How to Assess Contact Center Requirements Before Moving to SIP Trunking

While many enterprises have transitioned to SIP trunking as they adopt Voice over IP (VoIP), many are hesitant to migrate their contact centers away from the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) due to concerns about quality and reliability. But SIP trunking has evolved, and new capabilities have emerged that offer value and options that are not possible with legacy PSTN connections.

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While many enterprises have transitioned to SIP trunking as they adopt Voice over IP (VoIP), many are hesitant to migrate their contact centers away from the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) due to concerns about quality and reliability. But SIP trunking has evolved, and new capabilities have emerged that offer value and options that are not possible with legacy PSTN connections.

Now, in addition to the potential for reduced operational costs, advanced features like High-Definition (HD) audio and video and other rich media features, are increasing the appeal of SIP trunking and provide a strong case for contact centers to transition to an all-IP environment.

SIP trunking also offers access to readily available analytics data, the ability to scale quickly during service spikes, reduced routing complexity, and sophisticated peering to build virtual private networks or communities of interest between Cloud-based contact center applications and contact center facilities. A By embracing these cost and operational advantages contact center businesses can gain a competitive advantage, allowing for more aggressive pricing to gain market share from contact centers that depend on legacy PSTN connections.

SIP trunking, especially the all-IP approach, can significantly improve communication quality when replacing legacy Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) or PSTN connections by eliminating any midpoint media gateways and TDM segments between IP-based endpoints. In addition, newer codecs can support HD voice on SIP trunks but not over TDM links, so unless the connection is an all-IP SIP trunk, the connection will default down to standard quality.

While higher call quality can improve customer satisfaction, it also drives better speech recognition and improves the accuracy of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems and keyword analytics that shorten call times, reduce incorrect routing and generally improve the customer experience--all key contributors to a contact center's bottom line.

Before contact center managers can determine whether a transition to SIP trunking is right for their organizations, they need a clear picture of their contact center connection requirements. The first step is to assess the way their contact center business operates, beginning with a review of call traffic patterns, based on geography, scalability and the speed of adoption based on available infrastructure.

* Geography.  Depending on the voice peering networks and available call termination points, SIP providers can fine-tune the connections to optimize call processing and terminations. From a cost perspective, a SIP provider can offer region-specific pricing for completed calls that can further reduce connection costs. By obtaining a quote on projected regional termination costs from two or more SIP providers, it is possible to run a reasonable comparison to determine the potential cost benefit a contact center will gain by switching to SIP.

By optimizing call processing and available call termination points, a SIP provider can make it possible for contact center agents to complete more calls in less time a critical advantage, particularly for outbound contact centers when revenues are directly tied to each completed call. As a result, a transition to SIP trunking services can not only reduce communications costs, but can boost top-line revenues.

* Scalability.  For many contact centers, particularly outbound messaging operations, it's often a luxury to be able to reliably predict call volume for a specific period. Instead, outbound call traffic is usually related to specific campaigns or events, leading to intense bursts of call traffic. A Therefore, many contact center operators factor the ability to reliably manage spiking call volumes in any transition decision.

Today, a number of SIP trunking service providers have demonstrated their capability to accommodate bursts of call traffic by providing capacity on-demand, which offers greater flexibility from an operational perspective. In this on-demand model, the contact center only pays for the call capacity being used. If call volumes spike, then the provider adds connection capacity as needed, which ensures connection costs align with outbound call revenue.

It's also important to determine what types of connections are needed to complete outbound calls. Because outbound campaigns generate significant call volume spikes, the SIP trunking provider should have a reliable peering network with sufficient capacity to handle high-volume campaigns without compromising call quality and reliability.

* On-promise equipment. In making a transition to SIP, it's important for contact center managers to determine whether they have to purchase new on-premise equipment. Up-front capital expenditures related to transitioning to SIP can erode the benefits of long-term costs savings gained by deploying SIP trunking. Hosted services, coupled with preexisting hardware, can minimize this expenditure, allowing faster adoption and minimizing conversion costs.

Hosted SIP providers can connect to contact centers through a variety of IP or traditional PSTN connections. This added connection flexibility can ensure the SIP trunking provider can work with existing phone systems and telecommunications infrastructure, further eliminating the need for up-front capital expenses, while reducing the cost and risks associated with deploying SIP trunking as well as reducing the time it takes for a contact center to transition to SIP.

* Conversion speed. Contact center operators accustomed to working with their local telephone company may be surprised to learn how much faster hosted SIP trunking connections can be deployed compared to traditional telecommunications connections. In addition, during a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, snowstorm or even an earthquake, SIP trunking and peering networks allow network administrators to route traffic around trouble spots.

By leveraging modern SIP trunking technology, contact center operators are able to provide innovative new features while achieving higher customer satisfaction at a price point lower than traditional PSTN connections. A Before making the switch, contact centers must review the requirements of their particular operation and choose the SIP trunking provider that offers the combination of services and features that will maximize their competitive advantages. Through a complete assessment of their existing networks and operations contact centers can receive the full value of switching to SIP trunking.

IntelePeer, Inc.is a leading provider of on-demand, cloud-based communications services that deliver high-quality voice, video and unified communications for enterprises and service providers. The IntelePeer CloudWorx platform combines the SuperRegistry database, an intelligent routing solution with a global directory of more than 450 million telephone numbers and end point identifying IP addresses, an extensive Media Peering Grid service, and the AppWorx development environment and tools. IntelePeer enables customers to rapidly and cost-effectively transition to IP-based communications, improving their return on investment on communications equipment and services and federate their global networks.

Read more about lans and routers in Network World's LANs & Routers section.

This story, "How to Assess Contact Center Requirements Before Moving to SIP Trunking" was originally published by Network World.

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