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If you're planning to set up a call center, VoIP is the strongest communications platform in terms of cost and operational flexibility.
Businesses worldwide have built VoIP into their call centers, because of the scalability, and praciticality offered. VoIP enables call centers to adapt and grow along with business and technology needs. VoIP platforms allow enterprises to deploy products from various vendors, so purchases can be based on functionality and cost rather than brand and compatibility. Additionally, VoIP allows organizations to set up core operations in a main office, while operating call centers at many locations anywhere in the world.
The first step in setting up a VoIP-enabled call center is to consider the size and site deployments necessary. How many agents will each call center accommodate? Will they all be positioned at one location or spread out across several sites? Consider not just your present business requirements, but the future of your organization, so you can design an adequately scalable solution. Set a maximum number of agents you expect your core call center to require, so you can plan for an optimal amount of server and gateway capacity.
If your call center needs to span multiple sites, you will additionally need a separate central media server for queuing and routing calls to their final destinations. VoIP enables call center decentralization to an unprecedented extent. JetBlue Airways, for example, allows all of its reservation agents to telecommute, virtually eliminating call center expenses.
Once you determine your size and location needs, your next step is to evaluate the call center's technical foundation. Will the center be entirely based on brand new IP-based hardware, or will it also include legacy equipment? The latter approach requires a converged network that accommodates traditional circuit-switched equipment along with modern IP technologies. That means you'll need to get a hybrid PBX. A fully IP-based call center, on the other hand, will handle all call queuing and routing via servers.
Network capacity is another crucial factor in setting up a VoIP call center. Capacity drives call center quality of service, so it should not be ignored. Some questions to consider include, will the site's network have enough capacity to handle the call center's estimated peak needs? Also, will throughput be shared with other organizational departments?
After considering the essentials, shop for the perfect gateway for your planned call center. Ideally, the gateway should work with legacy PBX, ACD, and IVR systems. It should also have enough capacity to handle the call center's throughput with ease.
Don't forget all the ancillary equipment your call center will need, such as headsets, furniture and workstations. These items can add considerably to the project's bottom line, and the wrong products can degrade agent performance.
For many businesses, reduced cost is perhaps the most compelling reason to adopt VoIP in the call center. Oregon Corrections Enterprises, a Salem, Ore.-based company that provides work to the state's prison inmates, estimates that switching to VoIP trimmed its telecom charges by 40 percent.
Finally, if you haven't done so already, you'll want to find an independent or vendor-aligned consultant to guide your through your project. A consultant who has already handled multiple VoIP call center deployments will have the knowledge and skills necessary to get your call center up and running on time and on budget.
Author: John Edwards.