What Is Call Center Software?
For years, call centers have served as the primary mode of communication between a company and its existing and potential clients. But, the call center as we once knew it is long gone. Products and services are more complex and customer demands are greater than ever before. As a result, the ability to effectively manage operations while ensuring the highest quality of service has become a tremendous challenge.
Call center software comes in all shapes and sizes. There are numerous different types of applications on the market today that enhance the various aspects of call center management. Some of the most popular include:
Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
With an IVR system, companies can automate routine inquiries, such as requests for account balances or questions about the status of orders, so agents are free to address more complex problems. Customers use the numbers on their touch-tone phones to make their requests (i.e. enter in their account or order number), which are then sent directly to a database where information is pulled and spoken back to the customer using pre-recorded phrases, or text-to-speech technology. Many IVR systems also offer speech recognition capabilities for additional convenience, as well as survey functionality to gather feedback from customers after an interaction has been completed.
Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)
CTI bridges the gap between IVR systems, phone switches, and agent workstations. For example, a customer exits your IVR system halfway through a transaction. As the call is transferred to the appropriate live representative, all the information they already provided travels with it, and dynamically appears on the agent’s screen when he or she picks up the phone. This accelerates handling time and resolution, and saves customers the frustration of having to give the same information twice.
“Your call is being monitored for quality assurance”. Anyone who has heard that line has witnessed call monitoring software in action. Calls are recorded, and can be played back at a later date for a variety of purposes (i.e. to evaluate an agent’s performance, to settle a customer dispute, etc.).
These systems take call recording one step further, allowing companies to set pre-defined thresholds, such as the use of certain words or calls that pass a certain length. They work by either flagging certain recordings for supervisor attention at a later time, or by sending an immediate alert to a manager, who can then monitor the call “live”, as it is taking place.
Call Center Analytics/Performance Management
Key performance indicators are critical to the ongoing management and improvement of contact center operations. Call center analytics solutions allow supervisors and team leaders to track their most important metrics – such as first call resolution, call handle times, survey results, etc. Armed with this information, they can identify the positive and negative trends that impact customer satisfaction, and take immediate corrective action when needed.
The availability and effectiveness of agents is what makes or breaks a call center. These solutions fully automate critical workforce management-related processes such as scheduling, performance assessments, and training.
Key Benefits for Your Company
There are tremendous advantages that can be realized through the use of the many types of call center applications. With call center software, companies can:
- Increase customer satisfaction through the delivery of a higher caliber of service
- Improve agent productivity and retention
- Minimize overhead costs through a reduction in phone service fees and agent training expenses
- Boost revenues by empowering representatives to actively participate in marketing promotions, and identify and leverage new sales opportunities
Does My Company Need Call Center Software?
Every company has something to gain by enhancing customer interactions through the use of call center software. The proof is evident in a recent CFI Group study, which cites a direct link between call center performance, company reputation, and client loyalty. According to their research, only five percent of customers indicated that they were likely to take their business elsewhere if their issue was successfully resolved by a contact center, while 79 percent stated that they would spread positive word of mouth. Customers whose issues were not resolved promptly had much greater potential defection rates – 43 percent – and were more likely to tell other buyers about their bad experience – 76 percent.
Additionally, a Genesys survey demonstrates that 75 percent of customers would repeatedly buy from a company based on a great call center experience, while 50 percent would end the relationship if an interaction was unsatisfactory.
What to Look for When Choosing a Call Center Software Package
In order to be most effective, call center software applications must seamlessly link to existing telephony systems such as switches and predictive dialers. This will provide a complete picture of all call-related activities, allowing managers to gather additional statistics such as call volumes, hold times, and transfers. As a result, they can better manage workloads, and gain greater insight into the true customer experience.
Multiple Communication Channels
Even if your call center only conducts business by phone today, customers are likely to demand service via email, chat, fax, and other channels in the near future. So, be sure the contact center software you choose can extend its capabilities beyond phone interactions to support communications via any vehicle.
Support for “Virtual” Contact Centers
The “virtual” model is becoming an increasingly popular one for today’s contact centers. If your call center consists of agents that reside in numerous disparate locations, or you plan to move to a “virtual” call center model in the near future, you’ll need contact center software that fully supports your operations.