Small Call Center Software
If you have a small call center to handle sales and customer service, you can’t afford to not be quick and responsive to each and every caller. You likely get a high number of calls every day, and those calls are of the utmost importance because subpar customer service can do irreparable damage to your business. That’s where quality call center phone system software can help.
The problem is, if you don’t have the call volume of a large call center, it can be tough to justify investing in a full-blown call center application. After all, the features and associated costs that come with a large call center system can seem like overkill for smaller operations or companies whose primary business is not a “call center”.
What you really need are the most important features that typically come with a large call center application, but within a small business budget.
So let’s look at what small contact centers actually need in their call center software and how they can get all the features they need (and more) without spending a fortune.
What to look for in Call Center Software
With visibility into call queues, you can see who is handling calls and who is available to take calls, increasing the productivity of your agents. Because they are handling more than phone calls, you'll want one system that lets you manage calls, chat, email and more.
IVRs are sophisticated auto attendants that can perform basic tasks such as fielding answers to yes/no questions without requiring the time of your team members. They can also perform tasks such as refilling prescriptions, taking payments, and surveying callers.
You’ve likely experienced an IVR if you’ve called a business or organization and heard something to the effect of:
"Thank you for calling [Company Name]. If you know your party's extension ..."
That’s an IVR. It saves you money by handling repetitive tasks that would otherwise take the time and attention of a human, and IVRs should come standard with most call center apps.
In a call center phone system, callers are typically placed in a queue in the order in which they call. These call queues are then assigned to the appropriate agent or agents. An Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) essentially handles the distribution of calls by assigning each call a priority level then sending them into the right call queues. ACDs use factors such as order, urgency, importance, and more to determine call priority. These factors ultimately serve as a part of a larger “queue strategy”, which can vary depending on your call center’s preference.
With on demand or scheduled reports, you can get graphs and statistics on call volume, average wait times, call performance, etc. This allows you to know how to route calls during off-hours or how to appropriately staff your business to handle the call volume. With access to the data, you'll be able to monitor the trends that are affecting your business, so you can make corrections and manage your business more effectively.
When you take a relatively large number of calls on a daily basis, it’s important to have documentation of those calls. Having the ability to record calls enables call centers to reference calls during customer resolution situations as well as during training. A quality call center software solution will typically come with the capability to record calls both manually and automated based on a schedule or set of rules.
One important aspect of running a call center of any size is the importance of being able to see the real-time status of individual call center members. It’s important for the rest of the team to know whether individuals are on the phone or otherwise unavailable. It saves time and makes the call center team as a whole more productive. A good call center app should let each member set his/her own presence, log in and out of a queue, and even leave a note about when they’ll return.
Similar to customer service chat, call center software’s integrated chat provides internal communications between managers and team members. This eliminates the need for third party chat services when employees and administrators want to communicate with one another.
Things can get hectic sometimes within call centers, and it’s not always possible to answer every call. When an agent can’t get free to answer a call, good call center apps should enable other team members to drag and drop calls directly to their voicemail from a web interface.
Another useful feature many call center phone systems come with is the ability to automatically send voicemails to email. This makes it easy to check emails directly from your desktop or mobile device, which further streamlines operations and customer experience.
When you manage a team of call center agents, it’s important to be able to provide a consistent level of service from one agent to the next. To do so, you’ll want to make sure your call center software comes with training tools such as monitor, whisper, and barge.
Monitor, whisper and barge features let you monitor calls for improved customer experiences, make comments to your agent while they’re in calls without the third party hearing, or barge in on a call to help the caller and your agent.
Everyone knows waiting on hold can be extremely frustrating, especially if you’re calling in for support or customer service. When a caller is waiting for a representative, the small details can make a world of difference in their experience - and ultimately their attitude.
A good call center phone system should play a mix of music, marketing messages, and call queue status messages. Status messages, for example, let the caller know approximately how much longer he or she will have to wait. If their wait time is long, some call queueing systems will even offer the caller an opportunity to leave a callback number so they can hang up and go about their day until an agent is available. This is called virtual queueing, and it can be a very effective way to avoid or alleviate tension with perturbed callers.
Outbound call centers who place a large volume of calls often benefit from the assistance of dialers. Dialers come in several different forms, but their overall purpose is to make outbound calling easier, faster, and more efficient.
Desktop dialers allow users to dial numbers automatically with a click of a mouse instead of actually dialing every digit. Desktop dialers generally integrate with some type of CRM (customer relationship management) software.
Power dialers take it a step further by automatically dialing a number for every available agent. Then the system automatically dials another number as soon as an agent hangs up, streamlining the large scale outbound calling process.
Predictive dialers are more advanced and automated versions of power dialers. They have the ability to place calls, automatically determine if the answerer is human, then transfer that person to an agent. As you can imagine, this saves even more time by dialing even more numbers than available agents, further optimizing outbound calling.
Robo dialers go yet another step by completely automating the outbound calling process. This can be helpful for simple messages and notifications.
As useful as dialers can be, state laws often dictate when and how they can be used, so always check with the appropriate authorities before using dialers of any kind.