Cloud call centers move the technology required for managing inbound and outbound communications to the cloud. The hosting and support of the technology required to run a cloud call center is managed by a third-party, relieving the business itself from this responsibility.
Before cloud computing hit the mainstream around 2010, when a company wanted to run a call center, it had to buy and maintain the necessary hardware and software in its own physical location. This arrangement is known as having an on-premise call center. The shift from on-premise to cloud call centers marked a seismic shift in how companies running call centers do business.
The Hyped Benefits of Cloud Call Centers
Do a Google search for the phrase “cloud call center” and you’ll be bombarded with sites touting the endless benefits of moving to the cloud. You might even start to believe there are no downsides at all.
There are benefits that make the cloud a great choice for many businesses.
- Eliminate the need to physically house your call center equipment and staff, and your business can become more cost-efficient.
- Get up and running fast. You won’t need to install hardware or other infrastructure to support your call center.
- As your business needs change, you can easily scale up or down without the additional costs of buying hardware or installing new software.
- Outsource call center technology to a third-party vendor and they become responsible for the security and reliability of your data stored in their data centers. These centers are protected by state-of-the-art security measures and teams of security experts. Cloud-based systems also offer redundancy features to ensure uninterrupted access to your data. Most also have 24/7 support available.
- Move to the cloud and your customer service agents can work from anywhere. This means you can service global customers 24/7 with a remote workforce. You are also not restricted to hiring from a set geographical location, allowing you to hire a diverse team.
- Your customers can reach you by many means beyond a phone call. Cloud call centers easily integrate email, text, and voice, so your customers can reach you through their preferred method of communication.
- Free up your own IT department from the responsibility of maintaining the hardware and software required for running an on-premise call center. This lets your IT people focus on optimizing the rest of your business technology needs.
- You can easily incorporate advanced features into your cloud call center. Unified Communications means you can add non-voice communication into your call center mix, including videos, instant messaging, website chat, and more.
- When your data and business processes are in the cloud, it’s easy to integrate other technology to optimize your business. Machine learning can help automate some processes, predictive analytics can identify inefficiencies, and AI technologies like chatbots and virtual assistants can help you increase efficiency.
Reading through all these benefits might lead you to believe there aren’t any downsides at all to cloud call centers. But for some businesses, that isn’t the case.
The Downsides of Cloud Call Centers that No One Warns You About
Your data stored in the cloud is only as safe as the security your cloud provider has in place. Cloud data centers are a treasure trove of personal data and a big target for cyber criminals.
When you put your call center data in the cloud, you give up the ability to pick and choose the kind of security you want to utilize. The cloud service provider decides that. You have to go with the flow.
If you go the on-premise route, you can go as deep and bulletproof as you’d like with security. You call all the security shots.
If you’re in the business of handling highly sensitive data, you may want to skip the cloud and stick with an on-premise call center solution.
Even the best cloud service providers go down sometimes. When they do, your call center is out of commission until your provider gets things sorted out. Your business is at the mercy of their IT people.
Your customers won’t care who is at fault. All they know is that your business is unreachable. This has the potential to impact their opinion of your brand. It also may cause bigger business disruptions, depending on the type of products or services you sell.
If you want your call center to be fully self-reliant, then keeping things on-premise is an option to consider.
The internet is a wondrous thing, until it goes down. Then all bets are off. If your call center is running in the cloud, no internet means no calls. No calls lead to unhappy customers.
Even if your internet service doesn’t go all the way down, it can often experience a downturn in service. Slower speeds or intermittent connectivity can be almost as bad as no internet at all. Choppy or disconnected calls are no good for any call center.
If you’re running an essential business that heavily depends on its call center, then taking that risk may be too big. In those cases, on-premise is a better solution.
Unexpected Long-Term Costs
The appeal of a cloud call center is that startup costs are lower than with an on-premise solution. For startups or any budget-minded business, this can be a big deal.
But don’t let those lower initial costs fool you. All cloud call center services are paid on a subscription basis that includes the number of users and other add-on services like analytics, omnichannel communication options, and workflow automation.
As your business grows, those subscription fees can add up fast. Unexpected hits to your budget can have a dramatic impact on your bottom line.
Lack of Customization
Cloud call center service providers all offer different packages with limitations on how much customization you can do. If you have basic call center needs, then probably won’t be an issue.
But if you run a highly specialized business that requires deep customization, you may hit a wall when you go to the cloud. On-premise solutions offer you the most options for totally customizing what you need your call center to do.
Is a Cloud Call Center Worth It?
For a majority of business owners and managers out there, a cloud call center solution is a solid solution.
If you have a small (or no) IT department, turning over responsibility for the technical aspects of setting up and running a call center to a cloud service provider is a smart move.
If you have big dreams but not a big budget, then the cloud can be a budget-friendly place to start. You can get your call center up and running for a fraction of the price of setting up an on-premise solution.
If you’re not keen on having a brick-and-mortar location and want to embrace a remote-first mindset, the cloud makes it easy to hire call center agents located anywhere in the world.
But there are still situations where an on-premise solution will be better.
If your call center is your business lifeline and you want to minimize disruptions–whether from internet outages or something else–then keeping everything on-premise is a better choice.
If your business is poised for big growth and your future subscription fees with a cloud solution would skyrocket, then investing up front in an on-premise solution may be wiser for your long-term budget.
If the data you process is highly sensitive and you want the tightest security possible, then staying out of the cloud with your call center might make sense. When you manage security in-house, you choose exactly which safety measures to put in place.
Whichever route you choose, it’s important to remember that running your call center is a fluid and ever-changing situation. Whether on-premise or cloud makes more sense for you today, your business environment may evolve in a way that an alternate solution makes more sense down the road.