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As a business, you continually evolve your product or service offerings, which raises the need to constantly support your customers in solving their issues or answering their questions. But doing that solely over phones is severely outdated and thus, tremendously inefficient. That’s so because the popularity of phones as the preferred means of accessing help is rapidly declining among customers and channels such as texts, emails, social media, live chat, and community forums are gaining mass popularity.
Now, the challenge is not the number of channels—that’s actually good since more channels give you more coverage—, it is how to consolidate those channels so your team gets a single source of truth. The solution is contact center software.
While this software allows your customers to reach you on the channel they like (as long as you support that channel), your team doesn’t have to scramble to keep tabs on hundreds of queries or complaints on a multitude of channels. The results are better customer as well as employee experiences.
This buyers guide will take you deeper into the contact center software domain and inform you about some basic things to know when researching the market.
Here’s what we'll cover:
- What is contact center software?
- Common features of contact center software
- What type of buyer are you?
- Benefits of contact center software
- Market trend to understand
What is contact center software?
Contact center software is a technology tool that allows companies to manage high volumes of customer communications across multiple channels such as email, SMS, telephone, chat, social media, and other digital platforms. This opening up of several channels vastly reduces wait times, which, in turn, improves customer satisfaction. The software also makes customer servicing smoother for agents with the multitude of features it offers.
Contact center software can be integrated with other business applications such as customer relationship management software and help desk software, which by consolidating data makes customer relationship handling highly effective.
Common features of contact center software
The exact features vary depending on the product but most contact center software generally have the following overlapping features.
|Automated routing||Divert incoming calls automatically to the right departments or agents based on preset rules.|
|Multi-channel communication||Give customers the option to communicate via multiple channels such as emails, live chat, text, voice, online forms, and social media. This reduces the wait time for customers, which, in turn, helps enhance customer experience.|
|Agent interface||Allow service agents to view and manage all customer requests, edit customer information, add notes, create reports, transfer tickets, etc. from the software.|
|Auto dialer||Dial phone numbers automatically from a list of contacts to initiate outbound communications. Once the call is answered, auto dialers can play recorded messages or transfer the line to a live agent.|
|Call recording||Record conversations between customers and support agents and save those for compliance, training, analytics, etc.|
|Computer telephony Integration||Allow interactions on a telephone and a computer to be coordinated. It can be in the form of a pop-up screen that opens up a dashboard for an agent while interacting with a customer on the phone. The dashboard can show information such as caller issues and purchase history. This lets the agent make more personalized conversations.|
|Queue management||Manage and optimize customer wait times for service. The software informs agents in real time about the number of customers being served, the number of customers waiting to be served and how long they have been waiting for.|
|Reporting/analytics||Generate reports on performance metrics such as abandonment rate and average wait time, which show what is happening in the contact center or customer support department.|
|Workforce management||Manage staff scheduling to maximize performance and service quality. Also, forecast staffing requirements based on historical data.|
|IVR||Let callers help themselves through “self-service” using preset, automated menus.|
What type of buyer are you?
Before purchasing a contact center software solution, you should assess what kind of a buyer you are. The majority of buyers fall into these categories:
- Business to business (B2B) buyers: B2B customer service teams need to provide timely response and first contact resolution as their clients depend on B2B products/services for their operations. Also, there could be multiple individuals on different cross-functional teams using the same product/service. So the customer service team might get multiple calls about the same issue from that one corporate client.
Software that helps support agents view all previous interactions and contact points of the client will be beneficial for the buyers of this segment. A contact center software tool with audio/visual support, collaboration features, and reporting and analytics capabilities will help such businesses to view the full picture of customer interactions and maintain long-lasting relationships with clients.
- Business to consumer (B2C) buyers: Unlike B2B companies that have fewer customers, B2C companies have a huge customer base, the buying process is shorter here and based on the customers’ emotions and situation. Due to the huge customer base, support agents might end up receiving queries on the same matter multiple times. This might result in repetitive tasks, longer wait times, and call drops.
To handle such issues, buyers of this segment should invest in a contact center software tool that provides queue management, self service features, and workforce management capabilities.
Benefits of contact center software
Below is a comprehensive list of benefits you can expect from buying a contact center solution:
- Improved customer experience: As contact center software provides customers a choice of channels to reach agents or get their queries resolved, it reduces the amount of time customer support agents spend on the phone. This also allows agents to tailor their services to benefit specific callers, thus enhancing customer satisfaction and experience.
- Enhanced employee productivity: Contact center software collects customer data from every channel and presents consolidated views to agents regarding the customer they are servicing. This allows agents to better understand the customer’s grievances and address them efficiently and rapidly.
- Reduced costs: The omnichannel mode speeds up the response time, reduces call drops, and requires fewer agents to handle customer communications. All of these lead to significant cost savings for contact centers.
Market trend to understand
- Artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance contact center efficiency. AI-based software tools gather and analyze data from all channels and help agents better engage with customers and guide them to the right solution. AI-based contact center software solutions help companies leverage the technology in many ways, such as performing sentiment analysis to predict the tone of customers and natural language processing to deploy chatbots on websites.
The benefits of AI technology in terms of speed and interactivity will become the major driving force for vendors to embrace it in order to better their offerings and stay ahead of the competition.
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.