Hosted contact centers provide a cost-effective way for businesses to manage their customer service interactions through the cloud, often on servers owned or rented by third-party vendors such as Genesys Cloud, Odigo, and Amazon Connect.
When they are completely cloud-based, contact centers take the form of a communications platform as a service (CPaaS). However, if they provide services through a combination of on-site and cloud-based methods, it’s normal to refer to them as hosted contact centers.
Despite the similarities between them, keep in mind that on-premises, CPaaS, and hosted contact centers are three different service models and they should be treated as such.
Hosted centers in particular offer a variety of benefits for businesses, including security, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. Furthermore, they also offer the flexibility to scale your workforce up and down depending on the current trends in the economy or to match seasonal demand.
One of the key differentiators of hosted contact centers is their ability to add new channels without requiring you to purchase and install expensive new hardware, making it an extremely flexible solution for businesses of all shapes, sizes, and levels of experience in the market.
Plus, with the right approach, you can implement a hosted solution within a matter of weeks—if not days. All you need to do is identify a compatible vendor, purchase a plan, and wait to receive detailed instructions on how to set everything up.
Of course, certain businesses may prefer on-premises or CPaaS solutions, but here are five signs that a hosted contact center is exactly the type of solution you’re looking for.
1. Your Agents are Remote or Work From Home
If a sizable part of your workforce is working remotely—either in hybrid settings or working entirely from home—that’s a clear signal that you should make accessing the contact center as easy as checking email on a mobile device.
Hosted centers are very friendly for teams with remote agents because employees can access the center from almost anywhere in the world—excluding sanctioned countries and areas without a reliable internet connection, obviously.
When it’s time to work, agents can sign in from their devices through a secure connection, as this is how most popular hosted contact centers operate. On the flip side, on-prem centers will often require a virtual private network (VPN) and some additional credentials to sign in securely.
VPNs are great tools for people who want to work from home and abroad, but they are also vulnerable to certain attacks and exploits such as stealing credentials, zero-day exploits, and remote code executions.
Hosted centers aren’t 100% foolproof either, but they don’t require the use of a VPN to connect to your workplace, so they aren’t privy to VPN-specific vulnerabilities, exploits, and attacks.
Lastly, hosted solutions can be very valuable for companies looking to add work-from-home capabilities for the first time—especially when many employees have long commutes. At the end of the day, if employees are happier with their working arrangements, that can translate into greater productivity.
2. You Need Powerful Capabilities for Managers and Agents
If you find your current contact center system to be inadequate, outdated, or clumsy, that’s a telltale sign that you need to upgrade to something else. With a hosted center, you’ll have greater capabilities at a fraction of the cost of setting up a traditional on-premises contact center.
Hosted contact center software also offers a variety of powerful features, including automatic call distribution (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR), call analytics, omnichannel support, live chat, chatbots, agent status, and quick call transferring.
For example, an IVR system utilizes voice recognition technology to route callers to the most appropriate agent or department. At the same time, self-service IVR setups can guide consumers to resolve some of their simplest inquiries on their own—which frees up your agents to solve more complex customer concerns.
In addition to these features, AI-powered hosted centers automatically sync inbound and outbound call data across all channels and provide managers with real-time dashboards containing important insights into everything that’s going on under the customer service hood.
As a result, your agents will be more informed and better equipped to handle customer inquiries, leading to a more positive experience across the board. Meanwhile, if they can leverage these tools to become more efficient and reduce their average spent time (AHT) with customers, it can lead to greater morale in the workplace.
3. You Need Better Call Volume Management
Regardless of the size of your company, it’s not a secret that businesses have been struggling to manage call volumes across a variety of industries, including healthcare, education, legal, tech, and ecommerce.
Here’s how to tell if your customer service center is affected by poor call volume management:
- Your contact channels are often clogged with customer requests: The growing norm for customers to communicate with businesses digitally has caught many unprepared businesses off-guard. Since leads tend to make decisions after being nudged by human agents, this trend continues to grow.
- Your average hold time (AHT) is more than 15 minutes: Customers are usually willing to wait around 14 minutes before ending the call on their own. If they aren’t connected to an agent, they will probably start calling again later in the day or at a later date for the same issue, which can result in an (otherwise unnecessarily) increased call volume.
- You can’t determine the specific reasons behind the increase in customer calls: Being aware of market generalities is not the same as knowing the specific reasons why customers are reaching out to your business in the first place. Not knowing why your customers insist on connecting with an agent may put your business at a disadvantage, hurt your reputation, and threaten the goals and strategies of your company.
If you struggle with any of these issues, then you probably need to adopt a better call volume management system—like a hosted contact center service.
Hosted centers allow you to add more channels on top of your existing touchpoints in a relatively simple way, making it very easy for customers to reach out and get their concerns sorted right there on the spot.
Combined with omnichannel capabilities (that synchronizes customer information across all of your service channels), your agents will be able to offer a seamless experience that, for example, starts with a message on social media and ends with a phone call.
Usually, this move won’t take a huge chunk out of your budget because many vendors of hosted call centers already have everything your business needs in a neat, integrated package—which you can activate, disable, and scale up or down with ease.
4. Your Outbound Dialing Is Not up to Par
Simply put, if you struggle to get more leads and grow your business via word of mouth, your outbound dialing is probably not at the level that it could (or should) be.
Outbound dialers are a specialized type of customer service technology that automates the outbound calling process using software that is often powered by AI—though it doesn’t have to be.
In hosted contact centers, outbound dialers allow agents to call existing and prospective customers, run sales campaigns, and schedule follow-up calls with minimal human intervention.
Generally speaking, hosted centers are equipped with three different types of outbound dialers:
- Preview dialers: These dial one number per available agent and allow your agent to review the caller’s information before deciding to place the call.
- Predictive dialers: These use an algorithm to dial multiple numbers automatically without consulting your agents beforehand. Predictive dialers are great for scaling but not very good at improving your conversion rates because of high expectations for customer hang-ups.
- Power dialers: These call one number after another in succession from a list of existing phone numbers, saving time between calls (because agents don’t have to dial them manually). If you want to increase your outbound call capacity while trying to reach as many customers as you can, then using a power dialer housed within a hosted contact center system is a great way to go about it.
In a nutshell, most modern outbound dialers that are integrated within hosted contact centers can be referred to as smart dialers. Thanks to the predictive functionality of these smart outbound dialers, your agents are only connected to a call when a real person answers the phone, effectively minimizing agent idle time (AIT) and improving the chances of closing a sale.
5. The Costs Are Getting Out of Hand
An on-premises contact center requires a large amount of planning, coordination, and a sizable chunk of investment to get it off the ground. If you don’t pay close enough attention to your budget, the costs of setting up, running, and maintaining an on-premises contact center can quickly get out of hand.
If you’re thinking about investing in an on-prem center and the math doesn’t add up, you may need to change course and consider switching to a hosted contact center instead.
Compared to on-premises (and even some premium CPaaS) services, a hosted center tends to get the best of both worlds. For example, it’s not very expensive to run, it doesn’t require top-tier hardware to be competitive, and it often comes with a plethora of options to choose from—including paying per hour or paying per user, depending on the plan.
Furthermore, some vendors have monthly and yearly subscription plans for using their services, which makes their offers flexible, non-committal, and very cost-effective. You can also let the majority of your agents work remotely without compromising the quality of your service.
Finally, processing calls is typically cheaper with VoIP services than it is with landlines. By using software and tools that make things easier for your employees, you will most likely notice a bump in your ROI thanks to happier and more productive agents. This, in turn, can also lead to a more loyal, devoted, and outspoken customer base.
As more companies are looking to improve their flexibility, scalability, and cost-efficiency when dealing with their customers, hosted contact center solutions are beginning to shine a light brighter than their alternatives.
Plus, with the advent of AI, machine learning, large language models, and programmable automation, we can expect to see a greater prevalence of hosted contact center solutions across a variety of different industries and niches.