Article : The Real Math of Subscribing to a Hosted Call Center Solution
Well, not really math. More like a list of things to consider before you subscribe to one.
The cloud is not just beyond the horizon – it’s already by your doorsteps. Chances are you’ve heard both the tall tales and good benefits of using SaaS solutions for your call center, but taking the plunge to implement cloud-based solutions is another thing.
One firm wrote (Hosted Call Center Featured Article on TMC) that a Forrester Research survey of 1,000 firms in North America and Europe recently found that 23 percent of firms use software as a service, with 11 percent of these respondents indicating that they are expanding usage. An additional eight percent planned to implement SaaS within a year’s time frame.
For the call center industry that has been using many tried and tested premise-based or enterprise solutions, moving to the cloud is not like replacing your brand of toothpaste. So, to help you decide on a cloud-based or hosted call center solution, here is a short list of things to consider when talking to a hosted call center solutions provide.
Price-to-function is key deciding factor, too
When you need more features and functions, you usually pay more. Despite the usual trick of convincing you of a provider’s low-down starting price for a starter package, chances are you need more brawn than meets the basic eye, so to speak. That’s when astronomical total subscription price goes up beyond your budgets. ACD only? How about Predictive Dialing? No CRM system included? Reports? You’ll be surprised how much the total bill will eventually arrive to.
Don’t get tied up to a long-term contract
For most call centers that tried to transition even just 10 percent of their operations, many hosted call center solutions providers require at least a year’s contract. Why is that? Free Proof of Concept (POC) agreements don’t really provide a full cycle to understand, learn and conclude that indeed cloud-based solution can work for your operations. So, can you use a hosted call center solution for just two months or four without incurring a higher cost than say a year’s contract? The best kind is a "no contract" commitment or, at least, just six months.
Subscribing to more seats does not equal to a lower per-seat rate
Here’s another sales strategy most use: get more seats and I’ll lower the price. Why? Don’t you trust me that if I like your cloud-based solution, I’ll order more seats? Don’t you understand that I first need to convince everyone in the call center that your solution will really work for us? Why is it that many providers sell hosted call center solutions as if they were manufactured goods? "The more you get, the lower the price!" If you subscribe to 5 seats, shouldn’t the price be equal to getting 200 seats? Makes sense, right?
The controversial set up cost – what are they for?
Many hosted call center providers do not really know how to explain every Dollar you pay for the one-time set up cost. It’s probably because that amount came from thin air, "Hey! Let’s charge five thousand Dollars for the basic set up and charge more as the number of seats increase." Isn’t it when you say "set up" it ordinarily means assignment of tenant estate on the hosted server space, initializing telecommunications protocols, and a host of other server-oriented procedures? So, why charge per seat? Shouldn’t it be a total Dollar amount regardless of the number of seats you subscribe to?
Experience is a must
Most providers want to sell to the biggest Fortune 500 company. Yet, many realize experience in dealing with the size of the organization, the type of business they are in, the operational processes they institute, and a host of many things that we all consider "real, truthful experience." Does your cloud-based solutions provider have the experience in your specific market, size, type and category? How long have they been doing it? "A match made in heaven" is something you should attain for. SaaS providers usually drop bombshell brand names and corporate labels, thinking it adds value to the sales process; however, haven’t you ever thought about their experience vis-a-vis your type of operations?
Ease of use adds to productivity
Beautiful graphics need not equal to productivity. I’ve used a premise-based solution that had an awesome graphical user interface yet rated poorly in ease of use. Too many keystrokes or worst, too many mouse moves, result in the slowing down of your operations. So, the easier it is to set up a campaign, the faster you can go live. The less keystrokes and mouse movement required of your call center agent, the more productive they become. You will notice that ease of training usually equals to ease of use. The live demo provided by cloud-based call center solutions providers will be the first litmus test for ease of use.
I’m sure there are many, many more items you can think of that should be included in this list. For now, these six factors was something I used when, for the first time, I was in search of the near-perfect hosted call center solution for my type of projects or campaigns, for my call center.
Today's Tip of the Day - What Does Your Business Need?
About Rafael Pekson II:
Advocate of small businesses, green energy, cloud computing, customer contact solutions, call centers and social media for the workplace.
Kunnect is a Tier-2 class carrier company in the USA that provides SaaS, cloud-based, on-demand, hosted call center solutions in several countries.
Published: Monday, September 26, 2011
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