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Hosted call centers -- pros and cons

Donna Fluss offers advice on hosted call centers, including the benefits and drawbacks of the hosted contact center model.

Can you provide some pros and cons for hosted contact centers – I'd like to know what to expect and what to avoid.
Hosted contact centers captured the attention of the CRM market in late 2004. At that point many hosted solutions had become almost as feature-rich as the leading premise-based contact center infrastructure environments. This changed the overall landscape of the contact center market because it gave end users a new alternative. Still, there are both pros and cons to hosted contact centers.

The pros include:

1. Low start-up cost, small cash outlay.
2. Relatively small monthly payments that come out of the operating budget instead of the capital budget.
3. Vendor is responsible for system installation, implementation and ongoing maintenance.
4. Up and running quickly with a full-featured implementation.
5. Cost effective and feature-rich support for a small shop.
6. Many browser-based offerings that require little on-site technology.
7. Ongoing technology refresh without forklifts or major disruption to the operating environment.
8. No need for in-house contact center technical expertise.
9. Few in-house technical resources required to support the switch.
10. Easy to scale up and down.
11. No network costs or application expertise required to support multiple sites and at-home agents.
12. Standardized functionality and best practices can be implemented across departments or an enterprise.
13. Can walk away from an implementation without a big financial write-off.
 

The cons include:

1. Hosting for an extended period of time, approximately three to four years, eventually costs more than purchasing the technology outright.
2. Total dependence on the vendor to provide a high level of service reliability.
3. Not all of the switches are as functionally rich as the leading premise-based offerings.
4. Need to find a service provider that is capable of meeting your organization's requirements .
5. Quality of service, cost and speed of enhancements are subject to changes in the hosting vendor's financial position or business strategy.
6. The service provider may not be as responsive as an in-house team and it may take days to make simple changes.
7. Must depend on vendor to implement new features as you require them.
8. Hosting vendor may not be willing to support unique requirements.
9. May be challenging to integrate the hosted solution into your operating environment.
10. Data security and backup are no longer under your direct control.
 

This was last published in August 2006

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