The call center was once a physical place. It was a building filled with call center agents who made and took calls from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm, or some similar variant of this. When the employees went home for the day, the contact center was shut. In the event of a weather emergency or a flu outbreak, the contact center was either closed – leading to disastrous no-answers or busy-signals for customers – or working at half-capacity, leading to long call queues and hold times.
With the advent of voice over IP (VoIP) telephone systems and cloud-based applications, companies have increasingly begun to build virtual contact centers. Less of a physical place and more of an idea, a virtual contact center is a group of people and self-service technologies that can operate over small or great distances, forming a cohesive support structure that can take calls or multimedia contacts. A virtual contact center might pull together multiple contact center locations, remote satellite offices or even a group of agents working from their homes, using technology to unify all workers and allow them to operate as if they were in the same room together working on the same premise-based phone system or software applications.
A virtual contact center offers many benefits to a company. It can eliminate overhead costs, in the case of home-based agents. It can ensure that the contact center remains up and running despite weather emergencies, regional power outages or flu outbreaks. It can allow a company with highly cyclical contact center traffic to bring more manpower into play without hiring more employees. Basically, it can allow a company to operate a full-service contact center from anywhere, and even move the location of the contact center within an hour. It can even allow companies to broaden their hours of support, moving to a 24-hour per day model without needing to keep buildings open late into the night.
While there are many benefits to the virtual contact center model, there are issues to keep in mind when switching to this model. One of the most critical is security. As more information goes online, it attracts more intruders. According to a recent article on Resource Nation, while listening to the press would seem to imply that cyber-attacks affect only large companies, this is not the case.
“In fact, small businesses, because of how susceptible they can often be, are enticing targets for hopeful hackers,” wrote the Resource Nation blogger. “Keeping a sturdy line of defense against such attacks should be a priority for any company that regularly requires or even allows employees Internet access.”
What this means is that companies should seek experienced partners when it comes to implementing virtual contact center solutions. Technology players such as 8X8 Inc. offer a high-quality customer experience at lower costs, thanks to technology hosted in the cloud, and they can guarantee not only high service levels but cutting-edge security protocols that keep operations running and customer information safe.
Edited by Cassandra Tucker