Top 10 list when considering a Cloud-Based Contact Center Solution
Companies need to do more with less. By using cloud-based Contact Center solutions, agencies can leverage the most sophisticated Outbound and Inbound calling technologies available, increasing available resources without capital outlay or new staff.
In selecting a hosted Contact Center solution for customer service centers or call centers, keeping the following 10 points in mind will help you to select the best provider in the cloud for your Inbound and Outbound voice communication needs.
1. True On-Demand with a 100% software-based solution
People want to use hosted solutions on the cloud because they need it, now! Make sure that you don’t have to wait. You shouldn’t have to wait to have a “hosted” solution installed. You shouldn’t have to wait—to have programming completed or for additional capacity. Hosted solutions need to be plug and play, work when you need them, and offer unlimited capacity on demand.
To this point it is essential to make sure the solution is reliable with high availability. A hosted system becomes your telco and can make or break the interaction that a consumer has with your company. It should offer 99.9% availability (less than 8.76 hours of down time a year).
On demand means that services are always immediately available for use without waiting. Whether your company is large or small, find a solution that can be available the moment you need it.
2. Excellent Voice Quality with private VoIP through secure tier one telco providers
VoIP traffic eventually needs to get to the standard “Tip and Ring” of the copper PSTN network. There is a critical difference between solutions that use VoIP over the public internet to reach that transition point and VoIP over private lines. This is especially true when internet bandwidth is compromised and you can hear the telltale signs of packet loss; an almost staccato loss of signal that makes conversation frustrating, if not impossible. Additionally, private networks provide much higher security, keeping information passed via phone conversations safe. Make sure to select a solution that can offer private VoIP connections to Telco Providers that are Tier One– the best and biggest in the industry.
Voice quality, or the lack thereof, also can dramatically affect Answering Machine Detection rates and thereby reduce Right Party Contacts. Insist on a solution that will allow you to sample voice quality at any time.
3. Robust Features at the forefront of advancing technology
A major advantage of using a hosted product is that you are no longer tied to a product that loses its competitive advantage as soon as you buy it. You are guaranteed to always have the latest and greatest in features and functionality available the moment they become available. Without needing to purchase upgrades.
Choose a solution that is known for staying at the forefront of technology and that listens to the needs of you and your industry. Take time to review the features that your hosted solution has released in the last 3-6 months and see if these features are keeping up with the pace.
4. Ease of Use
High on your list of requirements should be a solution’s ease of use. Being intuitive and easy to navigate can save countless hours of frustration, which adds up over time. The way you interact with a system and how it handles can also reflect how the solution is built and can foreshadow how long customer service issues may take to resolve. If a system takes weeks or months to understand, you can bet that you will be spending many hours with customer support to get answers to questions or waiting for requests or concerns to be addressed.
Form follows function and the same usually holds true in User Interface design. Pick a solution that is easy to use. With a cloud-based solution, you should be able to test drive for free to quickly get an idea of the ease of use factor. If it is complex and hard to use, stay away! You may end up getting charged for installation and ongoing support, or you will be left to figure it out for yourself.
5. Inbound IVR
Some of the most important calls that take place in a call center are the inbound calls. Can the hosted solution that you are considering offer Inbound IVR? Can it connect to an available Agent within a second even if that agent is working an outbound dialing campaign? Can it portray the Caller ID of the person calling? Can it remote call forward to an alternate number if the agent is available? How hard is it to customize the caller’s experience?
The ability to properly handle inbound calls quickly narrows down the list of qualified hosted solutions.
6. Multiple Outbound Dialing Applications with 97% accurate answering machine detection
There are many hosted solutions that claim they can send outbound calls at rock-bottom rates. What makes a solution stand out from the rest? Many of the differentiators are already listed in this article. Along with these points, a must is to find out a solution’s answering machine detection accuracy.
Every solution should be able to correctly detect whether an outbound call is answered by a live person or an answering machine. 97% accurate answering machine detection or higher is ideal here. The better the detection, the more consumers will get the right communication. A 2 or 3% difference in this area can really add up over the course of a month or a year, so be sure to verify this point.
The types of Outbound Dialing solutions companies offer can offer can also vary greatly. Many can do “blasting” of informational prerecorded messages but that is all. Choose one that will allow for multiple types of Outbound Dialing, including:
Unattended – Pre-recorded notification messages that utilize dynamic Text-To-Speech (TTS)
Attended – Dynamic Text-To-Speech (TTS)and pre-recorded notification messages that can invite the consumer to press a key. The key press can initiate a transfer to a waiting Agent.
Predictive Dialing – When the consumer says “Hello” they are connected a sub-second later to an Agent.
High Answering Machine Detection and multiple Outbound Dialing options will show you which solution can really deliver when ROI is a must.
7. Instantly-Connecting Outbound Predictive Dialing with a screen-pop
This was mentioned in number 6, but it is important enough to be a separate point. If you are looking specifically for a solution that offers Predictive Dialing, make sure the connection is instantaneous. With today’s technology, there is no reason that a consumer should be able to tell that they are getting called from an automated dialer because of a delay in the connection. Even with a hosted offering in the cloud, there should be no reason for that dreaded delay at the beginning of the call that causes so many people to hang up. Also, screens-pops that present the called consumer’s information to the Agent, and Skills-Based Routing that can automatically send the call to your best representatives, should both be considered standard.
Autopacing is also a must. Make sure that you can see first-hand how busy your agents are and if there is a pacing algorithm that can be quickly dialed in to your business. Use a system that considers the last 10 minutes of your abandoned rate. Abandoned rate and the time your agents are waiting for a call will quickly let you know how effective your call floor is and how effective the solution is.
Again, you don’t want to waist a micro-second on connecting a call to a representative.
8. Pay-for-Use Price and Terms that are with transparent billing
Don’t pay for things you don’t use. In a hosted model, with no equipment to set up, there should be no set-up fees or ongoing maintenance fees. And unless you are buying a lower price with a term commitment, there should be no monthly minimums or long term arrangements.
Only pay for what you use when you use it. Your solution should earn your business every day and be based on a connected minute model. Billing and invoicing should be clear and straight forward so that at the end of each month, it is very easy to see what you are paying for.
9. 24/7 Customer Service
Immediate access to a help desk that is in fact helpful is extremely important. Let’s face it, service and the people that provide that service are just as important as the product itself. 24/7 service and support should be free and should be of the highest quality. Maintenance fees are typically set at cost prohibitive prices on purpose to either be a money maker or to keep you from asking for help in the first place.
Having component consultative 24/7 service and support that is free should be requisite to earning your business.
Choose a solution that is a solution, not one that causes compatibility issues with your current operations. Customizable mapping and templates for importing contact lists and result files allow you to work with any Client Management System that you or your clients may work with. Integration options and APIs that are easy to set up and that can automate data transfer will also reduce human error, save time each day, and make your life much easier in general. You should not be required to have a full time IT employee simply to deal with a cloud-based communications solution.
In sum, companies need to do more with less. By using cloud-based Contact Center solutions, agencies can leverage the most sophisticated Outbound and Inbound calling technologies available, increasing available resources without capital outlay or new staff.
- True On-Demand
- Excellent Voice Quality
- Robust Features
- Ease of Use
- Inbound IVR
- Multiple Outbound Dialing Applications
- Instant Connect
- Pay-for-Use Pricing
- 24/7 Customer Support
Keeping these 10 points in mind will help you to select the best provider in the cloud for your Inbound and Outbound Contact Center needs.
Dave Bethers is the VP of Sales at TCN, Inc. tcnp3.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you can take advantage of TCNs leading technology, P3.