Today, many businesses have as one of their prime strategies the mastering of the customer experience. According to Forrester Research, 74% of customer service professionals in the survey see the customer experience as the key differentiator in their organization.

Call and Contact centers ICT researchAs a result, the information technology used to operate call & contact centers is rapidly evolving. The demand on these contacts centers are increasing, most prominently in sectors such as government, healthcare, retailing, and financial services, driving the modernization of both technology infrastructure and information architecture. The need to service more customers, answering more phone calls and converting standard everyday inquiries into real revenue opportunities raises some important questions: is adding more hard- and software to an existing onsite solution the only way? The answer is: Probably not.

How big is your call & contact center?

As a rule of thumb, small and medium size enterprises find that hosted solutions for telephone systems (VoIP), customer relationship management (CRM) and customer satisfaction tools are often the preferred option. One of the major reasons for these smaller organizations often experience fast growth and need the ability to scale up quickly and cost-effectively. This is usually easier with a hosted system than with an onsite solution which requires significant additional investments when the business grows.

Large call & contact centers with more than 1,000 seats who have significant onsite infrastructure can make use of a variety of strategies to expand that are still cost-effective, such as hardware virtualization, server consolidation and more budget-friendly storage solutions. And yet, there are ever more large contact centers who take advantage of a hosted ICT solution as they seek additional functionalities like social media or mobile device compatibility.

Is time to market an important factor when you need additional functionalities?

By and large, if you need new functionalities deployed quickly, you may require some form of a hosted telephony and business process solutions to meet your demands. Businesses large and small have discovered that such capabilities can be introduced significantly faster with hosted solutions than by scaling up their own onsite infrastructure.

Some comparisons between hosted and onsite solutions reveal that using a hosted system for expanding capacity uses a fraction of the time as the onsite alternative. Additionally, your organization and IT department is spared the challenges and headaches of yet another major change project. And finally, hosted solutions generate regular and predictable expenses as opposed to large capital investments.

Is control of your call & contact center an important factor for you?

An important factor for deciding whether to go for an onsite or a hosted solution is corporate culture. Organizations who value high levels of control and keeping the knowledge and resources in-house maybe prefer an onsite solution. However, onsite solutions do require their own resources and expert staff all aspects of deployment, development, operating, trouble-shooting, maintenance and upgrades.

Among managers and executives there can be strong views on the advantages and disadvantages of hosted approaches. For these executives to make an informed decision, it is therefore important to get trusted advice from a professional partner if they select to move their contact center operation to a hosted solution. Often there are worries about having to give up a great amount of control, such as over security, privacy and access to real-time data and reporting. These concerns need to be explored and alleviated in detail so that decisions can be made with confidence.

Does your CAPEX have limits?

Common too, many businesses today is a strategic financial model whereby capital expenditure is decreased via a move towards operating expenditure funding. For organizations employing this approach, a move towards hosted solutions is an attractive option.

Switching some or all of your ICT infrastructure to an offsite or hosted solution gives you more freedom to spend your IT budgets on other areas or projects. Businesses who experience significant ups and downs in their business operations and activity (for example retailers exposed to holiday seasons) also find this approach beneficial, as instead of having to make fixed investments, they can scale up or down temporarily as required for their operations.

Is your contact center in a different location than your company?

The size and scale of an operation can play a role in how contact centers are set up and to what extent they may be disbursed and be set up in different locations. Some smaller call centers may be distributed like satellites, or like virtual centers or home offices. Such geographically scattered contact centers often use onsite solutions with sound connectivity between their individual sites.

In these cases there are advantages enhancing an onsite approach with a hosted approach, to test the benefits of a hosted solution to or become quicker at developing new multi-site functionalities.

How to find the right call & contact centre solutions partner?

Sourcing a reliable, experienced and quality-focused ICT partner to advise and deliver your contact centre solution (telephony, email, business applications) in Thailand is no easy task. Many claim expertise in some niche expert area or other, but often have experience only in specific areas, and may or may not have an actual successful track record. When it comes to delivering comprehensive advice and solutions, they often outsource to others as they lack the confidence to deliver everything the client needs.

The ideal partner has the expertise to help with developing a solution that really matches your needs, no matter whether onsite, offsite/hosted or a combination. Also, they should have the expertise to deliver all supplementary service in-house, including phones, email, CRM, customer survey tools and others.

Here are the important criteria that you should be looking for in an ICT partner:

  • Support for any architecture. Expertise in diverse arrangements and adaptability to match solutions to client needs;
  • A convincing experience track record. Demonstrable high service levels (99.99% availability), and redundancy for data centers when a hosted solution is chosen;
  • High quality technology & infrastructure. Data storage, network and security infrastructure must be of the highest caliber and all technicians need to be able to show key certifications;
  • The ability to scale up and down. Call & contact centers need to ability to respond to changes in customer demand and contact patterns.

Conclusion

When customer experience and customer service excellence is paramount, companies with call & contact centers face a host of challenges and opportunities. With the contact centre being key to shaping the customer experience, it is the smart use of technology that can make all the difference.

Selecting the right technology architecture model for their contact centre is critical for its successful operation. Where in the past most businesses followed an onsite model, these are now enhanced and often even replaced by hosted offsite solutions. These hosted solutions can deliver significant benefits, even in cases where an onsite solution runs apparently successfully, often moving from a CAPEX model to a predictable and lower cost operational model, resulting in lower total cost of ownership. For some businesses a total move to a completely hosted solution may even be the right strategy, especially if maximum flexibility and agility are the key to success.