Hosted technology has been available to the contact center industry for several years, although its market penetration has been modest at best. However, COVID-19 proved to be a catalyst for adopting the cloud-based model due to its work-from-home capabilities. Contact centers around the globe started experimenting with it to address the challenges posed by the pandemic.
What was initially perceived as a temporary fix soon revealed its potential to deliver benefits beyond remote work. As contact centers began exploring the cloud-based model more closely, they realized that it could offer far more than just the ability to work from home. Its scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness make it an attractive option for organizations looking to streamline their operations and enhance customer experiences.
As a result, hosted technology has emerged as a go-to solution for contact centers worldwide. Its versatility and smart features have earned the trust of the industry, and its benefits have made it the top choice for businesses seeking to stay competitive in an increasingly digital world.
Hosted contact centers are the wings that enable businesses to soar and reach new heights of customer satisfaction, with the cloud as their limitless sky. Christian Montes – Executive Vice President Client Operations
What is a Hosted Contact Center?
Of course, seasoned contact center professionals will smile with nostalgia, remembering the good old days when the trusted landline call was the only communication channel an agent had to deal with.
Fast forward a couple of decades into the present day, and we get a completely different picture. Why? Well, let’s say the internet happened, and since then, the agent work volume is only going up.
Just think about the emergence of new communication channels, mobile devices, social media, VoIP, rich data, and so on…
In short, the hosted contact center model came as a solution to a more and more complex reality. And the way to tackle this issue was to create a light and scalable contact center infrastructure that can simplify procedures and centralize data.
Following a survey of 302 call centers around the world, Aberdeen concluded that almost two-thirds of contact centers currently use an on-premises model for their contact center technology infrastructure. To be exact, 36% of contact centers currently use any form of cloud technology, including software as a service (Saas), hosted, hybrid, and private cloud.
A hosted contact center is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that allows you to outsource your call center operations. The service provider hosts the system and provides users with access to it via the Internet, which means they don’t need to maintain their own servers or infrastructure.
Hosted contact centers allow companies with limited resources or those who simply want an easier way of running their business to benefit from many of the same features as larger organizations do when they invest in on-premise solutions.
The infrastructure, software, and hardware are hosted and managed by a third-party service provider rather than being maintained on-site by the company. This approach offers a flexible, scalable, and cost-effective alternative to traditional on-premises contact centers, allowing businesses of all sizes to access advanced customer support tools and technologies.
Call center vs. hosted contact center: Key differences
Because the hosted model is an alternative to the traditional brick-and-mortar call center, what better way to understand it than to look at the key differences between them?
An on-premise contact center can take months to set up, from finding and leasing the physical premise to installing the hardware and customizing the software. In contrast, a cloud-based contact center can be set up in as little as 72 hours (for small departments) with an out-of-the-box product like NobelBiz OMNI+.
In an on-premise model, you must own every asset, including office space, hardware, software licenses, and furniture. In contrast, with a cloud-based solution, you only need to pay for a reliable internet connection and the resources you need with the pay-per-seat model.
Long-Term Expenses & Maintenance
For an on-premise contact center, you must factor in payroll, monthly recurring bills, hardware updates, and other expenses. In contrast, cloud-based expenses are limited to monthly provider and internet bills, and payroll.
With an on-premise contact center, you have the freedom to customize your software, but development takes time and resources. With a cloud-based contact center, solutions like NobelBiz OMNI+ come with ready-to-use integrations for popular CRMs, payment processors, and databases.
In an on-premise contact center, you must own and maintain all hardware components. In contrast, with a cloud-based contact center, you only need a computer, internet connection, and headsets, with everything else accessed via the cloud connection.
Here’s a non-comprehensive list of all the hardware needed to run a brick-and-mortar call center:
- Private Branch Exchange / Private Automatic Branch Exchange (PBX/PABX)
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR/VRU)
- Automatic Call Distributor (ACD)
- Voice Logger
- Agent Workstations
- Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)
- LAN Components
- Web & Mail Servers
- Application Server
- Mainframe & Data Warehouse
Reliability & Downtime
While an on-premise infrastructure can provide better call quality, it is only as reliable as its technology and hardware components. With a cloud-based contact center, call quality and latency-related problems are only an issue of internet connection, which can be eliminated with a solid connection.
Flexibility and Scalability
An on-premise contact center lacks flexibility and scalability since every update depends on hardware and software updates. In contrast, a cloud-based contact center offers a pay-as-you-go model, allowing for resource allocation based on needs and tackling seasonality and spikes in activity with ease.
If you want a more in-depth, one-on-one explanation about the difference between the two and what suits best for your business, download our free exclusive ebook: On-Premise vs. Cloud Contact Center Solution: Benefits and Challenges.
How Do Hosted Contact Centers Work?
Hosted contact centers leverage cloud computing technology to deliver a wide array of services and functionalities, such as call routing, interactive voice response (IVR), workforce management, and analytics. These services are accessed via the internet, meaning that agents can work from anywhere with a reliable internet connection – be it from the office, their homes, or even halfway around the world.
The process begins with a customer reaching out to the contact center via phone, email, chat, or social media. The hosted contact center’s intelligent routing system then directs the customer to the most appropriate agent, based on factors such as availability, skill set, and customer history. Agents can access customer information and support tools through a web-based interface, enabling them to provide efficient and personalized support.
What Are the Benefits of a Hosted Contact Center?
According to zippia.com, cloud-based (i.e. hosted) call centers with 500 seats report saving an average of 43% while also reporting 27% less downtime. It’s not hard to see why hosted technology comes on top when compared to the legacy brick-and-mortar call center model. Let’s look at some of the most obvious competitive advantages.
Cost Savings: By outsourcing the infrastructure and management of a contact center, businesses can significantly reduce their capital and operational expenses. Hosted contact centers eliminate the need for costly hardware, software licenses, and maintenance while also offering flexible pricing models that can be easily scaled up or down according to demand.
Scalability and Flexibility: Hosted contact centers enable businesses to easily adapt to changing customer demands and market conditions. Whether you need to add new agents, support additional communication channels, or expand globally, a hosted contact center can accommodate your needs with minimal effort and investment.
Enhanced Customer Experience: With advanced features such as omnichannel support, intelligent call routing, and CRM integrations, hosted contact centers can significantly improve the quality and efficiency of customer interactions. This leads to faster resolutions, higher customer satisfaction, and increased brand loyalty.
Enhanced employee satisfaction: According to cxtoday.com, around 60 percent of contact centers believe the cloud has increased employee engagement and satisfaction in their organization. Let’s see why.
Remote Work Capabilities: As remote work becomes increasingly popular, hosted contact centers offer the perfect solution for businesses looking to create a distributed workforce. With a cloud-based infrastructure, agents can work from anywhere with an internet connection, allowing companies to tap into a global talent pool and ensure uninterrupted service during emergencies or disasters.
Advanced Analytics and Reporting: Hosted contact centers provide powerful analytics and reporting tools, giving businesses valuable insights into their customer interactions and agent performance. These insights can be used to identify areas for improvement, optimize workflows, and make data-driven decisions to enhance overall customer service.
What Features Should You Look for in a Hosted Contact Center Solution?
When evaluating hosted contact center solutions, it’s essential to consider the following features and capabilities:
Omnichannel Support: A robust hosted contact center should support multiple communication channels, such as voice, email, chat, SMS, and social media, to provide a seamless and consistent customer experience.
Intelligent Call Routing: Advanced call routing capabilities can direct customers to the most suitable agent, reducing wait times and improving first contact resolution rates.
CRM Integration: Integrating your hosted contact center with customer relationship management (CRM) systems allow agents to access comprehensive customer information and history, enabling personalized and efficient support.
Workforce Management: Effective workforce management tools help optimize agent scheduling, monitor performance, and ensure adequate staffing levels to meet fluctuating customer demands.
Listen to Christian Montes and Daryl Conos talking about the Future Of Workforce Management for Contact Centers in our First Contact Podcast.
Security and Compliance: It’s crucial to choose a hosted contact center provider that prioritizes data security and adheres to industry-specific compliance standards, such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and GDPR.
Customization and Integration: A flexible hosted contact center solution should offer customization options and integration with various third-party applications, allowing businesses to tailor the system according to their unique requirements.
24/7 Support and Reliability: Reliable customer service and technical support from your hosted contact center provider are vital to ensure smooth operations and minimize downtime.
How Can Hosted Contact Centers Improve Agent Performance?
Hosted contact centers offer several features that can enhance agent performance, including:
Unified Communication: By integrating multiple channels into one platform, agents can manage customer interactions more effectively and avoid the need to switch between different systems.
Real-time Analytics: With access to real-time data and performance metrics, managers can monitor agent performance, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions.
Call Routing and Prioritization: Intelligent call routing ensures that interactions are directed to the most suitable agent based on their skills and availability, while prioritization helps ensure that high-value customers receive prompt attention.
Hosted contact centers have the power to transform average agents into extraordinary ones. With advanced features such as automated workflows, real-time analytics, and personalized coaching, agents can provide superior customer experiences and achieve their full potential. – Brad Butler, Contact Center Software Consultant @ NobelBiz
Choosing the Right Hosted Contact Center Provider
Enterprises often underestimate the significant impact that technology providers can have on their contact center business. Contact center voice and software providers play a crucial role in building a sustainable business for the long term. This allows business owners to focus on growth, client acquisition, and team management.
Choosing a service provider is probably one of the most important business decisions a call center owner will make. Powering virtually all vital operations, the service provider is the backbone of every hosted contact center. In more than one way, the overall performance of a center depends on the service providers.
When selecting a hosted contact center provider, businesses should consider factors such as:
Integration Capabilities: A provider should offer seamless integration with your existing business applications and CRM systems to ensure a smooth transition.
Customization and Flexibility: Look for a provider that offers customizable features and scalable solutions to meet your organization’s unique needs.
Security and Compliance: Choose a provider with robust security measures and compliance certifications to protect your customer data and maintain regulatory compliance.
Reliability and Performance: Ensure the vendor has a proven track record of delivering reliable service with minimal downtime and high-quality performance.
Customer Support: Opt for a provider with excellent customer support to address any issues or concerns that may arise during implementation or ongoing use.
Hosted Contact Center Technology from NobelBiz
A complete cloud contact center solution comprises an array of tools, software, and services that create a highly efficient and scalable technological infrastructure. By leveraging cloud-based technology, contact center owners and managers can utilize their time and financial resources smartly and securely. This lean, flexible, and scalable solution helps businesses to fulfill their objectives in an increasingly competitive environment.
To achieve the status of a complete contact center solution, NobelBiz has combined its two primary products (voice and cloud contact center software) with exceptional results, offering one of the most robust and comprehensive solutions in the market. The NobelBiz solution can be deployed in almost any contact center environment with minimal or no requirement for third-party apps or providers, thus reducing implementation times and costs while delivering a reliable and seamless customer experience. Here are some of the highlights:
- High server redundancy with almost 100% up-time
- Built-in compliance toolset
- Unique proprietary Voice Carrier Network with telco lines
- Advanced omnichannel contact center software capabilities
- Individual cloud architecture for each client
The Role of Hosted Contact Centers in Customer Retention
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, customer retention is more important than ever. Hosted contact centers play a crucial role in fostering customer loyalty and maintaining long-term relationships. Here are some ways in which hosted contact centers contribute to customer retention:
Personalized Interactions: By consolidating customer data within the hosted contact center platform, agents can access relevant information about each customer’s history and preferences. This enables them to provide personalized service and demonstrate a genuine understanding of the customer’s needs.
Faster Response Times: Hosted contact centers enable businesses to efficiently manage high volumes of customer interactions across multiple channels. By reducing wait times and ensuring prompt attention, companies can enhance customer satisfaction and minimize frustration.
Proactive Customer Service: Leveraging data analytics and AI capabilities, hosted contact centers can identify potential issues and proactively address customer concerns before they escalate. This not only resolves problems more efficiently but also demonstrates a commitment to customer satisfaction.
Hosted contact centers play a critical role in customer retention, as they enable companies to deliver personalized, seamless experiences across all channels, building lasting relationships and driving loyalty. – Brad Butler, Contact Center Software Consultant @ NobelBiz
Consistent Quality: Hosted contact centers provide businesses with the tools to monitor and maintain consistent service quality across all channels. By setting high standards and holding agents accountable, companies can build trust and credibility with their customers.
Conclusion: Embracing the Future of Customer Support with Hosted Contact Centers
According to KPMG, cloud technology enables companies to provide personalized, automated, empowering, and predictive customer service. It also allows contact centers to access data and manage it from anywhere. As we’ve already shown, hosted services can improve customer relationships and loyalty by creating a more secure platform, saving money, and reducing expenses for vendors by providing a new, repeatable, and inexpensive method of communication.
In summary, hosted contact centers represent a powerful and versatile solution for businesses seeking to enhance their customer service in the digital era. By leveraging cloud technology, these systems offer significant cost savings, flexibility, and scalability while enabling businesses to provide exceptional customer experiences across multiple communication channels.
As remote work continues to gain popularity and customer demands evolve, hosted contact centers are set to play an increasingly important role in the future of customer support. By carefully considering the features and benefits outlined in this guide, businesses can make an informed decision when choosing a hosted contact center solution that best suits their needs.
So, are hosted contact centers the future of customer support? With their myriad advantages and cutting-edge features, it’s safe to say that they are indeed a game-changing solution for businesses looking to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive landscape.
Michael McGuire is a contact center industry expert with almost two decades of experience in the space. His experience includes roles as Director of Contact Center Digital Transformation at NobelBiz, and as Director of Operations at FLS Connect, managing multiple call centers. As President of Anomaly Squared and Targeted Metrics, Michael successfully transitioned companies into remote operations and significantly boosted revenues. With a strong background in customer service, leadership, strategic planning, and operations management, Michael excels in driving growth and innovation in the call center space.
Mike is also a proud Board Member for R.E.A.C.H Trade Group, promoting consumer protection and satisfaction and Co-host of the Off Skripted Podcast – a show about Life, Call Centers and everything in between.