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What is call center software?

By Liz Bauer

Published June 12, 2020
Last modified June 23, 2020

Every business owner understands the value of superior customer support. Today, improving customer satisfaction often boils down to implementing call center software. This technology can automate call routing and recordings, along with many other features.

Choosing a call center solution, though, can be an overwhelming process. First, you need to decide what type of system best matches your specific business model. From there, it’s about choosing the features your agents need to provide customers with the highest-quality support possible.

This article will provide you with all of the information you need to pick the best tool for your team. We’ll explain the two main types of call center software, and we’ll cover how you can determine which one is right for your business. But first, let’s talk about three key benefits of call center software.

Why use call center software?

Consumers today expect a lot more from support than they did five years ago. They want their calls answered in less than five minutes, they want access to self-service options, and they expect agents to collaborate on their behalf.

Call center software can help your agents meet these expectations with minimal effort. The key is understanding the features and benefits that call center software can offer and then deciding which ones you need most.

Automatic call routing

Call center software automates the flow of incoming and outgoing calls. Interactive voice response (IVR) systems — a common feature of call center software — are used to create prerecorded greetings, menu options, and answers to frequently asked questions.

With an IVR system, customers who call support can connect to the right department with just the push of a button. They can also access simple information, such as a company’s address or business hours, without needing to speak to an agent. This frees agents to handle more complex support inquiries and reduces wait times for customers.

Rich performance insights

Managers can use call center software to gain real-time oversight of their agents’ performance. Call monitoring, for example, allows managers and other agents to listen to live calls in real time.

Sometimes referred to as “call barging,” this feature is incredibly beneficial for training purposes. New agents can shadow more seasoned employees by observing how common problems are resolved. Managers can also use the monitoring feature to identify training needs and opportunities.

In addition to call monitoring, many tools also provide performance insights through automatic reporting, based on historical data. This information can help you identify bottlenecks in your call center operations and brainstorm potential improvements.

Integration with CRM for faster ticket resolution

With computer telephony integration (CTI), call center software can integrate directly with your CRM. When an existing customer calls support, CTI technology will recognize that contact’s information and automatically pull up their profile for the agent. Before the agent even answers the call, they’re given the context they need to resolve a customer’s issue quickly and efficiently.

This synchronization of data goes both ways. For example, the recording from a live customer call is automatically stored in a contact’s CRM profile, so agents can easily familiarize themselves with issues. Automatic ticket creation, a feature of Zendesk Talk, records details about a call — number dialed from, talk time, location, agent who answered the call — so agents can spend less time on wrap-up and more time on helping customers.

The integration of call center software and CRM data puts detailed customer information at the fingertips of your support agents — giving them the context they need to achieve fast resolution and high customer satisfaction.

Which call center software type is best for my company?

Call center software is a big investment. So to help you decide which solution fits your business, we’ll walk through the main differences between the two types of call center software: on-premises and cloud-based.

On-premises call center software

Also called legacy or traditional call center software, on-premises systems operate via in-house servers. These servers are kept at a physical location, such as a data room in your call center office. All maintenance and IT updates must also be done manually on-site, which allows companies to maintain full control of their software.

On-premises call center software utilizes local phone lines, not an internet connection, to handle incoming and outgoing calls. Land lines tend to provide a better-quality phone call than cloud-based providers and don’t require a stable internet connection to function.

Overall, on-premises call center software is a good choice for companies wanting complete control over their software, along with a more secure option for storing customer information.

Cloud-based call center software

Cloud-based software is usually considered the cheaper, more flexible alternative to on-premises systems. It’s best for smaller teams of support agents, for remote-based companies, and for those with tighter IT budgets.

With cloud-based software, no physical space is needed to house servers or other hardware. As a result, teams that use this solution avoid paying for the maintenance labor costs that come with on-premises software.

Because most cloud-based call center software is subscription-based, smaller companies don’t necessarily have to invest a lot of money to use it. Businesses will often pay for just the number of licenses, or “seats” that they need.

Finally, cloud-based systems aren’t tied to a physical location, allowing companies the flexibility to employ agents anywhere in the world. Companies can choose from a wider pool of candidates and offer 24/7 support without asking agents to work shifts outside of their time zones.

If flexibility and cost are your top priorities when deciding which call center software to go with, we highly recommend a cloud-based option.

Making the decision to invest in call center software

Call center software is an investment in customer support satisfaction. Whether you implement an on-premises or cloud-based system, you’ll be giving your agents the tools they need to improve first-touch resolution and overall performance. With this guide as a resource, you’ll gain the insights needed to decide which platform will provide the most value to both your customers and your agents.

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Customers want companies to meet them where they are and expect easy, fast, and personalized support experiences regardless of channel. Find out how you can keep the conversation going with our free guide.