What call center tools should your business have?
Providing customer-centric support is now table-stakes for most companies. More contact center agents are being hired to meet customer demand, more comprehensive training is being provided to boost agent performance, and continual feedback shapes and improves strategy. – all in an effort to finetune the service experience for customers.
So why are brands putting in so much effort? It’s simple: to improve customer engagement. According to the Harvard Business Review, 40% of customers surveyed said they would stop doing business with a company based on a bad CX experience. This includes things like long waiting times.
Good customer experience is a long-game play. It doesn’t only impact customer retention and loyalty but it also affects your bottom line in the immediate term. The cost of retaining customers is far less than the cost of attaining them; sub-par customer service comes with a steep price tag.
Call center equipment and technology tools don’t have to differ based on whether you’re making outbound calls or inbound calls. If you’re just starting out and wondering how the heck to get your contact center off the ground, fear not. All you need are the right communications systems and monitoring tools to respond to customers and handle campaign management. Layer in workforce management software and voilà, you can offer customer-centric support with ease.
Below we provide a starter kit that newbie call center managers can turn to provide amazing customer-centric support.
The lay of the land
To start, cloud-based call center technology improves your customer experience and lowers the cost of ownership because it reduces the number of vendors you’ll need to work with and allows you to unify your communication suite. Both inbound and outbound call centers benefit from tying contact center technologies like voice, digital channels, CRM, and WFO together in one place that’s easily accessible.
Depending on the provider you choose, a cloud-based call center solution can offer everything from call scripting, predictive dialing, campaign management, CRM integration, call distribution, and even agent performance tracking.
Just like there are tons of choices to consider when evaluating the right software for your contact center, there are also a lot of variables specific to your industry and organization. Things such as contact center size, purpose, channels, locations, in-house or outsourced, the available budget are all factors that will ultimately shape your contact center solution. Even with all of these variables, some technology tools can be considered constants in service effectiveness. In broad strokes, they are as follows:
PBX/ACD Dialers: With cloud contact center software you can still utilize a PBX without adding to your contact center equipment. Digital channels have seen a tremendous increase in popularity, but voice is still a primary mode of contact. Automated Call Distributors allow for the processing, distribution, and management of contacts, whether they be calls, chats, SMS messages, or emails. An integrated ACD/PBX eliminates the need for expensive and limited site-premised PBXs while delivering advanced call distribution and routing, back-office support, and voicemail. With cloud-based switching as part of its core architecture, LiveVox provides a simpler network topology and faster voice/data transfers to contact centers.
CRM: Mapping the customer journey and viewing previous interactions is a top priority for contact centers across every industry, and the CRM is the most important tool to be utilized in this regard. A CRM lets agents capture and store critical customer data such as the reason for a service call, resolution, and other important business intelligence. This information can be called upon to improve future customer interactions.
WFO (Workforce Optimization): WFO tools comprise many different modules with various features and benefits consisting of different depths and breadths.
WFO software lets your contact center accurately forecast business needs and leverage data for better decision making. You can schedule agents based on historical call volume, manage time, and generate reports on key KPIs that can be circulated across your organization.
Recording: Call and screen recording are important features that allow for customer interactions to be stored and referenced for quality management and assurance.
Quality management solutions are standard fare for most inbound and outbound contact centers because they go a long way toward improving the customer experience. In addition to acting as an added compliance layer for your communications strategy, call and screen recording software lets you track your agents’ adherence to provided scripts and gauge procedural competencies.
Call and screen recording capability gives you the chance to turn everyday service calls into corporate classroom sessions because they serve as concrete examples of proper customer service protocol. These sessions contain invaluable insight into your overall customer service performance.
Speech Analytics: Your call recording functionality has you sitting on a treasure trove of data. With built-in speech analytics, you can really start mining for jewels. Speech analytics lets you screen customers’ calls for performance and sentiment and can be particularly instructive during sticky situations.
The bare bones: Must-haves for getting started
An intuitive IVR can reduce the number of calls your agents handle and can make things fast and easy. Your IVR can be used to deflect inbound volume as it routes calls to other channels or departments. With an IVR or interactive voice response technology, you can pre-screen calls to more efficiently route them to an appropriate agent who can best address a caller’s needs. Someone calling in because their online banking portal is buggy? A well-set up IVR can get those calls to technical support agents; can get 401k customers to agents who are fluent in retirement products, and VIP customers to the highest-rated members of your team. This not only gets you serious points in the professionalism category, but it also enhances the customer’s experience.
Think about it: Before they’ve even interacted with a person their issue is being invented if they’re not immediately presented with a solution. When customers are routed to the most appropriate person to meet their needs, your agents will be more proficient at solving specific problems and meeting the specific needs of the cases that they’re assigned.
Now you can kick back and enjoy the increase in operational efficiency and subsequent boost in customer satisfaction.
2. Customizable agent desktops with automatic call screen pops
But routing is only half of the equation. Imagine you’re the customer calling in with an issue that requires the human touch. You’ve just made your way through the fancy automated recordings and you reach a human at last! Hoorah! But the agent you’re speaking to has no idea what your problem is and you’ve got to start from square one.
With call center software that readily makes caller information available to agents via a customizable desktop upon connection, your agents will be able to begin diagnosing issues immediately because they’ll have all of the relevant data points to dive in before they even say hello.
Personalization means prioritization in 2020—small gestures like knowing the caller’s name, call, and purchase history make for an optimized experience for each and every customer.
Do you know what goes hand in hand with campaign management and personalization? Making sure your agents understand your customers and ensuring they can respond to customers’ needs accordingly. With call center software that has a native and neutral CRM that integrates with your existing SOR or other business tools like Salesforce, your agents will be able to tap into a powerful and robust single source of truth.
Software that updates and manages this information across systems in real-time allows your agents to not only understand the caller’s history but adjust their service approach according to this comprehensive dataset.
4. Call recording
In order to adopt a customer-centric approach to support, call center managers should drive the customer focus organizationally. Three must-have features in this pursuit are call recording, sentiment analytics, and call monitoring.
Call monitoring allows a manager to listen to a live call without anyone knowing. This is helpful for conducting quality assurance and particularly useful for training purposes.
Sentiment analytics help decipher customer satisfaction levels in things like tone of voice and speech cadence. This is helpful when training new agents to get up to speed or helping more experienced agents through a difficult call. It’s also a useful compliance measure.
Call recording allows the manager to listen to calls without the agent or caller knowing and then speak with both the agent and the customer when necessary. All three features are critical for training your team on a customer-centric approach to support.
5. Real-time, historical, and contextual reporting
Ensuring that your team of call center agents is providing amazing support requires comprehensive metrics. Providing your team with an agent dashboard that displays real-time metrics like service level, the number of calls in queue, average hold time, average handle time, etc. will allow them to improve their performance with minimal feedback required from management.
On the flip side, providing your managers with real-time and historical data will allow them to make data-driven decisions based on comprehensive metrics.
This is an essential tool for customer-centric call centers invested in continual improvement.
Now go forth and delight, grasshopper
As the demand for better products and customer service grows, contact center software will mature in lockstep. Just like a mechanic has the basic tools to fix your car, as cars become more high-tech so too must the autobody shop. In order to keep pace with the times, additional tools will be required in order to get the job done.
The same logic is true for contact centers and the technology they deploy. As the customer issues grow in its complexity, the solutions must be sophisticated and advanced enough to tackle the challenges agents are presented with. More comprehensive tools that look at operations holistically allow for a better car to be on the road, a bigger success to be touted. The more insight and visibility into the service you’re providing and the issues your business is facing, the clearer the customer journey can become.
A customer-centric service strategy is essential for any business wanting to raise its profile, build customer loyalty, lower attrition, and skyrocket revenue. Providing superior CX is a lofty goal, for sure, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. With the right technology and tools in the contact center combined with workforce management, your agents can become customer-centric rockstars.