If you’ve been a part of the cloud communications industry over the last 10 years, you’ve no doubt come across the acronym for as-a-service (-aas). This identifier first appeared in the term SaaS (software-as-a-service) and was quickly narrowed down to more specific industry categories such as UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service), CPaaS (Cloud Platform as a Service) and CCaaS (Contact Center as a Service) – of which NICE inContact has become a market leader.
When it comes to voice services (i.e. accepting phone calls) for the contact center, NICE inContact uses the term VaaS (Voice as a Service). VaaS has been known to go by other names in the industry as well, including cloud voice, hosted voice or business VoIP.
So, what is VaaS and why should you get your voice from a cloud provider and not the phone company? Let’s dive in.
How it Works
VaaS is a method by which a company uses a service provider to manage their inbound and outbound voice calls. Rather than purchase, manage, depreciate and maintain expensive hardware that physically sits on premise at the company location, all functionalities exist in the cloud. This means that deskphones or softphones connect to the Internet via an ethernet cable or WiFi, and the rest of the infrastructure – switches, servers, storage – all exists offsite in a highly secure[ data center with built in redundancy and failover capabilities.
VaaS is particularly important to companies that operate contact centers, because they can handle up to tens of thousands of voice interactions a day, and the quality of the call has a direct impact on the customer experience they are trying to deliver. Nothing causes more customer frustration than a voice call breaking up during an interaction. For this reason, VaaS services from contact centers are particularly focused on call quality.
Calls to cloud-based contact centers using VaaS come from the customer’s carrier of choice – this can be a regular call through the PSTN (Public Switched Phone Network), through a PBX (post-branch exchange) or through a third-party phone carrier. Once the call hits the platform – in the case of NICE inContact, the CXone platform – it is delivered to the call center agent via SIP over Internet or SIP over a dedicated network connection, such as MPLS. The agent then answers the call on their device of choice, be it a deskphone or softphone.
Outbound calls from the contact center back to the customer work the same way, only in reverse.
What is a MOS Score?
MOS stands for Mean Opinion Score, a numerical value from one to five attached to an event or experience by a human based on their personal opinion as recorded in surveys. MOS is used to rate the quality of voice (or video) as experienced in a telecommunications setting. See this chart – most customers are familiar with the quality of a cell phone call with a MOS score of 3, and unfortunately, we’ve probably all experienced a 1 or 2 at times.
Industry averages for VaaS products are in the mid-3s. As a reference point, NICE inContact offers a guaranteed minimum MOS score of 3.9, with averages usually hovering around 4.3.
Benefits of VaaS
Particularly for smaller companies, the “Why VaaS?” question might arise. Traditionally, companies use POTS (plain old telephone service) lines from local carriers – maybe even the same companies that provide their residential landlines.
In contact centers, where voice quality is paramount and the need to scale up and down is necessary, these traditional lines don’t allow you to keep up with the pace of business.
Let’s see why VaaS is the superior choice for hosted voice in companies of all sizes:
- Integrate all your communications tools on single platform – IT leaders rarely have the time to evaluate the myriad of phone, contact center and UC providers. By partnering with a true all-in-one cloud connectivity provider, you can integrate VaaS into your communications platform to seamlessly support the contact center and enterprise collaboration apps you use.
- Clear connections, every time – With VaaS, voice quality and availability is monitored 24/7/365 by a provider with a guaranteed SLA and a voice infrastructure that the local phone company simply can’t equate to.
- Multiple ISPs are better than one – VaaS allows your company access to a network of Internet Service Providers across the globe, including in some pretty remote areas. This means that local business voice traffic can often stay within the region it originates and terminates, without having to relay to a single data center. In the end, the voice quality is greatly improved.
- A dedicated connection instead of public internet – If your VaaS provider offers a dedicated network connection to the cloud – say, through SD-WAN or MPLS – you can experience superior voice quality over putting that voice traffic on the public internet, which can be susceptible to downtime and quality-of-service issues
- Make it easier on yourself – Provisioning telecom services, porting numbers and negotiating contracts can be an added burden to any IT department. By working with a VaaS provider, these processes are taken care of for you, allowing more focus on strategic tasks.
If you operate a contact center with a primary goal of improving interactions between agents and customers, voice quality is paramount. Nothing can lower a Net Promoter Score for a contact center faster than dropped or abandoned calls.
For more detail on Voice as a Service and how it works, view our VaaS Overview video, or visit https://www.niceincontact.com/call-center-software/voice-as-a-service.