Celia Cerdeira at Talkdesk explains that your phone support teams are a crucial point of contact for your company’s customers and potential customers.
Whether they have a question about a product or a request for a refund, people who call your business phone system expect that their issue will be resolved promptly and with a pleasant customer experience.
Unfortunately, too many organizations struggle with efficiently handling the volume of calls that they receive day in and day out.
Agonizingly long wait times and frustrated, burned-out agents cause your customers to be dissatisfied with the quality of support they receive—and the consequences can be disastrous for your bottom line.
According to a Talkdesk survey, 49% of consumers say that they ended their relationship with a company in the past year due to a poor customer service incident.
For this reason, many companies are turning to call centre software—also known as contact centre software or call centre solution.
But what is call centre software, exactly? How do call centre solutions work, and how can you find the best call centre software for your organization?
We’ll answer these questions and more below in this article.
What Is a Call Centre ?
A call centre is an environment that handles large volumes of business phone calls. These phone calls usually involve the company’s existing or potential customers. A call centre may handle phone calls relating to customer service, technical support, sales, general inquiries, and more.
Traditionally, a call centre has been located in a single physical location, with agents side-by-side at their desks. However, the rise of digitalization has enabled the virtual call centre, where customer support team agents are present in multiple distributed locations or even working from home.
This approach has allowed companies to employ customer support teams with agents from different countries and time zones around the world, offering 24/7 availability for customer support calls.
What’s more, the stereotypical image of a call centre with phones constantly ringing off the hook is now outdated, thanks to the introduction of VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) software.
VoIP technology is a cloud-based solution that allows customer service teams to place calls over an internet connection rather than a landline. Users sign into a central, standardized VoIP interface, allowing them to perform both inbound and outbound calling.
In modern contexts, the term call centre is sometimes replaced with contact centre. Although these phrases can be used interchangeably, there’s a subtle distinction between them: a contact centre may include other forms of support for customers who are reaching out via multiple channels, such as email, live chat, website forms, mobile apps, or social media.
This is also known as an omnichannel approach, combining multiple customer service operations and communication channels under one roof.
What Are the Four Types of Call Centres?
Every contact centre is different from the next—which also means that the best call centre software will be different for each company. In general, however, call centres can be separated into a few basic types, depending on their function. In this section, we’ll discuss four major types of call centres that you should know about.
1. Inbound Call Centre.
Inbound call centres handle incoming calls that originate from a customer rather than being placed by an agent. This means that inbound call centres tend to focus on customer service issues. These calls typically deal with concerns such as:
- Product support. From help with installation and getting started to refunds and exchanges, product support is one of the essential functions of an inbound call centre.
- Order and payment processing. Call centre agents can help users complete an order over the phone, as well as address issues with their billing, shipment, or payment processing.
- Technical support. Inbound call centres can help users deal with technical issues such as lost passwords or website crashes. For advanced queries, agents may use call routing to send users to a dedicated IT support desk.
Technology for inbound call centres includes smart call routing software that helps direct users to the right team or department. With interactive voice response (IVR), an inbound call centre solution can filter customers into different queues based on their specific query or problem.
2. Outbound Call Centre.
Outbound call centres, by contrast, handle outgoing calls that are placed by agents rather than customers or prospective customers. As such, outbound call centres are usually staffed by members of your business development and sales teams. These calls may deal with concerns such as:
- Sales and lead generation. Generating, developing, and qualifying leads is an essential task for many B2B companies. Many sales teams specialize in cold calling to identify the most promising opportunities and nurture them until conversion.
- Market research. Agents may place outbound calls to perform market research such as customer surveys. Political polls are another well-known example of using outbound calls to perform research.
- Fundraising and awareness. Non-profit organizations may use an outbound call centre to raise funds or awareness for a particular cause.
- Customer notifications. In some cases, companies may need to place outbound calls to notify their customers about a particular issue, such as a product recall.
These call centres use technology such as a predictive dialer for better outbound campaign management. This is a software application that uses intelligent algorithms to select phone numbers for agents to call.
A predictive dialer can also filter out issues such as busy signals and answering machines, improving call centre productivity by ensuring that agents get connected to a real person as soon as possible.
3. Blended Call Centre.
Blended call centres, as the name suggests, handle both inbound and outbound calls. Using a blended call centre—sometimes known as a hybrid call centre—can help keep agents occupied, maximize productivity, and reduce downtime.
However, using a blended contact centre does incur greater complexity since you’ll be using a wider range of software and technology. In addition, agents may need to be trained in handling a wide variety of calls.
The term blended call centre is sometimes confused with the notion of a blended agent. Blended agents are call centre employees who handle multiple forms of customer interactions and channels. Although blended agents may participate in both inbound and outbound calls, they may also handle customer interactions on channels other than phone calls—such as chats, emails, SMS messages, and social media.
Thus, not all employees at a blended call centre are necessarily blended agents; some may specialize in only inbound or outbound calls. Conversely, not all blended agents may work at a blended call centre; for example, some may work at an inbound contact centre handling both phone and email support.
4. Automated Call Centre.
Automated call centres use at least some degree of automation to handle many inbound—and sometimes outbound—calls. These days, the vast majority of contact centres use some degree of automation.
However, the exact type and degree of automation used in an automated call centre may vary widely. Some of the most popular forms of contact centre automation include:
- Automated interactions. Instead of needing to speak with a human agent, callers may be able to resolve their issue partially or fully by interacting with automated software. For example, automated call centre software can help users leave a voicemail, find store hours or locations, or get help with other simple queries. This is perhaps the most common type of automation that people envision with the term automated contact centre.
- Predictions and forecasting. Being able to predict the amount and types of calls in your contact centre is essential to hire enough staff and efficiently handle the call volumes. Forecasting automation can help you better understand your historical data and make predictions about the future, for example how many calls you will receive at 10 a.m. next Thursday.
- Workflow management. After handling an inbound call, agents need to enter information such as the caller’s identity, the length of the call, the subject of the call, and how the call was resolved into third-party software such as a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. Automated workflow management tools can capture and save this information, saving human agents untold hours of tedious manual effort.
- Sales and lead generation. Beyond inbound contact centres, automated software can help outbound contact centres boost their sales and lead generation performance. For example, sales agents can create automated reminders to follow up with a promising connection or to help a recently converted lead get started with the onboarding process.
What Is Call Centre Software?
Call centre software is any software application that helps call centre agents better manage the flow of communication. In addition to phone calls, call centre software may help manage customer interactions over email, SMS, live chat, social media, and instant messaging.
Using call centre software can increase customer satisfaction by helping customer service teams track and efficiently respond to customer issues.
How Does Call Centre Software Work?
A call centre solution is a centralized platform that helps agents oversee the constant stream of phone calls and other communications with customers and potential customers.
Call centre software often interfaces with other major software applications, such as your customer relationship management (CRM) platform or your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
Organizations may select different call centre software features, depending on their business needs and objectives. Many call centre solutions come equipped with automation functionality to save human agents a great deal of tedious manual work.
For example, automatic call distribution can use interactive voice response (IVR) technology to determine why users are calling and then route them to the correct destination.
What Is Inbound and Outbound Call Centre Software?
Inbound and outbound contact centres may require different call centre software solutions. This is because both types of call centres have separate concerns and processes that can be streamlined and optimized.
Inbound call centre software typically works as follows:
- A customer’s phone number is matched to an existing record, or saved if no record exists. If the record exists, the agent is provided with information about the customer before accepting the call.
- The call is placed in a queue based on priority and order of arrival. Agents can accept this call manually or wait for it to be assigned.
- Once the call is complete, call centre software can automatically record details about the interaction, such as the customer’s identity, length of call, topics discussed, and others and save it to a third-party system, such as a CRM.
Outbound call centre software, on the other hand, generates customer profiles for agents to call. After the call finishes, outbound call centre software acts much the same way as inbound call centre software, recording details about the call and taking further action if necessary, for example automatically scheduling a follow-up.
How to Get Started With Call Centre Software.
Looking to get started with contact centre software? It’s important to find the best call centre software to fit your goals and requirements. One good idea is to use a cloud contact centre solution that is highly available, scalable, and easy to deploy with no support or maintenance obligations on your part.
This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of Talkdesk – View the original post
To find out more about Talkdesk, visit their website.
Call Centre Helper is not responsible for the content of these guest blog posts. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Call Centre Helper.