To become a brand that customers love and are loyal to, the company needs to give them a reason to do so. Customers value the brands which they trust. One significant way of doing that is with exceptional customer service.
Traditionally, a call center was defined as a place where the agents/ call center executives used to attend customer support calls or make outbound calls to prospects. With the changing trend and technological advancements, the world has become a global village. So much so that the parent company might be based out of Europe and setup it’s call center in India. There can be various for this, but, the bottom line is, your customer can be anywhere in the world and might use any channel to talk to you. Thus, having a call center which supports only voice or utmost email channels is not enough. You need a contact center.
Call Center vs Contact Center
Unlike a call center, a contact center caters to a lot more channels. Moreover, being an omnichannel setup, the contact center executives have to be multi-skilled i.e they are capable of handling queries from various channels - voice, email, social media, chat. Therefore, in the times when the customers are not bound by the lack of available communication channels, the call centers do not match the requirement. We need something more - a Contact Center.
But, setting up a contact center requires more than just a place - you need the right software. Keep the following points in mind when you are considering a call center software:
#1. Type of Call Center Software
There can be four types of call center software solutions available in the market. They differ in terms of the cost, time to deploy, scalability, maintenance, and robustness.
- On-premise call center software
- Cloud-based call center software
- Hosted call center software
- Browser-based call center software
Based on your need and other factors (which are discussed below) choose a deployment model which enhances your capability to provide excellent customer support and service. This will help you to further shortlist the best-suited solution for your business.
#2. Your Budget and Cost of The Solution
Understand your need properly and also the stage at which your business is operating. For example, for a business who is just starting off or is in the infancy stage, it is better to opt for an on-cloud solution as having an on-premise solution requires heavy investment in terms of logistics as well as licensing fees. It is important to do a thorough analysis of the cost-effectiveness of the solution and the expected ROI.
#3. Call Center Software Features
Once you have done a SWOT analysis for your business and identified your needs, the next step is to make a list of features that you DEFINITELY have to have for your team to work at their optimal levels. Some of the basic call center features for both outbound and inbound calling include:
Dialers: Depending on the used case and industry, one can choose between different types of dialers such as predictive, parallel predictive, preview, etc.
Automatic Call Distributor: To improve first call resolution (FCR) and customer satisfaction by routing them to the most suitable agent to handle their query.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR): Lets the customers self-serve by playing customized messages and transfers the call to live agents in case of escalations.
Reporting and Analytics: Get access to real-time dashboards and historical reports to make informed decisions.
Virtual Queuing: Let the customer hold their position in the queue when the average waiting time is more.
Agent Desktop Tools: Empower your agents to handle customers in an effective manner by providing them with all the relevant information in a single screen.
Workflow Designer: Design your business rules and routing strategies to improve customer satisfaction and agent productivity.
These are just a few call center features. You can have a complete list of call center features which go over and above all these. Having said that, it is imperative to first recognize the features that are of most significance to you. Once that is done and the solution is missing some features, you can always ask the vendor to customize the solution according to your needs. A good call center solution provider will be capable of doing that and thus, enhancing the overall experience.
#4. Available Integrations
Another must-have feature for a good call center software which deserves a separate mention are the call center integrations. Having a call center software which integrates with your CRM, help desk management system, ticketing system or other third-party platforms such as Salesforce, Zoho, Zendesk, Freshdesk, allows and enables the call center agents to work productively and make things smoother. For example, if an agent needs to modify some customer details, she/he can change it on the CRM and same will be modified in the helpdesk system as well.
Similarly, if a call hits your IVR during non-business hours, then a ticket will be created for it along with the transcript of the call recording. The bottom line is, to improve overall efficiency and employee empowerment, it's always better to go for a call center software solution which integrates with all your (relevant) in-house systems - helpdesk, CRM, marketing, ticketing along with possible third-party CTI integrations.
While opting for a call center solution, it is important to keep your future business goals. You want a software which will help you move towards that business goal. Moreover, a call center solution which allows you to easily add or remove the number of agents and adjust according to the call volume. You need to know how much autonomy will you have in terms of the configurable features and how much dependency will your organization have on the tech-support team of the call center solution provider. Its preferable to look for a solution which is an enabler rather than a hindrance to the success of your business.
#6. Ease of Use
Don’t opt for a solution which seems great in theory but is actually difficult to implement and use by your team. You do not want to be stuck with a call center solution which is too complex to understand that it requires extensive training on the part of the call center agents as well as your IT-support team. The best thing to do in this situation is to get a demo of the call center software. Nowadays, you don’t even need to physically be present at the demo location. They are available online. Taking a demo will allow your team to understand the functioning of the call center software at a close range. Post that as a call center manager, you can make an informed decision about which is the best call center software for your business.
#7. Technical Support
While installing a new technology, you want a vendor who will be there to provide you support whenever you are in a fix. However robust a technology might be, you are bound to face glitches at some point in time. Thus, choosing the right call center software is important but choosing the right provider is equally important. Go for a call center solution provider which can offer you round-the-clock support. Because, for you to give superlative customer service, you need to have the right back-end team who supports you in case of downtime or some other issues.