Cloud Call Centers
Modern day Contact Centers are highly capital intensive and people intensive business. IT- Information Technology is an enabler for this business and so sometimes referred to as an IT Enabled Industry. The marketplace for call center technology is huge since this industry started in the 1970s. The big names like Avaya, Nortel, Siemens etc… were ruling the technology marketplace in the yester decade. It use to take several months time or even a year’s time to plan and start a voice based call center. With plain call center technology consisting of PBX, ACD and Phone/Computing set up use to cost several million dollars as an initial cost! In addition, the industry is people intensive, the operating cost of call centers is very very high. It initially started as basic voice based services by phone then moved on to add additional channels like online live chat, email support and IVR systems were added into the mix.
Inbound / Outbound Call Centers:
In an Inbound Call Center, calls originating from customers are received and handled. In the Outbound Call Center, Call Center Agents will be making calls to customers. These were land line phone numbers in the US. As users were using Automatic Voice Reply, most of the calls received a voice response instead of a live person voice reply. This prompted the technology of Predictive Dialing Systems. The Predictive Dialer used called numbers from a call list, when a live person answered the voice response is sensed and the call transferred to a live call center agent to continue. Based on a prediction ‘to get a positive human voice response how many dials is required?’ Predictive Dialer System will work. This sometimes will result in Dropped Calls or Silent Calls. When there is positive human voice, there will not be a free agent to attend the call, so the call is dropped. This Silent Calls become a nuisance to the customers. In the US, stringent telemarketing call rules introduced to control this situation. On one hand, there is an argument that the whole of outbound telemarketing calls business is a nuisance, on the other hand, businesses have to reach the prospective customers pro actively; and so, reaching them over the phone is one of the convenient ways.
Cloud Call Center Technology:
Much before the cloud computing, SaaS – Software as a Service concepts went in to mainstream, when ASPs – Application Service Providers were giving the service of On Demand Software Applications, both CRM – Customer Relationship Management and Predictive Dialers were available for rent or lease on an hourly/monthly basis. So, the Call Center Industry is one of the early adopters of cloud concepts like abstraction of infra structure, availing software application services over internet and paying them for use. The same trend continues for other requirements of the industry, and now we can fully say 100% that cloud center technology is now available. For example, there are now distributed call center agents working from home, who are getting their calls routed to their computer with VoIP facility; all the details required to attend the call is also presented to the agent’s computer through internet. Also, for call centers working as organized industry-engaging several thousands of agents, cloud call center technology is available.
Cloud Call Centers Adoption Considerations: One of the cloud computing concepts is Elasticity and Dynamism. This is one of the key enablers for cloud based call center technology. In the case of In-bound Call Centers, the receipt of inbound calls will be essentially erratic in nature. It is quite usual that when the capacity is planned, particularly technology infrastructure capacity of a call center is planned, any one will go for the highest or peak requirement. This results in initial capital investment on capacity. For a typical customer service call center of a capacity of about 300 seats, initial Capex on technology consisting of telecom and computing gear will be in the range of $ 10000 to 25000 per seat. So to amortize this Capex cost, the hardware and software acquired should be used in three years time with high utilization percentage. So, these two factors of varied demand and initial high costs induces the industry to move towards cloud call center technology. However the determinant detractor will be the operating cost of cloud call center technology.
Some of the cloud call center players are:
- Monet Software
Some players like Liveops, InContact, Five9 etc., have received TMC (Technology Marketing Corporation) Labs award for their innovative call center technology offerings. In addition to these players, big names in Call Center Technology vendor landscape like Avaya, Cisco, Inin – Interactive Intelligence etc., are in the fray with their offerings. Enterprise Cloud Computing Companies like SalesForce.com, NetSuite etc… are offering joint services with other companies.
Cost A Major Detractor For Cloud Call Center Adoption:
Costs charged by the above Cloud Call Center Technology providers is one of the major detractors for the adoption for cloud call center technology. The current industry rates for cloud call center technology infrastructure is starting from $ 12 per hour per seat with assumed telephony charges. The same for the On-Premises based call center, calculated as operations cost is $ 7 per seat; even if we add a shared portion of initial investment cost, the total cost works out to $ 10 only. On the other hand, the so called gestation period of technology setup is taken away in the case of Cloud Call Centers. We can comfortably say that for short term projects, Cloud Call Center is definitely a best bet.
By Glenn Blake