Contact Center Essentials: Looking Beyond Features and Cost

When Evaluating Your Next Contact Center Software, What Factors Really Matter? We all know having a full set of features is a non-negotiable when evaluating a contact center product. It should do exactly what you need it to do to best serve your end-users and clients. When organizations look to re-evaluate their contact center software provider, typically the process begins with the looming expiration of their current contact center product. Let’s face it - it isn’t the most exciting technology purchase decision. Let’s change that, shall we?

Getting Beyond Features and Cost Any enterprise-ready contact center product worth its salt will have the features you need to power your contact center, and then some. Sure, do your due diligence and make sure it checks all your boxes. Regarding cost, be sure to evaluate not only the cost per user, server costs and support, but the long-term total cost of ownership. Any solution that doesn’t empower and enable you to better self-manage your environment will end up costing you big bucks in the long-run. And keep in mind, pricing structures vary from provider to provider. Many solutions will offer a basic or sub-standard software package or more robust solutions at a higher cost, and offer a-la-carte feature packages that may increase your costs. Call recording may be included with one provider, but an additional cost with another.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices to the solutions that offer the features you want at or under the budget you’ve allotted for the project, you’re in pretty good shape. But don’t stop there… There are a number of important factors beyond features and price that will make your life easier. Whether you are in IT or work in the contact center as an agent, administrator or supervisor, here is an overview of some other factors to consider before pulling the trigger on your next contact center solution.

Native Picking a native versus a non-native solution to complement your existing communications infrastructure can and should play an important role in how you select your next contact center, but often times this component gets overlooked. Native solutions inherently work much more seamlessly and harmoniously with your existing infrastructure.  Non-native solutions, while they may check all the boxes for your required features, they may also have obstacles and hidden costs – separate applications and user interfaces can confuse and sidetrack agents, making them less efficient and more susceptible to attrition. Training and working between multiple different interfaces can be time consuming and costly to the organization. Spending management and support time on multiple different systems can tax your IT department and frustrate call center administrators.

Installation and Upgrades Ever wonder what it would be like to self-install your contact center? Well it is possible – but for many solutions, it can be a varying degree of hours, weeks or months, to ensure the contact center solution you’ve selected works with your existing environment. Some providers are working to make installation easier and more self-enabled for administrators, while others make it next to impossible. Make sure to ask how long it takes to onboard new agents, create contact centers, or make changes to your queues or IVR call flow.

You also should check whether the solutions you're investigating have server side only or server and client side applications. If the solution has multiple client side applications with separate agent and/or supervisor and/or administrator clients, anytime an upgrade needs to be performed you'll waste a lot of time with individual desktop updates.  Look for a solution that is only server-side. Solutions that are web-based are particularly efficient at dispersing software updates, meaning as soon as upgrades have been made, you'll get them instantly. Which also means that in the long-term, you'll spend less time performing upgrades and more time attending to the health of your contact center.

System Redundancy System redundancy occurs when buyers select a contact center solution that offers the same communications capabilities as their existing UC infrastructure. Are you buying a completely separate and disparate telephony system for your contact center? Why? Are you using a completely different system for voice than your contact center, and merely roping the two together? Often times that means you’re purchasing additional servers and creating a more complicated infrastructure that you don’t need. Consider utilizing your existing infrastructure and extending its capabilities so it proves its value across multiple lines of business in your organization.

Self-Management Once you’ve deployed the new contact center into your environment, you’re going to have to live with it. Is it going to make your life easy, or a living nightmare? Does it take minutes to add a new agent, by syncing up to Active Directory, for example, or does it take hours to manually upload and add permissions? Can you quickly and easily make changes to your IVR, or do you need to contact support for that?

Reporting Not all reporting is created equal when it comes to contact centers. Important things to consider when it comes to reporting include: the repository where the data will be stored, the canned reports that come with the solution, and the potential to self-build dynamic reports.  These criteria are all important because they factor into the ease of use to obtain relevant and important data to measure the health of your contact center. Having 100 canned reports included in the solution may be great, but what is even better is the ability to create dynamic reports that best meet your needs at any given moment. Also, make sure the solution utilizes a rich repository system like SQL that aligns well with your existing infrastructure.

Conclusion The buying process for contact centers can be stressful. While features and cost are important components, ensuring you select a solution that works best with your existing environment is critical. Even better, select a solution that will empower everyone to work effectively and make daily management a breeze.

Clarity Connect is a native Lync contact center solution. It can be up to 80% faster to install than traditional contact center products, and embodies the spirit of a full-featured contact center that users can self-manage. From creating IVR’s, to adding agents and even new contact centers within minutes, it doesn't have to be complicated with Clarity Connect. Schedule your free demo.