7 Contact-Center Considerations for SMBs

Updated: January 23, 2008

Issue

 

A growing number of SMBs (small- to medium-size businesses) are taking advantage of emerging technologies to deploy low-cost yet sophisticated, highly flexible call centers.

Most SMBs require call centers that are inexpensive, easily deployable, effortlessly manageable and infinitely scalable. They also need call centers that sound and run like the facilities operated by large enterprises. All of this may sound like a pretty tall order, but it's a goal that can be easily reached by following a few simple steps.

 

Steps

 

1. Acquire an appropriate solution. With few internal resources, SMBs need a complete end-to-end call-center solution that meshes seamlessly with existing IT resources. The new call center should be designed for easy maintenance, including hardware and software configurations, equipment replacement, and troubleshooting. The solution should also be able to seamlessly integrate with other on-demand software applications that the business already has or plans to deploy.

2. Think "out of the box." The best SMB call-center solutions are those that can be used out of the box with no programming and without forcing owners and/or managers to read through pages of technically dense documentation. This means looking for offerings that are specifically aimed at SMBs and that have large user-support communities.

3. Look for IP PBX integration. In the quest to keep things easy and simple, SMBs should seek out call-center solutions that can be integrated with their IP PBXes. Doing so will allow the business to achieve call-center functionality without adding expensive servers. Most SMB-oriented solutions allow customers to deploy the call-center application via a simple license key and get up and running in a matter of hours — versus weeks or months — at a very low cost point per agent.

4. Beware of shrunken solutions. Eager to tap into the SMB market, many vendors now offer stripped-down and shrunken versions of their mainstream enterprise call-center solutions. Such products, while not inherently bad, fail to serve SMBs by being excessively complex and more difficult to use than solutions that are specifically designed for SMBs.

The best way to avoid getting stuck with a sawed-off enterprise solution is to shop carefully. Know what you want, and don't get oversold. Ask the vendor questions about the solution, including its design, features, infrastructure requirements, compatibility, customer support, upgrade policies and cost.

5. Think VoIP. VoIP is the answer for SMBs that need a low-cost, scalable telephony platform. The technology integrates well with existing and future IT resources; permits the creation of virtual call centers with agents distributed in offices or homes worldwide; and can lower administrative, overhead and maintenance costs.

6. Tap into SaaS (Software as a Service). A growing number of SMBs that are planning call centers are turning to the SaaS model. That's because the pay-as-you-go approach, as opposed to using an on-site solution, provides multiple benefits, including reduced up-front costs, lower ongoing expenses, easier scalability, and faster access to upgrades and new application features.

7. Take advantage of automation. SMBs can now automate many processes that formerly required add-on software or manual support. Most current SMB-focused call-center solutions incorporate features like call recording, agent monitoring, activity reports and operation analyses. These technologies not only help call centers function more smoothly and effectively, but they simplify and streamline day-to-day administration.

 

Conclusion

 

For years, many SMBs have wanted to run call centers that operated on the same sophisticated level as their enterprise counterparts. Recent telecommunication, Internet, hardware and software advances have combined to make that dream a reality.

Featured Research
  • 15 Traits of a Good Phone System

    While each marketed model has its own host of bells and whistles, when it comes down to it, for you to select the best phone system for your business, focus on little more than these 15 traits! more

  • 2017 Business VoIP Features

    If you’re considering an investment into a new VoIP system (or upgrading an old one), it’s important to understand what features are available and which ones your business will actually need. Especially if you want to keep costs at a minimum. more

  • What To Do When Your VoIP Contract Expires

    Automatically renewing your VoIP contract is a mistake. The VoIP landscape has been changing rapidly, and it pays to review all of your options before committing to another contract. more

  • VoIP Brings Big Benefits to Small Businesses

    If you run a small to midsized business and you're still relying on a traditional phone system, you need to rethink things. VoIP offers most businesses, regardless of the size, huge benefits. For small businesses, it unlocks the opportunity to have an enterprise-level communication system without the traditional expenses. more

  • [Infographic] How UC Can Improve Employee Productivity

    If you’re interested in a straightforward way to improve the productivity of your employees, it's time to consider adopting a Unified Communications (UC) strategy. more