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SMBs and the Cloud: Size Does Not Matter

By Carol Kline & Tina Valdez
Oct 17, 2011 5:00 AM PT

As customers become more digital, social and mobile, small and mid-sized businesses have significant opportunity to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through a differentiated customer experience, just like their enterprise competitors.

SMBs and the Cloud: Size Does Not Matter

However, those who are unwilling to invest in solutions that embrace the needs of today's marketplace will most certainly be left behind. Consider these facts:

  • More than 2 billion consumers are online, spending more time online than watching television, and only 28 percent of consumers prefer to resolve service issues on the phone.
  • 96 percent of Gen Y has joined at least one social network, and, in 2010, they outnumbered the Baby Boomer generation.
  • By 2015, mobile Internet will surpass fixed Internet, and 40 percent of 18-34 year olds use their mobile devices to make purchases today.

As these new realities shape customer management strategies, many small and medium businesses are scrambling to find solutions that meet customer needs without onerous investment and infrastructure requirements. Unfortunately, many of these decision-makers have been focused on less robust down-market solutions, based on the assumption that integrating a full-service cloud solution requires complex relationships with multiple service providers. Thankfully, that's just not the case.

Customer Satisfaction Gains

Until the application of hosted -- or cloud -- technology, many advanced customer relationship management solutions were out of reach for small and mid-size operations. But done right, cloud technology and a smart cloud channel strategy stand to be huge enablers of competitive advantage through a differentiated customer experience.

More businesses are recognizing this opportunity and taking advantage of the benefits of cloud-based contact center solutions, improving customer satisfaction and return on investment by as much as 27 percent in the process. So how can the cloud help small and medium businesses compete and better identify, attract and serve customers? Here are six benefits you can't afford to ignore:

1. Reduced fixed and technology support costs, all with access to new technologies at lower risk. In large organizations, acquiring and maintaining traditional physical infrastructure -- including data centers, as well as separate contact center technology at each service delivery center -- requires significant capital expenditures. Organizations are then often committed to a system for the depreciable life of the assets, limiting the ability to try new solutions or make significant changes. Cloud solutions allow companies to pilot, implement, and globally scale without incurring unacceptable levels of risk.

2. Improved customer satisfaction and revenue by delivering a consistently great experience and the right service at the right time via the right channel. A key driver in customer satisfaction is the ability to recognize and accommodate customers from one channel to the next. This nimble and proactive approach requires a partner that can deliver a centralized and virtualized infrastructure that allows for one view of the customer across all channels, including mobile and social channels.

3. Reduced onboarding costs, higher retention and better associate performance. A virtual, global system broadens the talent pools exponentially, and allows companies to select the most qualified associates. Once these associates are in place, they are armed with the best possible training and knowledge. This occurs via a crowdsourcing approach to learning and customer intelligence, along with the cross-channel visibility mentioned above, making for a powerful customer experience.

4. Reduced cost-to-serve via improved staff utilization, effective multichannel strategies, and access to new tools that improve operational efficiency. While a non-technical telephone contact can run as high as US$12, self service can be as little as $0.10 per contact, with click to chat, email and virtual agents costing anywhere from $1 to $5 per contact. Cloud solutions make it possible to balance these options and deliver sales and service via the right mix of channels to various customer profiles. As a result, average cost per contact can be reduced by 44 to 88 percent. Only cloud-based contact center solutions give non-enterprise organizations the chance to try multichannel solutions without the risk and investment. But when doing so, companies will be best served by selecting a provider that has the experience running the technology themselves, so they can serve as a professional advisor rather than merely the company that delivers the technology.

5. Improved responsiveness and scalability, across channels, and around the globe. In the highly seasonal retail industry, for example, premises-based systems and traditional workforce management mean idle human resource and technology costs during non-peak times. Meanwhile, unanticipated or particularly high demand can result in missed opportunities and a poor customer experience. Cloud architecture enables ready and flexible access to the right associate talent pool.

6. Reduced implementation timeline with fast time-to-market and time-to-benefit. Cloud-based solutions allow companies of all sizes to respond to dynamic market changes in real time. This allows companies to more easily make decisions based on market opportunities or competitive threats, ultimately delivering a more timely, and higher quality experience to customers.

Summing Up

Companies large and small stand to benefit from the flexibility, scalability and efficiency that cloud contact center solutions deliver.

By leveraging the cloud to create a superior customer relationship management strategy, companies can drive down costs and improve revenue, loyalty and retention through a differentiated customer experience.


Carol Kline is the chief information officer of TeleTech. She has more than 20 years of experience in managing dynamic technology environments and global operations teams. Tina J. Valdez is the vice president of product management, technology innovation. She has more than 15 years of management and leadership experience focused on the manufacturing, service and telecommunications industries.


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