Even in today's digital world, customers often prefer phone support when reaching out to customer service. The immediacy and familiarity of talking on the phone with a real human builds trust between a customer and customer service agent. But, managing phone support can be a major challenge for many growing companies. While it's often a great way to help customers, phone support is also the most time-consuming, least cost-effective, and hardest-to-measure support channel.
If you want to offer customers great phone support, you'll need an effective call center software that supports your service team. Without software, customers will be left waiting on hold while agents struggle to answer queries. Supervisors won't be able to manage the chaos because they won't have any insight into call volume or trends.
The best call center software routes calls to the right agents, provides employees with additional context, and helps management execute an omni-channel strategy.
So, whether you're a team of ten or a few hundred, choosing the right tools to build your call center is critical. This post breaks down common features of call center software and the best call center software options available in 2019.
Call Center Software Features
The best call center software depends on your team's specific needs. Every tool has benefits and drawbacks depending on how you plan to use it. To understand which tool is right for your organization, draw up a list of desired features and then focus on your top choices. Below are a few features you might want to consider in your search.
If you're looking for a call center software, then you're likely supporting your customers through other communication channels as well (like email, live chat or social media). It's important to consider how well your new call center software will integrate with your other channels.
HubSpot found that a unified customer service experience reduces customer friction and increases front line efficiency. Ideally, incoming calls should be logged on your help desk which will allow agents to follow up via email. Additionally, this feature will let everyone else on your team see the context of previous customer interactions — regardless of the channel they took place on. This feature allows you to create a consistent customer experience no matter which channel the interaction begins on.
When customers call your team, how do they get connected to the right person quickly? Whether your software offers automated call routing, or if customers need to select a department after listening to a set of options, it's important to understand how your call routing will work. Many systems are complicated to update on the fly — so try setting up and changing your workflow during your trial period to make sure you're not stuck with one configuration.
CRM Integration for Customer Context
According to Bold360, most customers believe it takes an average of six interactions to resolve a problem. This is a huge source of frustration for customers. Every time they pick up the phone they need to repeat their issue as well as provide a summary of their previous interactions.
But, when agents have more context about the customer who's calling, they can provide more effective help. They can quickly reference past interactions with the customer which prevents customers from having to repeat themselves. Agents can look at trends in product usage and take steps to ensure the customer doesn't need to reach out again about the same issue.
Many call center tools provide context through CTI (computer-telephony integration) pop-ups that identify a customer through their phone number and surface previous interactions through the browser. Understanding how the software you're evaluating logs calls and integrates with other systems (like your CRM) is critical to providing your agents with enough context to be helpful.
Call centers operating on cloud networks will require a cloud-based calling system to align with their online databases. Cloud-based calling, or a Voice over Internet Protocol, (VoIP) is a phone system that runs through the internet instead of a phone line. While a third-party provider typically offers this service, it’s usually cheaper to install and maintain than regular landlines. That’s because VoIP doesn’t require on-premise hardware, which removes the typical maintenance and infrastructure costs that traditional phone lines have.
Running a call center requires managers to have a finger on the pulse of call center metrics like incoming call volume, call trends, and agent efficiency. It's impossible to manage scheduling and plan for the future without knowing how your team is handling fluctuations in traffic. Reporting can help identify common issues that customers are calling about, gaps in your support coverage, and potential training opportunities.
Call center software isn't just for inbound customer service. Agents might need to make outbound calls to customers if you offer proactive customer support options. Sales teams might work through your call center software to place calls to prospects. If your contact center also requires agents or sales teams to place outgoing calls, look for software that includes an automated dialer and easy to use call logging features so your CRM stays up to date.
Finally, a word of warning about call center pricing. Depending on how your chosen software assigns your phone numbers, you might be charged more than expected for each minute on the phone. Before committing to any new phone lines, make sure to confirm what's included in the package and how much each call and minute will cost.
Now that you know what to look for when evaluating call center software, let's take a look at the options available:
HubSpot's Help Desk Software, integrated with Aircall, is built on top of HubSpot's leading CRM and connected to its sales and marketing software. That means that no matter who the customer talks to, the front line agent has all the information they need to resolve the issue directly in front of them. Placing this information into a single view helps employees deliver a superior customer experience.
HubSpot's call center software features advanced automation tools and insightful reporting that helps your team consistently improve customer service. Service Hub includes a shared email inbox, live chat software, and self-service tools, all of which integrate seamlessly with Aircall for phone support — Aircall plans start at $30/user/month.
By combining HubSpot with Aircall's cloud-based phone system, businesses of all sizes can offer a delightful end-to-end customer experience across a variety of channels.
A contact center built around your to-do list, Bitrix24 helps teams collaborate to get their work done. They offer a multitude of customer service channels, including rentable telephone lines, live chat, and email queues that all integrate into Bitrix24's task management software and CRM. Bitrix24 also offers an on-premise solution for industries that are still required to, or feel more comfortable with, hosting their own data storage.
A robust call center solution for enterprise teams, TalkDesk offers features designed to help big teams manage phone support at a fast pace. From workforce management to industry-specific security features, TalkDesk helps teams with everything they need to deliver a consistent customer experience at scale.
Five9 brings together everything your business needs to launch a complete customer service and sales call center. Focused on enterprise businesses, Five9 includes workforce management tools, predictive dialing, and CTI (computer telephony integration) screen pops to help agents provide better service and not miss a chance to upsell.
RingCentral is a flexible cloud-based phone system that supports both desktop and mobile users. One unique feature it provides "RingOut," which enables one-touch calling from any phone or internet-enabled computer. Additionally, RingCentral has powerful call delegation and answering rules so you can be sure calls are routed to the right individual.
ClouldTalk is an innovative call center software that provides its users with a variety of unique tools to work with. For example, its custom queue feature allows support teams to dictate where incoming calls will be distributed. With CloudTalk, inbound calls are routed to agents who are best suited to the solve the customer's issue. This eliminates call transfers which adds friction to the customer experience.
Another customizable feature that CloudTalk offers is personalized voicemails. If your team is unavailable, customers can leave voicemails that agents can respond to later. That way, customers aren't stuck on hold waiting endlessly for your team to answer them. Instead, they can simply leave a message, return to their work, and wait for your team to reach out with a prepared solution.
Nextiva’s Call Center is an easy-to-use solution that helps you connect with more callers in less time, with fewer agents. With Nextiva, you get features like IVR, automatic call routing and call queuing. Also, you can optimize agent call flow, leverage virtual agents to automate interactions and streamline the experience for the caller.
Dixa is a simple to set up contact center that runs entirely in the browser. Featuring advanced call distribution algorithms and caller recognition, Dixa is a modern solution designed to improve the experience of both the customer and the contact center administrator.
Built on one of the most extensive customer service platforms, Zendesk Talk offers a call center solution for businesses of every size. With automatic ticket creation, agents can take advantage of Zendesk's slick help desk features to help customers across every channel.
LiveAgent's call center solution is built directly into their multi-channel help desk, so you can help customers over any channel you choose. One of the only tools on the list not to charge a per minute usage fee, LiveAgent can be a cost-effective solution for small and medium-sized businesses that rely on phone support.
Over 90% of Fortune 100 companies use an Avaya product to manage their contact center, according to the Avaya website. And that's because it's been a heavyweight in the communications industry for many years. With multiple advanced features included in their standard platform, you can be sure you're getting an enterprise level product when you use Avaya's omnichannel contact center solution.
One feature that Integra offers on its platform is an interactive voice response system, or IVR. Rather than having customers call you and wait on hold to be connected with a rep, an IVR provides an immediate response to customers the moment they dial your support line. This digital assistant lays out a variety of options for the caller to choose from, then either solves the problem independently or automatically connects the caller to a human agent.
Pricing: $50/month/user for Classic Plan
Call center software helps teams unify their customer service across multiple channels, resulting in a better experience for both the customer and the front line teams.