Industry Research : Cloud Call Centre Economics Examined
With agent salaries accounting for almost 60 percent of call centre opex and with other salaries taking the average wages bill to almost 70 percent the opportunity to make significant opex savings by shifting to a cloud-based call centre might seem rather limited, but that's not the case.
One of the key benefits of cloud-based contact centres is that they enable companies to shift the capex they would invest in a traditional call centre into opex. However in the recession-ravaged economies of Europe and the US, this argument alone doesn't always cut much ice.
UK-based contact centre market research and consultancy ContactBabel surveyed more than 400 US and UK contact centre operations and concluded that investment levels and budgets are still in the doldrums. It says in its 'Inner Circle Guide to Cloud-Based Contact Centre Solutions': "Almost one in five US operations had their investment budgets cut by more than 10 percent in 2011, even though many businesses believe that they have weathered the worst of the economic storm.
"[Our] figures show that the cut in investment has not led to a loosening of the purse strings where opex is concerned either, with a rough balance between those increasing and decreasing their ongoing spend."
ContactBabel observed: "In current circumstances we can see that for many businesses capex is tight or non-existent, and opex budgets are rising very slowly, if at all. The positive financial impact of cloud-based solutions is built on shifting from capex to opex, but the question is: if opex is also closely controlled, surely a business won't countenance a big jump in spend, even if it is shifted into a monthly operating budget?"
ContactBabel breaks down contact centre opex in the US and UK for 2011 as follows: agent salaries 57 percent; other salaries 13.4 percent, rent 4.8 percent, telecom charges, 4.7 percent, IT maintenance 3.6 percent, training 3.2 percent, utilities and local taxes 2.6 percent, recruitment 2.3 percent, other costs 8.5 percent.
It argues that, if monthly opex is increased to pay for cloud-based contact centre services then corresponding savings must be made elsewhere. And with salaries accounting for almost 70 percent of opex, this is really the only place that significant savings can be made.
"At first glance, shifting technology from CPE to cloud doesn't look like it will impact on agents at all," it says. "However, moving to cloud means that companies can be more flexible in their staffing arrangements, through having agents in lower-cost locations (either onshore or offshore) and by supporting a more volume-driven staffing schedule (eg by having homeworkers log on for short shifts when they are needed, rather than the full eight hours). Seasonality is also addressed, through being able to add and shed agents as needed."
The bottom line: "Cloud offers various ways to reduce or otherwise manage overall salary costs, through contact centre virtualisation in all of its forms."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013
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