Are You Aware of the Hidden Costs of a Contact Center Platform?
I have been in the contact center industry for more than two decades now. I have worked with hundreds of customers and have helped them with their contact center rollouts and migration from the incumbent provider to our platform.
Often, businesses are baffled by the hidden costs of a contact center platform.
In this article, I’ll take you through all the costs of implementing a contact center platform. You should be aware of these things, and you should ideally check with your provider on all of this before signing on the dotted line.
What Are the Costs Associated With a Contact Center Platform?
1. Implementation Costs
You evaluate a platform, and you agree to the subscription fee. You think you are all set to implement the platform and delight your customers with the experience you intend to provide.
That’s when your provider talks to you about the implementation costs. You have not factored in that cost at all.
The implementation costs include customizing the platform to suit your business needs, integrating it with your CRM or other systems, and transferring your data. All these extra steps can quickly drain your budget. Besides, these can be too time-consuming, resulting in inordinate delays and opportunity costs.
As a part of your evaluation, speak to your provider about the implementation costs – set up fee, agent license fee, customization charges, integration charges, and data migration charges.
2. Agent Training and Turnover Costs
Irrespective of how intuitive the platform is, you would have to provide training to your agents before they start to use the new platform.
Training your agents on the new system can be time-consuming and costly. Additionally, if the platform is complex, it could lead to higher agent turnover, further increasing recruitment and training expenses.
Check with them on the training plan and the number of days that it takes for the agents to be productive on the new platform.
3. Data Migration Costs
If you are transitioning from an older system to a new contact center platform, migrating customer data, call histories, and configurations can be intricate and cumbersome.
Data migration may require specialized tools and expertise, incurring additional expenses.
Share with your provider your existing process, the kind of data you have, and speak to them on the seamlessness that you expect on the data migration. Check with them about the efforts and time required for this migration.
4. Integration Costs
Let us say you are used to a particular CRM, and it is providing the results that you expect. You want to continue using it, which means you must integrate your contact center with it.
Integration might seem straightforward, but it often involves specialized skills and, you guessed it, additional costs.
Check with your provider if they already have prebuilt integrations with industry-leading CRM and helpdesk systems. Also, check with them if they support API integration with other systems.
5. License and Subscription Fee
Your provider gives you a license and subscription fee that you are comfortable with, but you are not sure about what is included in the mentioned fee.
For instance, their platform may have features like advanced analytics, business intelligence, configurable dashboards, workforce management, list management service, AI bots, and conversational intelligence. For everything that you ask, they might add a fee to the subscription.
It is understood that they may be unable to offer everything for a basic subscription fee, and most customers don’t need all these features.
So, check with them about what is covered in the license and subscription fee. What are the features for which you have to pay an additional cost?
Every business eventually has to scale. How difficult or easy it is to scale your contact center platform to align with your business needs must be examined.
For instance, when you want to scale, your provider might say that it would take a couple of weeks to provision the necessary licenses. You may have to pay more for the hardware and the associated services.
So, ensure that you clearly understand the cost and time implications here.
7. Support Costs
There are providers who ask you to buy a support package from them, where you are promised a certain number of hours of support. If it goes beyond that, you will have to buy from them.
Besides, they may not offer 24×7 support, and the SLAs might run from anywhere between 48 hours and 96 hours. You will have to factor in these downtimes.
Ensure that you understand the type of support you will get and the SLAs for different levels of support.
8. Data Storage Costs
Picture your platform storing every customer interaction, which is a piece of data. Over time, this storage can become very costly. Besides, your industry might require you to keep storage for a specified period of time, which adds up to the cost.
Ensure you understand the data retention policies and costs, or you might get hit with unexpected bills.
9. Telecom Costs
While some platforms offer integrated telephony, others may require third-party telecommunication services. You’ll need to factor in the cost of phone lines, toll-free numbers, call minutes, channel costs, and DID numbers, which can vary depending on usage. Besides, you may want to have redundancy in your telecom infrastructure.
Check with your provider as to how they would build redundancy, and the costs associated with all of these features.
10. Disaster Recovery and Redundancy
It is crucial to have backup plans in place in case of system failures or natural disasters. Implementing redundancy and disaster recovery solutions can be costly but necessary for uninterrupted operations.
Check with your provider on their redundancy and disaster recovery plans.
There are multiple other factors that can affect your contact center costing – multichannel support costs, renewal and price increases, consulting & professional fees, upgrades & enhancements, and network & infrastructure. However, the ones listed here are the important ones that you should be aware of and take into consideration while finalizing a provider.
To guard against these hidden costs, be diligent during the evaluation process. Ask vendors for detailed pricing information and contract terms. If needed, consult with experts who can guide you through the process and help you make informed decisions.
Being prepared and aware of these potential pitfalls will save you from budgetary surprises down the road.