Five Questions You Should Ask About Cloud-Based Contact Center Solutions
January 15, 2013
By Tracey E. Schelmetic
, TMCnet Contributor
If your call center organization is considering taking the plunge into a cloud-based platform, you may have a lot of questions. Chances are, you already know the benefits of a cloud-based contact center: lower upfront expenses, far less maintenance, the ability to work across locations, virtual agents and superior disaster recovery.
While these are all compelling advantages, they may not help as much in choosing between various cloud-based contact center platforms, which are not all alike and may serve different needs for different organizations.
Contact center technology provider and industry expert, 8x8 (News - Alert), Inc., recently published a whitepaper designed to help call centers evaluate critical evaluation criteria for choosing a cloud-based contact center solution. Questions you may wish to ask yourself during the evaluation process include:
Is the solution completely Web-based? This is an important question, because if it’s not, it may not deliver the kind of benefits you expect. In other words, you could invest with one idea in mind while the solution has another. For example, some solutions require that contact center employees download, install and maintain a proprietary software component on their computers. This means it’s not fully Web-based.
“Only a 100 percent Web-based system allows a company to standardize call center operations for any workspace environment,” writes 8x8. “A true cloud-based solution reduces the complexity of implementation, eliminates maintenance and increases the usability of the system.”
Is there any specialized hardware required? If there is a requirement to purchase hardware, you aren’t gaining the true benefits of a cloud-based solution. Setup of telephony routers, terminal adapters and on-premises servers can make both set-up and maintenance a hassle. It may also limit you to one type of equipment you may not favor – something which is definitely unwanted.
Consider the uptime. While most companies promise 99.99 percent uptime or better, they often don’t include planned maintenance in this figure. Ensure that service level agreements (SLAs) are clear about how much time you will be offline for maintenance.
Can you make changes on your own? Many cloud-based solutions require you to contact the vendor to make changes, which – if you need to make those changes quickly – can be a problem. Ensure you pursue a solution that allows you to make certain changes you might require without bringing the vendor into the equation.
“Creating prompts for new marketing campaigns, changing the phone device assigned to an agent, amending IVR flows, adjusting service levels across multiple communication channels – these are just a few functions that you should be able to handle on the fly without contacting the solution provider,” advises 8X8.
How will it handle multimedia integration? Chances are, you allow your customers to contact you via a variety of media (ie. telephone, e-mail, text and Web-based channels). Ensure that any cloud-based contact center solution you choose can support all these media as you expect. Be sure that you can be consistent with designated outing rules, skills-based support and management and reporting across multiple types of media.
While it may seem that cloud-based contact center solutions are created much the same, this is surely incorrect. They do vary in how Web-based they are, how they operate maintenance and what features they offer. For this reason, it’s critical to evaluate solutions with your needs in mind to fully understand which configuring is likely to best suit your organization.
To learn more about all of 8x8’s contact center offerings, visit www.8x8.com.
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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo