A cloud-based contact center was "the best way to get everything we wanted," says C&S Wholesale Grocers CIO Sudhakar Lingineni.

Jun 22 2023
Digital Workspace

The Cloud Has Revolutionized How Businesses Run Their Contact Centers

No longer limited to centralized locations, business enjoy reduced costs, increased productivity and better tracking of customer communication.

As a national leader among suppliers of groceries to supermarkets and other food outlets, C&S Wholesale Grocers knows what it takes to provide great customer service. One key is giving buyers what they want, including high-quality products delivered when and where they’re needed. Another, lately, entails leveraging technology: running the company contact center in the cloud.

The company maintains dozens of warehouses and offices in cities across multiple states. It needed a contact center solution that would work anywhere, but which also easily integrated with other business applications, including their Salesforce customer relationship management system.

“We realized that the best way to get everything we wanted was to go with a cloud-based platform,” says CIO Sudhakar Lingineni. He says the company found what it was looking for in RingCentral’s customer service and help desk solution: “From a phone systems point of view, it just simplifies everything while expanding and improving what we’re able to do.”

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C&S Grocers is hardly the only company benefiting from a cloud-based approach to contact centers. Gone are the days when staffing a call center inevitably entailed toiling in cubes in windowless buildings where the ringing never ends. Today, new technologies allow agents to work from anywhere, and more effectively than ever.

The pandemic accelerated a shift that was already underway, according to research by Deloitte, whose 2021 survey revealed “a migration to cloud telephony,” says Timothy E. McDougal, managing director with Deloitte. Before the pandemic, he explains, most organizations were starting to test the waters around cloud-based contact centers, “but few showed any interest in moving fast.”

COVID-19 and the resulting pivot to remote work led many companies to evolve their thinking. “Now they’re seeing that premise-based platforms often lack the capabilities of their cloud-based counterparts,” he says.

Cloud-Based Contact Centers Are Easy for Agents

When customers call C&S Grocers today, a series of prompts route them quickly to the right agent, who answers through a computer softphone application. The agent simply clicks a link to merge the call with Salesforce, and if the customer has worked with C&S Grocers before, “the agent instantly gets a 360-degree view of that business relationship, with everything they need in front of them,” Lingineni says.

The C&S Grocers IT team can monitor communications and track usage metrics via the platform’s real-time dashboard. And because the system is hosted in the cloud, the team can easily test and distribute new functions as soon as updates are released, Lingineni says.

Similarly, as the company grows, onboarding new contact center agents is now a breeze. The only thing they need to get started is the RingCentral app on their computers.

“The process is seamless,” says Lingineni, adding that the system proved doubly useful as the pandemic picked up soon after they rolled it out. C&S Grocers couldn’t have possibly known what was coming when it moved its call center to the cloud, he notes. “But now, with more people working remotely, it’s good that we did it when we did.”

EXPLORE: How the cloud has revolutionized contact centers.

Sudhakar Lingineni
From a phone systems point of view, it just simplifies everything while expanding and improving what we're able to do.”

Sudhakar Lingineni C&S Wholesale Grocers

Cloud-Based Contact Centers Deliver Benefits All Around

Customers benefit when the businesses they interact with use data analytics and other tools to better understand their needs, McDougal notes. Meanwhile, companies get happier customers.

Cloud-based systems typically also provide costs savings, as they eliminate the need for buildings in which to house contact center employees and physical phones and other hardware. At the same time, some platforms use pay-as-you-go pricing models, where businesses are only charged for resources used. And cloud-based solutions can save IT departments time they might otherwise spend on provisioning and maintenance.

Cloud-based contact center solutions also come with tools that can track customer engagement more effectively so companies can drive more sales. Some platforms also include self-service functionalities powered by artificial intelligence.

Recent advancements in customer service technology convinced company leaders at BPO American to turn to the cloud for the company’s own call center. In this case, though, the main reason for the move was a desire for better data security.

Cloud-Based Contact Centers Reduce Risk

Agents for BPO American, a Greer, S.C.-based company that provides call center operations to other businesses on an outsourced basis, have worked remotely for years. But prior to 2020, they’d done so using technology that depended on applications that ran on their personal desktops.

The latter represented a risk, IT Director Christy Gosnell says. “We wanted a way to ensure that customer data couldn’t be saved to an agent’s PC,” she says. “In terms of security, that’s a problem because it means you’re relying on them to keep their device safe.”

DIVE DEEPER: How to implement a customer-centric management system.

BPO American deployed the cloud-based Microsoft Windows 365. Today, agents still work on their own computers, “but now they’re using a virtual machine, and we control security on the back end,” Gosnell says.

To get started, agents simply download the Windows Remote Desktop app. From there, one login provides direct access to their user accounts, They then can begin answering calls immediately, reading from an automatically generated script.

According to Gosnell, the platform allows her team to easily manage security updates, add new features as they become available and monitor agents’ connections to their cloud PCs. Finally, she notes, the system is reliable: “Our agents are good to go on day one.”


The projected compound annual growth rate of the cloud-based contact center market between 2022 and 2030

Source: Source: 1 globenewswire.com, “Cloud-Based Contact Centers Market Size Is Projected to Reach USD 82.43 Billion by 2030, Growing at a CAGR of 21.3%: Straits Research,” Sept. 7, 2022

Cloud-Based Contact Centers Have Built-In Redundancies

One business leader who knows something about the importance of system reliability is Thomas Rocharz, director of contact centers at Cape Air.

A little over a year ago, Rocharz says, the small airline was challenged by the limitations of an on-premises contact center that was no longer supported by the manufacturer. The end of the road came with the arrival of a winter storm that knocked out the power at Cape Air headquarters in Hyannis, Mass.

“Our phone system went down, and we didn’t have a backup,” Rocharz recalls. “That became the big push for us to find a comprehensive cloud solution that also had its own built-in redundancies.”

Soon, Rocharz says, the company settled on what he describes as an “all-in-one” solution from 8x8. Like the RingCentral and Windows platforms used by C&S Grocers and BPO American, the technology leverages a softphone interface and a mobile app to allow agents to take calls from anywhere. It also integrates with Cape Air’s CRM system to give agents access to data they can use to quickly resolve most customer issues.

LEARN MORE: Why contact center modernization shouldn't be on hold.

“It makes it so that we don’t have to dig between multiple systems to get a clear picture of a customer’s interactions,” Rocharz says. “It makes life easier for the people answering calls, and it makes my job a lot easier whenever I need to look at a conversation.”

Before they rolled out the 8x8 solution in April 2022, Cape Air’s IT department constantly was faced with maintenance concerns related to its outdated contact center system. Now, issues like those are largely a thing of the past, Rocharz says.

“We’ve certainly gained a lot just considering the reduced workload we’ve seen,” he says. “Add that to the improvements we’ve made to customer service, and I can’t imagine doing it any other way.” 

The Modern Cloud-Based Contact Center 

Contact centers hosted in the cloud come with modern solutions that leverage the latest technologies. Here’s a quick look at some of the key features that set these contact centers apart from traditional on-premises contact centers.

  • Data analytics: Tools that comb through customer data to instantly create reports that can be used to enhance service in real time
  • Text and speech analytics: Artificial intelligence technology that can extract meaning from conversations to drive faster resolution of customer concerns
  • Multichannel capabilities: Solutions that allow agents to interact with customers via phone, text, chat, email and social media
  • Self-service technologies: Conversational AI solutions that automate aspects of customer service
Photography by Matt Stanley

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