Monday, July 28, 2014

End of the Premises Contact Center

By: John Shepler

Business telephone operations have changed a bit over the years. Single line phones soon gave way to the switchboard with live operators to direct calls. Automation replaced the switchboard with the receptionist backed up by a key telephone PBX (Private Branch Exchange) phone system. Call centers with dozens or hundreds of agents performing customer service developed specialized version of PBX systems with integration of computers and telephones. Still, one thing remained constant over the decades of technology evolution. The facilities all remained on-premises.

Time to upgrade your contact center solution?What’s Wrong With Premises Equipment?
The idea of keeping everything in-house has a appeal to it. After all, if you have the equipment right under your nose, you have complete control of how it works, who gets to use it and what services are available. You might even get lulled into the notion that in-house means much higher reliability than facilities located somewhere out there.

With premises based facilities you do have the ability to take a look at the system whenever you like. You can even give it a love pat from time to time just for good luck.

Along with this ability, you also pick up some responsibilities. You have to provide space, reliable power, connections to each and every phone and on-going maintenance. You didn’t think that these things ran themselves, did you? You also didn’t think that they came free of charge? No, sir. There are some major bucks involved with setting up a call center or contact center phone system and keeping it up to date.

Moving on Up to the Cloud
Unlike the last century or so, today you have the option of being able to run an efficient contact center while unloading the equipment burden. Where does it all go? To the cloud, of course.

Not everything, mind you, but the core system relocates to a remote data center. What you are left with are the actual telephones and computers that you can’t do without. But with a cloud based system, those phones and computers can be scattered around the globe and even at home for some agents, yet all connected as if they were in the same building.

More that Cost Savings
Cloud based contact centers have the obvious advantage of eliminating a major money pit in the form of PBX equipment, software and on-going maintenance. That means less tech support needed at your end. The service provider takes over the support function and handles tech issues 24/7. You may not have been able to even afford this level of scrutiny in-house.

The cloud also has its own benefits. What’s different about a cloud-based system is that a dedicated service prover builds a massive technical plant way beyond what any single company could justify. The benefit to you is that you can likely expand or contract your use of the system at will. If business grows you add more seats and pay for them one by one. If business goes into a tailspin, you eliminate the seats you don’t need.

Another cloud benefit is that you get the latest technology, including features that your in-house system probably can’t provide. That includes individual user features but also major infrastructure like redundant data centers. With duplicated facilities running in parallel, if one center goes down for any reason, the other picks up the load invisibly to you. That translates to higher availability. One vendor, inContact, boasts 99.99% availability.

Tools for Higher Productivity
The inContact suite of tools includes ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) with skills-based routing, IVR (Interactive Voice Response) with speech recognition, CTI (Computer Telephone Integration), predictive , progressive and preview dialers, call recording, extensive reporting, quality monitoring and Workforce Optimization tools.

Sure, you might develop an ad-hoc solution in-house that could provide similar functions, but you’re looking at a substantial development process that sucks up time and money and then YOU have to keep it all running and make improvements over the years. Why re-invent the wheel when the latest in call center efficiency is available for your use right now and can grow with your needs?

Do you have a stand alone call center or a contact center as part of your core business that includes 15 or more “agents” on the phones? If so, cloud based communications
may be exactly what you need right now.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

Note: Original photo of telephone operators courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives on Wikimedia Commons.

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