Good, Fast and Cheap! Can You Really Have It All?


Good, Fast and Cheap! Can You Really Have It All?
Illustration by David Grey

The old saying, “Good, fast, cheap… pick two,” tells us we can’t have it all. But today’s low-cost contact center technology options send a resounding message that is as odds with this maxim. And it’s not just one or two vendors with this message. It comes from legacy premise solution providers, long-standing cloud infrastructure and application providers, and a host of newer players.

Good, fast and cheap can all be relative terms, and there is an “it depends” factor that ties to your business needs. I’ll help you dissect each term.

Good: Look at whether the vendor offers all you need—today and tomorrow. Start with essential functionality, such as channels and workforce optimization (WFO) applications like recording, quality monitoring (QM) and Workforce Management (WFM). And don’t forget to dive into any other hot buttons specific to your industry, such as security or compliance. Another part of “good” is stable. Is the solution as reliable as you need it to be? Does the vendor have SLAs to back it up? If any of these things are important to you, ask targeted questions and do some reference checks to move past marketing promises to realities.

Fast: Most low-cost options are fast to set up because they just want you to access the application through a browser and use internet connectivity. Place an order, get a phone (if you need one—you may just use a USB headset into the PC) and a number, login and go. But if you want a dedicated and controlled network connection (e.g., you have privacy, security or performance concerns), it is not going to be as fast. Provisioning network connectivity can easily stretch your timeline to 90-120 days or more. As a result, some buyers of these services start with internet connectivity and move to private network if they can bear the short-term risk.

Cheap: You can definitely find options that are low-cost on the per-agent per-month price point. Some vendors post prices on their websites, or you can readily get a quote from an inside sales person. Then you need to assess if there are any additional costs. You need to dive into what is included in the license costs. For example, do they charge for minutes or is it unlimited minutes? Do they charge for each number, or for IVR, or an additional integration fee such as the CRM connector? Implementation costs such as phones or startup fees are sometimes waived or credited on a deal, but don’t assume!

Is it right for you?

So now let’s look at the “it depends” part of this to see for whom these solutions may be best suited, and who may want to think twice.

If you have a DIY mindset in the contact center and low or no reliance on IT, raise your hand! Just make sure you have capable people with time to learn and configure the solution, and IT will relinquish control. If you are a small business or have small center(s) in a bigger organization that operate somewhat independently (for example, help desks), these options could be a great fit. Confirm your functional needs are in line with the offering and no hot buttons will come out of IT or security/compliance that drive the need for elevated control.

Lower cost solutions can also be a good fit for a center that wants to start at this level and then grow and mature. Maybe you can’t afford something more robust now, but you can start here. Be aware of current requirements and any limitations a lower cost solution may present. The risk can be low; you may mature with the vendor, move up a license level, or potentially change if/when the center outgrows the vendor’s offering. Keep in mind it’s not as easy to change as it might seem on the surface. It requires time and resources to select and implement a new solution, and has ripple effects with changes that impact integration, workflows, metrics and reporting, and end users (agents, supervisors, administrators).

On the flip side of these best-fit scenarios, these solutions are not as likely a fit for mature, larger centers or bigger companies that want to have more control over the vendor, solution, connectivity, etc. If you are migrating from a previous solution, it’s important to look at key functional areas and make sure you won’t experience gaps (and buyer’s remorse). Issues can surface in areas such as routing, reporting, WFO and/or stability.