By Julie Wajda, Product Development Manager
So you’ve decided to move your contact center to the cloud. Great decision! But there are a few more choices to make, including which solution is right for you: SaaS or managed services.
These have long been the two options available when it comes to contact center solutions. SaaS (Software as a Service) is a do-it-yourself option. A communications provider makes the environment available, but the buyer must understand how the software works and performs.
Managed services, on the other hand, are more difficult to find. They let the buyer take more of a hands-off approach. Just as the name suggests, a managed solution is entirely hosted and designed by the provider. That gives you the freedom to focus on business while your partner customizes the solution to meet your specific goals.
Numerous providers offer a “managed” option, but be sure to check the specific cost structure before buying. Some add fees related to “professional services” that go above and beyond the price for a hosted solution.
Each option — SaaS or managed — has its advantages based on the depth of your in-house resources, your desired level of support and whether you want a strategic partner to continually optimize your business.
But ultimately, six factors define a SaaS or managed solution: staffing, configuration, support, analytics, channels and cost. Check out this infographic to learn more about how the two options differ in each of these categories.
However, as customer values change, with customer experience (CX) projected to outpace price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020, contact center providers are beginning to look beyond SaaS or managed services.
Focusing on the overall experience, providers call this new frontier “CX consultation.” Just as CX isn’t constrained to one call to the contact center, a CX-minded partner doesn’t just offer contact center advice. They look at your entire communication infrastructure to see how the pieces can best fit together to create the most enjoyable experiences.
A managed service provider sits down to discuss your business objectives, but the solution is still more or less “what you see is what you get.” The discussion is limited to the contact center solution itself.
But as a CX consultant, your partner keeps up with industry research and serves as a trusted adviser. They recommend best practices in your industry, which leave a mark in all six contact center factors.
Your provider has the expertise to configure and manage your system, letting you focus on your core business. But beyond that, your provider becomes a consultant by reviewing your entire technology ecosystem see how your contact center solution can work more efficiently and create better experiences.
A CX consultant customizes options uniquely for your business with your specific customer needs in mind. Everything is easily scalable as your business grows and evolves.
Beyond external staff members, a dedicated support team is ready to quickly address any concerns or requests. Your provider will go beyond a quick fix and find a comprehensive solution that matches the unique situation.
This is where CX consultation truly becomes distinguished from managed services. Both go above and beyond core measurements with custom analytics, but CX consultants look at far more touch points specifically related to how customers interact with your contact center. A wealth of knowledge helps you make the right changes at the right time.
CX design means customers get the same experience regardless of what channel they’re in. CX consultation not only means all channels are supported. It means your provider reviews and designs how your customers can connect with you via texting, phone calls, IVR, email, web chat, chatbots and more, ensuring that all provide equally rich experiences.
With more one-on-one guidance, costs for CX consultation may be higher than either SaaS or managed services, but every business leader knows you get out what you put in. Integrating your contact center solution into your CX strategy leads to higher customer retention and a welcome boost to ROI.
Anytime you have an opportunity to touch your client directly, it’s an opportunity to represent your brand. Whether you choose SaaS or managed — or start preparing for a contact center based in CX consultation — your contact center must be a key piece in providing exceptional experiences.
If your customers are reaching out via phone or chat, it could be because something is wrong. Make sure you’re available to provide a quick response, or it could go the wrong way in a hurry.
If you still need more help deciding, check out these 10 new rules of the inbound contact center to see what’s most important to your customers. Or contact West Interactive Services to chat about what option is best for you.
Julie has nearly 30 years of experience in software development and product management. She graduated from Hastings College with a degree in computer science with science and business emphases and has led product development activities for West’s Cloud Contact Center solutions since 2014. Julie specializes in creating innovative solutions and helping clients develop communication strategies that allow them to work more effectively and create long-term connections through exceptional customer experiences.