There’s a lot to plan and consider when upgrading your Contact Centre technology.
In our first article – Part 1 – we explored the planning stage and provided a checklist of five things to review and assess before embarking on the purchase process.
In this article we focus on the following:
- The three solution types: which is best?
- The technology features: how to gauge what you really need
- Cost assessment: all the factors to consider.
Contact centre solution types
There are three types of technology solutions to choose from.
1. Customer Premise-based Equipment (CPE)
You buy the solution you require (capital expense) and install the physical hardware and software on your premises, including a PBX, phones, and direct lines. You have control over the provision of the physical environment, security, maintenance and upgrades, and of course the day-to-day operation and management.
- For some companies, the ability to maintain and control an on-premise solution is an advantage.
- If your Internet connection is not reliable, call quality may suffer so having directly connected phones is an advantage.
- You need to rely on in-house or outsourced IT staff, and you wear the costs of ongoing maintenance and repairs.
- The size is relatively fixed and limited by the licences you purchase, so if you need to scale up or down quickly, it’s not possible.
- Your agents need to be on-site in order to be logged into the system, as do your team leaders.
- If you require redundancy, you need to provision a second system for business continuity and disaster recovery.
2. Hosted Solutions
There’s a bit of confusion between a hosted solution and a cloud solution. They’re actually quite different.
Hosted solutions have been created by vendors of legacy on-premise systems. In essence, the equipment is located at your site, or at your data centre or at the vendor’s data centre, and the software is maintained remotely by the vendor.
- Software maintenance is provided remotely by the vendor, reducing the load on your internal IT staff.
- Software and feature enhancements will need to be scheduled and paid for, and it will still need ongoing maintenance, albeit not at your actual premises.
- A hosted version of a legacy system is only ever going to be a reflection of the functionality of the on-premise system, which means the limitations of the on-premise system are still inherent, including scalability, capex costs, staff mobility and lack of features.
3. Cloud-based solutions
Cloud based solutions are also physically located away from your premises, but while the hosted solution is installed in a single data centre, cloud-based solutions are usually located in multiple data centres. This provides an additional level of redundancy because if one data centre fails, the load is distributed across the remaining data centres.
- Easy to scale up and down because the hardware and software resources are shared amongst all customers.
- It removes capex expenses and becomes a purely operational expense. You only pay for what you use – on a per-call, per agent/month, per agent/hour, per IVR second or similar basis. According to research by Aberdeen Group, companies that deploy contact centres in the cloud spend 27% less on their annual contact centre costs than their peers.
- It makes it fast, easy and cost effective to rapidly scale up or down to meet demand in peaks and troughs.
- There are many more customer-focused features available, such as mobile customer experiences, better self-service, multi-channel operations, and app integrations, to name just a few.
- Deployment is a lot faster, there’s no equipment to maintain, and upgrades are instant and seamless.
- Teams can gain access from anywhere, as long as they have an internet connection and phone, which means you can easily manage remotely-located staff, and staff who work from home.
There is still some fear around the security of purely cloud-based solutions. While it can be argued that local servers may provide increased control over critical data, in reality most companies struggle with the costs involved in developing the security expertise required to keep data secure. On-premise security requires a significant initial dollar investment in hardware, software, and associated licensing.
Experienced cloud providers, on the other hand, prioritise security higher and invest more resources than the average enterprise by putting robust security controls in place. For example, at Premier Contact Point we have built security into the design, rather than securing a designed system. This includes infrastructure security, multiple layers of protection and provision of advanced security measures.
Which technology features will you need?
The technology features you select for your contact centre upgrade will depend on a number of factors.
For more on choosing features, see our more in-depth article “Essential” and “Good to Have” inbound technology features.
There’s also the very important issue of integration with your existing systems – and future ones. It is vital that the new system complements and enhances the existing IT environment, and is quickly and easily integrated to provide your team with seamless access to critical customer information. You don’t want any more silos.
Review the “Must Have” and “Nice to Have” lists you made in the Planning Stage, and provide a rating against each feature to see where it sits within these parameters.
Of course, budget is going to play a significant role in your ultimate choice of a technology solution and its features. There are still several other financial implications to consider, however, above and beyond the costs of one solution over another.
- The potential ROI that the new technology will have on the revenue. For example: if you invest in technology and processes that help reduce your Call Abandonment rate, you could potentially increase revenue by up to 300% – see The Real Financial Impact of Abandoned Calls.
- The potential reduction in customer churn, realised by delivering a much better customer experience.
- The increase in productivity and potential decrease in staff turnover, achieved by providing your team with the tools they need to work more effectively.
- A reduction in support costs due to removal of the requirement for internal or outsourced IT teams to perform routine and emergency maintenance, upgrades, and user support.
- The potential risk reduction achieved by using a solution which meets compliance and security requirements, and provides redundancy.
It’s not easy to quantify the impact of these benefits financially. It will take some “what-if” analysis and risk assessment.
In Part 3, we’ll take a look at the final set of considerations when deciding to upgrade your technology. These include choosing the right vendor, and implementation, which will also impact your future operations and costs.