The benefits and risks of delivering customer service in the cloud

Cloud-based customer services platforms are growing at an exponential rate among businesses. As we begin to understand and embrace the potential of data analytics, organisations can analyse business performance, determine trends and transform the customer experience they offer.

However, while the reliability of the service is improving, there are still a number of security measures that should be considered when moving services to the cloud.

Here, we look at the potential benefits and pitfalls your business may face when delivering customer service in the cloud:

Potential benefits†

Service delivery:

Moving to the cloud shifts the focus from providing systems that allow you to deliver your services to simply delivering your services, ensuring a better service to customers. This is vital to improving your brand reputation and encouraging customer loyalty.

Reduction of servers:

Reducing the amount of servers your business relies on to deliver its services limits the risk you face if there is a power outage, internet dropout or even a natural disaster.

Fewer IT staff:

Employing a large IT team leaves you vulnerable to the risk of sickness and sudden departure as well as employee misconduct. Significant cost can also be incurred when new team members need to be retrained.

By limiting the number of in-house staff, your business continuity is better protected.

Multiple users:

When there are multiple users of a system it is tested through a significantly higher level of use. Sharing the infrastructure among more users not only reduces the cost to all, it also increases functionality.

Updates to functionality and security are also more frequent, which allows security holes to be close quickly and efficiently.

Security:

Delegating security responsibility back to the vendor is attractive for some organisations, bringing peace of mind and reducing risk. More regular updates also means security will be constantly reviewed and improved, and ensures security gaps are closed more quickly.

Cost:

Investing in the cloud reduces IT costs. Fewer, larger capital outlays reduce the financial risk to the organisation and spend is spread across the life of the product.

Scalability:

The cloud is a scalable solution, both up and down in step with the conditions under which your organisation works. This reduces the risk of not being able to quickly react to customer needs and reduces the long-term financial burden when scaling back operations.

Potential Pitfalls

Internet:

If youíre planning on moving services to the cloud, ensuring you have a high-quality internet connection is vital. If this isnít prioritised, your business continuity could be at risk and the functionality of your site may be affected.

Loss of skill:

Although limiting the size of your IT team protects your business from certain risks (as discussed above), it does mean skills may be lost from your business.

It is worth looking at how valuable these skills are to your business and weighing up the benefits before making any decisions.

Increase in cost:

There is a potential increase in costs; in the short term if there are long gaps between replacing on-premise systems and in the long term if not entirely replacing your on-premise systems.

Storage can also be expensive, especially if moving from an on-premise data storage solution.

Customisation:

Although a move to the cloud will increase the flexibility your customers experience, it may mean a loss of customisation flexibility and a reduced ability to cater to very specific needs within your business.

Regulation:

You will need to understand how the cloud is related to the regulatory environment. Depending on the sector in which you operate, regulatory bodies might perceive the cloud as insecure.

Security:

Increased security is a benefit, but you are at the mercy of the cloud provider when it comes to answering security questions, for example for audit, writing tenders etc.

You might also need to understand data security principals relating to third parties, which might require additional training or auditing.

Ultimately there can be no abdication of responsibility; you will still have to vet credentials and monitor suppliers.

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