Best of Breed vs. All in One

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For years call centers have been plagued by well-intentioned agents with marginal training who spend their days in poor workspaces in front of dated technology providing a mediocre or worse customer experience.

The latest marketing data indicates that a merely “satisfied” customer is of little more value than an “unsatisfied” one. Yet, in today’s multichannel contact center environment, providing a truly exceptional integrated customer experience moves a “satisfied” customer to a new level. There, they will be evangelists and loyal supporters of your brand, representing significantly more lifetime value.

566058_96421188What’s driving the move to the “cloud?”

According to the American Marketing Association, the average yearly cost of running a 200-agent call center approaches nearly $10 million.

We all know the advantage of taking your contact center to the cloud: no cap ex, most current hardware and software, ability to rapidly deploy new apps, and the ability to respond to change. But too often the cloud means settling for one vendor’s bundled offering. No single vendor offers a complete quality solution, regardless of its claims. Using one “jack of all trades” vendor for all your software locks you in to one technology system, which may be good in some areas, yet poor in others. Many arguments have been made regarding the decision to purchase software from best-of-breed versus end-to-end vendors. Many times the drawbacks of the end-to-end solution may be invisible until after the installation is complete.

Selecting a call center infrastructure vendor is a bit like planning a vacation. Should you go for the “packaged tour” with an integrated system from one vendor or plan your own itinerary — the so-called “best-of-breed” approach?
If you’re looking for the optimal solution in each area, the best-of-breed option provides richer functionality. But convenience and cost can make the all-in-one packaged approach very appealing. Until you discover the compromises.
All-in-one systems provide multiple applications with a common look and feel. The downside is that some applications may have anemic functionality that frustrates users and may cause missed market opportunities.

Typical best-of-breed systems are designed specifically to excel in just one or a few applications, and can also pose challenges such as increased training and support and complex interfaces with other systems.

Contact centers with 200 to 2,000 seats are starting to adopt and/or consider cloud-based contact center infrastructure solutions. As these solutions are installed in larger and more complex environments, vendors are forced to support integration with back-office and third-party applications, i.e. third-party customer relationship management (CRM), workforce management (WFM), recording, QA, knowledge management (KM), etc.

The vendors are responding to the increasing demands of their clients. Many times these are requirements and advanced functionality that only a best-of-breed system can provide. Vendors make compelling claims about return on investment, but the best place to judge the ROI of any system is in your environment.

Chris Attebery is the Director of Relationship Marketing for NexxLinx/NexxPhase. Chris can be reached at cattebery@nexxphase.com.

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