Contact centres are a key customer experience touchpoint and inevitably a substantial cost base too. Companies are rightly concerned about delivering the best contact centre experience for the best possible cost. There are other factors too – scalability, reliability, and integration with legacy systems.
The mode of delivery plays a huge role in both customer experience (CX) and cost. It’s becoming more common for contact centre capabilities to be delivered in the cloud, also known as contact centre as a service (or CCaaS). The traditional mode of delivery was on-premise, with physical racks of telecoms kit. The third option is a hybrid of both.
Each mode of delivery has specific advantages, even though the distinction is, as of late, somewhat blurred.
How should your business provision a contact centre to ensure the best customer experience – with the lowest impact on your bottom line?
In this article, we talk about on-premise contact centres, a contact centre delivered in the cloud and tips on how to make a choice.
Finally, don’t miss our conclusion covering the role of hybrid solutions.
What’s The Difference Between On-Premise and Cloud Contact Centres?
Contact centres are a relatively specialised corner of business technology which is why it is still common to find that contact centre hardware and software is hosted on-premise, in other words, on the same physical premises as the business that depends on the technology.
For example, many companies will be familiar with Avaya – it’s one of the most common and best on-premise solutions on the market, and it’s deployed in companies across the country. Avaya’s on-premise solutions use physical equipment located in your offices such as network infrastructure and dedicated internet connections. They are all positioned to manage and maintain proprietary contact centre hardware and telecoms equipment alongside the software.
Related read: Whatever challenges your communications estate is facing, our unique approach to managed IT services will ensure your business functions remain optimal. Read our Managed Services Guide to learn more.
In contrast, services like email and websites are now, for the most part, provisioned off-site, on equipment hosted remotely and managed by a third party. “The cloud” is the commonly used term to refer to this method of provisioning technology services – where applications and data are hosted on a remote site.
Contact centre solutions can be provisioned entirely in the cloud – with remotely hosted software, and remote telecoms equipment. If you choose this mode of delivery and local equipment in place will be things end-users use, think PCs, phones and headsets, etc.
But which model of delivery is best for your business?
On-Premise Contact Centres
As much as technology has steadily marched into the cloud there are instances where staying with on-premise solutions makes more sense. Extensive, existing legacy technology infrastructure present in large enterprises may find that their requirements are so large that internal scale and cost savings outweigh the other benefits of a cloud solution.
While cloud delivery is increasingly the first choice when it comes to provisioning technology it is worth remembering the advantages of on-premise contact centres – when comparing those to the advantages of cloud delivery.
The Benefits Of A Cloud Contact Centre
Technology solutions are steadily migrating to the cloud – and that’s the case for contact centres too. There are several solutions on the market including Genesys Cloud and Amazon Connect.
In terms of cloud hosting vs on-premise, the cloud has become the accepted way of delivering technology requirements for a whole range of reasons, and many of these apply to the contact centre too.
Consider the following:
First, contact centres in the cloud are highly scalable and flexible. There’s no need to commit to a certain number of users upfront or to take a particular position on the nature of a contact centre.
Because your contact centre is sharing a large pool of computing resources you can instantly scale up when required – think Black Friday for example – and scale down again. The only impact would be a blip in licensing fees. Nor is there a need to rip-and-replace once your business reaches a growth milestone.
No hardware, less maintenance
On-premise contact centres require physical equipment – equipment that hosts contact centre software, and that connects to the public phone network. These facilities require specialist skills that IT management and staff may not have.
Hiring in-house staff to maintain this equipment can prove expensive unless there is substantial scale. In contrast, the technology that drives cloud contact centre solutions is managed by third-party communication partners like Conn3ct. Choose Genesys Cloud or Amazon Connect, for example, and you benefit from a managed service environment – no need to manage and maintain yourself.
Best in class technology, rapid feature updates
On-premise systems typically go through upgrade cycles that can be as long as three or five years, in part because upgrades are disruptive and potentially expensive. Cloud solutions, in contrast, are continuously upgraded and improved, with features automatically rolled out and downtime minimal.
Businesses that want the competitive advantage of best in class contact centre technology will prefer cloud provisioning. With a leading cloud solution, companies will never wait for years to enjoy the latest capabilities across their contact centres.
Integration, collaboration, productivity
One major benefit of the current critical mass of cloud technology provisioning is that technology systems are increasingly connected. With everything online and thanks to widespread API connectivity, your cloud contact centre can easily integrate with other business systems.
For example, cloud contact centres tap into your CRM to give your agents a comprehensive, fluid, 360-degree view of a customer – with ease. No need for expensive integration efforts that require ongoing fixes and patches. If it’s in the cloud, it can be integrated.
Cost savings, simplified costs
Because cloud solutions remove the need for physical equipment and up-front (or CAPEX) costs, many businesses benefit from significant savings. Depending on the nature of the cloud contact centre pricing structure there is also a more simplified cost structure such as as-a-service pricing (or OPEX).
There is a wide range of benefits to cloud contact centres that on-premise solutions will struggle to match. Choosing between on-premise vs cloud benefits may not be all that easy. We offer some guidance in the next section.
Factors To Consider When Choosing Between On-premise vs Cloud Infrastructure
At Conn3ct we’ve advised companies of from all industries and sizes on their contact centre requirements, and whether cloud hosting vs on-premise is the best way to go.
The first question we always ask our customer is: what is your challenge?
When we’ve identified that we can put forward a bespoke solution that is the right solution for you.
We think these are the five points to think about:
1. Unique contact centre characteristics and requirements
How unusual are your contact centre requirements - is compliance a major concern, for example? Do you have a highly distinctive business model? The more complex your contact centre requirements, the more customised solution you will need.
2. Scale of requirements
We suggested earlier that very large enterprises may be able to operate contact centres at such a scale that doing so in-house is simply more cost-effective and sensible. So, consider the scale of your requirements when making the choice.
In all but exceptional cases, we would recommend that SMEs, for example, opt for a cloud solution, while enterprises could choose either route.
3. In house technology capabilities
Like a lot of technical requirements, on-premise vs cloud in part hinges on the ability of your company to maintain its technology equipment, on-site. Limited on-site technology expertise and staff will point towards a cloud solution where the vendor manages the hardware and software.
4. The current state of your contact centre
Already have extensive on-premise equipment? Consider how well it serves your existing requirements, and whether it is fit for growth. If your existing solution is significantly deficient it may be time to consider a cloud solution.
5. Evolution along with digital transformation
Digital transformation has a deep impact on the customer experience and indeed on the contact centre. Your on-premise solution may serve you well if you’re still in the planning stages of your digital transformation process. However, as your organisation embraces digital transformation you may prefer the flexibility, integration and cutting-edge tech on offer in cloud contact centres.
Given the pros and cons of each mode of delivery, your company may find that the best solution is a fine balance. However, there is another option.
Hybrid Can Be The Best Of Both Worlds
Cloud contact centre environments have become much better at integrating with legacy, on-premise systems. To a degree, deciding between on-premise and the cloud in the context of contact centre deployment is less of an either-or decision than in the past.
Nor does adopting a cloud solution mean a “rip and replace” approach. Instead, many of the cloud vendors we work with now offer the ability to provision some features in the cloud, while keeping others on-premise.
Similarly, cloud contact centre tech can increasingly integrate with your existing on-premise systems. Keep your customer data stored locally but take advantage of cloud-driven contact centre tech – mitigating compliance concerns, for example.
It may feel like an overwhelming range of options and, of course, Conn3ct would be happy to help your business make that decision.