When many things are moving to the Cloud, why not the Contact Center/Call Center? As you may know, Contact Centers nowadays are IP-based and hence can be hosted in the Public Cloud and accessed via the Internet, at times along with the Telephony Switch. While agents/management personnel access their dashboards via the browser (or through a desktop/phone client), customers just make a call or send a message to the company, as usual.
In this post, let us look at some advantages and limitations of Cloud-based Contact Centers/Call Centers.
Advantages of Cloud-based Contact Centers:
- Lower initial cost as there is no need to invest in hardware/software upfront. Also, no need to worry about obsolescence of purchased components.
- No. of in-house staff required to run/maintain the Contact Center solution is less, and hence there can be cost savings there too.
- No need to over-provision the system, unlike an on-premise system which needs to be, based on the projected growth. In the Cloud-based Contact Center, customers can buy as many licenses as required at that time, and plan to scale up as and when required.
- Scalability: It is possible to increase the no. of agents/licenses instantly, whenever you want and as much as you may want. One can also decrease the number of agents, instantly, often using a self-service portal. This is good for seasonal variations in business or temporary/part-time staff.
- Remote working/Working from home is possible for agents, supervisors, and managers as Contact Center management applications are web-based, and can be accessed from anywhere. Reports can be accessed from mobile devices.
- Relatively quick implementation.
- Cloud provider hosts and manages the Contact Center & Routing; and at times Communications/Telephony & Applications too. Hence, specialized staff for these functions may not be required on-premise.
- Cloud Contact Center providers often guarantee availability; hence availability maybe better than Customer-hosted Contact Center solutions.
- Self-service portals are generally available to customers for scaling up/down and managing functions like routing, etc.
- Providers offer role-based access to managing Contact Center functions in the Cloud, for better accountability.
- Since Data Centers have dedicated staff for security and since they are compliant with major standards like HIPAA, PCI, SOC, etc. they claim that security is better than on-premise solutions.
- Applications, even if hosted on-premises, can integrate with Cloud-based Contact Centers through APIs.
- Adding Multi-tenancy and Multi-channel capabilities maybe easier with Cloud-based Contact centers as they are web-services based.
- Adding new channels in the future like social media, video calling, etc. is easier with Cloud-based Contact Centers.
- Calls can be allotted and recorded even if agents work from home.
- Upgradations are faster and less expensive.
- Hybrid implementations where Contact Center solution is hosted in the cloud and Telephony/Applications are hosted on-premises is possible with some vendors. Other vendors offer Private Cloud burstable to Public Cloud sort of implementations.
Limitations of Cloud-based Contact Centers:
- Although upgradations/adding new features are easier and quicker with Cloud-based Contact Center, they often come with extra cost/premium licenses.
- The Total Cost of Operations after 4-5 years is similar for both on-premise and Cloud-based Contact Center, in spite of the latter having no upfront equipment/software costs.
- Investments in existing Contact Center/Telephony Switches may have to be discarded if a company decides to switch over to Cloud-based Contact Center.
- Voice quality depends on the speed and quality of Internet connection. This is all the more applicable to agents working from home using low-speed/broadband connections.
- Disaster Recovery/Backup may not be under the direct control of the customer.
- Security level depends on the provider – both for the data and apps stored in the data center; and for the data/voice moving in and out of the data center from the customer/company. Customized security settings may not be available with all cloud providers.
- Data may be stolen when agents/supervisors are working from remote locations. There is a chance that third-party phishing/malware apps may be listening or stealing customer data without the knowledge of the agents, when they work using their personal computers.
- No dedicated/On-Site support to rely on during emergencies.
- Single Vendor Lock-in: Chances that you may have to buy all components and future upgrades from the same Cloud vendor is very high. That will limit your negotiation capabilities later on.
- Your ability to mix and match different components from different vendors based on your requirements/their strengths is limited to what is supported by the Cloud vendor, or outright impossible.
- Not all applications can be integrated with the Cloud-based Contact Center, especially custom applications developed in-house. Cloud providers can integrate their Contact Center solution only with standard applications, and the level of integration depends on their capability.
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