Most of today’s call center software platform tools offer call blending — the ability to make and receive phone calls — and the ability to use SMS and emails from their control dashboard either natively or via a plug-in app.
Some also offer the ability to receive and respond to the following types of messages in your dashboard:
- MMS: MMS, a more sophisticated version of SMS text messages, allows for the sending of more text as well as URL links, emojis, videos and images.
- Messaging apps: You can send and receive messages from customers using apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Apple Business Chat, WeChat and more.
- Social media platforms: Customers can get in touch with you via private messaging on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and you can respond to them.
- Live chat: Often called webchat, these are pop-up windows that appear on websites where customers can ask you questions. Many live chat apps are powered by AI, handling customers’ questions initially before transferring them to an agent using their call center dashboard.
- Video chat: Video chat is a modified version of video conferencing where you can set up a one-on-one video call with a customer.
No one platform offers complete coverage of every communication platform or channel. The good news, however, is that most platforms either have APIs or integrations allowing you to extend your range of platforms and channels.
Supervisors and Managers
For your supervisors and managers, look out for the following features:
Interactive Voice Response
An IVR system can help your customer service by managing inbound telephone calls. When a customer dials in, they are greeted with a prerecorded message followed by a number of options — for example, sales, customer service, technical support and so on. They either key in or speak their response to the IVR. You can add multiple layers of menus to IVR systems to drill down precisely on what a customer wants to give them the best chance of being connected with the right agent.
Look out for systems with intuitive IVR path designers that allow you to change menu options and depths to improve customer experience and cut down on the time it takes to get connected to an agent.
Reporting and Forecasting
Nearly all call center software comes with out-of-the-box prebuilt reports with standard metrics like average call time, number of resolutions, sales revenue, and so on. They, together with custom-built reports you can tailor to your own company’s KPIs, can drive down call answer times, call durations and missed calls as well as drive up first-call resolutions and completed sales. By analyzing team and individual performance, you can also identify training opportunities and areas of service you need greater coverage in.
Some call center software packages offer workforce management tools, either as part of their system or via third-party apps. Based on historical order and call volumes, you get a much clearer idea of how many staff you need and, crucially, which staff you need depending on skills.
Routing Calls and Messages
Most call center software offers one or more of the following types of inbound call routing:
- AI routing: Using a mixture of artificial intelligence and semantic analysis, a chatbot determines whether someone getting in touch needs to speak with a sales, customer service or support agent.
- Skills-based routing: Supervisors can assign various skills to each agent to help the call center software better direct calls for first-contact resolution. For example, if someone were an expert with a particular feature, customers inquiring about that product would be directed to that agent.
- Data-driven routing: Using the option chosen by a caller on the IVR or question asked via message, data gathered from an integrated CRM and skills assigned to particular agents, the call center software directs a call or message to the agent most likely to help them.
- Omnichannel routing: Omnichannel routing allows calls and messages to reach agents from any channel, whether phone, email, SMS/MMS, social media or private messaging app.
Many of the platforms also offer queue callback. With queue callback, a caller can keep their place in the line but hang up after they give over their contact number. When it’s their turn, the call center software dials the customer’s number.
When it comes to outbound calling, some services offer an auto-dialer, which helps company reps speak to as many customers and prospects as possible. It does this by having preloaded lists of customers and prospects and getting the call center software to dial out instead of the rep.
Improving Agent Performance
Many call center software features allow managers and supervisors to train agents on the job to ensure they have the best chance of hitting sales targets and other KPIs.
Most software includes call recording. Via their dashboard, supervisors can select individual calls to listen back to for review. They can then go through these calls with the agents and point out areas for potential improvement. Some call center software systems will also transcribe calls so a supervisor and their agent can both hear and read a call under review.
Most systems also offer call whispering or call barging. With call whispering, a supervisor can speak directly to your agent on a call without the customer being able to hear them. With call barging, both parties can hear the supervisor. Some systems alert supervisors to calls that have gone on for longer than expected so they use the call monitoring function to see if they need to intervene.
Screen recording records the call and what’s happening on an agent’s dashboard during the call. Supervisors use this to see if an agent is using their dashboard correctly and in such a way as to deliver the best possible outcome.
Delivering Better Outcomes
Some software allows for customer tagging. For example, you can change a tag from “prospect” to “customer” so that they get connected to the customer service team when they call in instead of the sales team. Likewise, you can tag the highest-spending customers to give them priority in the call queue.
Knowledge banks are slowly starting to appear on call center software systems too. You can create a knowledge bank for customers containing instructions on how to use a product, how to access certain features and so on. A growing number of customers want self-service and knowledge banks meet this need. Likewise, you can create internal knowledge banks for your customer services and technical support teams so that they get to know the products they’re advising on better and how to handle customers on a call.
Call Center Agents and Reps
Agents and reps have dashboard screens different from supervisors specifically designed to help them do their job the best.
- A popular tool is screen pops. When a customer calls in, the call center software recognizes their number. Their details then pop up on the screen together with the service choice they made on the IVR. The customer gets served faster and your agents can process more calls during a shift.
- Particularly useful for inexperienced reps and agents are AI prompts. When a customer replies to a question or makes a request, the rep or agent chooses the most relevant option to get prompts on what to say next.
- Perhaps of greatest use to outbound sales reps is dynamic scripting. With this, they receive prompts from the system on product features, how to overcome objections and ways to close the sale.
- Workforce engagement apps, primarily designed to incentivize agents and reps to perform better and reduce staff churn, now appear in some call center software packages either built-in or as add-on apps. Part of their approach is gamification where agents and reps are rewarded for hitting KPIs live on screen.