Cloud-Based vs. Hosted Contact Center: Which Do You Need?

January 25, 2023

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Your customers and sales prospects have more options in the marketplace than ever. As a result, any issue could become a reason for a once-loyal client to switch brands, including a poor or nonexistent contact center experience.

In fact, recent studies show that 75% of customers view their interactions with a company as important as your product or service. Therefore, your business needs a well-run contact center to provide an outstanding customer experience, which keeps buyers coming back for more. 

How can you ensure you get the right contact center software? Also, how do cloud-based options differ from hosted contact centers and on-premise call centers?

Discover everything you need to know about cloud and hosted contact center solutions here.

Key Takeaways:

  • An omnichannel cloud-based contact center allows you to easily interact with your clients and prospects across all channels.
  • Cloud-based infrastructure outperforms on-premise call centers and is more cost-effective than hosted contact centers.
  • Cloud contact center software also helps you boost employee performance, enhance the customer experience, and improve business operations.
  • If you already have a call center, you can integrate cloud-based software for a high-powered hybrid solution.

What Is a Hosted Contact Center?

A contact center is a department your organization uses to manage a high volume of inbound and outbound communications. Phone calls are often the primary channel, but hosted solutions permit multichannel capabilities, including text messages, automated web chat, email, and video calls. 

A hosted contact center operates through software from an off-site provider. The “hosted” aspect refers to the fact that the vendor manages all of the core physical parts, such as the data centers and servers. As a result, your provider keeps everything working securely so you don’t have to worry about it.

A core advantage of hosted contact center solutions is the capacity to include remote teams. Therefore, a hosted contact center can consist of a group working in a single office or multiple remote locations around the world.

How Do Hosted Contact Centers Differ From Call Centers?

Call centers have long been an essential tool for customer service and sales departments. With a call center, your agents or representatives can accept a large number of inbound calls or efficiently make multiple outbound calls.

However, traditional call centers are analog, meaning they run on physical in-office infrastructure instead of a digital network. Most often, an in-house private branch exchange literally connects team members in a single location through wires and cables. Then, the system connects the office to the outside world through a single business landline.

Online Capabilities Permit Hosted Solutions

Now that high-speed internet is widely available, call centers have transitioned away from using outdated physical phone lines. Instead, a hosted contact center now usually connects to the outside world using Voice over Internet Protocol

VoIP enables advanced features, including:

  • Higher call volumes at a lower cost
  • Remote work capabilities
  • Rapid scaling 
  • Easier call recording, monitoring, and analytics
  • Integrations with productivity software

VoIP solutions also permit higher-quality voice and video calls than landlines.

Contact Centers Do More Than Call Centers

A call center, whether a hosted or analog solution, technically only handles voice calling. However, hosting has allowed for the next evolution of the traditional call center into a multichannel contact center.

Instead of solely taking and making phone calls, your team can use all channels of communication, including video, direct message, chat, and email. A multichannel or even omnichannel platform allows customers to communicate with you through whichever medium they prefer. 

When Might a Hosted Contact Center Not Be The Best Choice For Your Business?

Hosted solutions are definitely a step up from traditional call centers. However, whether one is a good option for you depends on how your provider hosts your software. A cloud-based hosted contact center is almost always the best choice.

To briefly explain: Some people may use the expressions “cloud” and “hosted” to mean the same thing. However, while all cloud solutions are technically hosted services, not all hosted services are in the cloud.

Nowadays, a “hosted” contact center most often refers to a setup where only your company uses a specific set of equipment, servers, and connections. No one else is in your system’s hardware. This arrangement is similar to a company leasing an entire office building, and only that company can use the space. For this reason, another name for these hosted services is “single-tenant architecture.”

Though you have total control of your system with a hosted contact center, you’ll have less scalability and continuity, plus higher costs. For example, the provider will pass on most of the costs for repair and maintenance to you because you’re the only user. Likewise, if a disaster or outage affects your servers’ location, your contact center will be out of commission.

The trade-off usually isn’t worth it, especially for small and mid-sized companies. Providers that host your contact center in a single location are only a little better than an on-premise option. 

Why Should You Use a Cloud Contact Center?

A cloud contact center is the best type of contact center there is. These virtual contact centers have all of the capabilities of hosted contact centers and additional advantages, including:

  • Quicker installation, onboarding, and migration
  • Lower total cost of ownership and higher return on investment
  • Industry-leading security and data backup
  • Access from anywhere

Furthermore, a primary benefit of the cloud over hosted contact centers is that you have virtually no downtime and low call latency. In fact, you can count on less than six minutes of downtime yearly.

The reason is your provider uses multiple data centers to keep your service up and running. If an outage or emergency affects one location, your provider rapidly switches operations to another spot to keep you functional so you’re practically never incommunicado. 

How Can Hybrid Contact Centers Elevate Traditional Call Centers?

A hybrid contact center blends on-premise and cloud solutions. Many companies want the benefits of cloud-based software but have already invested in on-premise call centers and teams. 

Thankfully, you can convert a legacy call center into a contemporary cloud contact center with SIP trunking from Intermedia. Hybrid is also ideal when you need the level of control of on-premises for some operations but still desire the flexibility, reliability, and savings of a cloud-based contact center.

What Are the Different Types of Contact Centers?

Contact centers have different use cases and capabilities depending on which type you choose.

Inbound vs. Outbound

Your contact center can be inbound, outbound, or both. Inbound call and contact centers handle a wide array of services for customers who need to reach out to you for help or other transactions. A few common use cases include tech support, account processing, appointment scheduling, and booking requests.

On the other hand, outbound contact centers take care of any situation where you need to reach out to customers and leads. The corresponding features facilitate sales, marketing, fundraising, collections, lead generation, and data gathering. Outbound capabilities are great for boosting your revenue with upselling and cross-selling. 

With a modern cloud contact center, you can easily have customer service and sales departments that manage inbound and outbound communication. You only need to set up the features and rules for each in your admin portal.

Omnichannel vs. Multichannel

You also need to choose between an omnichannel or multichannel contact center. Each service allows you to connect with clients and prospects through voice, video, chat, fax, and email. 

However, multichannel operations keep these communication methods separate and siloed from each other. Therefore, you have one group for text, one for phone calls, another for email, and so on. Often, each team has its own software and dashboards for storing customer information, and communicating details across teams can become tedious.

Alternatively, omnichannel contact centers use software to integrate and organize communications into one convenient interface. These solutions provide a seamless and consistent employee and customer experience. 

For example, callers do not always have to repeat their issues or problems to agents in every new conversation, even when they connect with a different agent through a different channel. With omnichannel contact centers, customers can switch between phone calls, text, or email without losing context or information. This way, customers can choose their preferred channel and get their issues resolved faster and easier. 

An omnichannel contact center also contributes to first-contact resolution, which is the measure of how many customer requests you can solve in the first discussion. A high FCR increases customer satisfaction and loyalty, as well as reducing costs and increasing efficiency. 

With an omnichannel approach, agents retain a holistic view of customer interactions and can access relevant data and tools from a single system. As a result, they can provide more effective and personalized solutions on the initial contact, without transferring or escalating the case to another channel or agent.

What Are the Top Benefits of Using a Cloud Contact Center Solution?

Cloud-based contact centers offer multiple benefits to your organization that you can start seeing immediately.

Brand Consistency

An omnichannel cloud contact center helps you keep customer service the same across all interactions. Your clients and contacts know what to expect, and you can establish a clear identity that differentiates you in the market.

Reporting & Analytics

How do you know if you’re maximizing the ability of your cloud contact center team? It’s impossible to listen to every call, make notes, and determine how to improve on your own.

Fortunately, your cloud contact center software provides full visibility into key metrics with detailed reporting and analytics. You’ll be able to see:

  • Agent performance by day, week, month, and year
  • Billing reports for inbound and outbound communications
  • Daily transfers by agent
  • Talk time intervals
  • First-call resolution rates

You’ll have access to key data that shows how your agents are doing and how to improve your training. This intel leads to agent upskilling and cross-skilling for more effective service and a stronger team.

Advanced Call Treatment and IVR

How does a cloud contact center use automation for speedier resolutions of customer queries? Interactive voice response software can handle a limitless number of incoming calls and allow customers to select which individual or department they want to speak with, reducing annoying transfers.

Not only does this mean that you don’t need to hire a human operator for all hours of the day, but you can also enable self-service options. Customers can get answers to basic account information and even complete certain transactions for faster service. You also increase agent efficiency because employees don’t have to deal with low-level requests.

Improved Customer Experience

Engaged employees, better tools, and brand consistency lead to customer satisfaction that keeps clients loyal to your company. Work with a cloud-based contact center provider that appreciates the value of excellent technical support and sees its own customer service as more than an extra feature.

Contact Center Virtualization

The freedom for remote and hybrid work isn’t just a benefit for your agents. You also gain an advantage by being able to hire capable employees from any location, which is cost-effective and convenient for servicing callers in different time zones. 

You’re also less susceptible to problems that arise when your contact center infrastructure sits in a single spot. Outages or technical difficulties could disable your whole team in a traditional call center. With a cloud contact center solution, your system is available through any means you can access the internet.

Quicker Payments

When you streamline operations and offer self-service features through your cloud contact center, business flows more smoothly. Not only are customers willing to pay more for your service or upgrade, but you also get those payments faster than before because of fewer bottlenecks in the process.

Increased ROI and Decreased TCO

A cloud-based contact center increases your return on investment by first lowering your total cost of ownership. The upfront expense in time and money for an on-premise call center means you could wait months before you’re functional and generating revenue.

Additionally, your system requires maintenance, repairs, and upgrades over time. A cloud contact center provider factors these costs into your reasonable subscription rates, so they’re never a burden.

You also won’t have to hire additional technicians or personnel to install or repair your system. Furthermore, you can scale up or down in an instant, using only the number of lines and features that you need.

Powerful Software Integrations

Through computer telephony integrations, you can connect your omnichannel cloud contact center to apps and tools to improve productivity. 

For example, your customer relationship management software collects and organizes details about leads, prospects, and customers. When you integrate this tool with your cloud contact center to automatically log pertinent information, you become more efficient and improve the customer experience. 

Other common software integrations include:

  • Workforce management software for analyzing agent performance
  • Electronic health records for medical services
  • Automated outbound notifications to reduce cancelled customer appointments
  • Payment processing solutions to enable secure agentless payment

Also, the best cloud contact centers integrate directly with your internal business lines for seamless connections and transfers. Your system runs smoothly whether you’re conversing with someone internally or an outside party.

Which Company Is the Top Cloud Contact Center Provider?

Intermedia has decades of providing communications solutions for all types of businesses. Our Contact Center offers the top features so you can get the most out of your customer interactions. 

Call us to learn more about our cloud contact center software.

Mark Greer

Mark is the Senior Product Marketing Manager for Intermedia's Contact Center solution.

January 25, 2023

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