If you call a well-managed contact center and speak to a nice & helpful customer support agent, it probably gave you the impression that you were talking to much larger company. Modern technology has enabled even smaller companies and startups to have their own contact center up and running in hours. But what should you keep in mind before investing in contact center infrastructure? Let’s find out.
Contact Center Infrastructure (CCI)
In essence, If you company remotely deals with customers, you need a call or contact center. Not only is a contact center necessary for any customer-facing company, it is even more important to choose the right contact center infrastructure that supports your business model.
Define CCI: What is Contact Center Infrastructure (CCI)?
Contact Center Infrastructure (CCI) refers to the set of hardware, software and telecommunication network components required for contact center operations. CCI is particularly important for effectively and efficiently operating a contact center in a business environment.
Call Center Setup Requirements: Contact Center Hardware and Software Requirements
Apart from your agents, the most important part of your call center is the hardware and software components required to get it up and running. In our modern times, setting up a contact center isn't a difficult job if you can spare a few hours of your time.
A contact center, in its most basic form, consists of:
- Hardware: This includes hardware components such as LAN (Local Area Network), Voice Logging, Automatic Call Distributor (ACD), Predictive Dialer, and Computer Technology Integration (CTI).
- Software: This includes Customer Relationship Management (CRM), artificial intelligence, and other marketing-related integrations to manage communications with customers.
- Telephony / Telecom Network: Just like you need to register your mobile with a telecom operator, you need a telecom network to operate your contact center. Voice-Over-IP (VOIP) Technology is the most popular form of telecommunication in a contact center.
- Contact Center Agents
That being said, let's talk about the types of contact center software.
Types of Contact Center Software
There are 3 types of Contact Center software:
- On-Premise Contact Center
- Hosted Contact Center
- Cloud-based (or Virtual) Contact Center
Choose the ideal call center infrastructure setup to match your business needs, while taking into account the rate of your future business expansion as well.
Benefits of On-Premise Contact Center
In an in-house or on-premise contact center, the IT department is responsible for all contact center operations - such as installation, management, maintainence and recovery. Hosting an in-house contact center is extremely secure as all the hardware and software is at a single location, and runs off the company's network of computer systems. Most importantly, the company will be able to dictate the various processes within the contact center.
Benefits of Hosted Contact Center
In a hosted contact center, the software and hardware is hosted in an off-site location, and accessible via the internet by agents working in a different location. It is cheaper to host an off-site contact center than on-premise, since a service provider is responsible for the contact center infrastructure. However, it does not leave much room for customizations and changes to the infrastructure.
Benefits of Cloud Contact Center
You probably come from a time where you had to go to a movie rental store to grab your favorite weekend flicks. Now, however, you could just go to an online movie streaming website like NetFlix and watch it online.
Not just in online video streaming, cloud computing has changed contact centers in ways we never could have imagined before. By making the infrastructure always accessible from the internet, it allowed companies to quickly host their entire contact center operation online via on-demand services provided by the cloud computing provider.
Using a cloud contact center allows companies to eliminate the costs of buying the call center infrastructure necessary to host their own in-house call center and scale up according to their business needs. It also enables them to allow their agents to work anytime, and from any location. Not to mention all the impressive system and security upgrades offered alongside the cloud-based contact center software.
On-Premise vs Hosted vs Cloud Contact Center
Although cloud computing offers an ultra-modern way to quickly and effectively deploy an online call center, sometimes you are better off hosting an on-premise contact center. If your agents work from a single location, and your requirements are not likely to change in the future - it is best to invest in on-premise contact center infrastructure. Also, if your organization requires complete control over the entire operation, the best choice would be hosting an in-house call center.
If you'd much rather go with a contact center service provider to host your off-site contact center, keep in mind the limited nature of upgrades, features and customizations.
More importantly, it is important to understand that it is more costly to host an on-premise or hosted contact center as compared to a cloud-based contact center. Scaling would require more investment. You'll also need to hire staff to manage, maintain and update the infrastructure from time to time, as well as hire support staff to ensure streamlined internal operations.
Best Practices for Call Center Infrastructure
Here are some best practices when starting a contact center:
- Have a definite, time-based call center plan
- Choose the call center type that most closely matches your business needs
- Hire a contact center expert / leader / consultant
- Implement effective contact center metrics to measure your call center performance
- Always have a plan for the rainy day, or disaster recovery plan
Improving Contact Center Infrastructure: Improving CCI
Okay, so we've been talking about the benefits of cloud contact centers - and you thought, "Hey! but I already own one already!" - there's still so much left for you to do.
If you already own a virtual (or cloud-based) contact center, it's time to improve it further. There's quite a lot you can do to improve CCI in your contact center:
- Go Omnichannel: Convert your contact center into a Customer Engagement Hub by offering service across all interaction channels, including voice, chat, web, and social media.
- Integrate AI & Big Data: Improve data collection & analysis in your contact center with the power of artificial intelligence & big data analytics to power your business decisions. Emotional intelligence can be implemented to improve customer service.
- Deliver Amazing Experiences: Improve customer experience in your contact center with the help of single customer profiles to allow a holistic customer view and omnichannel interactions to eliminate interaction silos between various departments. Creating customer journey maps can greatly help in understanding customer behavior across multiple channels.
- Improve Call Center Performance: Improve operational performance to achieve a level of service excellence
- Work Force Management (WFM): If implemented correctly, WFM can greatly help figure out complex issues and operational lags which haunt call center staff on a regular basis.
If you're struggling to deal with your legacy call center and require a much-needed upgrade to focus more on your customers and the customer journey to deliver awe-inspiring experiences, search no more! Ameyo's Contact Center Software Solution has all the right mix of features to effectively engage customers, along with AI-powered analytics to facilitate smart business decisions.
Still don't believe us? Ameyo recently recieved an Honorable Mention in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure both in 2015 and 2016!