Questions to Consider Before Choosing a Hosted Service Provider
By Bill Curtin, IV
There have been many advances in communications technology in the last decade that are responsible for many changes in the telemessaging industry. These advances have allowed call centers to use remote agents and to downsize pricey office space. Some call centers are now 100 percent virtual.
Technology now makes it possible for call centers to operate Direct Inward Dialing (DID) numbers from all over the US and Canada, allowing them to compete nationally and internationally. DIDs are virtual phone numbers that enable call routing to your existing phone lines, so employees or operators can have a direct number without needing a multitude of actual phone lines. These same changes enable telemessaging vendors to offer fully hosted solutions, along with off-site back-up and co-location solutions to their customers.
Calls centers need to actively evaluate advancements in technology and adjust their business practices to find the best way to provide reliable communications and reduce their costs. Here are some questions call centers should consider before choosing a hosted service provider:
Is a fully hosted solution a Good fit for your businesses?
With a fully hosted call center, you can provide service to your customers without purchasing a system. Phone calls arrive at the switch, agents process the calls and messages are delivered as needed. At the end of the month, your billing application prints the invoices. This sounds so simple and ideal, but to get to this point can take some major effort.
A fully hosted solution can reduce the responsibilities of the call center, not having to maintain or worry about the software and hardware. But this reduced responsibility comes at a cost.
In most cases, a fully hosted solution will have a higher Total Cost of Ownership than a purchased solution. There is also the intangible cost of less control over your business. While there are no more urgent trips to the office to fix system problems, you are now reliant on the sense of urgency of others, who may want to solve problems by pointing fingers at yet other vendors.
You need to find a hosted solution provider who will be a good business partner, one who is willing to work with you to address your customers’ needs. With this model, your business continuity plan is a joint venture between you and your hosting provider.
Also, if your call center has medical accounts that contain Patient Health Information (PHI), you will need to have in place proper agreements with your hosting provider to protect this federally mandated confidential information.
Bill Curtin, IV is corporate IS/IT manager for Amtelco/1Call and manages the three data centers that Amtelco/1Call uses to provide customer solutions.