Call Center Support: Tools and Resources

Do you want to improve your customer experience? Employees who are working in a call center impact customer satisfaction. After all, your onsite or remote call center offers a direct link to your clients.

To provide consistent service, your support team needs the right call center equipment. Your customers want easy ways to access help. Waiting on hold or speaking with a rep who cannot answer their questions frustrates people. Plus, without the right tools, it's tough to track conversations and measure call quality.

Give your team and customers access to much-needed resources. Learn which tools and strategies help employees working in a call center.

Working in a Call Center: Daily Workflow

From answering calls to following up with clients, your call center reps stay busy. They spend hours on the phone. They update client records and perform other job duties.

Along with interpersonal skills, your representatives benefit from regular training. But without real-time data analytics, it's tough to assess skill levels. Figure out what type of call center you need. Then, review the different kinds of contact centers and agents.

What Is a Call Center?

A customer contacts you when they have a problem or question. A receptionist or auto attendant directs their call to an agent. Companies use onsite or cloud call centers to improve customer satisfaction.

With an onsite contact center, you maintain and upgrade your call center equipment. This gives you full control over your security and infrastructure. But it's expensive to start an onsite call center. Your staff must troubleshoot problems and apply patches to avoid downtime. Plus, if you want to expand your services, you'll have to build onto your existing system.

A cloud service does not need onsite infrastructure. Your IT team focuses on improving customer experience instead of maintaining a network. Virtual cloud call centers support onsite and remote agents. Your provider handles updates, maintenance and repairs. This results in lower costs and less downtime.

Types of Call Centers and Agents

Working in a call center means juggling many tasks. Your agents may handle customer support issues. Some reps make outbound calls as well. Your model may shift over time to account for business changes.

  • Inbound call centers and agents: Effective call routing strategies send callers to the right rep or self-service tool. Representatives use a communications dashboard. This puts your client's history and data in one spot. You may record or track calls to measure performance
  • Outbound call centers and agents: At an outbound call center, your agents contact leads or customers. They update accounts with new data. Reps also measure customer satisfaction with follow-up surveys
  • Remote call centers and agents: A virtual team relies on a remote call center phone system. This allows agents to use any device from any location. Your phone system sends callers to the best agent for their needs

What Is a Modern Call Center Business Model?

A modern call center focuses on the buyer's journey. It's a proactive approach to customer care. Your clients have questions before buying your product or services. They may also need help with installation or troubleshooting after a sale.

Companies invest in multichannel care to engage clients and build long-lasting relationships. Plus, businesses need options for remote call centers. With the right tools, your reps deliver excellent service from anywhere. This gives you more ways to help clients.

Your call center equipment also integrates with your customer relationship management (CRM) system. These integrations ensure your agents have updated client information.

Daily Challenges Call Center Agents Face

Both onsite and remote call centers face many challenges. Your agents balance the needs of clients while meeting goals. The right equipment and system guide your staff through many other difficulties.

1. Large Call Volume

High-volume call times put a strain on your staff. It leads to an increase in wait time and call abandonment rates. Without a good call center phone system, people cannot reach your agents. Using a cloud-based service helps you add features during high-volume periods.

2. Automating Call Processing

Getting people the support they need requires call routing integration. With auto call distribution, you set the criteria for callers. Then, it routes calls to agents based on language preferences or skills. This system results in more first-call resolutions and higher rates of satisfaction.

3. Maintaining Customer Records

Every time your customer contacts your company, your team must update records. Your agents note concerns during inbound calls. But they also follow up through email and phone calls. Reps need access to your CRM.

4. Many Support Channels

Customers want control over when and how they message you. Clients may reach out via messaging applications or social media. Keeping track of channels is hard. That's why many companies turn to a unified communications system. This puts everything in one spot. It reduces wait times and improves customer experience.

5. Security Risks

Both onsite and remote call centers face a variety of security risks. Any malware or virus may result in downtime or a loss of data. This hurts your reputation and affects customer satisfaction. Pick a provider with built-in security protocols.

Preventing Call Center Shrinkage

Call center shrinkage is the amount of time spent on non-call-related activities. Even with a full team on hand, your call center reps are not always taking calls. Agents attend training or meetings. They follow up with clients and update records.

With high shrinkage rates, your customer satisfaction levels tank. Clients sit in holding queues during high-volume times. Agents spend too much time on after-call work. Use a call center phone system to track key performance indicators (KPIs) like:

  • Call processing time
  • Login time
  • Availability time
  • Volume of calls in queue

Choose a cloud provider that provides real-time data and analytics. This data measures performance and helps with training. Plus, you can send alerts to staff through your phone system if call volume rises.

Ways to Reduce Call Center Shrinkage

Lowering call center shrinkage is a top goal. There are many ways to tackle this issue. Start with a capable call center phone system. Use your contact center software to:

  • Offer queued callback options for customers during high-volume times
  • Provide a contact center agent supervisor console to help agents with calls
  • Record calls and coach representatives afterward
  • Integrate scheduling services into your contact center application

Even with the best practices, high volume times may result in work overload. That's why it's vital to have a backup plan. For example, consider the flexibility of a remote call center. Adding a distributed workforce helps you cover unplanned surges in calls.

Although all call centers experience shrinkage, you can reduce it with clear goals. Use your software to track, mentor and manage your agents.

Effective Call Routing Strategies

Effective call routing strategies improve your customer experience. Use a call center phone system that offers different ways to manage incoming calls.

1. Skills-Based Call Routing

Your agents may differ by experience level. Skills-based call routing sends customers to the most qualified agent. Your call center receptionist or auto attendant asks your client questions. Then, it routes callers to the correct representatives. Skills-based call routing increases your first call resolution rate.

2. Time-Based Call Routing

Your company may use a combination of onsite and remote call centers. Many businesses do this to account for different time zones. Time-based call routing sends callers to an open call center. For example, you may offer 24/7 customer support. But after business hours, a remote call center handles calls.

3. Equal-Share Call Routing

Businesses with more than one call center have different call volumes at each site. With equal-share call routing, you distribute call volume equally between your centers. Equal distribution reduces:

  • Caller wait times
  • Call abandonment rates
  • The percentage of blocked calls

How Call Center Software Supports Efficiency

Combine a call center phone system and equipment for the greatest efficiency. Doing so improves the performance of staff working in a call center. It helps your teams stay productive and perform other job duties during downtime.

Call Center Equipment

Automated tools and smart omnichannel integrations create a smooth workflow. But access to items like call center headphones is vital. Types of call center equipment include:

  • Call center headsets: These devices allow hands-free communication. Each device offers a microphone and speaker
  • Call center desktops: A central workstation gives your agents access to a communications dashboard. Your dashboard includes client data and knowledgebases
  • Automatic call distributor (ACD): ACD is a type of call center equipment for call routing. It processes and directs calls to the right agents based on preset rules

Call Center Phone Systems

Your call center phone system uses software to assist with the fast pace of call centers. Depending on your provider, solutions may include recording software and telephony integrations. Call center phone systems may offer:

  • Computer telephony integrations (CTI): This type of system links your telephone and computer systems. It works with call center equipment to handle outbound and inbound calls
  • Call recording software: Recording software is a vital tool for call center services. It helps you track performance and calls for quality
  • Intelligent voice recognition: With machine learning and algorithms, this technology turns spoken words into commands. It works with your interactive voice response (IVR) tech for a smooth process
  • Predictive dialers: This outbound tool reduces wait time. Predictive dialers call numbers from a provided list. Then, it directs answered calls to available agents

Call Center Receptionist

A receptionist answers calls and routes callers to the best agents. You have three options when it comes to your call center receptionist. Pick the call center receptionist that fits your needs.

  • Auto attendant: With an automated attendant, your software connects calls to the best representative. This software helps you answer calls fast. Callers hear a menu of choices or may opt to leave a message
  • Virtual receptionists: A virtual receptionist is a live person located offsite. They connect to your call center phone system. With a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) system, your virtual receptionist appears like an onsite employee. A virtual receptionist gives you the advantages of a full-time employee without the cost
  • Live call center agent: An onsite live call center agent is more expensive. Plus, it may leave people waiting in a queue for service. Most companies go with a virtual or auto attendant for their call center

Benefits of Call Center Support

Excellent customer service turns into increased customer satisfaction. According to Microsoft, "96% of consumers say customer service is an important factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand." The advantages of a call center support center include:

  • CRM integrations give a personalized experience
  • Your customer service agents receive quality training
  • Less expensive to deliver 24/7 customer support
  • Lower per-call call center costs

You may also outsource parts of your call center services. Companies do this to cover after-hours support or to handle high-volume call times with ease. Outsourcing provides extra benefits, such as:

  • 24/7 service and support
  • A fixed cost which helps with budgeting
  • Access to advanced analytics

What Features of a Call Center Should You Consider?

Provide agents working in a call center with features that improve efficiency and performance. Your options vary by provider. Pick a service that grows with your company. Top call center phone systems include:

  • Interactive voice response
  • Skills-based routing 
  • Real-time analytics and data collection
  • Inbound and outbound call routing
  • Queued callback options
  • Call management oversight
  • Seamless integration with billing, messaging and content management systems (CMS)
  • Security compliance

Choosing the Right Call Center Phone System

Your call center is the backbone of your business. Each call or message is an opportunity to leave a lasting impression.

Errors in service result in poor client outcomes. According to American Express, "33% of customers say they'll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service." But with contact center as a service (CCaaS), you deliver the best customer experiences. Pick the best call center phone system by:

  • Deciding if you want inbound or outbound calling or both
  • Picking remote, onsite or a combination of services
  • Considering the availability of effective call routing strategies
  • Reviewing your call center equipment and software options
  • Choosing between auto attendants or virtual receptionists
  • Looking for services with vital integrations
  • Assessing security standards

8x8 Makes Working in a Call Center Easier

Call centers with the latest technology empower your teams. Plus, a well-equipped contact center delivers the finest customer experience. Put everything your team needs in one place with 8x8's Virtual Contact Center. Check out your options online or fill out a form to ask for a no-obligation quote from an 8x8 product specialist.

RELATED TOPICS

Call Center Stimulation Assessment

Cloud Call Center Solution

Call Center Staffing Model