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Call Center Software Buyer's Guide - Why Do You Want A Call Center System?

Call Center Software Buyer's Guide - Why Do You Want A Call Center System?

Published: 03/27/2011

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Why Do You Want A Call Center System?

Call centers – increasingly called “contact centers” as they incorporate inquires from web, e-mail, and fax sources in addition to phone calls – depend on technology. Call center systems provide benefits such as instant routing of important customers to the best agents, reduced hold times, more efficient scheduling of employees, and detailed reporting.



One distinction to note is between call center software and customer relationship management (CRM) applications. Call center software manages interactions, helping customers and corporations communicate with each other more efficiently. CRM applications are more focused on collecting and acting on information about your customers. Call center systems can connect to CRM systems to be more effective, but they don’t replace them.



A modern call center system provides several distinct and important benefits. The three main categories, all of which are interrelated, are: improving customer service, increasing efficiency and reducing costs, and improving management and reporting.



Your evaluation will depend on what’s most important to you -- if you see a call center as a “necessary evil,” you’ll want to focus on reducing costs. If customer service is a cornerstone of your business philosophy, you’ll want to emphasize that aspect in your search.




Improve customer service


The right call center system can have an immediate impact on customer satisfaction. Reducing hold times, letting callers know how long they’ll be waiting, and connecting them to the right agent or department the first time will all improve customers’ perception of your company. This can be an important differentiator for your business, particularly in highly competitive industries.



In addition, customer expectations are higher than ever. They want to get the same service no matter how they contact you – phone, email, or web. They expect you to have their information at your fingertips when they call, and if they called about a problem last week, they don’t want to explain the situation again. Upgrading can help you meet these expectations and keep customers from getting frustrated.



A good call center system works for people who are deaf or have a hearing or speech impediment, as well. This can include a special TTY number or text telephones and text-to-speech technologies. Depending on your customer base, you may also want to consider a system that can manage callers and agents who speak multiple languages.




Improve efficiency and reduce costs


Depending on the solution you choose, an investment now can reduce your costs almost immediately. You may be able to handle more calls with the same amount of staff, or the same number of calls more efficiently.



Despite the hefty price tag for call center hardware and software, the biggest expense in a call center is people. Since improved call handling can shave 10 or 20 seconds off each call, a call center that takes hundreds of calls per day will quickly save hours of valuable time per agent.





Better manage the call center


Many call centers suffer from a lack of information. You may know how many calls come in per day, but do you know what times of the day are busiest? Which agents have the best time-per-call averages or upsell rates? Or how many callers hang up while in the queue?



A call center system can provide a wide variety of reports that give you detailed information, from live statistics on hold times and drop-off rates to yearly overviews of the entire operation. This can allow you to improve your scheduling of agents, reducing under- and over-staffing with their associated costs, and help identify your most successful agents and those who need additional training.




What about technology?

Some companies approach call center system purchases from a technology angle, instead of one of the business reasons listed above. For example, a company may simply decide that skills-based routing is essential to their call center planning, or growth requires them to upgrade their entire call center. In those cases, there is usually an underlying business need, but the priority is on solving a technology challenge.



For example, an upgrade might be driven by the desire to handle an increasing volume of email inquiries the same way you handle phone calls. This still has a business reason behind it: meeting customers’ expectations of your support processes, and making better use of your call center by integrating email management.



If your purchasing decision is being driven purely by technology, we recommend that you consider what business drivers are important in addition to the technology. Recognizing your priorities will help you ask the right questions to narrow your options.