contact center call center agent (call center representative)
Definition

contact center as a service (CCaaS)

What is CCaaS?

Contact center as a service (CCaaS) is a framework that combines contact center hosting principles and cloud-based contact center infrastructure. With CCaaS, organizations gain flexibility and agility. Furthermore, they can pay less for assets with peak- and low-demand loads.

With CCaaS models, organizations may use software subscriptions -- software as a service -- and rent hardware assets from a provider rather than own the assets themselves. In this approach, organizations enlist a pay-as-you-go model to get required resources as demand increases or decreases. Organizations may opt to rent infrastructure or buy their own and have a CCaaS provider maintain it for them. Others may combine owned and managed infrastructure -- often referred to as a hybrid model.

Cloud-based contact centers have grown in popularity. According to research firm Metrigy's "Customer Engagement Transformation: 2020-21" study of 700 global organizations, over 60% of organizations adopted single- or multi-tenant cloud-based contact center technology throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are the benefits of CCaaS?

Benefits of a CCaaS model include those inherent to cloud deployment strategies and flexibility in contact center functionalities.

CCaaS benefits include the following:

  • Service providers manage assets, such as IT investments and hardware, so organizations don't need to allocate time and resources to manage and maintain them.
  • Resource flexibility and scalability.
  • Better CX for end users.
  • Easier implementation for hybrid architectures in tandem with existing, on-premises contact centers can help with compliance.
  • Better preparation to adopt advanced applications.
  • More interaction channels than on-premises contact centers due to the ease of adoption. On average, organizations with cloud-based contact centers had 6.31 channels, as opposed to 4.71 for on premises. With cloud providers, organizations don't need to implement and test new supporting software and servers. Furthermore, organizations with eight or more channels tend to have significantly better customer ratings than those with fewer than four.
  • Better preparation for the future with cloud access to functionalities such as AI.
  • Cost savings, compared with on-premises contact center software. Full CCaaS, on average, is $1,356 per agent per year, as opposed to $2,104 for on-premises.
Future of contact center features
Social media, mobile access, video telephony and advanced analytics all have a place in the future of contact centers.

CCaaS platforms and vendors

As organizations increasingly adopt cloud platforms to implement contact centers, experts predict CCaaS market offerings will reach $27.8 billion in 2023 as opposed to $11.5 billion in 2018.

Leading CCaaS vendors include the following:

  • Salesforce
  • Genesys
  • Nice inContact
  • Cisco
  • Zendesk
  • Verint Systems
  • Avaya
  • 8x8
  • Five9
  • RingCentral

What are the differences between UCaaS and CCaaS?

CCaaS and unified communications as a service (UCaaS) overlap in functions. However, organizations use these platforms for different purposes, and different departments purchase them.

Organizations generally use CCaaS to communicate with customers; they use UCaaS for intra-organizational employee collaboration. CCaaS, which includes call center software, serves customer service with features such as automatic call distribution and interactive voice response. CCaaS helps support and sales reps communicate with customers across various channels through a single cloud platform.

UCaaS is a cloud-based platform that contains an organization's enterprise communication apps. These apps include video conferencing, messaging, email and voice call functionalities. Other features include call-routing, conference bridging, virtual receptionist and voice-to-text conversion. The point of UCaaS is to streamline workflows and employee collaboration.

What are the differences between CCaaS and other contact center options?

CCaaS falls under cloud-based contact centers, which is one of several types of contact centers. Other types of contact centers include the following:

CCaaS has more in common with hosted and virtual contact centers, as organizations can outsource CCaaS, and its cloud-based infrastructure enables agents to work remotely. Hardware contact centers differ the most from CCaaS, although all types of contact centers serve the same purpose. Organizations must decide which contact center type works best for their individual business needs.

A chart of differences between on-premises and cloud contact centers
On-premises and cloud contact centers serve the same purpose, yet they differ in management, costs and staff requirements.

History and evolution of CCaaS

The origin of CCaaS dates back to the beginning of call centers. Call centers were, and are, completely phone-based, where customers call a toll-free number to interact with a representative from the organization. These calls were typically the only interactions customers had with organizations, and they were the only option to contact businesses.

After call centers came contact centers, which allowed customers to reach out to organizations in their preferred medium -- email, chatbot and social media, among other options. As organizations have continued to innovate and technologies like the cloud have grown in prominence, contact center technology followed suit. CCaaS came from this continued innovation and organizations' desire to gain the benefits of cloud technology in their contact centers.

As technology continues to progress, CCaaS will follow suit. Experts already see continued advancements in the growing relationship between UCaaS and CCaaS and the growth in cloud adoption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Future CCaaS adoption can benefit organizations that haven't embraced it yet, including benefits like customer service improvements, lower costs and increased flexibility.

This was last updated in November 2021

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