Handle Seasonal Demand with a Virtual Contact CenterIs your SMB close to making the transition from “S” to “M”?

If the holidays are about to turn your business from small to mid-sized, don’t wait for increased seasonal demand to max out your business phone system. Consider moving or upgrading to a cloud-based contact center, which can make the transition easier—AND help you to better manage the holiday rush.

Handle Even Record-Breaking Demand

A cloud-based contact center can provide you with the info you need to manage seasonal demand in real-time. And, they’re more flexible than call centers alone, since they not only manage phone calls, but email and Web chat as well.

A large retail customer—a popular skate gear retail chain—told us that the company relies heavily on reporting information they get from their cloud-based contact center software. In 2012, it really helped handle record-breaking call volume during the 2012 holiday season, according to the customer satisfaction manager there. “We wouldn’t have been able to manage such a large volume of calls without the reporting information we got,” he says.

CRM + Virtual Contact Center Sends Sales Through the Chimney

In addition to managing holiday volume changes well, cloud-based contact centers offer many options for customers to reach a business, through multiple channels of communications. Being able to track and manage multiple customer contacts or “touches” can be crucial for attracting and retaining customers during the holiday season. They’re designed to take a high volume of calls, emails and chat interactions, then route them to the appropriate person, or agent, best able to handle their needs. This can be based on skills, sales territory and other criteria. You can also scale the number of agents helping customers based on demand, and even integrate agents working from home into your contact center.

Plus, the best ones interface seamlessly with CRM systems such as Salesforce and NetSuite for tracking and logging of those communications. Some high-end hospitality companies, for example, are combining their CRM systems with 8×8’s Virtual Contact Center to recognize returning customers browsing their websites, then give customers the option to talk or Web chat with a salesperson about their needs or any current special offers and deals. They find that they’re able to boost sales and conversions dramatically with this technique, and customers are able to quickly get the information they need.

Getting Service: Faster and Cheaper Than You Think

And if you’re contemplating upgrading to VoIP in addition to a call center but think it’s too late to start now for the holiday season, take heart—rapid deployment is one of the great features of cloud-based VoIP phone systems.

Consider the experience of Outreach Process Partners (OPP), an organization that got a contract to run the Environment Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water hotline, but had just three weeks to get it up and running in a new location. Their old on-site call center and phone system frequently had failed to meet their needs, so when OPP got the contract, it turned to the cloud for a faster-to-deploy, more efficient solution.

“Premises-based call centers fail to meet delivery dates and budget requirements about 55% of the time,” said Heather Donnelly,” president of MarkIT Support, which OPP chose to lead the transition. “They’re also expensive to customize and maintain. We needed a VoIP call center solution that could quickly meet our needs and budget.” The company had the EPA’s high-demand site up and running—in less than three weeks. The fact that it is possible to achieve it this quickly when necessary is a testament to the flexibility, scalability and power of the cloud.