Are you in the market for new call center software and not exactly sure which features you need? Are you confused about the difference between an IVR and an ACD? Are you curious about how much call center software has evolved since you bought your on-premise solution 10 years ago?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, this blog post is for you! This post lists the most common call center software features as well as a description of each. It will bring you one step closer to finally selecting the call center software solution and features that meet your business needs, or give you a little insight into how call center software has progressed over the years.
The following are the most common call center software features:
Call center software would be nothing without telephony. In short, telephony is telecommunications technology. It allows for two or more people to communicate and is the heart of call center software. Most call center software solutions provide their own telephony, or let customers bring their own.
ACDs perform many essential functions and are therefore considered the backbone of a call center. They are a telephony system that routes incoming calls to the most appropriate agent within a call center. ACDs also acquire usage data such as call volume, calls handled, call duration, wait time, etc. They also allow for managers to engage in call monitoring, call conferencing, call barging and whisper coaching. Thus, ACDs are essential for any call center.
An IVR is an extremely common and helpful call center software feature. It is a telephony menu system that identifies, segments and routes callers to the most appropriate agent, department, waiting queue or pre-recorded message. In a typical IVR scenario, a caller first hears the IVR greeting and is then asked to choose from a series of prompts (e.g. “Press 1 for Sales, 2 for Support…”). The caller is then routed to the most appropriate team member or waiting queue based on their selection. Thus, IVRs are great for call centers that have unique teams or field different call types.
Skills-based routing functionality is essential for any call center that would like to optimize the service they provide their callers. Skills-based routing sends calls to specific agents, departments or teams based on customized rules. It works like this: 1) call center managers assign tags to their agents based on their department, unique skill-set, area of expertise, language, demographics, location or any other meaningful construct; 2) calls are routed to agents based on their assigned tags as well as the phone number the caller dialed to reach the company, the caller’s phone number, the caller’s IVR selection and the caller’s previous interactions with the company. Skills-based routing is an excellent way to ensure that callers are routed to the agent who is most qualified to meet their needs.
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Call queues hold callers in a waiting queue when all agents are busy. Most call center software solutions will allow managers to configure unique call queues for each department, agent, team or tags assigned to agents for skills-based routing purposes. Agents who have access to metrics in their dashboards can view call queue statistics so they can make informed decisions based on real-time data. Thus, call queues are essential for any team seeking to optimize their performance.
Automatic screen pop is a call center software feature that displays information about the caller automatically in the computer as the phone rings. This information can typically be customized to meet the call center’s needs, but by default displays the caller’s name, picture, phone number, address, email address, company, position within the company, phone number they dialed, etc. Automatic screen pop allows agents to provide a more personalized experience to their callers, even if it is the first time they have called their company.
More progressive call center software solutions integrate with business tools to provide comprehensive information about callers. The most common business tools to integrate with are CRMs, helpdesks, ecommerce platforms, marketing software and chat systems. Once integrated, the call center software will display the caller’s previous purchase history, phone calls with the company, chat transcripts, voicemails, notes, cases, support tickets, etc. With two-way synchronization of data, when an agent updates information about the customer in one business tool (i.e., their contact information, closes a support ticket, updates a case or writes a note), the information will automatically be added to all integrated business tools. Business tools integrations allow agents to provide better service, streamline workflow and eliminate the entering of redundant information into multiple systems.
Call control refers to basic call handling functionality such as hold, mute, conference, transfer and hang up. More progressive call center software solutions have call control functionality entirely in the browser, so call center agents can place callers on hold or transfer calls with a click of a mouse.
Disposition codes are descriptions of a final outcome of the call (i.e., “Not Interested”, “Followup Required”, “Escalated to Manager”, “Transferred to Tech Support”, “Refund Requested”, etc.). Once applied by the agent, the disposition code appears next to the call in the contact’s profile as well as on recent calls lists. Additionally, managers can view metrics for each disposition code. Disposition codes are a simple way to label calls to help keep an entire team on the same page about the outcome of the call.
Call recording is a call center software feature that records and saves live calls so they can be played at a later time. Call recordings are helpful for agents to reference before reaching out to a customer and for managers to check in on an agent’s performance when they can’t monitor live calls.
Call monitoring allows managers to listen in on live calls without the agent or caller knowing. Call monitoring is great for making sure that newly hired agents are up-to-speed and for keeping an eye on the performance of an entire team. More progressive call center software solutions run entirely in the browser so managers can monitor live calls from anywhere – as long as they have a computer and internet connection.
Call barging is a call center software feature that allows managers to drop in on live calls to speak with both the agent and the caller. This call center software feature is helpful when callers ask that their call be escalated to a manager and to optimize agent training.
Whisper coaching is a great feature for call center managers seeking to optimize agent training. Whisper coaching allows managers to drop in on a live call to speak with the agent without the caller knowing. Thus, it is extremely helpful for training new agents.
Conference calling is a helpful feature that allows dispersed teams to collaborate effectively. Call conferencing allows three or more people (i.e., callers, agents, managers, etc.) to talk with each other. This feature eliminates the hassle of transferring calls to another department when addressing more complex issues.
Voicemail is a call center software feature that allows callers to leave a message for an agent, department or company when they are not available. More progressive call center software solutions offer voicemail transcription which transcribes the voicemail and stores it in the caller’s activity feed. They also automatically send an email with the voicemail transcription to agents and managers. Voicemail, voicemail transcription and notifications help keep entire teams in the loop, no matter when their customers call.
A predictive dialer is a call center software dialer that automatically calls several contacts at the same time just before an agent becomes available. Once a caller answers, the predictive dialer transfers the live call to the available agent. Predictive dialers are features that are invaluable to outbound sales teams. They allow them to contact more leads, faster.
Click-to-call is a call center software feature that allows agents to click on any phone number within any business tool or website to make a call. Click-to-call works in call center software, CRM, helpdesk, Salesforce, ecommerce platform, marketing software and any website with a phone number. Click-to-call makes it simple for agents to place outbound calls and eliminates the hassle associated with dialing the wrong number.
Real-time reporting displays call center metrics in real-time in an agent and manager dashboard. These metrics often include service level, number of calls in queue, average abandonment time, longest wait time, etc. Real-time reporting is invaluable for agents and managers in making informed decisions based on up-to-date information.
Historical reporting displays call center metrics from any defined time point in the past. These metrics often include call volume, service level, handle time, abandonment time, wait time, etc. Historical reporting is essential when making staffing decisions, scheduling agents and assessing the performance of agents, teams, departments and the call center as a whole.
The most common call center software features listed above can completely change how your team interacts with their customers over the phone. If your current call center software solutions doesn’t provide all of them, or if some are not optimized, you could greatly benefit from migrating to a more modern call center software solution. Your customers will thank you for it.