Do Automated Calls Help or Hurt Political Campaigns?

iStock_000019604005_SmallKunnect sells cloud-based call center software that includes a predictive dialer for a flat rate of $125 per user per month with a flat deposit of $125 per user. Our customers include both local and national political campaigns. 

In theory, automated calls are the most efficient way to send your message to voters. You can reach hundreds or thousands of voters quickly without tying up staff or volunteer resources. But that mentality can be a slippery slope.

Used properly – and sparingly – automated calls are a valuable tool for sharing your message and engaging voters. They can quickly set the record straight on a hot button issue or secure last-minute votes. Used improperly or too often, however, these so-called robocalls can actually hurt your campaign.

The Technology

Predictive dialers, the systems that are used to make automated calls, rely on computer software to dial multiple telephone numbers at once. In most cases, the technology is sophisticated enough that it can detect whether a live person answers or if the phone number is busy or out of service.

In the campaign world, predictive dialers are best known for leaving automated messages. They can play a recorded message if someone picks up the phone or leave a recorded voice message if no one does. But predictive dialers can also be used to route live calls to campaign staffers or volunteers. They do the dialing – which speeds up the process – but a live person handles the interaction.

Predictive dialers are available as standalone products from some vendors or as part of more comprehensive technology package from others. They can be cloud-based products with no on-site installation required, or on-premise systems.

When to Use Automated Calls

Automated calls have seen a decline in recent years as campaigns lean more heavily on marketing through social media, email newsletters and the like. The decline is also a reflection of the fact that fewer people have landlines. However, for some voters -  including senior citizens and people in rural areas with poor access to Internet and cell service – landlines are still the best way to communicate.

For the rest of the population, automated calls remain a valuable tool when speed and efficiency are required. Want to send out a last-minute message encouraging voters to make it to the polls? Your staffers probably don’t have time to make thousands of calls, but they can use an automated message. Need to send a last-minute rebuttal to an opponent’s false attack? Automated calls can get that message to thousands of people in time for the election. Want to conduct a survey to find out where you stand in the polls? Predictive dialers can do that, too.

Automated calls can also be used for communication that voters request. For example, they can be used to connect hundreds of voters for a telephone town hall-style meeting. Because interested parties have to opt in, there’s no risk of annoying or alienating voters. The technology may have gained a reputation for being bothersome, but it doesn’t have to be.

Dos and Don’ts of Automated Calls

The key with automated calls is to use them sparingly. They don’t replace live calls entirely, and they should only be used when necessary. You might consider only doing a few rounds of automated calls per campaign season. Decide which uses are most valuable, and limit it to that. Also, consider saving the automated calls for the end of the campaign season, when time is short and efficiency in reaching voters becomes paramount.

Keep the messages brief. People are busy, and they don’t want to listen to a five-minute spiel. Most people will hang up within the first few seconds, so make sure the first couple sentences include the most important information.

Consider focusing on warm leads. If you’re a Republican, sending automated calls to a group of staunch Democrats probably won’t get you very far – and vice versa. You might just make people angry. Instead, consider focusing on Independents who could lean either way or sending election day reminders to people registered with your party.

Finally, don’t be afraid to be creative. If your call sparks a person’s interest because it is different, he or she might stay on the phone longer. Think about what might convince you to think twice about hanging up.

Understanding the Rules

This is a don’t so big that it requires its own section. In many states, there are strict regulations on when, how and how often automated calls can be placed. These rules vary from state to state. Know the local laws and follow them – otherwise you can face fines and damage your reputation.

The Federal Communications commission also has rules surrounding automated calls. If you’re not familiar with them, check out the FCC website. It’s also important to note that, per FCC rules, political campaigns are not permitted to send automated messages to anyone on the national Do-Not-Call list.

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How to Keep Your Call Center Employees Stress Free

MjAxMy1lOTNmY2UwYmM0M2RjMjkxFew things in life are completely stress free, particularly when it comes to the work environment. But reducing stress in call centers is key to the health of your employees and the health of your business.

Stress in call centers leads to unhappy employees, which leads to turnover. And we all know that high turnover rates in call centers are expensive, inconvenient and certainly no boon to customer service. Here’s are some tips to stave off the stress:

1. Assess the situation

It’s hard to deal with stress in call centers unless you know how stressed your employees actually are. Assess the situation by talking to agents, walking the floor and conducting periodic surveys. You’ll have a better handle on how employees are feeling, and they’ll appreciate that you cared enough to find out.

2. Provide training and support

Your agents need the tools and knowledge to properly manage stressful situations, whether we’re talking about an irate customer, a long work day or technical issues. Training and support can come in many forms, whether it’s a formal training program from an outside stress-management specialist or regular team meanings to discuss stressful situations that arise and how to address them.

3. Give them a break

Sometimes just a five minute walk around the building or a coffee break is all it takes for an employee to de-stress and refresh. Some employers are stingy with breaks to improve efficiency without realizing that they’re contributing to stress in call centers – which can cause inefficiency. Offer a quick break from the desk every couple hours.

4. Build in rewards

Stress in call centers is often exacerbated by low pay rates. Employees wonder, “Why am I dealing with all this stress for $10 an hour?” Even if you can’t offer raises, reward valuable employees with incentives such as gift cards, extra vacation time, a free lunch or small bonuses. The small amount of money you invest will pay off in increased work satisfaction, decreased stress and better customer service.

5. Plan fun activities

Go the extra mile from time to time by planning something fun for your call center employees. Maybe it’s an after-shift pizza party or a weekend paintball tournament. Small gestures go a long way toward reducing stress in call centers.

6. Set clear expectations

Too many call center leaders fail to set clear expectations for their employees. This leads to stress in call centers, particularly when employees are disciplined for violating policies that have never been discussed or failing to meet unnamed benchmarks. Make sure to set clear expectations for call center employees from day one.

7. Address technology issues

What’s more frustrating than technology that doesn’t work as it’s supposed to? Add the frustration of working in a tough environment, and that’s a breeding ground for stress in call centers. Encourage employees to report any technical issues or difficulties they’re experience, and take steps to improve their experience.

8. Create a Pleasant Workspace

Environment has a big impact on attitude. Cramped spaces, uncomfortable seats and ugly decor has an impact on stress in call centers, believe it or not. Maybe a full renovation is not in the budget, but do what you can to provide employees with a comfortable workspace that feels a little less like corporate drudgery and more like home. It could be as simple as changing the paint color and bringing in a few plants.

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Call Center Humor: 10 Laughs to Lighten Your Day

So you work in a call center. Your job is stressful, we know. You’re dealing with angry customers, the monotony of reading the same scripts over and over, and hours upon hours of being confined to a cubicle. And, let’s face it, you’re not exactly getting rich.

So why not have a little fun with all of it? We’ve compiled some of the best examples the Internet has to offer of just what it feels like to work in a call center for eight-plus hours a day. There are good days and bad days, of course. But whether you’re a call center agent or supervisor, chances are you’ve experienced these feelings.


Unfortunately, we don’t always get credit for being experts in what we do. The all-too-common “Can I speak to a supervisor?” line can be frustrating. How about giving me a chance to actually solve the problem?


Why, oh why, can’t we hear this part of the call? Imagine the possibilities. Callers singing to themselves, talking to themselves, yelling at the kids, or spilling their juiciest secrets to  a friend. That’s the kind of entertainment that leads to job satisfaction.


Where are these guys when we need them? Why hasn’t anyone thought of this?


Hmm…actually enjoying the elevator music. Why aren’t people thanking us for putting them on hold. We’re offering the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind, right?


This wasn’t exactly how the job was advertised…


And that’s about the best stress test that exists. 


No account number? Not sure of the address on file? Sure, that’s fine. It’s a good thing we’re all trained in mind reading. 


Sound familiar?


True statement. 


If they think 20 minutes on the phone is inconvenient, imagine how we feel after eight hours. 


Ever felt like this? We’re guessing the answer is yes. Too bad there’s not a free pass for days when the stress is just too much.

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How to Shop for Call Center Software

BThe customer experience is directly related to the quality of your call center software. Think about what happens when IVR routes customers to the wrong department or an agent can’t pull up customer information to resolve a billing issue. Customers feel frustrated at best. At worst, they write off your company entirely.

Purchasing call center software is a major decision, and it’s one that should be supported by a significant amount of research and analysis. Here, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to compare products and end up with the right software.

On-Premise vs. Hosted Call Center Software

This is the first important decision: Do you want premise-based software that is installed locally and managed by in-house IT staff, or do you prefer hosted call center software (also called cloud-based software) that is managed by a third-party vendor?

We’ve blogged in the past about the pros and cons of on-premise vs. hosted call center software, but we’ll do a quick recap here.

    • On-premise systems are attractive to companies who prefer to have in-house control of their software and data. Historically, companies with a robust IT staff and/or very sensitive data have opted for on-premise software; however, attitudes are changing as companies recognize the flexibility and mobility that cloud-based software provides.
    • Hosted call center software is more flexible and scalable. Pay for only the number of agents you have. Hosted call center software is billed on a monthly, per-agent basis, and few if any upfront expenses are required. Hosted call center software also allows employees to work remotely.

We sell hosted call center software, of course, and we do so because we think it’s the best option. But we recognize that every company has unique needs and should make its purchasing decisions based on those needs. Don’t take our word for it – we always recommend doing outside research on the pros and cons before making a choice.

Comparing Vendors and Features

Once you’ve decided between on-premise and hosted call center software, it’s time to start shopping various vendors. Here are some tips:

  • Talk to other call center leaders about the software they’ve selected. Are they happy with the vendor? Why or why not? What features have worked well and which are problematic or less than desirable?
  • Make sure the software is user friendly. Always request a live demo of any software that you’re considering. A great salesperson can make the product sound perfect, but there’s no way to know for sure until you test it out.
  • Request quotes from multiple vendors to compare prices. Pricing shouldn’t be your only consideration, but it’s an important consideration. Comparing quotes ensures that you’re not overpaying for the same set of features that cost less elsewhere.
  • Always find out exactly what the quoted price includes. Some vendors, including hosted call center software vendors, advertise a low upfront rate but charge extra for important features such as call monitoring or predictive dialers. Don’t be fooled by a low upfront price that comes with hidden fees.
  • Always ask about the availability of customer support staff. What happens if your system goes down during the third shift? Are agents available 24/7? What are the average hold times to reach customer support?

It bears repeatings that purchasing call center software should never be a spur-of-the-moment decision. Take the time to carefully consider your needs and the available options before committing to a vendor. Patience pays off.

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Why Political Campaigns Need Cloud-Based Call Center Software

iStock_000019604005_SmallReaching voters and donors efficiently is key to the success of any political campaign, whether it’s national or local. Winning the race requires the right technology, not just the right people.

Campaign managers and IT staffers are increasingly turning to cloud-based call center software to reach voters and donors. The benefit of cloud-based calling software, as opposed to on-premise or hybrid products, is twofold: affordability and flexibility. Cloud-based software offers the same functionality for a much lower price, and your staffers and volunteers are not chained to a desk – they can make and receive calls from any location, whether at home or on the road.

Cloud-based calling software is also well-suited to the temporary nature of political campaigns. Cloud-based providers do all the hosting for you, so there’s no permanent and expensive hardware to buy. Get the licenses you need for the span of the campaign and then cancel them after.

How Will Call Center Software Improve My Political Campaign?

Call center software streamlines a political campaign’s inbound and outbound calling. For outbound calls, the software is used to reach voters for surveys, donations, “get out and vote” messages, legislation updates and more. For inbound calls, it is used for effective call routing, automated answering and prioritizing calls, among other things.

Features of call center software products include interactive voice response, auto attendant, predictive dialers, third-party calling, CRM software integration, real-time statistics and reporting, web scripting, live call monitoring and queue management. These are features that increase the efficiency of your inbound and outbound calling, make your campaign professional and organized, and provide valuable data that can be used to improve the caller’s experience.

Cloud-based software, on-premise software and hybrid versions all offer these features. However, the difference lies in what type of equipment must be purchased, the cost and how the software is managed. Cloud-based versions require no on-site installation because the provider manages the software from a remote location. Updates are automatic, so your IT staff is free to focus on other tasks. With on-premise software, hardware and software must be purchased, then installed and managed on site.

In addition to cost and flexibility, cloud-based call center software appeals to the mobile nature of campaigns. Staffers and volunteers don’t have to work from the campaign office – they can access the system at home or on the road as long as an Internet connection is available.

Why Kunnect?

There are many call center software providers from which to choose, and we never discourage political campaigns from shopping around and comparing features before choosing one. But we do think our product has some distinct advantages.

Pricing is fixed at $125 a month per user with a flat deposit of $125 per user. This eliminates the financial uncertainty that comes with cloud-based providers who charge per-minute or per-hour rates. If you’re using five volunteers, the monthly bill is always going to be $625 – never more. Further reducing costs, licenses can be shared by volunteers or staff members who work different hours.

Kunnect’s software eliminates the need to buy hardware such as handset telephones. The technology works with that traditional hardware, of course, but, at a minimum, all that’s needed is a computer and a cell phone or headset. Inbound and outbound calls can be routed through cell phones or a headset connected to a computer, and the software can be accessed at home or on the road via laptops.

Our software, hosted in the Amazon cloud, can be activated in minutes, so if you need it today you can have it. There’s no waiting. The software can also be scaled up or down to meet the changing needs of the campaign. Pay for only the number of licenses that you’re using at a given time.


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Why Should I Choose 100% Cloud-Based Call Center Software?

cloud computingThere was a time when businesses were anxious about the idea of switching to cloud-based call center software. Perhaps they were afraid of the unknown or handing over control to an outside company. But sentiments have changed.

We’ve blogged about these stats a couple times before, but they bear repeating here: In 2008, only 2.2 percent of call centers used cloud-based software, according to DMG Consulting. By September of 2013, some 62 percent of call centers operated at least partially in the cloud. By 2015, almost no call center will be cloudless.

Some companies continue to operate cautiously, opting for a hybrid solution that combines on-premise and cloud-based software. But there are distinct benefits to going 100 percent cloudless, including a reduction in call center costs. Now that call centers leaders are realizing the benefits of the cloud, 100 percent cloud-based software is poised to be the next frontier.

Better Flexibility

With 100 percent cloud-based software, you can easily scale the system up or down as needed. Need 100 new licenses? The provider says, “OK, do you need these today?” There’s no hardware to install and no waiting period. On the flip side, you can quickly decrease the number of licenses if there’s a staffing reduction.

With traditional on-premise software or hybrid products, the process is more involved. You’ll have to contact the software provider for additional licenses and the telephone provider for additional phone lines. The process could take weeks, and it will have a much greater impact on your call center costs.

No Maintenance

With cloud-based call center software, you’re not responsible for managing hardware or software; all of that is handled by the vendor. Upgrades happen automatically, freeing your IT staff to focus on more important issues.

Redundancy and Working Remotely

In life, redundancy is boring. When it comes to call center software, redundancy is a blessing. With 100-percent cloud-based software, your data is stored securely with off-site and redundant servers. If your local server goes down, there are backups in place that will keep you working.

Cloud-based software also allows agents to work remotely or from home – they don’t need to be in a central office connected to a traditional hard-wired line. This keeps staff in satellite locations connected, and it cuts call center costs by reducing overhead.

Cloud-based software can also keep you working in the event of a power outage or natural disaster. When Hurricane Sandy struck the Atlantic coast in 2012, devastating parts of New York and New Jersey, call centers that lost power were out of luck if they relied on premise-based or hybrid software. Without power, phone lines were down. Call centers that used 100 percent cloud-based software, on the other hand, could allow employees to work from home as long as they had a working internet connection. For those companies, the disaster had less of an impact on customer service, call center costs and the customer experience.

Reduction in Call Center Costs

We touched on this above, but 100 percent cloud-based software reduces your call center costs. The upfront costs are few because there’s no expensive hardware to buy. Pay for only the number of licenses you need – no more. Also, many providers charge a flat monthly fee for each license, which keeps call center costs predictable.

At Kunnect, our 100 percent cloud-based call center software costs $125 per agent per month with a flat deposit of $125 per agent. We believe in being straightforward about call center costs, so there are never hidden fees.

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How Much Do Predictive Dialers Cost?

Dollar symbol in hands

Most call centers rely on predictive dialers to manage their outbound calls. Predictive dialers are computer-based systems that automatically call a list of phone numbers. They can be used to make live phone calls or send recorded messages.

When a predictive dialer is used to make live phone calls, the computer routes the call to an agent when someone picks up. With automated messages, the technology is most often used for surveys, appointment confirmations and collections efforts. If no one answers the phone, the predictive dialer can be set up to leave a message, either live or recorded.

Predictive dialing software varies in format and function depending on the vendor, but most dialers allow call center leaders to upload lists of names and numbers, as well as scripts for live agents or recordings. Many have features that allow the call center agent to access information about the person who picks up and/or schedule a new time to talk if the person who answers is busy.

Why invest in a predictive dialer when agents can simply dial the number? As we’ll discuss later, predictive dialers help cut call center costs by increasing efficiency.

Predictive Dialer Pricing

As with all software, predictive dialers can be on-premise or hosted. Because hosted, or cloud-based, software continues to eclipse premise-based software in terms of new technology purchases, we’ll focus mostly on the cost of cloud-based software.

Most vendors charge a monthly per-agent fee for cloud-based predictive dialers. In some cases, the dialers are sold a la carte, and in other cases they’re sold as part of a complete call center software package.

    • A la carte, basic predictive dialers start at about $50 per agent per month. Typically, there’s a cap on the number of minutes per month each agent can use. In this price range, it might be about 1,000. Dialers in this price range may not include features such as live monitoring and call recording.
    • More robust dialers with more features and a greater allowance of minutes per month start at about $100-$200 per month. Depending on price, expect 2,000 to 6,000-plus minutes per agent per month. These packages usually include advanced features and a variety of options for tech support.

Comprehensive call center software packages that include predictive dialers are usually a better deal – lowering your overall call center costs. They typically cost $100 to $300 per agent per month. Pricing varies by the vendor, and it often depends on the features included.

At Kunnect, our complete call center software package, which includes a predictive dialer, costs $125 per agent per month. There are no hidden fees, keeping your monthly call center costs predictable.

Benefits of Predictive Dialers – Reducing Call Center Costs

The beauty of predictive dialers is their efficiency, and we all know that efficiency reduces call center costs. You might not think dialing takes a lot of time, but think about how many calls your agents make each day. Five seconds times 100 or 200 calls adds up quickly. More importantly, dialers eliminate wasted time when phone numbers are busy, incorrect or connect to fax lines. They only route live calls to agents.

Predictive dialers also reduce call center costs by allowing you to automate some calls that otherwise would take a considerable amount of agent time, including surveys and collections. These types of calls don’t always require a live agent to be effective. Using a predictive dialer instead can keep staffing reasonable and reduce call center costs.

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How To Lower Call Center Turnover Rates

Call centers are tough work environments – to say the least. No matter how hard you try to make the workplace comfortable and rewarding, your call center agents are constantly dealing with the stress of long hours, tight quarters and angry customers.

A turnover rate of 20 percent per year is considered low in the call center industry, according to Kate Leggett, an analyst with Forrester Research. And some call centers have turnover rates of more than 100 percent per year.

As business leaders well know, call center turnover is a major drain on the bottom line. As we’ve mentioned before, the Center for American Progress estimates that for each $30,000 employee lost, most companies spend more than $5,000 in recruiting, hiring and training costs. And when you lose seasoned employees, you’re likely hurting the overall customer experience, which comes at a cost that is difficult to measure.

Offer Rewards and Incentives

Every employee wants to feel like their hard work is appreciated. Recognize standout employees with rewards such as bonus and raises, scheduling flexibility, increased authority, extra vacation time and/or gifts such as restaurant certificates. The money you invest in these key employees will be far less than the cost of call center turnover.

Some companies make the mistake of tying rewards and incentives to the length of calls, recognizing employees who keep them short. This is a mistake because you’re incentivizing employees to get off the phone quickly, whether the customer is happy with the resolution or not. Instead, reward employees for customer satisfaction. Consider using short customer surveys to find out which employees are excelling.

Reduce Workplace Stress

A significant percentage of call center turnover is related to employee stress. While you can’t eliminate all stress in the workplace, there are steps you can take to create the best possible environment for your staff members.

Start by meeting with the team and identifying the leading causes of stress in the call center. Are they having issues with the call center software that can be fixed? Are they required to seek supervisor approval for any sort of discount or credit? Are they working too many hours without a break? Working to solve the problems that are the leading causes of stress can have a huge impact on call center turnover.

Create a Strong Support System

Call center turnover rates tend to be lower in environments where agents feel like they have the support of management and supervisors. Are your supervisors regularly checking in with employees to find out how the job is going and what tools they need to make it better? Are they mentoring and coaching employees? If not, consider freeing more supervisor time for one-on-one interactions. Employees who feel like their boss is truly on their team are likely to be more invested. The more invested the employees, the lower the rates of call center turnover.

Set Career Goals 

For some people, working in a call center can feel like a dead-end job. They show up every day, work the phones for eight or more hours, and go home exhausted. They might not recognize opportunities to move up, which can lead to call center turnover.

Create a program that offers key employees a path to better their careers. Promote successful employees from junior agent to senior agent or from senior agent to supervisor. Making it clear to your staff that they have opportunities for advancement – and increased pay – keeps them motivated and reduces call center turnover.

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Four Ways to Reduce Your Call Center Costs

Customer ServiceIn an ideal world, call center executives and managers would only have to worry about keeping customers and employees happy. In reality, cost plays a huge role in every decision, whether it’s how to staff your call center or which technology to buy.

This presents an interesting dichotomy. How do you reduce call center costs and run a more efficient operation without hurting customer experience or employee morale? It’s not always easy, but it’s possible. We’ll give you a head start in four steps.

1. Reduce Turnover 

High turnover is a major money drain, and we all know that call centers are notorious for high turnover rates.

The average turnover rate for U.S. call centers is anywhere from 25 to 45 percent, depending on which survey you consult, and rates are even higher in some industries. For each $30,000 employee lost, most companies incur north of $5,000 in recruiting, hiring and training costs, according to the Center for American Progress.

So how do you reduce turnover without handing out $10,000 raises?

  • Give employees authority – Job satisfaction increases when your agents feel empowered to make decisions. Don’t require supervisor approval for every small discount or credit – allow your employees to make some of those decisions. 
  • Build in rewards – When they’re used properly, incentives go a long way toward increasing employee satisfaction. Consider implementing a pay-for-performance policy that’s based on customer satisfaction. Reward employee longevity with higher pay, increased vacation time and greater responsibilities. Employees tend to be more productive when they earn rewards.
  • Offer flexible work schedules – Consider allowing reliable and/or long-term employees to work from home. Studies have shown that home-based workers have lower turnover rates.
  • Analyze your own practices – If your turnover is especially high, it might be time to look inward. Is your training process thorough? Are candidates properly screened? Are you setting proper expectations by clearly defining the job responsibilities?

2. Take It To the Cloud

Cloud-based call center software is rapidly growing in popularity. In 2008, only 2.2 percent of call centers used cloud-based software, according to DMG Consulting. By September 2013, some 62 percent operated at least partially in the cloud.

One of the main drivers of growth? The impact on call center costs.

Unlike traditional on-premise systems, cloud-based software requires very little upfront capital. Most cloud providers charge a per-agent fee, so you’re only paying for the what you use. If you add agents or downsize, the software can be scaled up or down. There’s no hardware to buy, and far less is spent on call center costs like maintenance and IT.

3. Make the Most of Self Service 

Some customer interactions require a live agent. Others don’t. If you’re not taking full advantage of self-service options, you’re wasting valuable – and expensive – employee time. Self-service features, when used appropriately, can cut call center costs and actually improve customer service.

Most companies use one type of self service: traditional IVRs. But some fail to take advantage of newer technologies such as virtual agents and speech-enabled IVR. Offering several methods of self-service interaction allows the customer to choose how they prefer to interact – and it increases the likelihood that they’ll use self service. The capital expenditure for the technology can be recouped in reduced call center costs.

Call center experts agree that self-service features work best for simple transactions such as updating an address, checking a bank balance or changing a password. These transactions don’t require a human being, and in many cases the customer would rather not chat with a human being. They’d rather complete the task quickly and move on.

4. Think Like A Customer

From a customer’s perspective, there’s nothing worse than having to make several phone calls to get an answer to a simple question. Equally frustrating: getting bounced around from one department to the next, having to repeat information that was punched into an IVR when an agent finally picks up, and talking to an agent who is clueless about the customer’s past interactions with the company.

The longer it takes to resolve a customer’s issue or answer a question, the greater the impact on your call center costs. To streamline the process, think from the customer’s perspective. Build your processes in a way that promotes the best, most efficient customer experience. You’ll make customers happy and cut call center costs.

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Hosted vs. On-Premise Call Center Software: A Look at Pros and Cons

cloud computing

Before the advent of cloud computing, all software was on premise. On-premise software  is installed on site and locally managed by a company’s IT staff, while hosted or cloud-based software is located and managed offsite by a third-party vendor.

Each type has its pros and cons, although hosted call center software is eclipsing premise-based systems in terms of popularity. Nearly two-thirds of call centers operate at least partially in the cloud, and experts predict almost no call center will be cloudless by 2015. Here, we’ll compare the two to help you make the best buying decision.

Cost of Premise vs. Hosted Call Center Software

Cost is one of the biggest drivers of the rise in popularity of hosted call center software. Cloud-based software requires little – if any – upfront investment. The software is typically pay-as-you-go, billed on a monthly, per-agent rate.

Premise-based call center software requires a heavy upfront investment for hardware, software licensing and more. However, for some companies, the total cost is actually lower in the long run. The only way to find out for sure is to price both options and do a side-by-side comparison of the long-term costs.

Flexibility and Customization

With hosted call center software, the system can be scaled up or down to meet your needs. Pay for only the number of agents you have. Premise-based software is more difficult to scale up – you have to contact the vendor for additional software licenses and the phone company for additional lines – and almost impossible to scale down.

However, premise-based software does allow for greater customization. Some vendors will customize the software to meet your specific needs. With hosted call center software, customization options are fewer.


Many companies that opt for on-premise software do so because of security concerns. They feel more comfortable with the data stored in-house, rather than with a third party over the internet. These days, cloud-based software is widely considered secure and safe, but companies with extremely sensitive data might still prefer an on-premise system.

If you’re opting for hosted call center software, make sure to ask the right questions about security before selecting a vendor. Is the data encrypted? Is it transferred over a secure channel? What access controls are in place?

Maintenance and Control

With premise-based call center software, the responsibility for maintenance and updates relies in-house with your IT staff. With hosted call center software, all of that is taken care of for you by the vendor. Each of these can be a positive or negative, depending on your viewpoint. Some companies prefer to handle their own maintenance, while others would rather not deal with the hassle and/or don’t have adequate IT staffing.

Small vs. Large Call Centers

Hosted call center software was once considered primarily a small business solution, but attitudes have changed. Granted, the cloud offers small businesses access to software they might not otherwise be able to afford. But 80 percent of large companies in North America surveyed in 2012 by McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, said they already used or were looking at cloud-based software.

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