Guest post: Cloud vs. Premise-based contact center

John Stepp, President of Free Tech Consultants, shares some thoughts after his visit to the Governor’s Office of Customer Service in Atlanta last week.

I had the pleasure of attending CCNG’s meeting at the Governor’s Office of Customer Service last week in Atlanta and it made me think of all the parameters surrounding the cloud-based contact centers.  But before I get to those thoughts, I have to say that I was also struck by how well run the GOCS contact center is.  The caller experience has been transformed from a frustrating maze of calls to different acronym agencies to one where callers are funneled to a frontend group of agents that have the tools to direct callers to the proper destination with handoff.  I was also impressed by the camaraderie and the leadership of the contact center.  This is truly an example of a well run government agency improving the lives of the citizens they serve.

So the first order of business in any contact center is how well the center is run, from the proper routing of calls to the tools the agents have at their disposal to the attitude of the agents and the desired outcome of the entity involved.  So is cloud-based contact center technology better or worse in achieving these goals?  There is no simple answer, but here are some thoughts to digest.

Your contact center must above all be reliable.  The network you use is key and failover provisions whether cloud or premise based must be airtight.  The redundancy and reliability of the equipment utilized is extremely important, more so for cloud-based contact centers routing to a facility.  And make no mistake, there are certain manufacturers of contact center equipment that are much more reliable than others.

You need access to a variety of tools to allow for changing needs and better analytics.  For example, how easy is it for you to add or subtract agents?  For many cloud-based services this is an advantage.  Are there a variety of tools available for you to use when you need them at a reasonable cost?  This will vary between the cloud-based services, but for premise equipment you can do just about anything if you have the money to devote to it.  How well will the analytic tools work for you?  Typically premise-based equipment will give you a tighter integration.  But of course pricing for these tools has to be factored in.  Since cloud-based tools are typically less expensive per agent, there is a trade off for the tighter integration that premise-based tools give you.

And how much time must be spent in programming the contact center and its tools?  Logically, the cloud-based call contact center will save you time, but that depends on the cloud-based vendor and the availability of the resources they have.  Just as with premise-based equipment, if you go ultra cheap, at some point you are going to find out why it was ultra cheap.  Conversely, just because you pay the extra bucks for what you think is greater reliability or versatility, you may get more headaches and more cost at the same time.  That is why an unbiased consultative approach to new contact center technology and upgrades is vital to making the best decision for any organization.

In the ever changing world of technology and economics, vendors, whether cloud-based or premise-based are a lot like sports teams.  Some years a team outperforms and is a great bet and some years they end up in last place disappointing everyone.  That is why picking the right vendors and technology is both an art and a science.


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