Cloud-based Contact Center Services: Is Three Nines Enough?

Brian Riggs
B. Riggs

Summary Bullets:

  • Cloud-based contact center service providers offer comparatively limited reliability guarantees
  • IT buyers should carefully weigh their options to find the most reliable options

Summarizing his experience at Enterprise Connect, my colleague Ken Landoline said (in effect) that at the event it was impossible to swing a dead cat without hitting a provider of cloud services of one sort or another, and that lately providers of cloud-based contact center services are gaining in number. Interactive Intelligence has long had a cloud-based contact center service on offer. InContact specializes in cloud-based contact center services and has been seeing rapid growth as it expands its operations and signs up new partners. A dozen or so service providers are in various stages of releasing cloud-based services based on Cisco’s Hosted Collaboration Solution for Contact Center.

And last week Aspect Software became the latest developer of contact center solutions to throw its hat into the cloud services ring and offer a hosted contact center service as an alternative to its traditional premise-based offering. Aspect On-Demand is targeted at contact center operations with 100 or more agents and, in addition to standard customer support capabilities, can provide cloud-based versions of Aspect’s IVR, WFO, recording and Web chat software as options.

Aspect promises 99.9% reliability of its new cloud-based contact center service. This is on par with a number of other hosted contact center services, particularly those offered by vendors whose main business is developing and delivering premise-based solutions. But is it enough? Three-nines of reliability equates to nearly nine hours of downtime in a one-year period. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but there’s no way of predicting when those nine hours might strike. And nine hours of downtime could equate to millions of dollars in a retailer’s contact center environment. With carriers regularly offering five-nines reliability for their hosted services, companies with business-critical contact center operations have other options available to them.

Businesses often consider cloud-based contact center services as a way of reducing capital expenditures associated with premise-based customer support systems, as well as seasonally expanding and contracting operations in a cost-effective manner. But IT buyers should carefully consider the issue of service reliability and uptime. Buyers should also not just compare cloud-based services to premise-based solutions, but – because there are now plenty of options when it comes to cloud-based contact center services – should also be comparing cloud-based services from different providers to one another.

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