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Call Center Software 101: An Introduction to Customer Contact Technology

A call center is a centralized site that is equipped to manage a large volume of customer contacts – both incoming and outgoing – for an organization. The heart of the call center is its people, often called representatives, or agents, who are on the front-line of these communications.

Equally important is the call center software used to manage all of those contacts. A call center software suite – or contact center software – automates and standardizes the process of receiving and responding to customer contacts. More than just a business phone system (also known as a PBX) or a customer service desk tool, call center systems offer many dedicated features that are not found in other types of business communications solutions.

 

What Is Call Center Software?

The term “call center software” encompasses a range of applications and tools that help customers and businesses get in touch with each other. Call center software often implies phone or voice-based contacts, whereas “Contact Center Software” is typically used in cases where several communication channels are utilized, such as email, messaging/SMS, web chat, etc.

Call center or contact center software supports agents who are directly speaking with customers, as well as the supervisors and managers who oversee the call center’s operations. The functionality may be broken down into inbound call center software systems and outbound call center software systems, but many call center software providers offer solutions that support both incoming and outgoing contacts.

 

Top 10 Most-Used Call Center Software Features

Most call centers need a range of tools to manage customer contacts, from inbound contacts for customer service and support to outbound calls for activities such as sales or collections. Some of the more common features offered by many vendors include:

    • Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) – Receives inbound contacts and places them in a call queue for agents to handle.
    • Interactive Voice Response (IVR) – Voice menus that allow callers to complete actions over the phone via voice or keypad input (or through spoken responses, with more advanced speech recognition features), similar to auto attendants, but with more flexibility and functionality.
    • Call Routing – Rules to get customers connected to the right agent quickly. This often includes skills-based routing, which can send customers to agents with the assigned skills to help answer their questions.
    • Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)  Integrations between phone systems and databases, such as CRM, to quickly deliver customer information to agents.
    • Predictive Dialers (Auto-Dialers)  Applications that use advanced algorithms to automatically dial numbers from a list or at random for outbound contacts. There are many methods for automated dialing, including power, progressive, preview, and predictive. For compliance with today’s regulations, it is also crucial for the system to support manual dialing without using an auto-generated list or number.
    • Agent Desktop with Call Center Scripting – Allows supervisors to create scripts and workflows for agents to use when taking calls, to ensure consistency and quality, and to control what information is displayed on the agent screen.
    • Quality Monitoring  The ability to monitor and manage resources and service levels, observe agent activities and calls, and view system activities, phone lines, and queues.
    • Call Recording – The ability to capture call audio/video, in order to have records of the conversation for verifying sales, promises-to-pay, and compliance with rules. Recordings can be reviewed for quality control and training.
    • Reporting – Allows managers to make more informed decisions with better insight into critical KPIs & program results, with real-time activity views, summary and drill-down data, and historical results reporting, through standard report libraries and the ability to create custom queries.
    • Premise or Cloud Deployments – Call center systems can be configured as on-premise, where the hardware and software are installed at a company’s site. Cloud based contact centers are growing in popularity. Also known as hosted services, these systems reside in a data center and are accessed virtually. Premise systems typically incur more up-front costs, whereas cloud systems are billed on a monthly usage basis.

    7 Advanced Contact Center Software Features

    As companies mature and their contact center needs evolvejust having the basics often can’t provide the level of service required. Many contact center software providers’ solutions offer expanded capabilities to help companies deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.

    • Omnichannel – Consumers have growing expectations about how and when they interact with companies. Giving them more ways to interact with you — like chat, email, text, and social media — can improve their satisfaction and help solve their problems more efficiently.
    • Compliance – Managing and complying with industry regulations is mission-critical to all contact centers. Compliance software solutions help your team stay on top of frequently changing laws and provide required, detailed activity reporting and list management.
    • Security – Data breaches are becoming all too common, and almost no company is immune. Your solution provider should have security protocols like advanced encryption, intrusion detection, firewalls, and vulnerability management systems to protect you and your customers.
    • Speech Analytics – Speech Analytics can record and analyze 100% of your calls, even examining a customer’s tone of voice, to identify insights or trends and uncover inefficiency and service issues. Real-Time Speech Analytics (RTSA) provides real-time screening, as calls are in progress, for more proactive services.
    • Workforce Management – Uses forecasting of staffing requirements based on historical data to automate workforce scheduling, while ensuring that the right number of skilled people and supporting resources are in the right place at the right time to meet the desired service levels.
    • Employee EngagementGamification is designed to increase productivity and reduce employee turnover, by using extrinsic and intrinsic values and rewards to align employee activities with the company’s business goals. Whether your team members are motivated most by incentives or recognition, competition or collaboration, gamification transforms daily routines into rewarding rivalries that give everyone a reason to do their best.
    • Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – A service option with the potential to balance efficiency and service demands. Incorporating technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, RPA can not only streamline agent tasks to eliminate repetition and decrease response times, it can model humans and carry out routine, high-volume tasks that follow clear rules and do not require judgment or empathy.

     

    Determining Your Requirements

    Clearly, the job of assessing your company’s needs and evaluating potential solutions is daunting. The right call center software providers can partner with you to help you navigate the process and ensure that you’re making the best decision for your entire organization. The key is to take an honest and comprehensive approach. A contact center software solution should provide you with long-term value and a significant return on your investment.