Demand for cloud contact centers is increasing and businesses are demanding more sophisticated solutions. Historically, Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solutions were designed to be delivered over the existing PBX. This enabled contact center leadership to embrace CCaaS due to its quick delivery and its ability to offer advanced features without a major IT project or capital expenditure. In this “Overlay” delivery model, customers retain their PBX (on-premises or otherwise) and “lay” a CCaaS solution “over” top of that PBX. Operating in this Overlay scenario became common in the marketplace, but customers no longer want the issues inherent to the overlay delivery model.

Typical Overlay Delivery Models

    • Traditional / PSTN – Inbound calls are delivered to the CCaaS ACD for queuing, messaging, prioritization, integration and reporting. Calls are then delivered to Sales Partners via a traditional PSTN connection via a 10-digit DID.
    • SIP Trunks – The CCaaS ACD is “linked” to the customer’s PBX via private SIP trunks. The systems are aware of each other and communicate privately over the SIP trunks. Inbound calls are delivered to the ACD for queuing, messaging, prioritization, etc. Calls are then delivered to the PBX over the SIP trunks and then to the Sales Partner’s handset.
    • Softphones – Inbound calls are delivered to the CCaaS ACD for queuing, messaging, prioritization, etc. Calls are then delivered to Sales Partners via a softphone where their computer becomes their phone and they operate via USB headsets. The Softphone approach completely removes the customer’s PBX from the call flow.

Challenges with CCaaS Overlay

Customers are increasingly becoming frustrated with the overlay CCaaS regardless of the approach and offer these objections:
    • A traditional / PSTN implementation is super easy to deploy but inherent call delays can hinder a successful implementation.
    • The CCaaS ACD is unaware of the Sales Partner’s handset presence which can be problematic for the Sales Partner and lead to poor customer service.
    • The enterprise contact directory in either system (ACD or PBX) doesn’t contain the users from the other system.
    • The CCaaS ACD and PBX are two disparate systems (unless SIP trunks are installed) which means there is no extension dialing when calling or transferring between Sales Partner and Non-Sales Partner.
    • Because of the two disparate systems, Sales Partners can’t see the phone presence of non-ACD users. This means a Sales Partner may call or transfer a call to a back-office user (or non-ACD user) who is already on a call which may lead to additional customer dissatisfaction.
    • PBX-based call recording does not have the same capabilities as the CCaaS call recording system which means all the typical call recording requirements (date/time, calling party, direction, queue, etc.) are not available in both platforms.

Unified Approach

Ideally, customers have the flexibility to decide the best approach for their implementation after careful consideration and a thorough understanding of the issues outlined above. In my experience, customers want better solutions without these painful drawbacks. In the Unified approach, the CCaaS software is seamlessly integrated with the UCaaS solution which eliminates the Overlay challenges. Unified means the customer doesn’t worry about an integration project between two separate technology providers (one responsible for the PBX and another responsible for the CCaaS ACD). Unified means the customer only has one provider responsible for the technology. Unified means Sales Partners can operate in the manner they want to operate without worrying about stumbling over the technology cracks created in the Overlay scenario. Bluewave has experience advising customers on the Overlay and the superior Unified models. Many customers start with the Overlay model (and by engaging us, we can help them pick the best approach) due to the appeal of quick time to market delivery. These same customers regularly migrate over time to the Unified model for a fully seamless enterprise telephony solution.