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Understanding The Difference Between Cloud, Hosted And Virtual Contact Centers

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With so many rapid developments in the world of telecommunications, businesses have been left swimming in a sea of buzzwords. There seems to be a general consensus on what companies need to be able to do, but little understanding of what exactly that entails. People might believe they are signing up for one kind of service and end up with another entirely. 

Much of the confusion comes from developing contact center solutions. There are four main types of contact center: On-premise, hosted, cloud and virtual. According to TechTarget contributor Lena Weiner, on-premise contact centers are one of the unified communications incumbents these days, representing a system where all software and hardware are maintained and operated within the confines of the organization's facility. With so many options and possibilities at the disposal of companies these days, however, on-premise solutions are increasingly being viewed as archaic. People are connected in more ways than ever before, and businesses need to keep up with their customers and employees.

Offsite call centers are undoubtedly the next step for enterprise unified communications. But a fundamental comprehension of terms and services is essential for effective deployment. Once the ins and outs are understood, organizations will be able to use the technology to its fullest potential.

So Many Call Centers, So Little Time

There are several different distinctions of contact center, but that does not mean they are all interchangeable or are even capable of the same processes. One thing is for sure, though: Businesses that wish to stay relevant should be seeking out a move from traditional methods.

The closest relative to off-premise contact center solutions is the hosted call center. Simply put, the resources are still dedicated to a specific organization, but the services are maintained in a remote location. While this certainly sounds like cloud technology, it is not always related. This is where clarity seems to be the most lacking, as the words "hosted" and "cloud" are often used interchangeably. Cloud contact centers are something completely different, even though they can be hosted solutions in themselves. 

A cloud call center is one that is hosted within a pool of communal resources, making it easy for companies to add or reduce services as they are needed. This not only saves money, but can simplify and streamline contact center operations.

The Fourth Distinction

One of the other terms frequent to pop up in the world of telecom is the virtual call center. Many people frequently use this phrase to define cloud or hosted contact center solutions, but according to wiseGEEK, a virtual call center is less of a means and more of an end by allowing representatives to work where they feel most comfortable and productive.

As technology goes increasingly mobile, there is starting to be a major demand by employees to be able to work from home or outside of the office in general. By using the cloud for contact center operations, businesses will be able to set up effective remote workplaces for their employees. This can provide a major boost to both employee morale and productivity, as letting staff members work where they are most comfortable will certainly have a positive effect on the quality of their output.

Moving Away From Traditional Systems Begets Advantages

Virtual contact centers are just one of the benefits that can come from weaning off of legacy circuits. Businesses are able to launch a mobile workforce while saving money by moving to cloud solutions. While the convenience this affords employees will ultimately lead to stronger work being done, there is still more that companies can do to help their staff members improve performance.

According to TechTarget contributor Christine Parizo, the analytics tools available in modern call center software can aid in the overall quality of customer service being provided. By consolidating all platforms of communication alongside the tools that recall data before even being asked to, contact center employees will be able to increase the rates at which they are able to solve queries on the first call. TechTarget contributor Alan Earls said that first-call resolution, or FCR, is a metric that can only be improved by developing sound practices and empowering representatives "to fully serve customers."