It makes sense for businesses to outsource services to call centers: they are better equipped in terms of software and hardware infrastructure and also in terms of trained manpower. So what we have is a business, for example, located in the US and its call center may be anywhere in the US or Philippines or India or whatever, capable of 24×7 services. It works out cheaper and better whether it is serving customers or handling sales campaigns. Such call centers may make use of inbound call center software or outbound call center software or one that includes both features depending on nature of work.
Inbound call centers and software features
Call centers may specialize in service or sales. Call centers specializing in customer services usually handle high number of inbound calls from existing customers or even potential customers inquiring about products. In this scenario you will find inbound call center software with its set of features more suitable. Features accentuated in inbound call center software:
IVR is important in inbound operations since it is usually the first point of contact for a caller. Self service through the IVR usually addresses most of the common queries with calls being routed to an agent if and when needed to handle more complicated queries. The IVR has recording features and can be dynamically configured to suit changing service conditions and to ensure that callers are not caught in the frustrating maze of innumerable key presses.
Automatic call distribution linked with skill mapping is a prime requisite for inbound calls and to ensure that the caller’s query is identified and routed to an agent familiar with the topic and capable of first call resolution. The ACD also ensures even work load distribution between agents. It can identify which agent is free to take a call and routes the incoming call to him. When you introduce skill mapping in the equation it does more to specifically route call to an agent with known capabilities. Use of AI algorithms further refine such mapping and routing. Also, call transfer and intercom are desirable features in inbound call center software. Another important feature is mobility so that remote workers can receive calls and work in the same way as if they are within the premises.
CRM is equally important in that it can serve various functions through its database. One, when a call arrives and is taken by an agent it can display caller’s details and past records for the agent to respond swiftly and to the point instead of wasting time in trivial identification procedure. Two, fore-knowledge means the agent is better equipped to handle the issue and bring about a resolution or engage a higher up to join in a conference call. Three, all such interactions go on record for future reference and analytics.
Which brings us to the analytics portion, a multi-functional feature. One, you can analyze each call to know how much time an agent spent on each incoming call and post call actions. Two, you know how many calls led to resolutions. Three, you find out how effective an agent is and the customer satisfaction level. Four, you can identify strong points and weak points and improve services as well as train agents.
The prime focus is on superior inbound call handling in inbound call center solutions. It is not just calls these days; such solutions must also have social media, chat, text and other channels so that quick responses can be given on any of the channel a customer chooses.
Outbound call center and software features
Outbound call centers usually work on targeting prospective customers to generate leads, follow up leads and for surveys. Number of outbound calls is higher and call centers must achieve set targets which puts pressure on agents to handle high throughputs. The outbound call center software plays a crucial role in ease of work and success.
Prime features required for outbound calling:
The dialer is where all the action is. Automated dialers play a lead role in outbound call center software. This is a generic term that can cover a variety of different dialers, each with specific function.
- Progressive dialer: This automatic dialer initiates an outbound call only when an agent indicates he is free to take a cal and call progress is monitored so that the next number is brought up. This type of dialer is ideal when you are selling to an existing customer or to an acquired lead.
- Preview dialer: Once an agent is ready to take a call then the dialer shows a preview of target prospect details and dials the number after a set delay. This is ideal when you are following up on cases such as debt recovery or addressing complaints of a complicated nature.
- Predictive dialer: This dialer uses a complicated algorithm to keep track of agents and ‘senses’ when an agent is about to complete an ongoing call at which point it launches dialing operation, detects if line is busy, a machine answers or a human responds. In theory, no sooner one call is complete, the agent takes on another one.
Each one has its pros and cons but the ultimate goal is to automate dialing and ease burden on agents so that they can focus more on interactions and less on dialing. Besides, all calls are logged in the CRM.
Automation through IVR-Dialer-SMS/Voice broadcast
Automation helps call centers in other ways in their outbound activities which may include sending out routine offers or conducting surveys. In this case, the must have feature in outbound call center software is IVR-dialer link up with SMS and voice broadcast. It is easy to draw numbers from the CRM, record a text and/or voice message, connect it with the IVR and dialer and schedule outbound calls.
Naturally, whether it is human or automated outbound campaigns you need a CRM in the backend with call logging as well as analytics facility to know what is going on and for historical analysis.
Then there are other features deemed desirable for outbound call center software such as barge-in and whisper, outbound job scheduler, campaign management, conferencing, configurable scripts, automated missed call, abandoned call dialing and call disposition details.
Should you pick one or the other?
Call centers that focus on only outbound or inbound operations may choose specific software with a required feature set. On the other hand, you never know when you may land a campaign that needs features of the other type. It may be a better idea to get call center software that includes all features or a modular one in which you can add features as and when needed.