Whether you are in the market or will be in the market for a new call center platform, we will go in-depth into the different types of providers, what are must/should-haves you should purchase, tips on saving money, tricks the platforms sometimes play, how to negotiate the price, and what you should be looking to pay per seat.
UCAAS vs CCAAS
UCAAS means “Unified Communications as a Service” and CCAAS stands for “Call Centers as a Service”. The difference is UCAAS providers serve as your business phone system- your office phones, call forwarding, auto-attendant, etc. CCAAS refers directly to the technology you use in your call center FOR your agents to improve the center. It is a more advanced technology.
Deciding what you need is the first step; do you need just office phones, or call center technology? If you have a small customer service division (i.e. only 1-3 people) you might do just fine with a local UCAAS system. For bigger operations (10-20 seats or more), you will need a CCAAS system, you will need to be in the Cloud, and you will need more advanced technology.
What is your technology level?
You need to ask yourself:
What is your technology level and skill level at your organization? Are your platforms user friendly? Do they have a robust partner platform to incorporate any 3rd party applications? If you do not have a lot of technical support, you will need to invest in a platform that is easy to use. One thing to look out for is how simplistic it will be to get your reps set up that are working from home. Downloading processes can be confusing and time-consuming, so I recommend an integrated softphone where you go to a website, log in with your email, and can start taking calls- no download necessary. This makes the at-home work model easy for both you and your rep.
Must-Haves for Call Center Purchase
*A solid ACD.
*Skills-based routing- the ability to send certain types of calls to specific reps that have experience in a specific skill set. This can also be helpful if you have new reps and are training them to their skillset.
*An IVR or Auto-attendant- Will that be easy to set up and use? If so, an IVR can save you time and money in the long run.
*Integrations – This is especially important. You need to easily be able to integrate your Salesforce platform, your 365 Dynamics Platform, or proprietary system that you have. I recommend exploring that option for seamless connectivity.
*Recording – Recording and having a place for the recordings to be stored is important, but it does come with a cost.
*Monitoring – Having the option to Blind Monitor calls is important from a quality standpoint. Blind Monitoring means that you can listen in on any call without the rep knowing, and you can even insert yourself into a call if any problems arise.
*Real-Time Dashboard Needs
The lack of real-time reporting within certain platforms, or the added cost to include it, surprises me. You will see in a lot of the big players real-time reporting is always included. From a real-time reporting standpoint, you will want widgets that show you live service level, abandonment rates, and calls in queue. You will also want interval and summary reporting for each rep. To be able to look at those documents from a rep standpoint and a skill standpoint is valuable. Having agent state reports will be able to show you rep characteristics like handle time, talk time, after-call work time, and other statistics. You can set parameters and give your reps goals. This can be immensely helpful for both the reps and management.
Service Packages. How do they work?
Almost every package allows 24/7 access to a 1-800 number to call tech support. What if you wanted another layer to that and wanted your own account manager? Every platform is doing this in a different way. Ask how their packages work and if you have a 50+ seat center, you want someone who is relatively dedicated to you and understands your business type. Research costs.
Should-Haves for any Call Center
*WFO- Workforce Optimization – To be able to look at your call center traffic on a macro level and be able to staff accordingly down to shift schedules. This can help with efficiency, especially if you are a growing operation.
*QM – Quality Management Platform. At Expivia we have a QA staff, we create forms based on every client, we use speech analytics and real-time listening. There are also many tools that are analytic & AI-infused and can do some of that monitoring work for you.
*Virtual Call Backs – You should want to be able to schedule call-backs with customers whenever their time comes up.
Bells & Whistles
Speech Analytics – Expivia is a huge fan of speech analytics because it can help you to pinpoint the trends within your callers and to know exactly what they need.
Advances Reporting – this is referring to not only telephony data, but the CRM or third-party data that can be combined with telephony data. If you have all that information together, a dashboard can pull it all together and a senior manager can look at efficiency and cost management in one area.
Voice Authentication – this tech can be expensive, but it can cut down on call times. The system will be able to understand who the customer is without the repetitive need to check SS numbers and so forth.
How to Negotiate Price
Negotiate EVERYTHING. This especially goes for your implementation costs. Most platforms are expecting you to negotiate. You can also look at third-party implementers to save money. Expivia did that, and it ended up being both easier and quicker for us.
Know if you want to implement your systems by agent or by seat. For example, if you have 50 employees but can only schedule 30 employees at a time, and only one employee can use one computer at a time, you do not want to be billed by the individual rep every month.
Watch your minimums. Platforms will offer a lower cost at a higher minimum that you need to hit. Make sure that the minimums given to you are realistic, and that will save costs in the long run.
If you think your center will grow, tell your provider that. You will be able to take advantage of some savings now as you and your provider both expect you to grow.
On average, for a very robust platform (meaning a platform that includes: ACD, integration, real-time dashboards, service packages, & WFO) will cost between $150 – $275 per seat per month. Again, this is an average, and it will depend on the bells & whistles you decide to include.
Expivia offers a consulting arm that is free to use. If you need any sort of help regarding call center operations, whether it’s negotiating costs or you simply need advice, do not hesitate to reach out. You can contact me at [email protected] or send me a message on LinkedIn.
Want more call center operations content? Head over to our weekly call center operations podcast “Advice from a Call Center Geek!” at expiviausa.com/call-center-geek-podcast/
Advice from a Call Center Geek is a weekly podcast with a focus on all things call center and contact center. We discuss topics such as call center operations, hiring, culture, technology, and training and have fun doing it! #callcenter #contactcenter #CX #custserv #callcentergeek