Hosted call center technology takes center stage during todays session, Making Contact with Hosted Call Center Opportunities, where the panelists will discuss how to leverage these sticky services to combat the high commoditization of long-distance and other bread-andbutter connectivity services. Agents and VARs looking to move up the value chain can leverage hosted contact centers to step into the trusted advisor role for a wide range of customer-facing client segments.
The contact center market is big and getting bigger, explains panelist Kelly Moravek, who leads National Technical Services (NTS) for Qwest Communications International Inc. It applies against a lot of different verticals. This goes to the heart of how they touch customers, so there are a lot of different opportunities.
This is how it works: A VAR or agent would sell connectivity T1s or other lines, local services and Internet and then layer in a series of monthly services, the IPbased call center applications. These are delivered to call center agents via the Web through a portal, and are often bundled by the provider with CRM or workflow management.
A management module allows the call center manager to run reports, see call volumes, make routing plans, track productivity and so on.
Channel partners offering hosted call center services often have an easy pitch. Call centers have always required a few things, says Moravek. In-bound toll-free lines, lots of hardware around call-routing devices and PBXs, and then the services around implementing this for a customer. So, they were previously reserved for people who could afford to buy a big piece of iron and put it on their prem. Now, hosted versions of this functionality allow us to offer it on a per-transaction basis.
The benefits of this are myriad for the customer. For one, businesses can leverage the latest contact center technology by paying a monthly service fee, rather than lay out thousands, or even millions of dollars for software licenses, integration and ongoing maintenance. It is inherently redundant. And, it can be implemented in a far shorter amount of time than the 12 to 18 months required for a premises-based offering, making it compelling for everyone from SMBs to Fortune 100 companies.
Agents benefit, too. For one, channel partners become a strong resource for companies IT departments. The speed of technology and the rate of development is problematic for IT departments that know they need this, but to buy, integrate and deploy something quick enough to get an ROI before the next version comes out is really difficult, says panelist Kevin Childs, president of UCN Inc. This is a next-generation communications solution, and channel partners offering this can be an indispensable support to business IT.
Channel partners also gain more revenue. In todays world of bundles, says Childs, selling a network-based application like this is the ultimate differentiator. Were talking IVR, call recording, computer-telephony integration, skills-based multimedia queuing. Its very sticky, and allows them to go after companies they wouldnt normally approach, in higher-end spaces.”