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Pay Monthly or Pay Upfront for your Contact Centre?

Digging into whether CapEX or OpEX hurts the pocket more

Pay Monthly or Pay Upfront for your Contact Centre?

The boom of as-a-Service and cloud contact centres is unlikely to stop any time soon. In 2012, Content Guru suggested the market would grow by 20% over the next three years – they were wrong. It has grown a whole lot more than that.

Marketsandmarkets has now revealed research that indicates that the cloud-based contact centre market will be worth $20.93Bn by 2022. As the year rolls on and your mother says, “where did March go?” – we are getting closer to 2020. This means every contact centre manager’s 2020 vision is about to complete. Right? Well maybe not.

Buying contact centre software

The 2020 vision was an easy piece of marketing that CIOs used to headline their strategy and filtered down to contact centre managers. But, they didn’t know what to do with it. Whilst it was dolled up in formal documentation, the long and short would have been “go to market and procure a contact centre solution that sets us up for 2020”.

Contact centre managers will have done this – but likely been stopped by finance teams and budget blockers. After they’ve done all the hard work, organised demos and captured requirements, the point of sign off has been delayed until the point where the contact centre project eventually gets parked.

The contact centre market may well be worth $20bn in three years’ time, but it should already be worth that now. With all the will in the world, contact centre managers have tried to introduce self-service through chatbots and start to automate mundane tasks by utilising artificial intelligence. However, when it comes to D day (that’s decision day), the plug gets pulled. “We’ll stick with what we’ve got for now” or “we’ll renew for another year and see what happens” are all too common sales outcomes.

Money, money, money

Most of the time it comes down to money. If an incumbent swoops in at the last minute with a super low ball offer, its hard to say no. Is this the contact centre manager’s fault? Absolutely not.

I can quite happily say that I love the cloud communications and contact centre industry. But it – and that includes me – has been terrible at marketing the Return on Investment (ROI), the tangible benefits and whether it is beneficial to pay monthly or up front. Customer’s simply have no idea of the changes they could be making and the detrimental effect that not changing is having on their business.

Each vendor or reseller will – or should – have their own messaging on the tangible benefits of buying their particular solution. Each vendor or reseller should manage to take what you are paying now, compare it to three years’ time and add in all the productivity savings you can achieve through their particular solution. What should be straight forward and apply across the board is showcasing whether CapEX or OpEX is right for your business. Yet here lies a large blocker when it comes to procuring contact centre solutions.

CAPEX contact centres

Providers of on-premises contact centres have long suggested that paying up front is best way to buy a contact centre. They all have their reasons. Smaller providers need it to buy equipment up front from suppliers. Others need a commitment to maintain such large quantities. But, let’s look at the customer experience. And I don’t mean how you serve a customer. I mean how buying a contact centre impacts a business.

As I often do, relate buying a business product back to the consumer world. If you have the cash saved up to buy a new car, you’ll likely want to pay for it outright. The costs disappear, you own a new car and don’t have to worry about ongoing costs.

Obviously, a business depends on cash flow and money in the bank at certain points of the year. There is no “saving up” to buy a contact centre. Maybe that should be remedied? When a salesperson asks if there is budget to buy this solution, businesses say yes based on what they spend today and the budget that have predicted for years to come. Think of the time and resource vendors would retain if they requested proof of funds like when you buy a house. It would be a different game.

OPEX contact centres

As we’ve moved to cloud and as-a-Service models, OpEX has been favoured. It is even used as a benefit in marketing materials. But, what if it’s not a benefit? What if you would rather pay for everything in one go? You want a cloud contact centre but would like to pay for it three years in advance. I’m sure the vendor would say yes, but what happens when new features are released? Do you miss out or have to pay more when the next best thing drops into the contact centre industry?

Cloud contact centres are sold on the premise that they are adaptable and feature rich. If you have Twitter and Facebook into your contact centre today, you can likely consume the next social media platform to take over. That’s simple API work.

But, what if there’s a new technology that needs loads of work? The OpEX model means you’ve paid for 10 months of your 36 and can now choose to up your budget because you see a benefit in integrating this tech into your business. Enterprises love this approach as they have more fluid budgets than small businesses.

Pay Monthly or Pay Upfront – which hurts the pocket more?

I intended on this article having an answer. However, throwing thoughts around, seeing procurement from a customer’s perspective and looking at the way vendors sell contact centre software, it remains impossible to draw a conclusion. Each business is different. This means each business will differ when it comes to wanting (or needing) to pay monthly or up front.

I’ve not helped marketing the ROI here and I’ve not helped inform a customer on which is better for business. There’s a big gap for the vendor that perfects this.

Take a look at our list of contact centre companies here.

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