Legacy PBX systems once provided key advantages, but those benefits are now outweighed by major cost drawbacks and severely limited functionality. Traditional PBX hardware is inflexible and lacks the scalability to adapt to the ebb and flow of business. It hinders true mobile device integration and the seamless connectivity of remote workers and multiple locations. Additionally, onsite hardware requires a significant upfront investment that is expensive to maintain. Simply put, on-premise PBX phone systems are cost-prohibitive and impede even the most basic forms of modern communication.
An early innovator of cloud communications, RingCentral saw a new way to revolutionize business PBX using the power of the cloud. They developed a virtual PBX (also known as cloud, hosted, or IP PBX) solution, which has all of the benefits of traditional PBX—voice, fax, voicemail, extensions, conferencing, paging, intercom calling, etc.—without the expense and limitations of hardware such as trunks and switches. And with RingCentral Office®, virtual PBX now offers key advantages over legacy systems. Advanced PBX features such as complete mobile integration, business SMS, and online meetings with screen sharing enable businesses to compete in the new world of work.
When you think about scheduling contact center agents for shifts, which words come to mind? “Unpleasant,” “complicated,” and “frustrating” might all come to the fore. However, that doesn’t have to be the case with the right contact center software.
This post explores how to tackle contact center scheduling challenges with the right technology, so your contact center can be properly staffed and run as efficiently as possible.
Among the most significant challenges to contact center scheduling are:
The way you schedule your agents matters, too. If you’re using manual methods like spreadsheets, that adds a layer of complexity and frustration.
What happens if someone unexpectedly calls out sick suddenly, or isn’t able to make it to a shift for another reason? That throws off your schedule entirely, and you wind up with a contact center that’s understaffed.
It comes down to following a few best practices:
The first step to solving your schedule woes lies in choosing the right contact center software. The right contact center software features a workforce management solution. The term “workforce management” or WFM refers to a set of internal processes that allow decision makers to manage:
Workforce management solutions process:
If you use a spreadsheet to schedule agents, you know what a headache it is to update it. A WFM solution gets rid of spreadsheets.With workforce management solutions, you can automate the scheduling process to save time and ensure the right staffing mix for your contact center shifts.
Automated scheduling means you no longer have to juggle agents’ scheduling preferences manually. A formerly time-consuming process is much faster thanks to the speed and accuracy of modern technology.
For most contact centers, the largest expense is the cost of human labor, so you want to be sure to optimize your staffing to get the best return on your investment in your employees. When your employees are on shift, do you know how much work they’re actually doing? They might have a high volume of interactions to handle or they might be spending part of that time idle.
WFM solutions minimize idle time (and helps you save on operational costs) by optimizing agent schedules; they ensure that a shift doesn’t have too many or too few people. Agents stay busy without being overwhelmed or idle.
Let’s say you know that people who want to return items seem to call during the evening shift because that’s when they’re home from work. You need agents on that shift who have experience handling returns.
A WFM solution helps you staff shifts so that the employees with the most in-demand skills work the right shifts. For example, you could schedule agents with return experience to work in the evenings so that they could put their skills to good use.
Flexible schedules (also known as “flex-time”) mean that employees can shift the times that they work, yet still work a full shift. For example, Jessica normally works the day shift, but she has to take her daughter to an appointment in the afternoon. She asks her supervisor if she could take the evening shift instead; Jessica will still work a full eight hours, just not between 9 to 5.
Workers want flex-time. A study conducted by the Society of Workforce Planning Professionals showed that 33% of contact center supervisors surveyed said their agents would take a pay cut of 2.5% in exchange for flex-time. Workforce management expert Tiffany LaReau corroborates this with anecdotal evidence: she’s seen agents take jobs that didn’t pay as well just so they could have more flexible schedules.
WFM solutions make it easy to offer flex-time to employees. Because they automate scheduling, it’s simple to shift one person’s shift to another shift to ensure the contact center is adequately staffed. That’s not something you can do with spreadsheets – the manual data entry process would result in confusion and errors.
Giving agents location flexibility leads to a better work experience. Research from Pipkins reveals that agents who work from home have a higher retention rate (80%) than agents working on-site. But how can they effectively supervise agents if they’re not in the contact center?
That’s no problem with WFM solutions that feature built-in monitoring tools so managers can listen in on calls and review on-screen interactions. There’s also whisper coaching and barge-in functionality to steer agents back on course if an interaction takes a wrong turn.
As enterprises migrate their phone system to the cloud, the most likely question on your mind as a business owner or IT manager is whether cloud Hosted PBX is for you or is it just a buzzword that would likely be replaced by the next innovation. You probably already have an existing phone system that is currently meeting your business needs, and you are wondering whether any incentives are disrupting your current system for a new one.
The good news about cloud Hosted PBX is that it offers a plethora of advantages that will make that decision easy for you.
Here are some of the advantages of a Cloud Hosted PBX:
Cloud Hosted PBX solution means that you do not need to invest money into sophisticated hardware because your entire phone system is hosted and managed in the cloud. You only pay for the services you need which release you from massive investment in capital expenditure and technical know-how required to set up your system. From the Service Providers perspective, the cost is generally shared between thousands of users which significantly lowers the per-unit usage/subscription cost for the customer when compared to the cost of fixed lines.
Cloud Hosted PBX is not limited to any geographical location, which could lead to massive call savings for businesses like Call centres that handle a large volume of long-distance calls. This means that your entire organisation regardless of where they are in the world can consolidate their communication infrastructure into a single system, making calls from one branch to another, seem like internal calls. The plethora of call plans which include unlimited calls to mobile numbers will lead to a significant reduction in average cost per call.
On your typical PBX, office expansion entails ordering the hardware, booking an appointment for a technician to analyse your call flow requirements, before going onsite for installation. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to months. On a cloud Hosted PBX, setup is quick and easy. Provisioning is typically instant; implemented on a graphical user interface accessible via your desktop computer. Adding a phone line or 20 new lines typically takes a few minutes (or clicks) because it is all software-based. You also save time on server maintenance and equipment upgrades because the service provider usually has a team of dedicated experts working 24 hours to ensure you experience no downtime.
For companies that do not want to disrupt their existing solution but want to enjoy the benefits of the cloud-hosted PBX in a new city or branch office, you can still benefit from cloud Hosted PBX solution because it can be easily integrated with any legacy system or device with a few simple clicks. If your legacy system supports SIP Trunks/VoIP, you don’t even need to buy any additional hardware. Cloud Hosted PBX can interface with any existing infrastructure giving you more flexibility on how you route your calls. Cloud Hosted PBX can be configured to allow users on both systems to call each other and for users of legacy PBX to make calls via cheaper VoIP routes. This can be beneficial if you want to keep your in-house PBX but also have access to trunk lines at affordable prices, giving your office a wider reach.
Cloud Hosted PBX empowers you to connect from anywhere in the world using your VoIP phone, a smartphone with software for VoIP, or desktop PC from any manufacturer. Now your employees can choose to work from home or even overseas at any time with the same office number using their preferred device. You can flip office calls from your desk phone to your soft-phone and answer calls in-transit. The power of flexibility can also improve your reachability to customers meaning you can connect virtual or toll-free numbers like 03/0800 numbers easily to your cloud Hosted PBX and receive the call whether you are on a remote site or in your office.
You are no longer limited to the features on your phone or in your local in-house PBX, even when you are using basic equipment. With cloud Hosted PBX, it is now possible to have access to all the features available from your service provider at no extra cost. These features such as Call Control, Voice Menu, Time Conditions, Call Recording, Queue, Wallboards and much more; are generally available on a web portal, which is constantly updated as new features are added, and existing ones are upgraded.
With improved Quality of Service (QoS) schemes, better compression rates and high internet speeds, voice communication via the internet has improved tremendously. Before the commencement of your VoIP service, various tests can be carried out by your service provider to measure the quality of your internet connection to recommend the best VoIP solution for your location. Cloud Hosted PBX can now give you high quality calls over the internet with voice prioritisation and other packet loss resilience schemes. Many service providers now have their dedicated Fiber Broadband, 4G or ADSL networks which means that QoS schemes can be applied holistically from the central office to the subscriber guaranteeing excellent quality voice calls.
Businesses grow and contract all the time. During periods of growth or contraction, you need a system that can scale up or down in proportion to your business requirements. With in-house PBX, you reserve resources and pre-allocate space for future expansion. Which means you pay for unutilised resources which may or may not need in the future. Cloud Hosted systems can easily scale to meet your usage capacity as your demand increases or decreases. You can start small with a few lines and grow your users as your business expands. Seasonal businesses can leverage the scalability of cloud-hosted PBX by commissioning new lines just before a major event or festival and decommissioning them immediately the event is over.
Reliability is a major concern for organisations looking to switch over to cloud Hosted PBX systems. Unlike your old PSTN, which relies on fixed copper lines susceptible to damage from vandalism, local hardware failures or power outages, cloud Hosted PBX depends on the internet and is usually managed by your service provider. Service providers typically have a highly redundant infrastructure with dedicated resources and servers in different cities peering with multiple Transit providers around the world. Fail-over is automatic and software-based, which means that on an event of a natural disaster, servers can be spun up in seconds, and redundant routes can be used instead of single copper wire.
Cloud Hosted VOIP systems give you access to real-time statistics and monitoring of all the activities in your PBX including ongoing or missed calls, active or available agents, call rates, subscription costs through a web portal accessible on a desktop or mobile. As a business owner, you can analyse employees by performance, view instant call recordings and make an informed decision just by viewing the various reporting tools on your PBX. The reporting tool not only collates data but also organises and presents the information using statistical tools like mean, pie chart, bar charts, and other graphs that make usage analysis easy to comprehend.
Cloud Hosted PBX solutions are generally more secure than in-house PBX. In VoIP systems, the security of the solution is the responsibility of the service provider which means that your service provider handles all the software upgrades, firewall and security patches. Your service provider has a dedicated team of highly specialised professionals working to make sure VoIP service is fully secure and protected. Even if your local network is compromised VoIP Provider like VoIPLine Telecom has algorithms in place to prevent large volumes of unauthorised calls.
Looking for a reliable VoIP provider? Sign up at VoIPLine Telecom and get 14-Day free trial to try the best features of our Hosted PBX phone telephone solution.
[[title=10 Benefits of Cloud Hosted PBX | VoIPLine Telecom United Kingdom]]
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