The modern call center environment demands dependable applications. Such apps should be able to handle ever-increasing sources and types of communications. There is a compulsion to complement this need with advancement in telephony technology. These forces have led to the emergence of open-source call center software.

Depending on its implementation, call center software can either be on-premise or cloud-based. Cloud-based call center applications are affordable software-as-a-service (SaaS) models. They feature a cloud-based call center that’s accessible anywhere, anytime. These solutions also need no software download or installation to run.

Open-Source vs. Proprietary Call Center Software

An open-source call center software is “free.” This means you host the system yourself (although some vendors will host it for you) and update it. You also troubleshoot it with minimal technical support from the vendor. An open-source solution gives you unprecedented flexibility. Also, you can customize it to work with existing systems.

Proprietary call center software is not free. It may cost upwards of hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Proprietary call center software vendors host the system for you. They provide stellar technical support and keep these systems up to date.

Understanding Call Center Technology

Call center technology in many companies integrates with the management of business processes. This leads to improved efficiency, a better understanding of operations and happier clients.

Easy Setup With Plug & Play

The right call center technology should integrate well with your business. Most modern call center technology can be self-installed and configured. As a result, it's up and running in a matter of minutes. The technology also offers seamless integration with popular software like Outlook. Integration minimizes disruption to an agent's workflow. It offers new powerful tools to make their jobs easier.

Integrating Call Center Tech With Your Current Business Model

The technology that underpins these software solutions is complex. But this doesn't mean that it should be complex to use. If the system is easy to use, your agents may embrace the change and become ambassadors. Otherwise, they could resist the new technology and continue working as they were.

To find the right call center technology, start by answering these four questions:

  • Is the solution cloud-based? A true cloud-based solution reduces the complexity of implementation. It also eliminates maintenance and increases the usability of the system
  • Are there hardware requirements? The need to buy hardware can put a burden on your business. The setup can also complicate implementation and support
  • Does the provider meet key security and compliance standards? Companies are increasingly being scrutinized for their security and compliance policies. Because of this, some customers and suppliers are rethinking their business partners
  • What CRMs does the solution work with? Customer relationship management (CRM) software integration is particularly important for call centers. That’s because CRM solutions can furnish and collect vital customer information. This helps agents make future interactions more efficient and pleasant for the customer

How Call Center Software Gives You an Edge

The call center is one of the primary contact points with consumers. So it's vital that managers understand what's happening in a call center. For instance, they need to know when they get the most calls and how well the calls are being handled. They also need to know which agents are successful and which are struggling to keep up. They need to be able to listen in on some calls, offer advice and even join the conversation, if necessary.

The right call center technology offers all that information as it’s happening through dashboards that present the most meaningful statistics.

Some of the key features of call center software include:

  • Omnichannel communication: Call center agents can communicate with customers across several channels. These include live chat, video conferencing or email. They can also respond to social media messages, all through a single interface
  • Interactive voice response (IVR): IVR helps callers before and after they get connected to agents. This happens through an automated greeting, service prompts menu and more
  • Call routing and escalation management: Call routing enhances productivity. The software routes the calls to appropriate agents. It also monitors performance. With escalation management, agents can transfer the call to a manager. This applies to complex customer issues or when the case is out of the scope of an agent’s responsibilities
  • Real-time analytics and historical reporting: These features give managers access to key performance metrics. You can generate reports based on real-time activity and make quick, intelligent business decisions. You can access metrics such as calls per day, per agent or per department. You can also see data relating to call abandonment rate and average call duration
  • Integration with other business tools: The software should integrate with key business apps. These include CRM, project management tools and back-office solutions. The integration of customer data opens new upselling opportunities and increases conversion rates. This helps your agents serve the customers with a more personalized approach

What to Look for in Call Center Software

The best call center software will provide many solutions. These include workforce optimization, advanced business phone and collaboration services and unified communications. It should also integrate with your CRM platform. These features enhance the customer experience.

Workforce Optimization

Workforce optimization allows you to increase productivity. At the same time, you improve the customer experience. Your call center software tracks interactions and activity in real time. This allows supervisors to measure improvement and address gaps in skills. Workforce optimization gives you the ability to build customizable scorecards, which are useful when defining key performance indicators (KPIs).

With workforce optimization, you can identify roadblocks in customer interactions. It provides the management tools to increase contact center efficiency. Also, it helps reduce customer interaction time. At the same time, it improves first call resolution and enhances customer satisfaction.

Workforce optimization can also save you money. You can optimize agent schedules based on actual call volume history. Even better if your call center software can integrate with your payroll system.

Business Phone and Collaboration Services

Regardless of where your staff is or how your customers interact with you, you need advanced phone features. These include extension dialing, auto attendant, ring groups, call recording and internet faxing. The system should connect your entire team, no matter where they are in the world. It should incorporate web conferencing, chat and video calls.

Cloud-based systems are based on voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology. This means they minimize your monthly phone bills. You avoid long-distance and overseas phone charges. You can also scale up or down depending on your needs, avoiding paying for over-capacity. Also, adding phone lines and connections takes hours compared to days.

Unified Communications

With unified communications, you can empower everyone in your business. That means office-based employees and remote workers will have access to the same information.

CRM Integration

Your cloud-based call center should integrate with your CRM system, services like Salesforce, NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics and Zendesk. You should be able to customize your integration to blend with your call center solution. CRM tools have information about customers that agents can quickly refer to while on a call.

For instance, CRM notes previous conversations. It collects data about who spoke with the customer last and any products they asked about. It also obtains their contact information and how many times they've called. This way, agents avoid a situation where they can't recall a past conversation.

Call Center Apps

Call center agents can rely on apps for a variety of different functions. Call center apps assist agents and call centers in the following ways:

  • Voice recognition: Allows customers to interact with the call center system and select various options
  • Call queues: Callers get placed into queues to help manage incoming calls and organize who speaks with which agent
  • Ring groups: Every phone within a single ring group rings at once for an incoming call. The first agent to pick up the phone is the one who gets the call. This ensures that calls get answered soon by available agents. Agents currently on calls get passed over automatically
  • Analytics and reporting: Call center software also collects analytical data and generate reports. With this feature, managers can make more effective business decisions
  • Training: Call center apps can provide agents with opportunities to learn remotely
  • Predictive dialing: With predictive dialing, agents can call phone numbers automatically. This makes dialing more efficient
  • Call back: Calls can get placed on a list to get called back when call volume is lower. This gives callers the option of not having to wait on hold
  • Live chat: Agents can chat with visitors to your business website. This makes the call center a full-service contact center
  • Call monitoring and recording: Call centers can listen in on agent calls and record them for training later
  • Virtual call center: You can create a virtual call center with call center management apps. These allow your teams to work remotely. Your virtual call center can work with a combination of different phones, locations and teams
  • Session initiation protocol (SIP) trunking: Connect your call center phone system to the public branch exchange, landline phones, other SIP-connected phones and cell phones even if they are not VoIP-powered

With these features, agents can connect to the call center and work remotely. Also, management has access to call center monitoring features. Using the added functionality, call center teams can become more productive and effective.

Call Center Management Software: What It Is and How It Works

Call center management software ensures customer experiences and call routing get handled right. There are many call center management functions. Some include private branch exchange (PBX), IVR, CRM, call analytics and more.

How Does Call Center as a Service (CCaaS) Work?

Call center management works by keeping everyone connected, usually with a single platform. This is so agents don't have to use a variety of different SaaS programs. The workflow is managed through a single platform, usually a CCaaS system. CCaaS is typically provided by a VoIP telephony vendor.

Management can generate at-a-glance reports, often in real time. These help them see what is happening and assist with making changes to the call center system. Here are a few typical components of CCaaS, along with their contributions to the contact center itself:

  • PBX: PBX systems used to be physical boxes routing calls on internal business phone networks. Now, they use software running on servers to route calls to the right agents
  • Analytics: Call analytics lets your organization measure how well marketing campaigns are going. It verifies that agents are following the right protocol, checks the customer experience and more. With performance information, management can make appropriate decisions and adjustments
  • Cloud hosting: Offsite, cloud-hosted call center software can reduce operational costs. This includes the often-prohibitive cost of equipment investment. Your call center software vendor uses their own servers, software and team. This is preferable to your organization having to make these investments
  • Virtual call center: You can bring work-from-home agents or agents in many locations into a single call center unit. This may allow your organization to save money. You can also hire more qualified teams and offer remote working as a job perk

CCaaS offers your business an omnichannel customer service solution. It includes voice, text, SMS and chat. Today, customers demand more than a single communication channel. CCaaS tools have features like:

  • Communication and support channels like SMS, phone, live chat and more
  • An all-in-one platform to manage agent and customer data
  • Tracking and analytics to improve the level of service
  • Easy to scale and bring on more agents for higher call volume

Most CCaaS solutions are equipped with integrated scheduling software. Depending on your provider, this might come as a stock feature, or you’ll need to add the service to your package.

Call Center Scheduling Software

Call center scheduling software is usually part of an integrated call center software suite. The scheduling software manages call center agent availability, so you always have the staff you need.

Most call center scheduling software will provide agent and customer data. This will allow you to create schedules that are in alignment with higher calling days. This way, you have the right experts available when you need them the most.

How Call Center Software Gives You an Edge

With all the methods of communication available, you can't have too many tools. Call center software can help you integrate all your communication under one umbrella. Think of it as a communications hub. With everything managed by a centralized system, you have more control. You can also troubleshoot the occasional issue easier. Further, if you have to expand or alter your operation, the changes will be easier to put in place.

Call centers rely on their technology to empower them to be as productive as possible. With 8x8's Virtual Contact Center, you get world-class technology and everything your call center needs in one place. Call 1-855-456-7823 or fill out an online form to request a no-obligation quote from an 8x8 product specialist.

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