Inbound call center solution: How to choose the best software for support teams
If you’re running a call center, you’ll want to be able to manage inbound calls effectively. Whether you’re based in an office, remotely, or a combination of the two, call center software can support your customer service team and ensure an exceptional customer experience.
What is an inbound call center?
Inbound call centers are exactly what they sound like—a team of agents who handle inbound calls. These calls may be for technical support, customer queries, or complaints.
When you think of call centers, you might think of physical, open-plan offices filled with staff on their desk phones. However, this is just one type of call center!
Some centers operate entirely remotely, using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to communicate with customers and the rest of their team. Others are a hybrid of physical and remote, or made up of smaller offices connected through the internet.
Much like the physical setup of a call center, there are other variations on inbound call centers (or customer service centers in general): blended call centers and omnichannel contact centers.
What is a blended call center?
While most inbound call centers focus (as you would expect) on inbound calls, a blended call center handles a combination of inbound and outbound calls. Tools such as automatic call distribution (ACD) allow management to set routing priorities, while predictive dialers can allow agents to make productive outbound calls.
Blended call centers are particularly helpful as overflow centers for dedicated inbound or outbound call centers, assisting with ticketing and reducing wait time.
What is an omnichannel contact center?
While call center as a term implies a focus on phone calls, more and more companies are moving to omnichannel solutions. Omnichannel or multi-channel call centers handle email, live chat, social media, and other communication channels. In some cases they are referred to simply as contact centers.
An important distinction: Omnichannel solutions treat all channels as linked, providing a seamless experience throughout, while multi-channel solutions deal with all channels, but independently from each other.
Benefits of inbound call center solutions
Running an inbound call center can be challenging, especially at peak times. Luckily, there are plenty of inbound call center solutions available to help. Here are some of their key benefits.
Improved customer experiences
Since incoming calls are usually from customers seeking assistance, it’s important to maintain high customer satisfaction levels. No one wants to wait on hold for hours or be passed from agent to agent with no clear answers.
Inbound call center software has a variety of tools that streamline the customer experience, such as:
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR) - This interacts with a customer before they get through to a person, narrowing down their issue and helping them get routed to the appropriate department.
- Skills-based call routing - In combination with an IVR system, this ensures that customers are assigned to agents who can handle their issues appropriately.
- CRM integration - By integrating the call center software with customer relationship management (CRM) software, support teams can provide a personalized experience.
Better workforce optimization in contact centers
Of course, the benefits aren’t just customer-based. Inbound call center solutions make workforce management much easier. They allow you to optimize workflow, reducing downtime and long hold times without adding extra pressure on your helpdesk at busy times.
Real-time agent monitoring allows you to ensure your support team is up to standard. Supervisor tools can be used to assist agents during the call rather than messaging about mistakes afterwards. This is especially great for training—and means supervisors don’t need to be onsite to help out.
Increased staff flexibility
We’ve already mentioned how many call centers are no longer based in a single, open-plan office. A cloud contact center gives your staff more flexibility and enables them to work from home or anywhere in the world. Good call center solutions should work with any phone system, whether physical or virtual.
Data on inbound calls
Improving customer support often requires reams of data and metrics. Luckily, inbound call center software can gather this data for you. This could be done by monitoring customer interactions on social media, capturing call recordings, or tracking calls to specific phone numbers.
You can use the call center data you gathered and other analytics to make improvements, such as:
- Enhancing your self-service options
- Developing a resource library by pooling customer data and other relevant data with that of a trusted CRM system
- Reducing the number of calls your helpdesk has to handle.
- Making quick, informed decisions
By using this key data and call center software, it is much easier to analyze your resources and implement your final decisions.
How to choose the best call center software
When choosing the right software, you need to make sure it has the functionality required to meet your business needs. Before you set out finding one, there’s a few questions you should ask yourself:
- What advanced features are must-haves?
(See top inbound call center software features in FAQ section)
- What pre-existing software does it need to integrate with?
- Can it guarantee high call quality?
- How easy is it to scale up or down depending on need?
- Can I use my pre-existing phone numbers?
- How much storage for call recordings or voicemails does it provide, if any?
- What platforms does it need to cover (i.e., just telephony, or sms, social media, etc.)?
Once you have the answers to these questions in mind, it’s time to start looking at specifics.
Not all contact center software is equal, so make sure you look at what it includes. An inbound-only center might not need a predictive dialer, but the sales team at a blended call center would. You might want software that can perform real-time call analytics or you may prefer something you can export data into another program from. Make sure that your chosen software has all the functionality you want.
How easy is this new tool to pick up? A good contact center solution should be intuitive, and agents should be able to understand the basics with ease. For this, it can be worth testing out product demos with a small number of your team, just to make sure it’s something they’d be comfortable with.
Of course, a huge aspect of choosing new business tools is the cost. Sometimes, it can be a trade-off between the call center functionality you want and the pricing plans you can afford. A huge part of this is the scalability of the software. A small business doesn’t want to be paying year-round for peak capacity if that only happens for a month or two.
With this in mind, you should be able to narrow down your options to a few that fit all your needs. From there, chat with sales and ask for demonstrations.
What’s the difference between a call center and a contact center?
What hardware is needed for inbound call centers?
- ACD (automatic call distribution) to direct calls to the right agents
- Multi-level IVR (interactive voice response)
- Integration with desk phones and softphones
- Omnichannel capabilities
- Supervisor tools such as whisper coaching and monitoring
- Reports and analytics