The Hosted Contact Center – An Attractive Choice for ‘Customer Engagement Continuity’

Ken Landoline
Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • Hosted contact center solutions are gaining popularity as the level of functionality, reliability and security they provide catches up to that of premises-based systems.  Hosted contact centers’ ability to expand and contract as business needs change makes them an economically attractive choice for many enterprises.
  • Although hosted contact center solutions can be an ideal method of providing backup for premises-based systems, the market has been slow to implement hosted solutions as ‘insurance’ during severe weather conditions, terrorists attacks, flu epidemics and other call center emergencies.  The major cause of this phenomenon has more to do with vendors than reluctance from enterprises.

Approximately 15 months ago, I wrote a blog expressing my surprise that the issue of disaster recovery seldom came up as a driver of cloud-based services, and more specifically as a driver of hosted contact center sales (please see “Cloud-based Contact Centers – The Appeal Beyond OpEx vs. CapEx,” April 24, 2012).  This was despite the fact that prospects for cloud-based contact center services with whom I spoke seemed to agree that the disaster recovery sales pitch was worthy of consideration.  The logic behind their opinion was often based on the fact that recent world events such as severe weather conditions across the U.S., forest fires in the west and terrorist threats around the world made backup services a ‘top-of-mind’ issue for them.  So, why weren’t providers of hosted solutions incorporating disaster recovery into their sales and marketing portfolio pitches?

I postulated that the capital investment reduction and the flexible scalability benefits of a hosted contact center were all the incentives hosted contact center providers needed to supply to make the sale, so no additional reasons were needed at the time.  That must have been true, because sales of hosted solutions were flowing in at a rapid pace.  I also believe that many cloud providers were a little uneasy about what a disaster recovery offering should look like and how it might be priced.  Therefore, disaster recovery remained, for the most part, a tier-two driver of hosted customer service system sales.

You may be asking yourself why I am bringing this up now, fifteen months later.  Well, one reason is that times and conditions have changed.  Natural disasters and terrorist attacks continue and customer care executives and contact center managers are even more concerned about how they will maintain customer service and revenue flows if, for any reason, their center went dark for hours, days or weeks.  In addition, at least one provider of cloud-based contact center software has introduced an offering focused on solving the disaster recovery problem.  Siemens Enterprise recently introduced its ‘Customer Engagement Continuity’ hosted contact center offer to capitalize on this growing potential opportunity.

This offering, based on the Siemens Enterprise OpenScape Cloud Contact Center (powered by inContact), enables enterprise contact centers to operate more efficiently by ensuring business continuity, supporting seasonal demand and enabling home-based out-of-hours agents (as if in the office) when disaster strikes.  The offer provides backup contact center functionality within 60 minutes of your system going down.  Once set up, your system is replicated in full or in part (to provide minimal service levels) at a remote data center and stands by to take over the customer service operation when needed.  Prices will vary based on a number of variables, such as the number of agents, but Siemens Enterprise provided a typical pricing example and quoted a list price of $32,500 for setup and installation and a charge of $40 per agent/month when initiated.  This may be out of the financial reach of smaller contact centers, but it could be inexpensive insurance with a relatively short ROI for centers that bring in hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in revenue each hour.  At minimum, it is worthy of consideration.

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