The consequences of a buggy automated call center are all to familiar: frustrated customers and system engineers spending too much time squashing bugs and getting the system to work correctly. If the system doesn’t function well then it’s not much good to customers in the first place.
In an odd twist of irony, newer systems tend to have more bugs than older ones. Not only that, but vendors of these new systems tend to have limited resources and they have to make tough choices when it comes to resource allocation. Often the options are reduced to bolstering their infrastructure to make it reliable and bug-free, or adding functionality to keep up with their competitors.
The catch-22 here is that vendors need to do both, but doing so right off the bat is very difficult. Newer companies may have to sacrifice stability for features, or vice versa. Naturally, this is bad news for customers. It also hammers home the reason why you should look to mature technology instead of assuming that the new kid on the block has the cure-all you seek.
The benefits of mature technology are plentiful. Here are five to consider:
1. A Bug-Free Life
One of the most notable limitations of a new platform is the increased likelihood of bugs, which means it doesn’t work as well as it should–at least not consistently. The effect this can have on voice applications written on the system is sub-par performance that can negatively affect customer service and the customer experience.
Remember that this same concept can apply to every technology that comprises a larger IT system. When a new core vendor works with another technology provider to integrate a new technology component into the latter’s system (e.g., speech recognition), there will undoubtedly be additional work to ensure that the old and new technologies work in concert.
The key term above is “core” vendor. While there are many resellers of IVR technology, it’s the core providers who actually design and build the technology platform and infrastructure on which it runs.
The challenge for new core vendors and platforms is that engineers are so busy on the actual design and building aspects of the technology, getting it “just exactly perfect,” that little time remains for customer support and innovation. Customers don’t like having to wait for things to do what they’re supposed to, so why should businesses have to endure themselves precisely what they’re trying to prevent? Sure, that may be good for building empathy, but not much else.
On the other hand, a mature vendor with extensive experience with communications technology already has reliable and stable infrastructure and a platform to go with it, so they can direct engineering brainpower towards support, refinement, and innovating new features and products.
2. Sky’s the Limit for Scalability
Call spikes strain unstable systems and wreak havoc on customer service. Callers can end up in call queues, which is ironic given an automated system tries to eliminate call queues, or they may transfer to a live agent, or hang up and (hopefully) call back.
Every time a customer transfers out of an IVR system to a live agent customer service costs increase because the cost of live agents is much higher than automated systems. Therefore inefficiency costs money because every second a caller is on hold, every time a caller hangs up and calls back, or transfers to an agent nudges your bottom line in the wrong direction.
The ability to handle call spikes is mission-critical for industries with high call volumes, like the financial services and payments industries. This includes companies that issue prepaid credit cards, gift cards, and the like, where customers are constantly calling to register cards and check account balances.
Working from this as a baseline, it’s important to consider the capabilities of a new core IVR vendor (or a reseller dependent on a single core vendor). Deficiencies in this area can significantly inhibit your ability to provide the service you’d like your customers to experience.
A new vendor may not have enough infrastructure available to handle major call spikes, and a reseller can only handle them as well as their core vendor can. Or, just as bad, they may have to add hardware to their system to increase capacity, which takes time, and they could pass along the cost of the upgrade to you.
Clearly, you want a vendor that has infrastructure designed for unlimited scaling without straining the system and that doesn’t force customers to subsidize hardware upgrades.
3. Security is Front-and-Center
Amid all the technology jargon, what should someone look for in terms of security and reliability? For one, look for interconnected Class A data centers. This configuration ensures that even if something brings down one data center service won’t be affected. If the data centers are spread over a large geographic area that’s even better, because it mitigates regional issues. Thorough redundancy is key as well. Look for vendors that have redundancies at every point, from the smallest plug to the largest server farm.
Companies that regularly handle sensitive customer data often have additional security requirements. For example, financial services companies and those that process payments need PCI-DSS compliance, and health care provides require HIPAA compliance.
Achieving compliance in for these standards takes time and resources that new vendors often do not have. It’s much easier (although not easy) for mature vendors to invest in these additional layers of compliance.
4. Full-Service Support
No one knows a system as well as the engineers who designed it. So when questions or issues arise it’s best to tap into those who built it for help rather than a middleman somewhere, who may have little more than some sparse documentation and no other knowledge of the system.
Resellers don’t have an in-house option, because they’re relying entirely on the core vendor for everything—the system, the infrastructure, and support. By definition, the whole thing is outsourced.
New vendors simply may not have the resources to take engineers away from bug-chasing and tweaking the system to provide great support and a ton of services.
With a mature system comes a mature vendor. Mature vendors have the resources to devote to helping customers choose the right system and implementation option. A good, mature vendor makes customer support a focal point of their business. This includes things like executing a proper implementation, maintaining and updating the system and infrastructure, and round-the-clock troubleshooting.
5. Subject Matter Expertise
At the end of the day, experience, the simple fact of “been there, done that,” is a huge asset when dealing with telephony and communications. These are some of the most complex systems a company has to deal with, so choosing a vendor that has seen it all already will only make things better. Peace of mind is a feature that mature, experienced vendors offer to customers that others simply cannot.