VoIP is the acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol, or more simply put, telephone service that goes over the Internet. Other common names for it are broadband phone service, Internet telephony, and broadband telephony. Some examples of VoIP telephony are Skype, Magic Jack, and Google Voice, to name a few. Many cable TV providers also offer residential phone service via VoIP.
Voice over IP was developed in the 90s by a company called VocalTec. The first application allowed one Internet user to call another. The drawback was that both users had to have the same software program installed on their computers. Quality was also an issue due to the fairly slower Internet speeds of the day.
As technology progressed and Internet speed increased, quality improved to the point where, today, VoIP quality is as good as traditional landline phone service.
A call center is a place where considerable volumes of calls are handled at once. They are used by many companies that use the telephone to sell products, provide customer service or both.
Before VoIP, setting up and running a <a call center was an expensive proposition. The phone system was based on what is known as the Public Switched Telephone Network, or PSTN. PSTN requires groups of dedicated phone lines called trunks. The larger the call center was to be, the more trunks it required, and the more expensive it was to implement. PSTN also requires a telephone for each line, adding to the equipment expense.
When making decisions the people making the business decisions often lead towards VoIP Call Centers as they are more economical and offer many cost-saving advantages over PSTN including:
Lower startup costs – Because the entire phone system can be hosted by the VoIP platform provider (cloud based), there are no dedicated trunks to buy. The only requirement is the purchase of enough bandwidth to handle the estimated call volume. And since calls can be made or received via PC or laptop, equipment costs can be limited to a computer and headset for each agent.
Cost effective scalability – As the call center grows, the cost of scaling is limited to purchasing more bandwidth.
Add-on services – Many call centers require services such as call recording and storage, real-time call monitoring, automatic call dispersal (ACD), detailed reports, and Integrated Voice Response (IVR). Some PSTNs offer only some of these services and they are more expensive and less reliable. With VoIP providers, all of these services are available, and the call center can use and pay for only what they need.
Less office space – Cloud based VoIP platforms eliminate the need for the call center agents to be in a single location. The company can have smaller offices in different places, each housing a smaller number of agents or the agents can work from their homes, saving the business office and equipment costs. It is also a very attractive option for the employees who will not have to commute. This can lead to lower turnover rates which in turn saves the company the expense of continually having to hire and train new agents.
With the convenience and cost savings available to VoIP call centers, it is entirely possible that PSTN based call centers will someday be a thing of the past.