COVID-19: Call center agents at home?
Feb 12 2021

Open-source based call centers: myths and reality

The desire to control every aspect of your call center comes with hidden costs. Taking an open-source telephony solution and adding several SIP trunks, a custom CRM, and some in-house dialer algorithms may seem like an adequate alternative to a full-fledged SaaS. Сertainly, several small and medium-sized businesses turn to self-made call centers, hoping to lower their maintenance costs and gain more control over their operations. But while experiences vary from company to company, most end up getting the opposite of what they were looking for.

Why is that the case? Below, we dig deep into the common myths surrounding fabricated call centers, examine the consequences of opting for one, and explore an alternative. Whether you’re just looking to start a call center or already using a framework based on Asterisk or a similar solution, the following research will help you make a fully informed decision.

Common misconceptions about self-made call centers

The current SaaS call center market offers extensive feature support for inbound, outbound, and blended call traffic management. Still, many businesses prefer taking an open-source solution and building their own call center infrastructure on top of it. While the base itself provides a great toolkit for telephony purposes, it is the common misconceptions surrounding this business decision that may stop companies from achieving their initial goals.

Myth: committing to a single SIP trunk supplier for multiple calling destinations is considered a risk, and to avoid possible connection outages or ASR drops, call centers draw up contracts with several VoIP providers. In case the line is experiencing downtime, you can always go with a different carrier.

Reality: SIP trunk and network providers can achieve stable answer ratios, connection, and uptime by diversifying their local presence and global coverage. Instead of drafting contracts with multiple providers, and constantly switching from one to the other, call centers can look for a solution with a built-in VoIP telephony service backed up by their own hardware-based network. Points of presence in data centers all over the world guarantee low latency and superior connectivity.

Myth: an open-source solution comes free of charge, with no set-up fees, while SaaS call centers require monthly or annual payment commitments after the trial period. Hiring a remote engineer to support an infrastructure based on, say, Asterisk, and paying for hardware hosting seems, on the surface, to be a cost-effective choice compared to software fees.

Reality: when it comes to comparing costs, the numbers speak for themselves: the typical expense of a self-made call center—a developer’s salary of $4,000, plus a hosting fee of $300, plus the $3,000 monthly salary of the support engineer you’ll need to hire for basic maintenance—is equivalent to a monthly subscription for more than 150 call center agents. With Asterisk, the risk of a server going down for several days is quite high, and can end up costing thousands of dollars more in missed call opportunities. The uptime for software solutions is considerably higher.

If you need to downsize operations for a couple of months, you still have to pay the maintenance fees. Scaling up will require purchasing new hardware and expanding staff, resulting in even more lost money and time. The SaaS solutions, on the contrary, are quite flexible for optimization, as they are often pay-per-agent and can be scaled within minutes.

Myth: you can build whatever you need on top of an open-source solution like Asterisk: your in-house IT team will take care of it. All your management and analytics requirements will be easily met, and you won't have to worry about maintaining extraneous features. Monitoring performance will be easy, because you'll have control over every technical aspect of the call center.

Reality: building your call center around an open-source solution is costly and labor-intensive. Maintaining your management and analytics requirements requires constantly developing and updating needed features. Meanwhile, Saas—with built-in features like Answering Machine Detection and HLR lookups, and new features deployed weekly by a seasoned team of developers—saves time and energy, and ensures you'll always stay in line with the competition. And with 50+ metrics tracked by modern call center software, plus highly-customizable dashboards and historical reports, you'll have a firmer handle on your call center than you ever could otherwise.

Myth: for businesses that already use an open-source solution, switching to a different vendor may seem risky and time-consuming. Their hardware and staff are already lined up; their agents and supervisors are used to the current system. Everything seems to be working—so why risk a change?

Reality: industry cases show that switching to a SaaS solution can be completed within a week. The initial onboarding process, staff training, and resource redistribution might require some effort, but once you’ve customized the call center to meet your needs, all your operations will be streamlined. The system interface is highly intuitive and easy to use, and you won’t need any CapEx or entry costs. Additionally, they offer the option of a free trial, which allows you to keep your current infrastructure while you explore what you might be missing out on. Before making the commitment, you can always compare numbers and statistics to be sure about your decision.

All myths debunked - what will your choice be?

There was a time, not long ago, when a self-made call center might have truly been the most effective option. That time has definitively passed—a relic of the pre-cloud era, as dated in its way as a rotary phone. To manage everything in-house is to guarantee a headache. All the time you’ll spend shoring up your open-source infrastructure—updating the system, shelling out for maintenance—is time you could be spending on your business. SaaS, on the other hand, instantly vanishes the whole issue—you’ll have access to a refined product, and you’ll get the latest technological advancements by default.

What modern call center software offers above all is flexibility: you can bend it to your needs, and actualize your precise vision. Factor in the lower cost, the scalability, the more detailed metrics, the wider range of calling destinations, the ease of onboarding—on and on—and the choice, in the end, should be simple.