Expand Your Call Center Universe
As the holiday season orders pour in, catalogers at this time of year find themselves seeking ways to maximize the use of their contact centers. One potential solution for peak ordering periods worth considering is voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), which enables catalogers to increase the size of the contact center at will, or even hire additional reps to work from their homes, when physical space in their existing contact center runs tight.
VoIP allows contact center managers to deliver both phone service and broadband Internet connectivity to customer service reps (CSRs) along the same connection. Voice and data both are converted to packets of information that are sent the same way — across an Internet connection. Each CSR shares the bandwidth of that connection, and “since you’re contracting for a set amount of bandwidth, you can automatically turn on additional service as demand arises,” says Dave Peterson, president of Bedford, N.H.-based contact center consultancy Powerhouse Consulting.
To date, however, few catalogers have adopted VoIP. A recent survey by the IT research and analysis firm Yankee Group revealed that VoIP adoption was at just 17 percent of all contact centers in North America. But the need to flexibly manage networking across multiple contact centers and remotely connect off-site agents is expected to drive an additional 30 percent of contact centers to implement VoIP by the end of 2007, the survey revealed.
What’s more, an additional 38 percent of respondents to Yankee Group’s survey said they actively are researching and investigating the possibility of implementing VoIP.
For now, however, the top reason cited by survey respondents for not using VoIP is the high cost of implementation. Peterson says it costs at least $750 per contact center seat, provided the contact center already is using the most up-to-date core infrastructure. If the local area network (LAN) for single site contact centers or wide area network (WAN) for multisite contact centers hasn’t been upgraded recently, the costs could be even higher.