What is Call Center Software?
Call center software is a telecommunication solution that encompasses a broad range of dedicated features specifically tailored for either inbound or outbound call center operations. This software equips call center managers and agents with critical tools that enhance call center efficiency by enabling receiving of large volumes of calls, routing callers and ensuring customers and clients are served in the shortest time possible over the phone.
Call center operations have evolved with telecommunication advancements. Phone banks have conventionally been connected to a computer called an Automatic Caller Distributor that is responsible for directing calls. Though this hasn’t totally changed, contact centers have evolved from the traditional setting consisting of rows of telephone operators answering phone calls to use of multi-lingual voice recognition cloud-based software that connects customers to call center agents anywhere in the world by matching needs and skills. Opening up new paths of communication is easy with virtual call center software while at the same time empowering call centers and agents with tools and technology necessary to maintain high levels of efficiency and service.
Call center technology is now commonly referred to as contact center software. It is now cloud based therefore as opposed to physically connecting to the ACD, the virtual call center software now connects through the internet to the provider’s data centers. The service provider is now tasked with maintaining the hardware and updating the software so the contact center can focus on its core business. All that is needed is an internet connection, a call center software provider and a physical or web-based phone connection. With the current call center software, contact centers are equipped with a wide array of features and applications that make emailing, video communications and live web chats possible, therefore enabling contact centers to utilize every mode of communication.
8 Benefits of Call Center Software Solutions for any Contact Center:
1. Boosts Productivity
Call center software comes with additional features that significantly boost productivity and efficiency in a call center. It comes with an effective interface and is able to prioritize, offers real-time monitoring, time-based routing and call route matrix.
2. Increased Security
Data security is a huge concern not only for call centers but businesses as well. Without a proper security system, sensitive data can be lost. Today’s call center software is equipped with impenetrable security features that ensure the safety of data within a cloud data backup. This is cost effective for call centers because the responsibility of reviewing the security protocols and enforcing them falls on the providers.
Call center software today offers unlimited flexibility for contact centers regardless of size and type of operations. It is however quite important to assess the size of your team and needs to scale the software in accordance with the company’s goals.
4. Reduced Costs
To operate efficiently call centers require sophisticated equipment to manage, network, process and backup data. A considerable amount of money is required to acquire, operate, and maintain this equipment. However, with virtual call center software, you can run and manage the entire call center without purchasing the equipment.
5. Improved Customer Relationship Management
You can integrate your call center software with your CRM. This can give you a better perspective of your successes and failures and help you determine the best time to pick a call. New customers call also be added to the database with every call. Excellent customer service and providing the best customer experience is critical. Call center software provides contact center solutions that take into account your caller’s time.
6. Social Media Integration
Today social media has overtaken traditional business communication channels. Customers today Tweet, like and chat more than they make calls. Contact center software solutions are able to monitor and filter social media and prioritize what needs special attention. Customers on social media platforms can also be directed to the right agents.
7. Highly Customizable Distribution Rules
Today’s call center software customizes how orders are directed. This is based on tracking and analyzing various aspects of data including the success rate, length of calls, skill sets and more. Customers are also able to get the same agent to serve them every time.
8. Great Customer Experience
Contact center software today enables a supervisor to monitor calls, and he has the option of either “whispering into an agent’s ear or “barge” and take over without the customer knowing. This ensures great customer experience due to being served by a more experienced or better-informed agent.
What to look for in Call Center Software Providers:
Service Reliability and Uptime-
Reliability of service is probably the most important metric to take into account. Your call center software provider should at least have 99.99% reliability. This is because every time your call center is down even for a minute, you are losing huge amounts of money. You can actually shop for a company that gives up to 99.999% uptime. Hosted contact center software solutions are actually geographically redundant to increase reliability.
Whether it’s accessing the admin portal or using the dashboard, simplicity is key. You can have the best features; however, they will be rendered useless if the agents are unable to use them. Your potential contact center software should be easy to learn and use.
Provides a Holistic View of the Customer
Your call center software should be able to extract information about the customer from various sources and place it in front of the agent for the agent to better serve the customer. Understanding the customer’s history and present concerns can help predict their future needs.
Customer Self Service Features and Automated Tasks
Good call center software will make the most of your agent’s time. This can be achieved by letting the agent concentrate on the important stuff and having self-service and automated tasks done for you.
Security is a huge concern today. Identity theft and leaked emails are now rampant. Proper security measures and a considerable amount of encryption is enough to keep data safe. Ensure that customers feel safe giving private information to agents by strictly regulating financial and medical data.
Auto Dialers to Consider for Outbound Call Centers:
An outbound call center makes calls to customers on behalf of the business or client. This may include calls for sales, telemarketing, surveys, and verification services. Maximum productivity and a high level of efficiency are critical in an outbound call center. Call center software that integrates automatic dialers greatly enhances productivity and efficiency. Automatic dialers eliminate the need to manually dial numbers, by putting in place automated systems that can manage calls. Though included in most call center software solutions, not all come packaged together. It is, therefore, important to ensure that these dialers are included in your call center software. When looking for a call center software provider.
Predictive dialer software is designed to place the maximum number of calls in the shortest time possible. Predictive dialers have the ability to collect data such as the number of agents available, average call length, and the average number of calls it takes to connect with a contact successfully. They utilize statistical algorithms to extract the necessary information to reduce agent downtime. With predictive dialers, unsuccessful calls before reaching a live person are greatly reduced.
Power dialers will only dial out a new call when an agent is through with the previous call and can move to the next. These dialers also consider the priority and skill of agents or alternative departments to help determine an efficient match. Power dialers may be simple but significantly improve productivity.
Preview dialers make calls for agents from a pre-determined list of leads. These dialers quickly provide an overview of the current caller’s information prior to placing the call. With these dialers, one can see previous calls, sales and all other relevant information necessary to build context around the call. Preview dialers then proceed to sequentially dial from this list to continue with a steady stream of calls.
Progressive Dialers combine functions of both power and preview dialers in a single solution. These dialers automatically dial out from a list of leads, therefore maintaining a constant flow of calls while reducing downtime and providing relevant information and history to the agent. This information is displayed when the call is being dialed.
Important Features to Consider for Inbound Call Centers:
An inbound call center is one that exclusively handles calls initiated by the customer (inbound calls). The productivity and efficiency of inbound call centers is achieved by properly routing incoming calls to the best-suited agent for the call. Traditionally calls were manually routed to agents regardless of skill. The situation is different today, with current contact center software solutions, contact centers have an automated system to ensure callers get the right agent to serve them. Callers are able to reach the department they need on the first try; due to features like automated attendants and skill-based routing to properly redirect calls to the right department.
Automatic Call Distributor (ACD)
Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) systems are a common feature in inbound contact centers. These systems automatically redirect and route incoming calls to the right agent, with the right set of skills or one who has priority to handle the call. These systems take into account information such as the caller’s menu selection, telephone number, the time of day among other aspects. ACD’s are quite critical in maintaining and enhancing efficiency in call centers today.
Interactive Voice Response System (IVR)
To add to the benefits provided by ACD, an Interactive Voice Response System ensures that callers are channeled to the right agent and department and receive the assistance that they need. IVR systems ask callers a series of questions so as to know where to route the calls. These systems also allow contact centers to manage their custom menus, greetings and prompts to direct and provide information to callers.
This system works in conjunction with ACD and IVR. Skills-based routing will help ACD and IVR systems to efficiently direct callers to the department or priority level they need or have specified. This solution will direct callers to the most appropriate agent depending on the caller’s IVR selection, the agent’s skill set, and priority level and callers interaction history. This feature can also take into consideration aspects such as language spoken and geographical location.
Customized Call Queues
Call queues are inevitable in call centers due to the nature of their business. However, it is quite important that these queues are managed to ensure minimal wait time and quality service to callers. Contact center software solutions help minimize the time spent waiting on queues by callers. This is possible due to the use of features such as music on hold, personalized greetings, separate queues for different departments and also the ability to set the maximum queue size. Depending on the solution, an agent can also call back instead of keeping a caller in the queue.
Dedicated phone numbers and extensions
These phone numbers and extensions will make it possible for your contact center to minimize queues to ensure minimal wait time. With dedicated phone numbers and extensions given to specific departments or senior management, your contact center can better take advantage of Skills –based routing and ACD systems. Callers are also able to make direct calls if they know who they want to speak to in an organization.
In addition to dedicated phone numbers, voicemail systems for specific agents or departments can be used to improve levels of service, increase efficiency and professionalism. If an agent is unavailable for whatever reason callers have an option of leaving a voicemail and have the agent call back. This also allows callers to leave voicemails when the call center is not in operation.
Real Time Metrics and Analytics
Today’s contact center software provides a real-time dashboard to monitor agent activity and data. This enables managers to make quick decisions and prioritize shifts to maintain productivity and efficiency as well quality service to callers. Managers are able to monitor metrics such as average wait time, average call time, longest wait time as well as the number of agents available, among other metrics.
Real-time reporting is not only helpful for short term changes, but it also ensures that your call center builds historical data and reports to help managers understand how their call center operates over an extended duration. Managers are able to monitor department performance to determine if goals and objectives are being achieved. Strengths and weaknesses will also come to the fore with the analysis of historical reports.
Final Thoughts to Contact Center Software Shoppers:
When shopping for call center software, there is more to consider other than the latest features and lowest prices. You might actually pay for features that you don’t need or may never use. Before even looking for a call center software provider, have a proper understanding of your needs so that you are able to get the features you need at a low price. From this point, you can either scale up or down depending on your needs.
Getting into a long-term contract with a contact center software provider will help cushion you from rising costs, and the terms will remain the same. Month to month contracts are also advantageous since the call center service provider has to keep you happy by providing quality service. This is definitely more economical than having to buy your own equipment.