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What is Call Center Software? Analysis of Features, Benefits and Pricing

Category: B2B News
What is call center software?

It is a system that allows businesses to manage multiple communication channels such as phone, email, live chat, instant messaging, SMS text, and social media. It can be used as a part of a customer support or help desk software with a ticketing feature to help agents respond to customer queries and resolve issues.

Modern businesses are faced with numerous sources and types of communication which they can utilize to their advantage. A set of technology they can use to harness today’s multiple communication channels is call center software. Call center software comes in many forms and functions including auto dialer, call center monitors, call accounting solutions, call analytics, predictive dialer, computer telephony integration (CTI), interactive voice response (IVR), and automatic call distributor (ACD).

Advancements in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and hosted software has made a reality the hosted call center environment requiring the most basic components – a PC, a browser and a phone. With a call center solution, you can now easily set up your own dedicated call center hub that can undertake quality monitoring, call recording, speech/text analytics, virtual queuing/web callback, and social media support. What is call center software? It is your tool for enhancing your help desk and boosting customer support which are service areas you should do well to focus on for the reasons we’ll tackle next.

Despite its seemingly diminishing status and the wide availability of self-service channels, the phone is still a favored tool by customers. A research study by Harvard Business Review found out that 57% of customers end up shifting from web to phone (inbound call) for support. Meanwhile, according to eConsultancy, customers prefer the following support channels when they need help: phone, email, live chat, online knowledge base, and “click to call” support automation. On the side of businesses, a Contact Center Survey revealed that 62% of organizations view customer experience provided through contact centers as a competitive differentiator.

Top 5 Support Channels Preferred by Customers

Credits: econsultancy.com

In this article, we’ll examine the many aspects of call center software, including the following:

  1. Types of Call Center Software
  2. What Does Call Center Software Do?
  3. How Does Call Center Software Work?
  4. Advantages of Call Center Software
  5. Features of Call Center Software
  6. Cost of Call Center Software
  7. Examples of Call Center Software

Types of Call Center Software

The purpose of call center software is to help businesses manage customer communication coming from multiple channels and sources. Depending on how communications are processed and how the system is deployed, call center software can be classified into the following:

  1. On-premise call center systems. These are usually sold with on-time utilization license where the company user takes care of the upgrade and maintenance of the call center. These normally require installation of private branch hardware and equipment and are the most professional type of call centers, although they are also the most expensive.
  2. Cloud-based call center systems. These are also SaaS models with the call center hosted in cloud, accessible from anywhere without need for downloading or installing the software. These are the most affordable call center systems.

What Does Call Center Software Do?

To answer the question – what does call center software do? – we have to comprehend it basic purpose and function. The platform basically allows a company or organization to run a call center with the goal of extending support to customers for their inquiries, and to serve as a help desk for customer issues. It clears the way for customer communication with your company, allowing them the means to interact and engage with your company relating matters involving your business, products, and services. Now communication through the call center system is two-way – customer to you, and you to your customer (marketing, promotions, feedback, deals, offers, etc).

To do all the above and more, call center software is built with functionalities to facilitate that two-way communication. You can utilize features for voicemails, emails, support ticket, chat, and conferencing, among others. To get comprehensive information about callers, call center systems provide integration capabilities with CRMs, helpdesks, ecommerce platforms, marketing software, and chat systems. Integrated call center software can show you the caller’s previous purchase history, voicemails, notes, cases, phone calls with the company, chat transcripts, support tickets, and others. All the functionalities allow agents to deliver better service, streamline workflows, and get rid of entering redundant information into multiple systems.

Freshcaller offers an interactive voice response system (IVR) that lets you route customer calls to agents with a customizable call flow mechanism.

How Does Call Center Software Work?

The workings of call center software will determine the level of quality of the support service and help you’ll provide to your customers. How does call center software work? Call center software is first and foremost a management solution used by organizations to administer the incoming calls and communication related to product support or informational queries. Likewise, it is also used to make outbound calls to targeted audience for product marketing and sales. Call center software typically facilitates the following steps:

  1. The system identifies the customer by checking the unique entry in the database (DB), and if the caller is not in the DB then the software usually adds the new caller’s entry for future reference.
  2. If the caller’s entry is in the DB, the records are accessed and showed to the agent when they get a call, equipping the agent with enough information about the customer including issue history before handling the call.
  3. When the caller has provided a reply to the automated response or by verbal acknowledgment, the call is properly queued according to the mapping in the DB (usually based on agent skills set and the queue name).
  4. As the call is pushed to the queue, all agents that are mapped to that queue can pick up the call manually or take it as an automatic assignment based on a scheduling system.
  5. Upon taking the call, the agent can assist the customer by giving instructions over the call or through email, having supervisors/senior agents in on the call for guidance and faster resolution, or even by taking remote access to the caller’s system.
  6. If the issue is not resolved at that time, the system allows the agent to keep of the interactions with the customer, and can do regular follow-up to keep track on the status and progress.
  7. Based on the customer’s response, an agent can indicate the status of the ticket as open, closed, resolved, or requires follow-up.
  8. When the status of the ticket is marked as “closed”, an automated survey call or email is sent to the customer for feedback, the results of which can be utilized by the company for its marketing strategies or other purposes.

As you can see from the steps above, system streamlines an otherwise tedious process and makes the job of call center agents easier and less complicated, ensuring efficiency and productivity to assigned personel, and providing quality and prompt support to customers.

Five9: Mixes inbound and outbound capabilities to boost agents’ productivity.

Advantages of Call Center Software

Why use call center software? What is call center software but a system designed for efficiency and productivity, maximizing the use of communication technology to engage and interact with your customers especially in addressing their issues. The overall goal is to enable you business to provide the best customer support, on time help, and optimal customer experience. Here are the following advantages of call center software:

  1. Lower costs. On premise call center solutions will require you to come up with fully capable components, hardware, and application which, of course, translate to an investment that may take a longer time to recoup. However, the more popular and budget friendly SaaS and hosted solutions can provide you a call center system without the worry of installation, hardware, upgrades, and maintenance while keeping the system secured and up all the time. The definitely equates to lower cost.
  2. Small remote teams. Unless you run a large BPO operation, having small dedicated teams would suffice for most of your customer support requirements. Adding to your cost savings is having remote agents for your virtual call centers. They can be at any geographical location and as long as they have internet connected devices, they form part of your team.
  3. Enhanced security. Call center software, especially cloud or hosted platforms, carry security features to keep your call center operation safe and running all the time. It is therefore vital that you get a reliable provider that has robust security protocols, compliance, and maintenance of the system.
  4. Operational flexibility. Today’s call center software is out-of-the-box, all-in-one solution, being able to do so much more than managing calls and information. They are easy to use even by new agents and are designed to adapt to multiple types of operations simultaneously. The software can be integrated with your existing apps for CRM, CEM, e-commerce, marketing solutions, and others, giving you a powerful platform. It is also highly configurable to meet all sorts of organizational needs.
  5. Productivity booster. Call center software is packed with intuitive and automated features such as auto-dialers, monitoring tools, time routing, prioritization, and call route matrices. Each system works on KPIs to measure the productivity of each agent, and to reveal real-time feedback on how you customer support is actually doing.
  6. Improved customer relationships. Improving customer relations starts with delivering the best customer support. One survey found that 80% of companies say they deliver “superior” customer service but only 8% of customers think so. Call center software gives you the means to provide optimal, reliable and prompt customer service. Customer is king, and if they feel their issues are taken for granted, they can easily churn which you wouldn’t want for your business.

Features of Call Center Software

We can only fully understand what is call center software by learning about its features. Here are some of the key functions and features of call center software:

  1. Controlled Telephony. Call center software is just like your typical phone but reengineered for call control with a mouse click enabling you to hold, transfer, or mute callers. Of course the system can do more than just voice calls; it can do live chat, conferencing, email, and even respond to social media messages.
  2. Automatic Call Distributors. ACD comprises the heart of every good call center. It enables route calls to the most appropriate agent without you being involved in the process, while monitoring performance and gathering information.
  3. Interactive Voice Responses. IVR is the ‘meanwhile feature’ that takes care of callers before/after they are connected to the appropriate agents. These could be message greetings, service prompts menu, or waiting queue coverage.
  4. Call Queues. These are used by virtual call centers so that customers don’t ‘disappear’ after being told that they have to wait. Each department/agent gets specifically designed waiting queue where customers arrive after being skills routed; and a special dashboard is used to measure statistics based on real-time data.
  5. Disposition Codes. This feature tags the outcome of every call such as ‘Not interested’, ‘Transferred to IT support’, ‘Refunded’, and so on. Agents select the code from a special menu, and attach it in the profile of a particular caller.
  6. Call Barging. Developed for new agents, this gets to transfer the call to the manager (without informing the client about it) who can drop in on the agent’s behalf using a feature called whisper coaching.
  7. Predictive and Power Dialers. Used primarily to inform a client when an agent becomes available, and can even make calls automatically and connect the agent to a group of callers.
  8. Voicemail and Notifications. These allow customers to leave a message for the agent when he is not available. Advanced systems are capable of transcribing messages, or email them to the agent to keep messages within the activity feed.
  9. Real-Time and Historical Reporting. The reporting feature is view and learn about metrics including number of calls per day/line/agent/department, average duration, average abandoning rate, waiting time, service level, and more.
  10. Integration. This significantly extends the functionality of the system, allowing it to work with third-party apps to secure more client/caller information, process and analyze customer data, build up customer relations, and do other tasks right within a single platform.

Vocalcom’s agent group lets you bundle together customer types.

Cost of Call Center Software

Except for on-premise systems which will definitely require considerable capital outlay, hosted and cloud solutions offered as SaaS have become popular options because of their affordability and flexibility. SaaS models are usually made available by vendors in three or four pricing plans through monthly/annual subscription fee or payment, and depending on the features tucked in. Some plans even go for free. Here are examples of the cost of call center software, how vendors stack up on pricing with their basic plans on one end and their most advanced offerings at the other end.

  1. Freshcaller: Sprout – free; Garden – $40/agent per month
  2. Sharpen: Voice Only – $20/user per month; Customer Care+Sales Accelerator – $130/user per month
  3. Nectar Desk: Has free plan; Basic – $29/agent per month; $99/agent per month
  4. CrazyCall: Plan A – $10/user per month; Plan B – $20/user per month; Plan C – $40/user per month
  5. PhoneWagon: Starter – $39/ month; Enterprise – $249/month

Examples of Call Center Software

To give you an idea of this market niche and how they differ from each other, here are top examples of call center software.

  1. Freshcaller is the call center product from the well-known Freshworks family of business solutions. The cloud-hosted call center ad multi-level IVR solution allows you to purchase local, international, toll-free, and vanity numbers in over 40 countries worldwide. Requiring only your browser to make and receive calls, set interactive voice responses, and queue up callers, Freshcaller provides your agents a top of the line, hassle-free cloud telephony that can be deployed and used right away. Aside from essential call center features, the software offers an intelligent collaboration system that uses smart notifications and in-place editing for agents to come up with more contextual responses.
  2. Five9 is a mix of inbound and outbound capabilities that combine to create Active Blending. You can use the platform to maximize your agents’ productive time and respond proactively to your customers. The blending capability allows you, for instance, to adjust your contact center traffic and always prioritize inbound customer service calls. The dynamic and predictive dialer technology automatically moves outbound agents to inbound queues and, when there are no inbound calls in queue, shifts to outbound call processing.
  3. Vocalcom Cloud Contact Center is a cloud-based, scalable platform that lets you easily add agents, customize reports, and design IVRs. It supports voice, chat, email, SMS, Twitter, and Facebook – all from one place. It goes beyond Web chat and audio communication to include video and co-browsing, and seamless transition from self-service to live service. It preserves the context of previous interactions, and can quickly be deployed as an always-on, secure contact center solution using a pay-as-you-go model.
  4. PlayVox is monitoring software for live chat, email and phone designed to help businesses analyze how the customer support staff interacts with actual customers. It aims to enhance performance and customer experience, and can create a QA monitoring program in minutes. Customer interactions can be analyzed in all channels for a robust evaluation of coaching and motivation. At the same time, PlayVox also helps businesses train their customer support staff for better performance and improved customer experience.
  5. Convoso provides a simple to use, yet powerful inbound and outbound call center platform designed to supercharge your call center productivity. Their all-in-one products are equipped with proprietary and market-leading features and functionality that cater to call centers of any size – from outbound call centers ranging from 1-10 seats to inbound, outbound, and blended call centers from 11-1000+ seats. The systems require no hardware or phones to make calls as it uses a softphone that only needs an active internet connection.
  6. Deskforce comes equipped with a suite of real-time communication solutions designed for effective client engagement. This includes inbound and outbound calls as well as messaging and SMS notifications and support. One of its unique features is the Atomic Dialer, a predictive dialing tool that validates your leads, phone numbers, as well as their time zone to greatly reduce the number of unanswered calls from your agents. The system is entirely cloud-based and boasts a high degree of scalability.
  7. YakoVoice is a business telephony software that aims to centralize communication channels and boost customer engagement. It comes with IVR solutions, a call center software, a call management system, as well as SMS management functionalities so that you get a fully integrated business communication experience. In addition to its comprehensive set of features, the platform also takes pride in offering superb call quality and redundant cloud infrastructure.

Is Call Center Software Right For You?

If you care enough to provide your customers with the best customer support and would like to efficiently manage your company’s inbound and outbound communications from multiple contact channels, then you can’t go wrong with having call center software. It significantly reduces the strain on your customer support team, streamlines the process of who should take care of customer issues, allows you two-way communication to engage with your customers while building your relations with them, and gives you better control and overview of what works or not with your support system. There are just so many benefits that call center software can provide you that it becomes a truly vital addition to your customer support tools. You know this and we’ve said it again and again that customer is king and needs royal treatment and support, because the resulting returns can be huge for your business. Fortunately, you have a solution in call center software fit for royalty, without you having to come up with a king-sized budget.

By Jenny Chang

Senior writer at FinancesOnline who writes about a wide range of SaaS and B2B products, including trends and issues on e-commerce, accounting and customer service software. She’s also covered a wide range of topics in business, science, and technology for websites in the U.S., Australia and Singapore, keeping tabs on edge tech like 3D printed health monitoring tattoos and SpaceX’s exploration plans.

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