true cloud provider, he has been frustrated by those entities that
seek to confuse the marketplace with products that promise much but
"True cloud solutions, says Ciarlo, are based on a distributed delivery
model, allow for frequent updates, are able to be delivered with
guaranteed service levels and up times, are multitenant and not managed
per instance, and are scalable. These are capabilities not found in
client-server products that are simply pushed up to a hosted facility
the vendor controls but lack virtualization and scalability, he says."
Whether you take a formal survey or just ask around, you’ll find that by
now, almost every call center has either investigated the cloud, or has
joined the converts.
It’s never been easier, since all of the software necessary to deliver
outstanding customer service is now available as cloud solution. From
PBX, IVR and ACD to call recording, from workforce management and
performance management to CRM and speech analytics, if it’s on a call
center manager’s ‘want’ list it is available via a cloud delivery
And if these solutions are based in a true cloud, as opposed to all the
cloud pretenders that have popped up in recent years, they all share the
• No large upfront investment
• Lower operating costs
• Faster, easier deployment
• Seamless integration with current systems
• Ease of use
• Automatic upgrades
• Environmentally responsible energy usage
If all of this sounds good, but you haven’t yet investigated the many
advantages of a cloud solution, it might be time to take one out for a
test drive. One of the best things about the cloud is that there’s
always room for one more.
And if you are already using cloud solutions in your contact center, why
not bring together your best employees and think about an overall cloud
strategy, and how to make the most of this service? Don’t be surprised
if one of the most frequent responses involves expanding the company’s
cloud commitment, so it’s handling even more of the call center’s
Either way, it’s time to discover what a cloud solution has to offer. Don’t get left behind! Contact us to learn more if you are considering the call center cloud.
Cloud computing is one of the key drivers of today’s IT services market.
to Juniper Research, the cloud computing market is on course to reach
$90.7 billion by 2018, with both Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) showing tremendous growth. Cloud
solutions are set to grow six times faster than all software (according
to IDC), at a compound annual growth rate of 26% through 2014.
traditional hardware firms are jumping on the cloud bandwagon.
Hewlett-Packard recently announced it will spend $1 billion over the
next two years to develop and offer cloud-computing services. The
company’s most prominent competitors, IBM and Cisco, have also
accelerated their cloud initiatives.
Why is this happening?
Companies of all sizes and types, including contact centers, have
started to recognize the numerous financial and technological advantages
of switching from on-premises hardware and software installation to a
cloud delivery model:
Saving through Sharing
making a significant investment in hardware/software infrastructure and
operations, call centers can opt to be part of a multi-tenant cloud
system and share one larger, secure infrastructure. This also provides
contact centers with the necessary scalability and redundancies at a
much lower rate.
Getting Started Quickly
solutions take a great deal of time to install – how would a call center
be impacted during this long transitional period? Cloud solutions can
be implemented and deployed quickly, and often provide a more intuitive
end-user experience, which shortens the learning curve for call center
agents. With the cloud, downtime is reduced and ROI is achieved faster.
No Maintenance/Operations Concerns
many contact centers have full-time employees devoted to maintaining
the call center’s software? With the cloud, these tasks are handled more
efficiently at the source by the cloud application vendor.
Pay As You Go
services and software are provided for a low monthly subscription fee,
usually pay as you go, without an upfront investment required. Any
upgrades or customizations are handled by the vendor at no additional
cost – over the long haul, given how often software upgrades are
unveiled, this results in a considerable savings.
When is a Cloud Not a Cloud?
the increasing popularity of cloud solutions, it is regrettable but not
surprising that some companies would attempt to exploit the situation
by offering a product under the cloud name that is anything but.
“fake cloud” or “cloudwashing” applications often come with all of the
drawbacks and costs of a fully hosted solution (and an inferior one at
that). Unfortunately, too many companies do not find out they are stuck
in an expensive and inefficient product until after payment was made.
considering a cloud vendor should explore options, ask questions, and
become familiar with the attributes of a genuine cloud solution.
Two core elements of true cloud are multi-tenancy and self-service.
multi-tenancy call centers share the costs, but this is not possible
with fake clouds, in which each customer has to be managed separately.
When that happens, the cost of the infrastructure is going to go up. If a
vendor’s product does not provide continuous and instantaneous access
to the latest product upgrades, it is not a true cloud solution.
self-service capability is another essential element of cloud, allowing
users to make all customizations independent of the vendor and without
relying on additional IT resources. These customizations will continue
to work with any new product enhancements introduced by the vendor.
cloud vendors design their solutions from the ground up. Software is
coded to perform better as a fully hosted solution and build talent and
expertise around hosting, maintaining, and managing the software across
hundreds of servers and across multiple levels of data redundancy in a
multi-tenant cloud environment.
Product upgrades are free and
automatic in the cloud – with a non-cloud solution, customer upgrades
are handled by the vendor one-by-one, which could delay implementation
by months. That means when the work is done, a new upgrade may already
be in development.
Asking the Right Questions
Before choosing a provider, ask these questions to be certain of receiving a genuine cloud solution:
• Does this solution use a multi-tenant architecture?
• Will all customizations and integrations work with any future upgrades?
• Are upgrades automatic, and are they provided at no additional cost?
• What type of security and data privacy do you provide?
• What is your service level uptime?
• What is the cost and speed of deployment?
• Are there any hidden costs for maintenance, additional servers, upgrades, etc.?
• How soon will I achieve ROI on my investment?
Cloud computing will continue to gain a larger
percentage of the contact center industry because it offers benefits for
businesses of every size and type.
Large call centers enjoy a
tremendous cost savings and a lower upfront equipment investment.
Smaller contact centers can achieve the same technological
sophistication of bigger companies on a smaller budget. And call centers
with agents working from home or in multiple centers can tie everyone
in to the same workforce management system regardless of location.
with cloud computing growing so rapidly, many vendors are trying to
position themselves as cloud providers by re-labeling and re-branding
traditional on-premise software applications. This can lead to problems
with upgrades, process integration and business viability.
need to be able to recognize a true cloud solution as one that was
designed from a web-based, multi-tenant, self-service perspective, and
provides secure and easy access over the Internet, so contact center
agents can work from anywhere at any time.
A few simple
questions and some time spent on researching the background and
reputation of the provider should quickly clear up any uncertainty about
the type of product being offered, and whether it qualifies as genuine.
When is a cloud not a cloud?
That’s the question many contact centers, as well as other types of
businesses, now face as they prepare to switch to cloud-based
They have been told that a cloud solution is easier, lowers upfront
costs, and increases productivity. All of which is true. Unfortunately,
some providers are now trying to jump on the cloud bandwagon with a
solution that delivers all of the costs and none of the benefits.
You might say it’s a cloudy situation.
Cloud computing is not a term easily defined, but the differences
between a “cloud pretender” and the genuine article become apparent when
comparing relative features and costs. Some of the attributes that
should be standard with a cloud-based platform include virtualized
scalability, the ability to instantly self-provision and auto-provision
resources, a shared infrastructure and easy, automated upgrades.
And since one of the objectives of choosing a cloud-based platform is
lowering costs, the call center should not be hit with bills for
upgrades, maintenance and additional server capacity when making the
While it would seem the differences would be obvious, many companies
have selected cloud solutions only to find themselves in a fake cloud
situation that lacks the benefits of the real thing. Over the next few
years call centers will recognize their error and make the transition
from simple virtualization of client-server software to a genuine
If you are considering cloud computing in your call center, you can
maximize the benefits derived from it by choosing a trusted, reputable
provider and getting the right system in place, the first time. Get this
whitepaper "What is cloud-based Workforce Management" to learn more about the "true" cloud.
Any kind of business is more successful when all of its divisions and employees are working together toward the same goal.
larger companies, including call centers, this can be easier said than
done. Different divisions have different priorities, and while all of
them may be similar in conception (better customer service, improved
efficiency, lower costs, etc.), these efforts can always be improved
(and can occasionally be hindered) by the data and employee input from
other parts of the organization.
This is particularly true of
workforce optimization at a contact center. Such businesses are
comprised of managers devoted to forecasting and scheduling, executives
who review recorded and monitored calls to gauge customer service, and
others who set goals for the organization based on agent and customer
Rather than take a siloed approach, where each system
works independently without reciprocal operation with other divisions,
WFO can provide easy access to cross-functional data that helps align
teams, so they can work more effectively on common objectives. And
access is immediate regardless of employee location, just one of the
many benefits of a cloud delivery system.
With the centralized
administration provided by unified WFO, there is no need to devote
additional time and budgeting to costly integration projects, which can
be effective but may not be scheduled more than once a month, if that.
The fully integrated workforce optimization framework automatically
delivers important call center insights, metrics and alerts on an
ongoing basis. Now managers can make more informed decisions and react
more quickly to internal or external trends. Result? A more optimized
call center performance. We invite you to watch this fun contact center video that shows how supervisor Mary switched from spreadsheets to a unified workforce optimization solution.
Once an option only for early adopters, cloud-based services are now
becoming more attractive to all kind of businesses as well. In fact, as
storage and bandwidth costs continue to drop, smaller companies looking
to reduce technology investment costs may be a significant factor in the
continued expansion of the cloud market.
However, software-based technology is still more prominent in the call
center industry. Will this continue to be the case in another 2-3 years?
Let’s take a closer look at the differences between a cloud-based
delivery model, and one that requires on-premises hardware and software
With a cloud model, set up can be completed in days, with secure access
available to agents and managers in the call center and at remote
locations. With a traditional hardware/software system, complete
installation and configuration can take several months, which will add
additional costs and inconvenience to the conversion process.
Upfront and Operating Costs
Here the cloud model has a clear advantage, as users pay only a low
monthly subscription fee with no upfront investment. Depending on the
system, an on-premise solution could run $100,000 or more. Likewise,
ongoing operating costs are higher given the need for back-ups,
maintenance, upgrades and hardware replacement.
With a server, you can only expand your capabilities so much before
another investment is required. The cloud platform allows for maximum
When it’s time to upgrade the software, it can be delivered
automatically with a cloud model at no additional cost. When a manual
software upgrade is necessary, the cost and effort can be prohibitive
enough to be put off, which reduces a call center’s ability to operate
at maximum efficiency.
Usability is a priority with most cloud-based solutions, so call center
agents and managers can get started more quickly. Traditional solutions
tend to be more complex.
For these reasons and more, it seems likely that the popularity of
cloud-based systems will continue to grow. Is it time you considered
making the switch?
So many magazines and websites are naming their Person of the Year and
Event of the Year selections, and speculating about what 2014 will
If recent history is any indication, 2014 will certainly be a year in
which cloud computing continues to attract new converts. In fact, its
transition from an optional alternative to a mainstream solution is
nearly complete, given the number of enterprise software vendors (such
as salesforce.com) that are now focusing solely on a cloud delivery model.
Contact centers are no exception. More than 60% already have at least
one cloud-based application, and according to Connectfirst more than 45%
plan to make an initial or expanded move into the cloud within the next
That same survey found that 55.8% of contact centers say that improving
agent productivity is their top goal. Since customer service agents
typically account for the largest percentage of contact center costs, it
is vital to make sure agent resources are being properly leveraged to
deliver consistent, reliable performance.
Workforce optimization software is one of the best ways to achieve this
objective. It provides insight into customer interactions and service
levels, delivering the data necessary to make important decisions about
WFO and optimal management of personnel.
And since managers still have a budget to consider when it comes times
to expand technological functionality, why wouldn’t they look at the
cloud first? There is no more affordable way than workforce optimization in the cloud for a small, medium-sized or large call center.
If you are not in the cloud yet, you need to get moving.
just one of the conclusions from a recent study that finds cloud
computing is growing even faster than believed, and that those who have
made the switch are enjoying the promised cost benefits, without the
security concerns often cited by the technology’s detractors.
study surveyed more than 500 organizations, including larger and
smaller companies in the United States and Europe. An amazing 87% of
respondents report the adoption of cloud services in the past three
years. More than half said that cloud deployment was completed ahead of
schedule, and 40% raved that the cloud has exceeded their expectations -
see chart below. This positive result was surprising for many
companies, since many have experienced in the past that IT projects
almost always took longer than planned.
|Source: The study
was commissioned by CA Technologies and conducted jointly by Luth
Research and Vanson Bourne. See link below for complete study|
What about security? According to this survey, 98% said that the
cloud met or exceeded their expectations in this area. That may be a
surprise to those who remain hesitant about the technology for this
In fact, there were indications that those in the cloud industry need to
do a better job of addressing these worries, and in closing the gap
between perceived and actual security risk. A Ponemon study, quoted in
the survey article, reveals that some of these risks are a result of
companies not adhering to recommended security practices.
line? If you have not considered cloud services yet, now would be a
good time to do so. At this point the business and technology benefits
are simply too substantial to ignore.
The full study is available here and you can also follow this link to learn more about cloud-based call center software.
Every year, Cloud Computing Magazine publishes a list of companies that,
in their expert judgment, effectively leveraged cloud computing in an
effort to bring new, differentiated offerings to market.
This year, Monet Software was selected to receive a 2013 Cloud Computing Excellence Award
for Monet WFO Live. “I am pleased to recognize the companies that have
exemplified innovation and excellence in the market by leveraging the
latest technology trends to create an enriched user experience,” said
Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director for TMC, the company that
publishes Cloud Computing Magazine.
Monet WFO Live incorporates workforce management tools to improve
scheduling and service levels, call recording capabilities for
compliance, and quality assurance to help managers better evaluate the
performance of their agents and the call center as a whole. From
forecasting and exception planning to call tagging, reporting and
analytics, Monet WFO Live is a one-stop source for call center
efficiency, accessed through the cloud for better convenience and lower
For more information, please read the official press release and watch a video about Monet WFO Live in our resource center.
To be recognized by one of the industry’s definitive sources for Cloud
technology information is an honor we are proud to accept.
The adoption of cloud-based software has been steadily increasing for
several years, led by such companies as Workday and Salesforce, which
already has more than 100,000 customers.
According to a CRN survey, SMB spending on cloud computing will reach
$100 billion by 2014. Other companies from Gartner to Merrill Lynch
report similar findings, though the numbers vary by a billion one way or
another. What is clear is that the market for a cloud infrastructure
for applications like workforce management (WFM) is already large and
still growing quickly.
Why? There are a number of reasons, starting with cost savings. By
handling WFM in the cloud a call center doesn’t have to budget for the
purchase of hardware, software, database or data center infrastructure.
There are also advantages in ease of use, deployment and ROI. The WFM
application can be accessed anywhere at any time via the Internet. A
lower investment means a more rapid return on the investment made in the
cloud application, and updates and upgrades can be delivered
automatically as they become available. For more details, please read
our Workforce Management in the Cloud whitepaper.
As with any other business, call centers are discouraged from having all
of their system data housed in one physical location. But with cloud
computing, there is never a question of redundancy if a server breaks
down or become overloaded. There are environmental benefits as well, as
information is stored in a climate that minimizes energy usage. And
because servers can be shared in a virtual environment, the result is
fewer servers and a reduction in the power required to operate and cool
Are there any drawbacks to moving your workforce management to the
cloud? The one cited by some industry professionals is security. So when
choosing a WFM solution, this is the area to focus your questions on –
what are the company’s security standards, and what certifications has
the application received? If the appropriate testing and
network/application/data security is in place, your call center should
enjoy the benefits of cloud-based workforce management software without any heightened risk of a breach.