Contact Centres? Communications Platforms? Why not the best of both?
Customer engagement is critical for modern businesses to get ahead of their competitors, but doing so effectively is rarely straightforward. Recent years have seen two different approaches for cloud-based customer engagement emerge – Contact Centre-as-a-Service (CCaaS), and Communications Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS). Both approaches offer their own value and drawbacks, but with the right expertise, it’s easy to find a solution that can offer the best of both worlds.
To do that, we’ll take a look at each approach in turn, and then reveal how we can help you realise the benefits of both.
Contact Centre as-a-Service
When looking to establish a contact centre, the traditional choice wasn’t between CCaaS and CPaaS, but between call centre software deployed on-premises and only more recently CCaaS. And, when compared to an on-premises solution, it’s clear CCaaS can provide lot of advantages:
- It’s a lot easier to set up for agents who work remotely, and, as a result, makes it easier for businesses to recruit and onboard new employees.
- The provider covers the maintenance and upkeep of the physical infrastructure, meaning a business doesn’t need to bring in IT personnel to do so.
- There’s no need to invest heavily to set up the infrastructure for the contact centre, as the business simply pays for access to an existing platform.
As a result, CCaaS is often presented as a software-as-a-service solution that delivers a fully functional contact centre to users, and promises all the benefits which typically accompany a cloud-based solution (such as scalability and flexibility).
But in reality, CCaaS solutions usually struggle to deliver these benefits – businesses are simply assigned their own, pre-configured contact centre with a dedicated capacity to accommodate users, data storage and performance – making it difficult to scale effectively, and limiting or failing to offer the ability to customise should the solution not address the precise needs of your business.
The reason for the shortfall is that many CCaaS solutions are long-established on-premises solutions which have been made available in a cloud environment and offered on pay-as-you-go commercials. The underlying solution largely remains the same as it did on-premises, and all-to-often does not capitalise on the attributes of the cloud and the value it can bring.
This means that while CCaaS solutions definitely have some advantages, their inflexibility means that if your business has specific customer expectations it needs to meet, or engagement processes you’d like to develop or follow, it’s often difficult to find a CCaaS solution that can fit the bill.
Communications Platform as-a-Service
If it’s flexibility you’re looking for, the best option is CPaaS. Rather than delivering a fully-realised contact centre, these solutions offer a toolbox of functionality, different services and APIs that enables a business to connect together in whatever way serves their desired customer experience best. Think of a CPaaS as a set of building blocks you are free to assemble. Importantly, the building blocks are headless – which means the User Interface (UI) can be created on top, and engineered to perform in whatever way your business needs it to.
CPaaS solutions are cloud-native, which means they are written in a way that fully harnesses the scale and flexibility of the cloud, and that helps to deliver a more agile and relevant contact centre experience. With the right CPaaS and some expertise, a solution can be tailored to the specific needs of your business, and when it’s time to grow you can identify which parts of your contact centre need to upscale or change and pay only for those adjustments. Compared to a CCaaS, where to scale up, the entire platform needs to grow, and it’s clear to see the extent greater flexibility can help a business.
This gives businesses the ability to make small, iterative developments to their solution – bringing in key features without needing to overhaul their entire platform. As an example, let’s consider a situation which many contact centres face on a regular basis. You have a team of agents with diverse skillsets, but when a customer calls, they’re put into one main queue, and have to be endlessly transferred from agent to agent until they reach someone with the right skills to help. There’s no real way to remediate this issue with a CCaaS solution, but with CPaaS, it’s possible to develop an integration that pulls the skills database in Microsoft Teams into your contact centre, allowing for intelligent call routing to agents with the necessary expertise to help. Making these smaller changes can deliver a huge return on investment for a much lower cost than reworking the entire solution. In this instance, dramatically reducing the amount of time agents have to spend directing a customer to someone with the necessary expertise to help.
The potential for customisation brings huge benefits to a lot of businesses – allowing them to quickly react and add new capabilities when necessary – but it’s not all plain sailing. Building a bespoke platform out of CPaaS elements requires time and expertise from a software developer. For larger businesses, or those that already have in-house development potential, this is a fairly easy hurdle to mount, and offers a much better offer than CCaaS. But for most businesses, this can be cost- or expertise-prohibitive.
The Ciptex approach to CPaaS
If CCaaS solutions are too inflexible, and CPaaS solutions require skills or budget you don’t have, you might be thinking you’re stuck without a perfect solution. But since the main drawback of CPaaS is developer effort, why not look to a partner who’s done the groundwork ahead of time, giving you a solution that offers all the cloud-native flexibility of CPaaS, without the obstacles to set up the solution and align it with the intricacies of your business?
That’s the guiding philosophy behind our RACE framework – born out of the need to help our customers set up a communications platform that’s ready to go right out the box, but can still be tailored to the specific needs of a business.
RACE deployments build upon Twilio Flex – the world’s most customisable contact centre solution – to deliver templated platforms for the needs of particular sectors, and these platforms can be established in days, rather than the weeks of development time it can take to get moving with a more conventional CPaaS solution.
Once established, our extensive portfolio of ready-to-go integrations and extensions allows you the ability to completely customise your platform to suit your needs – whether you need a video-calling powerhouse, a way to keep track of and engage with customers across a wide variety of channels, simply need to set up a contact centre which can help people find what they need with minimal friction, or all of the above.
This essentially allows us to deliver the best of both worlds, giving the rapid deployment of CCaaS, with the flexibility and potential for customisation of CPaaS.
If you want to see our platform in action, reach out to us for a demonstration – or take a look at how our RACE framework helped Debt Free Advice roll out a tailored contact centre solution so they could keep serving their customers, even at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.