VoIP Advantages for the Contact Center
Handling Peak Traffic Loads
In TDM space one must have a set amount of circuits connecting the contact center to it’s carriers TDM switches. The amount of circuits one must provision is a function of what max call load the user wants to be able to handle at peak load periods.
This presents a major problem for the contact center designer, as most of the time capacity will only be at 30%-50% level, yet then spike for some brief moment during the day, such as when an add campaign runs on mass media, like radio or television.
This dilemma for the contact center manager having to handle this peak load is it requires a build-out of circuits to handle that maximum traffic point. Then off peak those extra circuits sit idle. But unfortunately the monthly re-occurring invoice for those mostly idle circuits does not sit idle. There is a stranded charge for those relatively inactive and unused TDM circuits levied on the contact center client.
The fundamental problem here is that circuit based TDM technologies consume resources whether you are using it or not. Those circuits, tied to TDM central office switches, consume ports on those switches, and those ports must be paid for, irregardless of whether they are used for traffic or not.
VoIP on the other hand takes a radically different approach. There are no ports consumed because there are no physical circuits, only virtual circuits. Those virtual circuits can then be added or taken away dynamically as needed.
Further, the IP marketplace bills you for bandwidth used, not circuits. That allows one to scale up to meet peak traffic periods by provisioning a bandwidth burst option; i.e. you pay extra when you burst up with peak traffic, but do not pay for the extra bandwidth when your traffic goes back to baseline, and you are not using it.
This ability to have a burst payment option for voice bandwidth gives VoIP a significant pricing advantage over TDM circuits, as when the bandwidth is not needed, it is also not invoiced. Further, this radically simplifies the overall network design, as the transport mechanism become truly dynamically scalable, easier to manage, and so saving further on support and manpower costs.
Fig.3: Dynamic Bandwidth in the VoIP Contact Center
The Freedom to Re-Direct
In this day and age national contact centers tend to be 24x7 enterprises which cannot afford to go down, as else the business they run is down, Therefore, as a general rule, a contact center wants a level of redundancy that will guarantee survival, and not have a single point of failure. Operations at 99.999% uptime 24x7 hours a day, 365 days a year is the goal.
How does one achieve such a hi-reliability goal in TDM space? Not easily. TMD circuits once again are forcing the end user to hardwire voice connectivity to a specific carriers switch. That switch then becomes the life support system for the contact-center. It's an inflexible arrangement that provides a single point of failure, and furthermore is rigid and closed in how it allows the end user to control
re-routing of its traffic in the event of emergencies or shutdowns for maintenance.
Specifically, with 800 toll free traffic on the PSTN, routing to end points is done via a device called the SCP (Service Control Point). This is a platform deployed in the PSTN carriers SS7 signaling backbone. It acts as the central control point for all the carriers inbound 800 traffic to the contact-center end user.
SCP’s are closely guarded devices due to the enormous responsibility they have in controlling the TDM carriers overall 800 traffic flow. As a result very few carriers have opened up these platforms to the end user for applications such as emergency re-routing, or even basic load sharing between contact-center sites.
At best LD carriers might offer the ability for the customer to phone in an 800 reroute. But these orders then execute in carrier time, not real-time. So very little flexibility offered here in PSTN space for 800 Toll Free traffic coming into the contact center.
For inbound DID traffic the situation is much worse. PSTN DIDs are hard coded to hit a specific PSTN rate center. As a result there are no options to do redirection of the call in the TDM network. Therefore the only thing an end user can do is field their own switch, then hairpin calls to another location if a re-direct is required. But now we have an extra call leg charge, and a TDM switch to
maintain at the customer premise. The cost and complexity of doing this is generally unworkable.
Fortunately (again) the IP scenario is much different. In an IP environment the contact-center is not connected to a single voice switch fabric device per say. Rather the Network itself is the switch, as all the needed addressing info accompanies each voice packet that flows into and out of the contact center.
As a result this “address with data”architecture offers us some major advantages over TDM technologies. The contact-center user can simply re-direct calls in realtime for whatever reason, whenever, and without picking up any cost penalty if the calls stay on-net in IP space.
As an example, if an enterprise ran two separate call centers, and one needed to go down for maintenance, the incoming SIP/VoIP calls could simply be redirected to the other VoIP based ACD at the other call-center. The calling party would not know any redirect was taking place, and the contact centers would not incur any additional charge, as the call stayed on-net in IP space.
Load sharing and intelligent routing applications are also much easier to do in VoIP environment on the ITSP carrier side. Cyclix had taken the SCP concept outlined earlier and built control point functionality that is made available accessable to the end user. This allows the call center manager to control traffic into their own sites in real-time, be it for load sharing between sites, hot standby
failure protection, or whatever.
Further, all this new traffic routing control in VoIP space applies to DID traffic, not just Toll Free 800. So DID traffic has now become totally dynamic and reroutable on demand in the VoIP domain. This is something that is simply impossible to do in traditional TDM circuit space.
Summarizing, inbound call redirect routing functionality is either too costly, or in the case of DID, impossible to achieve in TDM space. But a contact center deployed with VoIP now has routing options open up to it that are unheard of in TDM space, and essentially unlimited. This gives the VoIP contact center a significant competitive advantage over the TDM contact center.
VoIP technology, and specifically SIP Trunking with Cyclix, is revolutionizing the possibilities for the contact center and help desk. Freeing voice from “the circuit”allows new possibilities that are simply impossible or too costly to implement in legacy switched TDM networks.
Summarizing some of those benefits we’ve covered here are…
- Freeing Inbound traffic from Geography- With VoIP Inbound toll free and DID traffic we are now free to terminate to any SIP IP contact center endpoint, turning what was a totally fixed static model into one that is now user definable (not carrier defined), user configurable, and totally dynamic.
- Handling Peak Traffic Loads- In IP space you pay for only what you use. You do not pay for what you do not use. That makes VoIP a far more economical way of dealing with the problems of traffic spikes and peak load situations. TDM technology simply cannot compete with VoIP in this scenario.
- The Freedom to Re-Direct- Once a voice call is moved off the PSTN and into IP space with VoIP it is free of the circuit and the PSTN rate center. That freedom allows new options and applications for the contact center pertaining to redundancy, load sharing, and traffic re-direction that are simply impossible to duplicate in TDM networks due to cost and or inherent technical limitations.
Certainly, VoIP offers some up front price advantage over traditional TDM telephony on a minute by minute comparison. But the technical advantages that VoIP brings to the table are of a quantum leap in nature. VoIP will ultimately allow the contact center to achieve new levels of service, reliability, and feature/function that are simply not possible with today’s (or shall we say
yesterdays) traditional circuit technology solutions.
So simply stated, VoIP is a sea change technology for the contact center. It is only a matter of time before it becomes the core mechanism of transport for the industry. Those that understand the advantage, embrace it, and adopt it will flourish. Those that do not will be left behind, stuck in a dead end circuit model that will limit their ability to compete.
If you’d like to explore Cyclix VoIP services further for your contact center,please contact Cyclix sales today at:
- Tel: 949-640-9700 or 1-800-730-2870 (GNP enabled)
Also see the white paper section on our website www.cyclixnet.com for further discussions on technical issues pertaining to VoIP, and how it relates to the next generation VoIP enabled contact center.