What Is a Cloud Call Center?
A cloud call center essentially does the same job as a traditional call center, handling inbound and/or outbound communications with customers. The difference is that cloud call centers operate over the internet, instead of using physical phone lines and servers.
Let’s look at how cloud call centers compare to on-premises and hosted call centers.
Cloud Call Center vs. On-Premises Call Center
An on-premises call center means that your business owns all the necessary physical hardware, which is housed on your premises. You’re responsible for installation and maintenance. Computers and phones are hardwired to a central system, usually a PBX (Private Branch Exchange), and you’ll have basic telephony features.
With a cloud-based call center, you don’t have to buy your own telecoms equipment or store it in-house. You sign up with a service provider, who owns and maintains the infrastructure. Your team can then access the system from anywhere with an internet connection. It’s also a lot easier to add new users than with an on-premises call center, as there’s no physical installation needed.
Cloud Call Center vs. Hosted Call Center
A hosted call center still requires a physical server, but this is hosted at your provider’s physical location rather than on your own premises.
You also won’t need any hardwired equipment — only an internet connection and suitable devices. This makes it less expensive to maintain than an on-premises solution.
There are similarities to cloud-based call center technology, in that hosted call centers allow for remote access to the system, and you can also add new users pretty easily.
However, a hosted option isn’t typically as flexible or cost-effective as a cloud call center, because it does still rely on a physical server and a direct network connection.
How Do Cloud Call Center Solutions Work?
Cloud call centers operate over internet connections by using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology. VoIP replaces traditional landlines and enables both voice and multimedia communications.
At a very basic level, VoIP works by converting audio or other information into small “data packets.” The “data packets” are then transported over an IP network, which are the networks that connect computers and smartphones. VoIP systems then reassemble the information at the other end so that it makes sense to the recipient.
VoIP doesn’t require telecoms hardware, because it lets you make and receive calls via software on computers, laptops, and smartphones. All you need is an internet connection, a router, and headsets for your team. However, if you prefer physical desk phones, you can adapt your existing phones for VoIP or buy dedicated IP phones.
The advantages of VoIP technology include excellent sound clarity, minimal latency, and low-cost phone calls.
Systems based on VoIP typically give you advanced features like call forwarding, recording, and caller ID, too. UCaaS solutions that use VoIP can also handle messaging and video communications and integrate with other digital systems and tools.
Cloud Call Center Benefits
Here are some of the key benefits of cloud call centers compared to legacy systems:
We’ve already established that legacy systems are pretty clunky. Apart from being expensive, the infrastructure demands ongoing maintenance — and it quickly becomes outdated, requiring patches and upgrades. You’d need an IT team to look after this kind of system.
But with a call center in the cloud, you don’t have to worry about all that. Your vendor manages maintenance, and any updates are rolled out seamlessly and automatically. It’s easy to operate the system and make adjustments without needing IT support.
Because cloud call centers are low maintenance, you won’t need to employ a large IT team. You’ll also save on upfront hardware costs, since cloud solutions run on a subscription basis. You’ll just pay your provider a monthly or yearly fee, paying only for what you actually use.
With a legacy system, you’d have had to buy hardware and software licenses for extra staff to cover busy periods, which would then go unused at quieter times. Cloud solutions make it easy to add and remove seats whenever you need to. And you can try out features without long-term commitment.
With no bulky hardware taking up space (and using power), you could rent smaller premises. Other cost reductions come in the form of improved productivity and customer retention.
Cloud call centers are designed for fast setup, with no physical installation required. That means no downtime causing a gap in service. In most cases, you just need to sign up with your chosen provider — some solutions require you to download an app, while others have a browser-based option.
The software is also user-friendly, so agents will only need minimal training, and you can onboard new hires almost instantly. You’ll be able to streamline daily tasks and customize the system to suit the way you work.
The ability to add or remove users according to workload makes cloud call centers highly scalable.
You can also introduce extra features or integrate other tools when you need them. And with fast setup, you could even spin up a brand new branch of your call center in record time.
A cloud-based system is accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, which means you can employ remote staff from around the globe. As you grow, you can take on as many new hires as you need without finding space for them (and extra equipment) at your physical premises.
Legacy systems may seem solid and reliable, but the older they get, the less secure they become. It’s also tricky for a business to maintain security across multiple on-premises systems in different call center locations.
Even though they operate over the internet, cloud-based systems can have an edge on security.
The vendor stores your information in data centers spread across different geographical areas, which are regularly audited to prevent data breaches and leaks. Cloud solutions typically provide high uptime — Vonage ensures 99.999% uptime, a reliable level of quality* — and provide robust support.
*Based on Vonage's average uptime from July 2021 to February 2022.
Cloud call centers also make it easier to add the technology and features to handle all kinds of digital communications. That means you and your customers no longer need to be restricted to phone calls. Not only can you provide multiple channels, you can centralize them to make life easier for everyone.
In a unified communications system, there’s no need to toggle between separate applications. You can access all customer interactions in one place and quickly switch between channels, which boosts productivity and customer engagement.
Are There Drawbacks to Choosing Cloud Call Center Solutions?
If your internet connection is weak, calls may suffer from “jitter” (a delay in transporting those data packets we mentioned earlier). This causes distorted audio and visuals, which won’t impress your customers. You can avoid this by ensuring a reliable connection and sufficient bandwidth.
Network security and reliability are also important considerations, and it’s true that cloud architecture comes with its own challenges. You need to choose a vendor who will protect your data and keep your business up and running — so do the research and find one that checks all the security and compliance boxes.
The reliability challenges of cloud-based systems notwithstanding, remember that legacy systems are more vulnerable to localized outages, while hardware maintenance and troubleshooting with legacy systems are down to you, too.
How Cloud Call Centers Help to Improve Customer Experience (CX)
Call centers have one key aim — to keep customers happy. And moving to the cloud brings plenty of ways to do that:
Switching to a cloud-based call center makes it simpler to serve customers whenever they need you. Cloud-based call center solutions typically come with a plethora of advanced features that enable round-the-clock customer support.
For instance, virtual receptionists and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) menus can give customers information after working hours. But because the cloud also empowers remote work and flexible hours, you can have a global network of agents available 24/7. With guaranteed uptime, it also means no gaps in service.
Faster Response Time
Customers hate waiting on hold. Cloud-based solutions, though, offer features like smart call routing, auto-callback, and more to help minimize frustration even when there’s a high volume of calls.
For example, the Receptionist Console, available as an add-on to Vonage Business Communications can handle up to 50 concurrent calls. That helps to make sure calls are answered quickly, before routing the customer to the right place.
You can also improve resolution time with cloud-based software. If you set up automatic call distribution (ACD) with skills-based routing, for instance, calls are given to the agent who is best placed to handle that particular query.
Customers won’t get passed around or have to repeat their information. Plus, thanks to integration with tools like your CRM, you can pull in data from previous interactions to personalize the call and quickly look up product or technical info.
Convenience and Choice
Cloud call centers can also be more readily customized with the help of add-ons, upgrades, and integrations.
By customizing with contact center capabilities, you can communicate with customers on multiple channels, including video, messaging, email, chat, and social media. It’s more convenient because customers can choose how to contact you. And for outbound contacts, you can get in touch by their preferred method.
For example, sometimes a phone call isn’t convenient when a customer is working or is out and about. Instant messaging or SMS can work better, facilitating conversations while multitasking.
With the right software, all of the channels mentioned above can be unified in one place, which makes it easy to hop between them if needed for a seamless interaction.
Since, according to Salesforce’s 5th annual State of the Connected Customer Report, 85% of customers expect consistent interactions across departments, offering an omnichannel experience is a great way to keep them satisfied.
This also helps you to gather data for analyzing customer happiness, engagement, and behavior. The results across all interactions are easily available and accessible.
Top Features To Look For When Choosing a Cloud Call Center Provider
There are plenty of cloud-based call center solutions on the market. But how do you choose the right one? Each will have somewhat different features, but here are the key ones to look out for:
Virtual Assistant / IVR
Automated voice-enabled technology like virtual assistants and IVR are essential, as they help handle basic interactions. For example, things like a customer calling to check their account balance or sending an outbound reminder of an appointment can be handled without human involvement.
Using natural language processing, these tools can also understand customer intent. They can provide relevant information, direct callers to the correct agent, or invite them to request a callback — all freeing up your agents to handle those complex inquiries which do require human input.
Automatic Call Distributor (ACD)
This feature automates call routing and directs customers to the most suitable agent or department.
With ACD, you can set up rules for routing calls based on agent skills, performance, or idle time, as well as availability. Intelligent tools can also route customers to their preferred channel by analyzing data from previous interactions.
Call forwarding simply means that you can choose to send calls to a designated extension, or to multiple extensions and call groups.
Customer calls won’t go unanswered if an agent takes a break or if a department is closed for the day — the calls will be picked up by someone else. You can usually have calls forwarded to cell phones and also choose the number of rings before a call is forwarded.
Call recording is another useful feature, as it helps you monitor performance, compliance, and customer satisfaction.
Supervisors can listen back to phone calls or view a recording of an agent’s screen, and use the information for training or issue resolution. Look for software that makes it easy to save and search recordings, and for agents to disable or pause recording when necessary.
An auto-dial function eliminates errors and reduces time between calls, enabling agents to make more outbound calls in a shift.
It also means agents have more time to spend talking to customers and making sure they’re happy. You should be able to set up dial lists that refresh automatically when a new lead comes in, so that you’re calling the hottest lead first.
Voicemail tools are handy for busy periods. Look for a system that alerts agents when customers leave voicemails, so they can respond quickly. Visual voicemail, meanwhile, uses AI to accurately transcribe voicemails into text (giving you an additional record of what was said).
On the outbound side of things, features like Vonage Contact Center’s Voicemail Drop let agents record messages that can get left automatically when a prospect doesn’t answer a call.
It’s vital that your call center software comes with analytics, helping you measure metrics like average response time, and revealing customer sentiment.
Real-time analytics allow supervisors to monitor agent performance and compliance, and to listen in on calls and give discreet assistance if needed. Post-call analytics are useful for training and scheduling and spotting trends, too.
Make sure your chosen solution can integrate smoothly with other tools, such as CRM, productivity software, and workforce management tools. For example, it saves time when agents can click-to-dial contacts directly from your CRM.
Security and Uptime
Cloud call center security is paramount, so look for protocols like call encryption (TLS — Transport Layer Security — and SRTP — Secure Real-time Transport Protocol) and permissions management, as well as redundant data centers in multiple locations.
You also need to know that your solution is reliable and offers excellent call quality. The best vendors give you robust support and optimum uptime reliability.
Getting Started With a Cloud Call Center Solution
A cloud call center solution is much more cost-effective and scalable than an on-premises system. The technology means you can streamline operations and integrate your favorite tools for seamless interactions.
Automation helps to improve workflows for your agents, and you can readily deliver on customer experience best practices like rapid responses and fast resolution. By keeping everyone happy, you’ll boost retention for both employees and customers.
To find out more about cloud call center solutions, contact a Vonage expert today.
Still Have Questions About Cloud Call Centers?
A contact center handles customer communications on multiple channels, not just voice calls. A call center, meanwhile, traditionally takes (or makes) phone calls only.
Back in the day, call centers based on legacy solutions were definitively phone-only. However, cloud call centers can operate on VoIP technology, which enables them to more readily expand their services to all digital channels. In fact, today, the terms call center and contact center are often used interchangeably.
Yes. With a cloud call center solution, you don’t need expensive hardware. Your vendor owns the infrastructure and maintains it on your behalf. You just subscribe to the service and pay as you go. You can also save money by boosting productivity and customer loyalty.
The smallest businesses, which only handle a low volume of customer interactions, may not need to operate a call center. However, if you want to save money, keep your employees and customers happy, and make your business scalable for the future, then a cloud call center solution could be a smart choice.
Setting up a cloud call center (or even a full-fledged contact center) is much faster than an on-premises system, because there’s virtually nothing to install.
For example, Vonage can implement a 50-seat, single-site contact center in a couple of weeks, on average. And new agents can be up and running in minutes.
Want to know more about a cloud call center (or other business communications solutions)? We’d love to help! Call us at 1-844-365-9460, or fill out this form! A dedicated specialist will help you:
- Explore features that fit your needs — virtual assistants, call forwarding, and more
- Deliver an awesome customer experience with faster response and faster resolution
- Find a low-maintenance, cost-effective solution
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