Is a Hosted Call Center a Good Fit for Your Business?
Call centers are actively looking for ways to decrease business costs and maintain reliable communications. Advances in technology have led to more options. When researching your options, a hosted call center is one solution to consider.
Benefits of a Hosted Call Center
Utilizing a hosted call center helps to control costs and provides state-of-the-art disaster recovery. You can provide services to your customers without the cost of purchasing a system. Phone calls arrive at the switch, agents process the calls, and messages are delivered as needed. There will be reduced costs and maintenance of on-premise hardware. A hosted call center also provides protection from downtime.
At the end of the month, your billing application prints the invoices. While this may sound simple and ideal, it can take some major effort to get to this point.
Disadvantages of a Hosted Call Center
While a hosted solution reduces the responsibilities of your call center by not having to maintain or worry about the software and hardware, this reduced responsibility comes at a cost.
In most cases, a fully hosted solution will have a higher total cost of ownership than a purchased solution. There is also the intangible cost of less control over your business. While there are no longer urgent trips to the office to fix system problems, you are now reliant on the sense of urgency of others.
Finding a Hosted Solution Provider
Finding a hosted solution provider who will be a good business partner and is willing to work with you to address your customers’ needs is important. With this model, your business continuity plan is a joint venture between you and your hosting provider.
Also, if your call center has medical accounts that contain PHI (Patient Health Information) you will need to have proper agreements in place with your hosting provider to protect this federally mandated confidential information.
Depending on how you structure your hosted solution, there can be many ways to lower the total cost of the business. Call centers may have fewer expensive technical staff to support the system. Technical support for on-premise workstations, phone lines and Internet connectivity is still needed with a hosted solution.
Technical Items to Consider
Before signing a hosted solution contract, every piece of hardware the call center’s data will touch should be identified. All hardware that is not redundant or shared should be identified along with all hardware dedicated to your solution. If the solution has non-redundant or shared hardware, this could have an impact on the quality of service the call center can provide.
Likewise, every circuit that data travels over needs to be identified. All phone lines should travel on SONET (Synchronous Optical Networking) rings, and all Internet connections should use BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) to freely access multiple Internet providers. Phone calls should only travel on the PSTN or on an MPLS network, and never over the Internet. All service risks should be identified before a contract is signed.
Lastly, and most importantly, verify all resources before signing an agreement. A good reference check will contain questions that address the level of service, technical support responses and interactions with the hosting facility’s billing department.