Purchasing Call Centre Software

Contact Center solutions may appear similar on the surface, but once you start asking specific questions you will realize that not all of them will address your needs.

Let’s look at this typical scenario; your organisation invites vendors to demonstrate their product; They present their software in all its splendour, the presentation may appear flawless, they will even bring in an engineer to answer your specific technical questions.

In the real world, costs don’t end with the software purchase, licensing and installation of equipment. Costs for maintenance, upgrades, call centre staffing levels, training and other operational costs must also be considered. As with any software technology selection here are steps to take and avoid;

The Project Manager

Before the project gets underway, it’s critical that the right project manager be selected to run the show. Experience with the customer, the proposed solution and expertise with this particular technology is preferred. This is a very important step since the qualities of this particular individual will have a direct impact on the outcome of the project. They may be methodical, analytical and organised but they can also lack other qualities that are required to lead a project to its successful conclusion. Because the project manager must interact with many people (such as sponsors, senior management, client, and team members), it is important that that person have good “people skills.”

Time is a critical investment, independent research will result in strong financial and operational returns on your call centre budget. After all, a call centre is often the preferred method in which customers communicate with your business. The right software can transform the chaos into a symphony of efficiency, productivity and customer satisfaction When reviewing options for call centre software consider your specific criteria including functionality, implementation and cost.

Whether a call centre focuses on inbound calls or outbound calls, it must handle a large volume of calls and other communication methods simultaneously. Your agents must be able to forward customer inquiries to the appropriate representative or if necessary quickly escalate the call. Customers want and expect fast and accurate responses that deliver!

Depending on your organization’s needs, a contact centre may include a portfolio of productivity systems such as speech recognition software, interactive voice response (IVR), predictive dialling, call recording and monitoring, customer relationship management software, customer analytics and workforce management. But no matter how your contact centre is configured, there are a number of important considerations to take when purchasing call centre software.

References

It would be very wise to speak to at least 3 current users of the software vendors. They can reveal how their partner responds to technical support, ease-of-use and their training experience. Technical support and training is often treated as a given when all parties sit at the negotiation table. Review what technical support entails and the software’s ease-of-training to ensure new employees can use the solution from day one.

Integrated Systems

To be most effective, contact centre systems should integrate with other business software applications such as customer relationship management (CRM) software this includes customer analytics to monitor and act upon call wait times or abandoned calls. In addition to having useful features, call centre software should be easy for organizations to implement. Questions to ask during the review process include:

• Can the system be configured to your specific needs and can it be integrated with your current infrastructure?

• Is the interface easy to understand or will it require extra training hours?

• Does it integrate with your resource management, quality management and performance management functions?

Unified Communications

This is the integration of various channels of communication. It’s all about presence and the ability to identify and speak to the right people. Today customers expect many options for communicating. This that can range from a standard telephone service to social media, email and live chat.

Call Recording

Contact centres that record calls can extract valuable information from these interactions – whether the focus is to improve service delivery, sales or compliance, this source of business intelligence is perfect for customer analysis and improved service delivery.

Call Center Analytics

Contact centre managers require interactive tools for processing and analysing data. They need dashboards, animated visualisations and easy access to all information for a quick overview of critical data that is necessary for effective decision making. This includes interaction that impacts trends, KPI’s and overall performance. Make sure you have flexible reporting suited to your own business needs Flexible reporting suited to your own business needs is a must (and not just restricted to ‘standard’ reporting).

Resource Management

Contact centres thrive on two major performance factors: ability to reduce operational costs, and potential for generating income. Call centre agents impact these two critical factors. Traditional methods of managing your resources involves regular adjustments to daily schedules, agent availability, performance and targets. A workforce management tool provides total visibility of contact centre activities in real time with the goal to enhance operational activity such as;

• Analysing call patterns and historical trends in order to forecast call volume and resource requirements.

• Assigning tasks to agents and monitoring the performance of these schedules.

• Generating real time reports and tracking changes so appropriate actions can be taken.

Call Flow Designer

Contact Centres around the world operate in diverse industries and as such each industry has its own unique process for collecting, organising and disseminating information. The challenge is to design a customised call flow for your agents to follow.

A well-designed call flow not only enables agents to collect, organize and retrieve information from the CRM but also ensures that data is entered and stored correctly. Sophisticated call flow designers improve overall productivity and efficiency of agents by validating data and ensuring that it is stored accurately in the database. Managing the call flow by addressing other scenarios to answer the Where, how and or in a logical manner.

Interactive

Automated voice response systems can reduce the need to speak to a live person. Some solutions address issues and inquiries via interactive voice response. And some call centre systems feature Advanced Queue Management to deliver features such as scheduled call-back.

Your call centre staff are often the sole point of personal contact between customers and your business, real-time software solutions will empower them to answer questions, research issues, resolve incidents and generate sales. Successful implementation of your contact centre software will increase efficiency by allowing your agents to spend less time directing calls and more time interacting with customers.

Ultimately, it will make running a business easier, improve customer service and increase revenue.

Make sure you consider the future of your contact centre

Customer demands are continually changing and contact centre technology is rapidly innovating. Don’t choose a solution that just suits your current needs. It is important that other channels can be added without having to wait for your suppliers to develop these or have to pay high integration costs for a separate system.

and lastly…

Look for a vendor with an online community

A provider with an active online discussion board enables users to get in touch with peers, browse an knowledge base with frequently asked questions, share tips plus add and vote for suggestions for the future direction of the software. To add legitimacy the community should be actively monitored by the provider’s experts.