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Features of Call Center Systems

Sean Peek
Sean Peek
business.com Contributing Writer
Updated Sep 20, 2022

These systems are equipped with features that simplify customer service and client management for businesses.

A call center system should reduce business costs while improving a call center team’s performance. Not every call center system is built equally, however. Each comes with numerous features tackling diverse issues – with varying degrees of success. Call center systems today are bursting with state-of-the-art functionality, bringing immense flexibility to users and customers. 

Top call center features

Your organization may not need every call center system feature available. We’re highlighting some of the top features that help many businesses improve customer service and boost productivity. Determine what features your company needs before investing in a call center system. 

Automatic call distribution

Automatic call distribution (ACD) is a system that automatically routes callers to relevant individuals, drastically reducing wasted time and resources. Some form of ACD is a must for typical call centers. 

ACD systems distribute calls according to user-specified criteria, such as sending the call to an idle phone or sending calls about billing to the accounting department. These systems range from straightforward pushbutton virtual operators to those that use caller ID or voice recognition.

Call center monitoring and analytics

Call center monitoring and analytics tools are essential for call centers. Scrutinizing call duration, costs and other valuable metrics helps supervisors and managers make informed decisions on staffing, employee performance and training. 

Some of the best call center systems provide real-time statistics, letting you know what’s going on in the call center second by second. Historical reporting allows you to compile hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and annual statistics for detailed long-term analysis.

Call recording 

Call recording is valuable for training and monitoring, allowing supervisors and operators to record and store phone calls as audio files on the server. However, the storage requirements for call recording can be quite large. 

Third-party-hosted systems and cloud-hosted systems are better suited for this function because they make it easy for you to upgrade your storage space without having to buy new hardware.

TipTip: If you’re looking for a cloud-hosted system to store call recordings and other data, check out our reviews of the best cloud storage and online backup services to find the right solution.

Editor’s note: Looking for a call center system? For help finding the right solution for your business, fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.

Call transfer and three-way calling

Being able to transfer a caller to another department or permit access to a third party is essential for virtually all call centers. Few systems are sold without these features, but it’s worth checking just in case.

Contact management

Contact management systems let you tag and store different calls with relevant information attached to the call file. These systems enhance customer management because they provide historical records of all calls by an individual account holder.

Computer telephony integration

Computer telephony integration (CTI) systems use desktop PCs as telephone systems. CTI software packages enable a desktop computer to serve and display all call-related functions, such as providing caller information, routing calls to other workstations and controlling the phone system. 

Most call center systems utilize some form of CTI. Usually, a simple USB headset is all that’s necessary to turn a standard PC running CTI software into a complete call center workstation.

Workstation recording

Understanding operator needs is another way to streamline a call center and make it run more efficiently. Workstation data recording lets you make a video of what’s happening on an operator’s screen. You can analyze the recording to learn how operators use the system, which tricks they know that could help others and which problems they’re having that management can address.

Interactive voice response

Interactive voice response (IVR) uses voice-recognition software to allow callers to route themselves to specific departments. IVR solutions vary in sophistication, from simple routing functionality to intricate systems that allow customers to access their accounts. At the high end, IVR empowers customers to serve themselves, reducing the workload for human operators.

TipTip: Read our reviews of the best voice recognition software to learn more about the capabilities of today’s voice recognition systems.

Live call coaching

Live call coaching allows a third person, such as a manager or trainer, to interact with an operator without the caller hearing. Live call coaching systems help with training and mentoring.

Performance evaluation

By monitoring an operator’s performance, you can identify gaps in training and areas where you may need to write a performance improvement plan. Call center systems with performance evaluation abilities can create reports, graphs and other data while measuring employee performance.

Predictive dialer

Predictive dialers are helpful for call centers that make many outbound calls, allowing the system to call a list of phone numbers simultaneously. Operators are connected only when someone picks up. 

Predictive dialer systems can save time and prevent operators from having to wait for someone to answer a call. They also monitor operator availability to ensure that calls aren’t made when no operators are available for call routing if someone answers.

Speech analytics

Speech analytics is a sophisticated process that analyzes customer voices and interactions to identify whether they meet specific business criteria, such as being genuinely interested in an offer or merely being polite with no intention of buying. 

Speech analytics is an inexact science, so this method isn’t always reliable. Still, some call centers have successfully used these capabilities to identify the most promising leads.

Technical support

Technical support is necessary for any third-party-hosted system. However, for self-managed and cloud-based systems, technical support can range from nonexistent to highly generous. 

Before purchasing a call center system, ask the company about 24-hour phone support, 24-hour live chat support and virtual management (where technicians can fix problems via secure remote access).

Hold music

Call center systems allow agents to play music while a customer is on hold. Although it may seem trivial, hold music can play a significant role in keeping a customer on the line while an operator fulfills a request. Dead silence can be quite jarring, and a customer is more likely to hang up and file a complaint if there is nothing to fill the void.  

Voicemail to email or text

Some call center systems can translate a voicemail into text and forward the information as a message or email. If a caller makes a request, the system can forward it to the appropriate representative immediately, even if they’re engaged in another activity. Messaging allows for faster conflict resolution and better overall customer service for your business.

What is a call center system?

A call center system is a collection of software tools that supports your call center team during telephone interactions with customers and clients. Call center systems are divided into inbound and outbound systems.

  • Inbound call center systems provide streamlined technical support and service order intakes. 
  • Outbound call center systems specialize in supporting teams during customer acquisition, telemarketing and collecting customer satisfaction data. 

We can further divide inbound and outbound call center systems into on-premises call center systems and cloud-based call center systems.

  • On-premises call center systems are tool packages custom-tailored for individual companies onsite. They usually require private hardware installation with company-implemented upgrades and maintenance. An on-premises call center system is typically the most professional call center system.
  • Cloud-based call center systems are typically the most flexible form of call center systems. They are tool packages a call center team can access anywhere without downloading or installing software. A cloud-based system is typically sold as a software service model that provides tool maintenance. As remote working arrangements gain popularity, cloud-based call center systems will continue to improve.

TipTip: If your business needs to outsource customer service operations, evaluate the best call center services to find one compatible with your industry, budget and other needs.

Costs of call center systems

Call center system costs depend on multiple factors. Is the call center system on-premises or cloud-based? How many call center agents will use the system? Which tools will the call center team use? Does the call center already have the necessary hardware and equipment? 

There is no one-price-fits-all model for a call center system, but here’s a snapshot of two possible price quotes.

  • On-premises model: This is by far the most expensive call center system option, but it ensures greater security and control. A business will likely spend $1,200 per agent with at least $250 worth of hardware per agent. The call center will also likely invest about $45,000 in the center’s software and equipment. An additional $20,000 should be set aside for tech support and software upgrades. An on-premises call center system will cost at least $72,250 for a five-agent team.
  • Cloud-based model: A cloud-based model can save a business serious money if properly implemented and chosen. An ongoing monthly rate of at least $50 is associated with the flexible model. Each agent will also cost $120 per month on average. There are increased savings when more agents are included in the model. A cloud-based model will cost approximately $7,800 per year for a five-agent team.

Top call center systems

The following call center systems are excellent choices for businesses with various needs. 

Nextiva

Nextiva’s cloud-based call center system differs from those offered by other phone systems through its internal CRM, which helps reduce the number of applications a call center team needs to use on a daily basis. 

Nextiva provides a cloud-based call center system bursting with communication tools to provide a straightforward user experience. To learn more, read our in-depth Nextiva review.

Dialpad 

Dialpad’s unique hybrid call center system allows total flexibility for business users. Dialpad was designed with desktop and mobile app users in mind. It sets itself apart from the competition with integrated artificial intelligence tools to enhance the user experience. 

Dialpad offers three different service plans to allow a business to tailor its call center system. Read our complete Dialpad review to find out more details.

8×8

With its 17 worldwide data centers, 8×8 offers optimal service plan flexibility in its cloud-based communications software package, providing unrivaled reliable service to growing businesses. We explore more of the company’s features and functionality in our 8×8 review.

Go Answer

Go Answer, an inbound call specialist, offers multiple pricing plans to meet the needs of small, medium and large call centers. Go Answer also offers some outbound call center system tools, including customer follow-ups, market research and lead qualification support. The service requires a one-time $75 setup fee. To learn more, check out our full review of Go Answer.

Five Star Call Centers

Five Star Call Centers offers the best selection of outbound call center system tools, including upselling, cross-selling, recruiting, market research, cold calling, follow-ups and fundraising tools. Five Star Call Centers requires a minimum of $3,000 for outbound campaigns, but it does not require a long-term contract. Find out more in our in-depth Five Star Call Centers review.

Signius Communications

If a business has a low number of calls each month, then Signius Communications might be the solution. The company specializes in providing reasonable rates for low-volume users. Its base plan starts at $45 per month for 50 minutes of answering services, with additional pricing models available. Learn more by reading our review of Signius Communications.

Chad Brooks contributed to the writing and research in this article.

 

Image Credit:

Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Sean Peek
Sean Peek
business.com Contributing Writer
Sean Peek has written more than 100 B2B-focused articles on various subjects including business technology, marketing and business finance. In addition to researching trends, reviewing products and writing articles that help small business owners, Sean runs a content marketing agency that creates high-quality editorial content for both B2B and B2C businesses.