Call center solutions - How to choose the best one for your business

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A business owner searching for a good call center solutions for his business

Phone-based customer support remains one of the most popular support channels. It means that call centers are just as important as ever. As a result of this, there are so many solutions out there intended to help a call center function smoothly. 

There are different features available that will suit some businesses more than others. Here is the ultimate guide to call center solutions and how to choose the best one.

What is a call center?

First things first, let’s nail down the basics. A call center is comprised of a group of agents interacting with customers, prospects, or leads over the phone. Traditionally, these agents would have been co-located in one place. That’s why your mind went straight to the idea of lots of people sitting side-by-side at desks, all with headsets on. 

Today, however, not all call centers have agents working in one location. Remote working is far more common due to advances in call center solutions and technology—but there’ll be more on that later. What’s also more common today is the process of agents using more than just the phone to communicate. That’s why the term ‘contact center’ is far more prevalent

What is a contact center solution?

‘Call’ and ‘contact’ center solutions both help customers reach businesses for their support needs. Phone support is a powerful customer service extension for any business and is provided by many via call center solutions. Contact center solutions also allow customers to communicate with call center support teams across multiple channels. 

They can integrate multiple channels, such as:

  • email 
  • live chat 
  • social media
  • SMS messaging

These solutions allow companies to manage all business communications. Those can be inbound or outbound customer communications (or both) across a range of channels.

The right solution will empower sales and customer service teams. It will allow them to have personalized, real-time conversations with customers.

Types of call center solutions (for large or for small business)

There are many different types of solutions, each with its benefits and capabilities. Some of the main types are as follows:

Inbound software contact centers

These are perhaps the best-known type of call or contact centers. The agents who work at these centers are actively contacted by customers. Those customers are typically looking for advice, support, or the resolution of issues.

Outbound software call center solution

In an outbound call center, agents call potential or existing customers instead. This type of call center is mainly used for sales, promotions, and customer surveys, but that’s not always the case. Some businesses welcome their new clients with a welcome call. They can use it to provide further information on the company’s products or policies.

Cloud contact center solutions or virtual call center software

Virtual or cloud-based call centers are increasingly becoming more popular. They combine the services of inbound or outbound call centers with various advanced features. The main characteristic of cloud-based call centers, though, is that you can operate it from anywhere. 
 
The set-up is straightforward and quick, and you don’t need any special programming skills or equipment. Users only need a computer or a phone with an internet connection to access the service.

What is call center software?

In a nutshell, call center software automates the flow of incoming and outgoing calls. Many products offer the ability to track and store individual caller data.These tools allow agents to access previous call histories everytime a customer makes a call.  This technology can greatly reduce the average handle time and while also ensuring efficiency and accuracy when it comes to handling customer data. 

There’s a contact center software for small businesses, as well as mid-sized and large enterprises. It is also used in a wide variety of industries.

What software does call center use?

There are lots of different types of software used by call centers. Some examples of these are:

  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
  • Call recording software
  • Call routing software (Automatic Call Distribution, ACD)
  • CRM integration software solutions
  • Auto-dialer
  • Reporting tools
  • Cloud-based calling software
  • Computer telephony integration, or CTI software
  • Predictive dialers
  • Unified Communications 
  • PBX Phone systems
  • Salesforce cloud computing
  • Video conferencing software
  • Help desk solutions
  • Call tracking software

Contact center software features

The best call center software depends on the specific needs of the business. Different solutions have different features and functionalities. Many offer some element of automation to make things run more smoothly. Whether you choose a simple or a comprehensive, all-in-one solution is down to the requirements of your business.

Every tool has its own set of pros and cons, especially when handled differently by the agents. That being said, there are important considerations when choosing a contact center solution.

1. Omnichannel Support

The future of all communications is omnichannel. Consumers want to engage with businesses in their preferred way. It's important to consider how well call center software integrates with other communication channels.

Unified customer service software is an important consideration for an omnichannel contact center. It reduces customer friction and increases front line efficiency. If incoming calls can be logged on your help desk, all the better. With the best call center solutions this is possible thanks to integrations with CMS solutions like Salesforce, and will allow any agent to follow up via email. This feature creates a consistent customer experience no matter which channel is used.

2. Cloud-Based Calling

These days, cloud contact centers are becoming more popular. They will require a cloud-based call center solution to align with their online databases. This is where cloud-based calling, or a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) setup comes in handy.

This is a business phone system that runs through the internet instead of a phone line. It’s usually cheaper to install and maintain than regular landlines. VoIP doesn’t require on-premise hardware. It bypasses the typical maintenance and infrastructure costs that traditional phone lines have.

3. Features based on voice communication

When customers call your business, they need to be connected to the right person quickly. It's important to understand how the incoming calls will be routed. There are a few options to optimize the process, such as using software that offers automated routing. Another option is to allow customers to select a department after listening to a set of options.

A call center agent taking a call from a customer

Many call center software solutions offer a set of basic features that focus on voice communication, such as:

  • Validating callers
  • Call forwarding
  • Click to call (where agents click on a customer's phone number in a database of contacts to dial out)
  • Call transfers
  • Interactive voice response (IVR)
  • Call scripting
  • Call tracking
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software integration

4. Outgoing Call Support

Call center software isn't just for inbound customer interactions. Agents might need to make outbound calls for proactive customer support options. Or you might want your customers to chat with sales. Outbound calls are great for sales prospecting and upselling. 

In this case, automated dialer software and easy to use call logging features are important to keep your CRM up to date.

5. Workforce Optimization features

Contact center software offers a range of workforce optimization features. These enable managers and team leaders to analyze and track agent performance. Over time, this can increase contact center efficiency and improve quality management. Some available optimization features are:

  • Inbound call routing
  • Call recording
  • Conversation quality monitoring
  • Predictive dialing
  • Real-time call monitoring
  • Call analytics
  • Unified Agent desktop
  • Real-time Reporting

Benefits of call center solutions

There are many benefits of using these solutions. They generally come under three main categories:

  1. Supporting customers
  2. Supporting staff
  3. Supporting the overall business

Enhanced customer experiences

Customer satisfaction is very important. Customers should be at the forefront of any business. Without satisfied customers, you won’t get very far. The call center is an opportunity for customers to interact with a business directly. It’s also a chance to collect feedback and making improvements to the business.

Customer experience is improved when agents deliver appropriate and accurate information–ven more so with a customized touch. Contact center solutions streamline data processing, promoting increased customer retention and brand loyalty. Implementing them will significantly improve customer experience. 

It’s important to understand the customer story. Text analytics can scour emails, SMS text messages, and instant messages. Certain keywords indicate frustration or satisfaction on the part of the customer. It allows for improvements to customer service.

Workforce engagement and staff support

Agents work very hard in call centers, and they are at the front-line of the business. It means the job can be quite stressful. If they’re not properly supported, they can even experience burnout. 

Having the right solutions available so that they can do their job easily is important. Call center solutions allow agents to handle inbound and outbound calls quickly and conveniently.

Improved results for the business as a whole

One of the major concerns in any business is data security. Cloud solutions are a great way to ensure improved data security in a call center.

There are lots of tools available in these solutions for workforce management. Whether it’s quality monitoring or an opportunity to improve efficiencies. They enable telephone calls to be handled efficiently. They also boost overall productivity among staff.

Call centers that employ predictive dialing features can reduce costs. This feature automates and captures important call activities directly into the software. It results in enhanced lead management and keeps track of the ideal times to call clients. Useful real-time metrics available in these solutions can also boost sales.

How can I create a call center?

Setting up a call center is a big project, and it involves a lot of time, resources, and patience. However, it can be an accessible goal. As long as you’re dedicated to doing it right and are ready to prioritize good customer service. 

There are lots of call center management systems. With all these simple software options available, it's never been easier to set up a contact center.

Establish the purpose of your call center.

The first point is to understand why you want to set up a call center. Establish your purpose and your business needs. Once you’ve got your goals in mind, you’ll be able to plan accordingly and use your objectives to measure results.

Using call center metrics to outline KPIs.

Use call center metrics to outline your KPIs from the beginning. Some examples of these might be:

  • Average call length
  • Missed and declined calls
  • Transfer rate
  • Average answer speed

Look into software pricing and plan your budget.

When you’re setting up a call center, the costs can add up pretty quickly. It’s a good idea to outline your budget and keep in mind an idea of how much you can realistically spend. Consider moving to the cloud to give added flexibility for your business. If you’re trying to keep costs low, a virtual contact center might be an attractive idea.

Identify what kind of call center you want to operate.

There are lots of different options for setting up a call center. The choices can be overwhelming but there are ways to narrow it down. 

Firstly, try to identify your workflow. Then start making a list of features most important to you. Think about if you want to run an inbound call center or an outbound call center. Should it use virtual software or be hosted on-site? Work out your priorities and compare products available. Then choose a solution that best fits your requirements.

Provide your agents with the right solution.

No one appreciates a steep learning curve, so make sure you're using a simple software that is easy to learn and use. RingCentral call center solution has all the features you need and more to make your agents’ lives easier. By providing them with the right solution, your agents, in turn, can give your callers better customer experience as well.

Sign up for a free demo and discover how RingCentral can make a difference for your agents and your customers.