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2 gotchas to watch out for when migrating to the cloud

October 22, 2012 / Rich Fox

Throughout my series on migrating call centers to the cloud, I’ve stressed that finding the right cloud services provider is the most important step of your cloud migration. My last post was dedicated to determining which provider has the correct technical and financial fit for your organization. But even after you’ve found that fit, there are a few barriers buried deep in some providers’ solutions that can cause a real problem for call center managers.

You might wonder why this wasn’t covered in my last post on how to select the right provider. Well, most providers can be very good at keeping these barriers hidden until the last moment, and they don’t usually come up when you’re shopping around.

For that reason, these barriers to cloud services are the “gotchas” that you need to watch out for. They often come as a surprise to the call center manager right before implementation, and for some, they’re deal breakers. Some call center managers, however, opt to take these gotchas as part of the package. Today, I’ll outline the two most common gotchas and how Evolve IP helps you avoid them.

1. The overlay gotcha. Some providers still need your on-premise call center’s “telephony plumbing” in place for their call center application to work. This is because these providers don’t handle the pipes and the phones — they just overlay their services on top. Their solution will act as the brains of your call center, but your telephony system will still be the whole body underneath it.

Now, it needs to be said that there are customers who find the way an overlay solution works with their telephony system to be, actually, highly functional. But, if customers have had problems with their telephony system in the past, an overlay solution will obviously not fix that. Things might go well for a little while, but overall, the same aches and pains will be present.

Another con to this type of solution is that it bypasses one of the main benefits of the cloud. The customer will still have the same support costs, as well as hardware and software maintenance costs of its existing provider.

My advice to customers considering this is to take a deep look at your telephony system. If it has given you problems in the past, or you’re ready to gain the full benefits of the cloud, this gotcha should be a deal breaker.

If you find yourself reading this and nodding your head, don’t let your prospective solution providers dance around this issue. If you ask them pointed questions and they don’t really want to answer, you’ve got a red flag. One of the most common excuses they’ll use to replace a straight answer is, “Oh, you’ll use our software and a soft phone that will just plug into your PC. You’ll also have a headset.”

The Evolve IP solution. Evolve IP replaces the customer’s in-house PBX hardware with a cloud-based infrastructure. By definition, that eliminates the legacy hardware, which is usually responsible for many of customers’ aches and pains.
Besides not replacing a flawed infrastructure, an overlay solution also throws another provider into the customer’s mix, further complicating operations. Evolve IP’s solution allows for one phone call to be made should something go wrong. We like to call this having one neck to choke. This idea is that if something goes wrong with our solution, customers have one primary vendor they can turn to to fix the problem.
If you have handsets from one company, PBX from another, or buy your circuits through a reseller who orders those circuits from whoever offers the best margin that week — who will help you when things go wrong? Everyone will say, “It’s not my problem.”

2. The public Internet gotcha. It seems like an understatement to say that call quality can be a big problem in your cloud-based call center solutions. But I’ve heard time and again that after the ink dries on the contract, some vendors take the attitude that call quality isn’t something they have to worry about. In their mind, all they need to do is simply deliver the call over the public Internet, which was not originally engineered for voice or video data.

The result: You end up with poor call quality that hurts your business. Now, it might not be lousy every day, or even every week, but you can have periods where the call quality is unacceptable.

That’s because the Internet is a “packet-switched network,” not initially designed for voice. Data is collected into “packets,” which are then sent over the Internet in pieces from one end, and reassembled on the other end. Depending upon the route those packets take, some of the packets will get there sooner or later.

While this isn’t a big deal when you’re sending text, it’s a big problem when you’re dealing with audio and video. With audio or video, the packets must follow prescribed routes to ensure none are delayed. Delayed packets cause your audio to sound horrible or your video to look bad.

This is a problem we hear call center managers complain about often. It’s a tough gotcha, because sometimes managers like all the other aspects of a provider. But, my question to them is: If something is going to jeopardize your call quality, what else really matters?

The Evolve IP solution. One of the core aspects of Evolve IP’s platform is our ability to guarantee end-to-end delivery of every call. We do this by sending the calls over private connectivity into your building. This gives us complete control and visibility of every leg of the call.

This ensures that those packets I mentioned above follow the prescribed paths, reaching their destination without latency and jitter. When that happens, the calls will always sound great. Also, you will always have access to call quality SLAs where you can compare your calls against industry-standard measurements provided by third-party devices.

You will have to decide for yourself which gotchas will be a deal breaker for your organization, but with this advice, you can avoid signing a contract that will cause you down time and cripple your productivity.

Have more questions about the gotchas or anything else covered in this series? Reach out to me in an email.

Categories: Call Center
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