What Is Customer Service Software?
Traditional customer service is a thing a thing of the past. Today, the role of the contact center extends beyond simply answering questions and providing information. Many customer service centers are also sales and marketing channels, where agents not only take orders, but engage in up-sell and cross-sell activities and handle responses for promotions and special offers. And, many contact centers serve as the central point for all company communications. So staff must direct calls, and identify and escalate problems.
These new responsibilities have increased the complexity of customer service transactions. Agents must have visibility into sales, accounting, service, and other processes in order to satisfy customer needs.
Additionally, call volumes are on the rise, and contact centers are challenged to deliver rapid, high-quality service, even during peak periods. Multiple communication channels must be made available in order to maximize efficiency and convenience, and agent activities must be closely monitored to ensure optimum performance.
Customer service software is typically sold as a component of a company-wide customer relationship management (CRM) solution, and is also known as contact center automation or call center automation software. It is designed to simplify service-related interactions by coordinating and automating agent tasks. With customer service software, agents have all the tools they need to help customers, while managers have complete visibility into department activities, agent performance, and service quality.
Customer service software integrates the various applications that reside on an agent’s desktop – such as inventory, sales, accounting, marketing, and help desk systems. So agents have a single, consolidated view of all the information they need to take sales orders, handle responses to promotions and special offers, address billing issues, track shipments, report problems, and more.
Directors and managers can utilize the reporting capabilities within their customer service software package to obtain a complete, 360-degree view of all call center activities. They can track and analyze call statistics and other key metrics, so they can more effectively manage processes and agent performance.
Key Benefits for Your Company
The primary benefit of customer service software is that it provides an enhanced customer experience that can lead to increased satisfaction and retention. It dramatically improves the productivity of your agents, so they can respond to customer needs as promptly and effectively as possible.
Additionally, customer service software can dramatically reduce expenses by offering customers new, more cost-effective communication channels such as email and Web-based self-service. And, it can reduce the number of field visits and on-site service calls by arming agents with the insight they need to address more complex requests.
Customer service software can also help boost sales and revenues, by giving agents the ability to more effectively up-sell and cross-sell during service interactions, and to better manage inbound marketing initiatives such as 1-800 promotions and special offers.
Does My Company Need Customer Service Software?
If your company has an inbound contact center, no matter how small, then you can derive significant benefits from a customer service software package. From small teams handling common issues, to large call centers that take orders and sell products – these solutions can help any customer service department enhance service quality, increase efficiency, and reduce costs.
Customer service software can be particularly effective for companies with large, multi-site contact centers or “virtual” agents. With customer service software, these businesses can better coordinate and manage operations across all sites and channels.
Common Customer Service Software Features
Most customer service software packages on the market today provide the following features:
- Support for multiple communication channels, such as phone, email, Web chat, and voice chat (VoIP)
- Self-service capabilities that allow customers to access account information, check order status, track shipments, and perform other functions on their own, without assistance from a customer service representative
- Desktop integration, to tie together the various applications agents need to effectively respond to customer needs
- Survey capabilities, so customer opinions and perceptions can be collected and used to make improvements to service
- Reporting and analytics that allow managers to track activities, monitor key performance metrics, and identify critical service trends
What to Look for When Choosing a Solution
Selecting the right solution is crucial to your ability to deliver world-class service to your customers. Look for one that can integrate with your existing telephony infrastructure, such as your IVR, call recording, and call-routing systems. This will further enhance efficiency, and give you a clearer picture of contact center performance and service quality by allowing you to analyze call-specific data such as time-to-answer, hold times, and transfers.
Additionally, you should choose a solution that blends both inbound and outbound calling capabilities. This will enable you continuously enhance service by conducting regularly-scheduled follow-up calls to check on satisfaction levels. Additionally, it can help you transform the contact center into a profit center by leveraging intelligence gathered during inbound calls to conduct smarter, more successful outbound sales and marketing initiatives.