For both B2B and B2C companies today, providing a positive customer service experience is everything. Companies that provide slow or poor customer service risk losing customers and seeing their sales decline. In fact, according to Twilio, 41% of customers stopped doing business with a company after receiving a poor customer service experience. That’s why so many businesses today are taking advantage of professional inbound call centers to improve their customer experience. Call centers often use call center software to efficiently manage high call volume and provide excellent customer service. But what is call center software and how does it help with customer service needs?
What is Call Center Software?
Call center software is an all-in-one management technology solution for call centers. It helps call centers efficiently and quickly manage inbound customer and client calls, manage customer requests, and keep accurate customer service records and reports. A good call center software makes two-way communication with customers quicker and easier (ie. live chat, SMS, email). It also gives agents an all-inclusive, unified dashboard to run their day to day customer service tasks more easily.
How it Works
What does a typical call center software look like in action? How does it help call center agents manage customer service tasks quicker and easier? To help you understand how call center software helps facilitate two-way communication, take a look at how it typically works.
- A customer calls into the call center, which “pings” the software. The software either identifies the caller if they are already in the system, or creates a new contact automatically if they are not.
- The interactive voice response (IVR) tool directs the caller to the correct department at the call center. They may be placed on a hold if the call center has a “queue.”
- The caller is assigned to an agent based on their response to the IVR. Whether the caller has a history with the call center or not, this information is displayed to the agent taking the call.
- The agent talks with the caller. They can help them in real-time using software features such as email, SMS, etc.
- If the caller’s issue is not resolved during the call, the software records this information under a “ticket number” and marks the issue as “open”. Then, customer service can follow-up on the issue.
- When the caller’s issue is resolved, the call center software will mark it as “resolved” or “closed.”
Call Center Software: Types
Some call centers will opt for on-premise hosted software. This software is installed, hosted, and maintained on-site at the call center, and normally requires a utilization license. Call centers that use on-premise software have more day to day control over their software and how they utilize it. However, they must perform regular maintenance and upgrades on their own. This is why it is usually used by enterprise companies with a designated tech team. Also note that on-premise software is the more expensive option overall.
The other option for call center software is cloud-based. Cloud-based software is maintained and run by software companies. This means that call centers that utilize it don’t have to worry about regular maintenance. However, at the same time the call center has less control over the software’s capabilities. This kind of call center software usually runs on a subscription-based basis, is more flexible, and can be used by call centers anywhere (even if you have several remote locations). It is also the most cost-effective option overall.
- Improve customer service: Offer customers multi-channel communication, customer support surveys, and other assets. Improve customer satisfaction by reducing wait times and resolving issues more quickly.
- Reduce wait times: According to Harris Interactive, Customers today expect to be connected with agents quickly to have issues resolved. 75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent. This can cause significant dissatisfaction with a company. A good call center software can help you avoid this.
- Present multi-channel customer communication: Customers today expect a variety of communication channels when they need to reach a customer service agent. eConsultancy says that 61% of customers prefer phone, 60% prefer email, 57% prefer live chat, and 31% prefer “click to call” automation. Call center software allows agents to offer multiple, flexible communication tools to customers to get in touch with them, which amplifies the customer’s experience.
- Boost brand recognition: When receiving good customer service from a call center, 71% of customers would be willing to recommend that brand to a friend, according to Twilio. There are real benefits to investing in software that improve performance!
- Grow revenue: Companies who have satisfied customers based on digital communication are 2.6x more likely to have revenue growth of 15% or more and 3.5x more likely to exceed their financial goals.
If you need additional information about these statistics, take a look at this informative report by Twilio. This shows customer behavior, expectations and preferences and can be a resource in understanding how call center software is so beneficial to customer service.
Finding the best call center software for your business will depend on having the best communication tools and features. While there are lots of different options on the market today for software features, there are several that are considered must-haves. Keep in mind that every call center’s needs are different. Only you will be the best judge of which features you need to maintain an excellent customer service center. Here’s our list of the top call center software features that you should consider when buying:
Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is sometimes known as a “virtual assistant.” It is one of the most widely used call center software tools today. IVR automatically answers customer calls as they come in, providing callers with “menu” options to navigate the customer to the correct department or agent. IVR is a great way to boost customer experience by reducing wait times, improving productivity, and freeing up agent’s time.
Automatic Call routing
Almost every call center software option has call management tools, such as automatic call routing. This tool manages inbound calls based on pre-programmed automation. You can plug in “rules” that integrate with your IVR tool, so each call is automatically directed according to their needs. Essentially, the software will route each call to the correct department or agent without you having to do anything!
Call recording is an important tool for any call center. Most call center software enables automatic recordings of conversations between agents and customers. These call recordings can be later used for quality assurance purposes, call analytics and reports, training new agents, and evaluating agent performance.
Video, Live Chat, SMS options
Customers today are looking for fast and efficient communication with customer service representatives. People’s attention spans are getting shorter and customers expect instant communication when receiving customer service. Also, according to Microsoft’s State of Global Customer Service Report, 2 in 3 customers expect omni-channel communication with call centers when experiencing an issue. Your software should allow you to provide customers with multiple real-time communication options when in contact, including video calls, live chat, and SMS texting.
Depending on your call center’s needs and customers, you may need to provide hands-on assistance to customers by using a screen sharing tool. This can allow you to walk customers through technical issues in real-time and avoid the complications of explaining the process over the phone. It can also ensure you are resolving the customer’s problem in an efficient and timely manner.
A customer that calls in may schedule a follow-up appointment with an agent to resolve an issue. They may also schedule an appointment online using your website. Many call center software today have an appointment reminder feature, which notifies customers of their appointment via text, email, or another preferred method. Alternatively, you might designate an appointment setting service department if you do not have an appointment reminder tool included with your software.
A good call center software will integrate with your CRM system. It's very important for agents to have a place to store call data so it can be later utilized by other agents, as well as used for data analytics purposes. Making sure to enter information into your CRM during every call can help your call center reduce ticket resolution times, improve customer satisfaction, and boost performance overall.
Similarly, you will want to make sure your call center software has reporting and analytics tools so you can measure your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Data analytics tools in your software should be able to tell you crucial information such as average call times, calls per day per agent, average wait time, average abandonment rate, customer satisfaction and more. Your team will want to use this data to improve performance moving forward.
Pricing for call center software depends on the size of your call center and how many agents will be using it. Usually, software companies offer different “tiers” of pricing and packages. These tiers include different prices per agent based on included features and capabilities. Often, larger or enterprise call centers will choose pricier, more robust packages while smaller call enters might choose basic packages.
- Small call centers: $50-$125 per agent
- Mid-size call centers: $100-$200 per agent
- Large or enterprise call centers: $200+ per agent
Learn further details about the cost of call center software.
Luckily, there are tons of call center software options to choose from today. Your choice will depend on what features you need, your budget, the software’s available CRM integrations, among other factors. To help you get started comparing your options, here’s a few leaders in the call center software industry, widely used by many different types of companies:
You can also use our free tool here at 360Connect to compare your options! We match you with a call center software provider based on your unique needs.