For small and medium-sized businesses, there has traditionally been that not-so-sweet spot between needing a call center and being able to afford one. For very small businesses or startups, the issue was even more complicated: How do I seem like I have a call center when I don’t have the employees to staff one?
The cloud has solved these problems by making call center software with advanced features available to even the smallest of businesses. SMBs can buy hosted call center software that includes features such as interactive voice response (IVR), a predictive dialer, call monitoring/recording and more for a flat monthly fee with little, if any, upfront investment.
The software is also affordable for very small businesses and startups, which can use only the tools they need in the beginning stages to appear more professional.
Why the cloud slashes call center costs
If you’re not familiar with the cloud, it’s simply a different way of delivering software. Rather than investing tens of thousands on hardware and software that is installed and managed on site, you’re paying a third-party vendor to provide the software over the Internet.
Cloud-based software is far less expensive than traditional on-premise software due to this lack of onsite hardware and software. The product is cheaper for the vendor to deliver, and it requires very little or no in-house IT expertise. Most cloud-based call center software offers all the same features at traditional software, but the method of delivery makes it a fraction of the price.
Traditional on-site software is not – and never was – practical for most small businesses because of the cost. But cloud software is accessible even to companies that don’t have an actual call center. It can be used to give the appearance of a larger and more professional operation, and to streamline inbound and outbound calling. You don’t need a dedicated call center with live agents. Calls can be routed to whomever you choose. Maybe product inquires go to the owner/founder and customer service inquires go the marketing assistant. Calls can be also routed off-site for companies with remote workers.
For SMBs that are in rapid periods of growth, the appeal of cloud-based software, aside from cost, is scalability. With on-premise software, you have to anticipate future growth and build those capabilities in to the system. With cloud versions, buy only the number of licenses you need now and then add additional licenses as you need them with one call to the vendor.
How Much Does Cloud-Based Call Center Software Cost?
The pricing structure differs from one cloud-based call center provider to another, but monthly fees generally range anywhere from $50 to $300 for each agent (or, in the case of very small businesses, for each person who will use the system at once). Some vendors charge a flat monthly fee that includes the calling plan and all the features you need, while others charge extra for each call and/or certain features. Some charge solely based on the number of minutes you use, offering tiered plans that include all the features you need.
Don’t be fooled by plans that advertise a low monthly fee but tack on hidden fees. Be sure to ask the vendor upfront exactly what is included in the price. Telecom that is billed by the minute can get expensive very quickly unless your call volume is very low. That structure also makes it difficult to predict monthly costs.