A virtual call center (VCC) is a managed service provider (MSP) model for call centers, where calling software, backend communication servers and other management modules are virtually delivered over the Internet. A VCC eliminates the need to build, operate and manage in-house call center equipment., virtualizing the call center might be the best opportunity to reduce overhead, ensure business continuity and hire the best staff available.Virtual call centers offer enterprises several strategic benefits. They can reduce the overhead of maintaining commercial office space for large call centers. Enterprises also no longer have to hire locally for specialized agents, such as nurses or technical staff. They can find the best employees regardless of where the agent may live. This geographical diversity has the additional benefit of enhancing an organization’s disaster recovery and business continuation plans.

VCC solutions include the required hardware, software and networking infrastructure used to build and manage a VCC. All designated sourcing business calls are routed to a VCC’s communication servers, and a VCC end user remotely connects and logs into MSP servers via the Internet. Upon access, call center agents have calling capabilities and may manage customer data and other business specific processes.

All VCC voice communication services are delivered through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.

Enterprises should also decide early on in the planning process whether they want to implement an on-premise or a cloud-based virtual call center product.

“The first step in implementing a virtual call center is deciding whether to build it or buy it,” said Dan Fontaine, senior vice president of technology for VIPdesk, a provider of concierge and customer care solutions, who has implemented an on-premise virtual call center product from Interactive Intelligence. “There are a lot of great companies out there that have turned the call center into a service.” For VIPdesk, Fontaine ultimately chose an in-house solution to provide the level of customization required by the company to support its customers’ needs.

IT organizations will have to rethink their implementation and support processes for virtual call centers. Rather than simply placing phones and PCs on an agent’s desk in a physical call center, IT support staff will have to contend with remote agents working out of their homes, likely on their own hardware. Ease of deployment and training requirements for remote agents’ needs will also be important considerations, to ensure that even temporary and seasonal agents can get up and running quickly and easily.