We investigate the many types of call centre software and share important advice that you need to know before investing your hard-earned budget.
Remember, the Secret of Technology in Business Is…
Automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency.
As Bill Gates once said: “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency.”
“The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”
Use these quotes to frame your thinking when it comes to installing call centre software and, as you move through the various points in this article, make sure you set them in this context: is your organization ready to magnify the efficiency?
After all, that is the fundamental aim of call centre software, whether that efficiency is in terms of enhancing customer experience, reducing financial expenditure or improving advisor experience.
Why Should You Update Your Call Centre Software?
There are so many solutions available now that you need to think about which best aligns to your organizational goals and how you tie that back to business justification.
Some organizations will want to forge relationships with customers, others will just want to make things as easy as possible for them.
Depending on your business proposition, your organization will likely look to install call centre software for one of three key reasons:
- To enhance the customer experience
- To reduce operational costs
- To improve the advisor experience.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at specific scenarios where you might want to implement tools for each of these purposes, while also looking at other types of call centre software that you can consider implementing for each reason.
To listen to a conversation with contact centre expert Erica Mancuso, in which we discuss using software for these three purposes, check out the podcast below.
Reason #1 – Enhancing the Customer Experience
Scenario: Too many calls are queuing, you are missing service levels and you are having to spend lots of money on overtime and extra resource.
In this scenario, you could look to invest in these three areas to safeguard your contact centre:
1. Skills-Based Routing – Routing calls to the most skilled advisor for certain call types will ensure greater efficiency by lowering handle times without influencing quality.
Not only this, adapting skills-based routing will help you to better utilize the resources that are available to you, making them more readily available.
2. Callback Technology – If the queue is longer than four or five minutes, you can use technology to hold the customer’s place in the queue, while they can get on with their day-to-day lives.
Once the customer reaches the front of the queue, an advisor will then phone them back to handle their query – removing much of the frustration that is caused by long wait times.
3. Proactive Tools – If something has gone wrong and you are expecting customers to flood into your contact centre, a proactive message can update them.
In this message, you can also guide customers to where they can find out more information without needing to contact the call centre.
Other Examples of Call Centre Software to Improve the Customer Experience
There are also a number of other technologies that you can use to improve the customer experience in the contact centre, including:
Quality Assurance (QA) Software: By monitoring the quality of interactions with customers and building bespoke scorecards, you can better spot trends impacting customer experience and manage those key problem areas.
Speech Analytics: By converting speech into text, speech analytics can analyse 100% of contact centre interactions, highlighting anything that negatively impacts customer experience. This includes bottlenecks, long moments of silence and unnecessary transfers.
Passive Voice Biometrics: While the benefit to a biometrics system is in ensuring compliance, passive biometrics removes irritating security procedures and verifies the customer’s identity by listening to the first few seconds of natural conversation.
Reason #2 – Reducing Operational Costs
Scenario – You introduce a new channel, yet demand across the contact centre isn’t how you expected and managing advisor performance has become more tricky.
In this scenario, you can reduce cost through implementing the following three technologies and, alongside that, improving team management strategies.
A Workforce Management (WFM) System: A WFM system will help improve staff planning by not only automating staff planning but also creating a profile of how traffic flows across your contact centre. This helps to increase efficiency.
Also, through improved forecast accuracy, you will be less likely to overstaff the contact centre and you will not have to use up so much advisor overtime, helping to lower key personnel costs.
Real-Time Dashboards: You can have a great planning and scheduling strategy in place, but you will still – not so regularly – experience unexpected peaks in contact volumes. In these circumstances, you want to make the best-informed decisions.
With a real-time dashboard, you can better guard your resource planning teams from making costly knee-jerk decisions, by showing them the big picture, in real time. This includes abandon rates across different queues, how advisors are performing against certain metrics and more.
Knowledge Management Tools: With a good knowledge base, which is well managed, advisors don’t necessarily need to be trained in everything, as they can easily find usable content, at a conversational speed, while handling the call.
Some knowledge tools will also proactively feed insights to advisors while on the call. This takes all the time out of searching.
Also, some knowledge tools will also proactively feed insights to advisors while on the call. This takes all the time out of searching, so you reduce training costs, without necessarily impacting the quality of contacts.
Other Examples of Call Centre Software to Reduce Operational Costs
While the three technologies above are great to have in place, if the scenario given is a key problem for your contact centre, there are other technologies that can reduce costs in other ways – if implemented well.
Self-Service Portals: By having an self-service option available, on either your website or an app, for a common, transactional contact reason, you can lower customer effort while also reducing contact volumes. This equates to significant cost-per-contact savings.
Scripting Software: Having scripts that follow simple visual flows will help advisors and reduce induction training costs, while also helping to deliver consistent messaging. You just need to be careful that you’re not too strict when it comes to script adherence.
A Virtual Contact Centre: With cloud technology, advisors can work from home. This saves money in terms of office space and other office overheads, while with homeworkers you will also likely find that your attrition and absenteeism rates will fall.
Reason #3 – Improving the Advisor Experience
We’re not going to give a scenario here, because when you are looking for opportunities to improve the advisor experience, software related or not, the starting point is to talk to your team.
To do this, you can create a quick survey for advisors. Your survey will have the aim of better understanding the barriers advisors face and what can make the situation better.
A key question that you can ask here is: if you could improve one thing, what would it be?
With your responses, you want to seek out all of the ideas and then group them into categories.
When Paul Weald, the director at MCX, ran this exercise with one contact centre, he collated the responses he received from advisors for how to improve systems. Here’s some of the feedback:
- Improve notes and contact history on CRM system
- Allow customers to reset their password online
- Give us faster systems
- Provide demo and tutorials on our website for customers to understand their statements
- Introduce text-back service to foreign numbers
- Increase the range of documents that customers can upload to our website
- Improve the IVR – routing customers to the right team
Once you have gathered these insights, Paul recommends: “Get your technology team and business analysts to follow up with groups of advisors to frame the ideas with the greatest potential.”
Get your technology team and business analysts to follow up with groups of advisors to frame the ideas with the greatest potential.
You can then provide reward and recognition to advisors who have their ideas taken forward and introduce a game like Dragons’ Den to pitch ideas to the Head of Operations and Finance Director. The best ideas on the day would then be taken forward.
Examples of Call Centre Software to Improve Advisor Experience
While a process like that above will help you to determine which call centre software is the best fit for your operation in terms of advisor experience, it’s also worth gaining an understanding of the following technologies.
Why? Because these tools have been designed specifically to help improve the advisor experience, as is outlined below.
Smart Desktop: A smart desktop will hide architectural complexities, which advisors are all too familiar with, while also offering a single log-in for multiple systems and a smart user interface (UI). Some even provide smart guides that analyse conversations and give advisors feedback.
Find out more about smart desktops in the video below, where recently retired contact centre and customer service analyst Richard Snow shares his thoughts on this promising piece of call centre software.
Wireless Headsets: With wireless headsets, advisors can stand up while taking calls and even move around the contact centre to find help, while staying on the phone with the customer. This not only removes the feeling of being “chained” to a desk, but also lowers hold time.
Agent Assist: Agent assist is a type of chatbot that sits beside your advisor and gives them advice in real time, suggesting how to proceed with the contact. This also allows advisors to train the bot, so one day it can be a customer-facing channel.
13 Further Examples of Call Centre Software
Although we have outlined how certain pieces of technology can be used to meet your main organizational goals, there are lots more examples of call centre software out there.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at these examples and outline how they can enable contact centre improvements.
1. ACD Systems: An ACD system distributes incoming contacts through to specific groups of contact centre advisors, through recognizing a caller ID.
2. Call and Screen Recordings: These technologies record calls and screens, for when advisors are writing emails, chats and social media responses. This insight can be great for one-to-one training.
A chatbot is a machine that you put in front of customers to automatically answer their queries, sometimes using artificial intelligence (AI), or they may instead be powered by scripting processes.
3. Chatbots: A chatbot is a machine that you put in front of customers to automatically answer their queries, sometimes using artificial intelligence (AI), or they can instead be powered by complex scripting processes. These have been introduced to the industry with mixed success.
4. CRM Systems: A CRM system is a customer database that, when integrated with an ACD system, can screen-pop customer information to advisors when a customer’s call comes through.
5. Internet of Things (IoT): With the IoT, you can not only connect your systems and computing devices, but you can also link your products with your contact centre via the internet. This means that certain products can send alerts to you after automatically detecting a problem.
6. Internal Communications Systems: Through an internal intranet systems, or an online community group, you can gather advisor insight, showcase great customer feedback and provide a space for advisors to share best practices, shift-swap and promote call centre initiatives.
7. IVR: An IVR enables a customer to respond to automated questions via the keypad on their phone, so you can pass them through the relevant call queue. There are also now voice-only IVRs, so customers respond without having to use the keypad.
8. Omnichannel Solutions: An omnichannel contact centre includes multiple channels within one solution, allowing customer information to flow between channels and different interactions. This enables you to track the history and context behind the customer’s query.
9. Predictive Dialler: Predictive diallers initiate calls automatically to potential customers at a pace that is set by a pacing algorithm. This algorithm is defined through monitoring advisor activity and calculating when is best to dial the contact.
RPA automates a number of the activities that are required to resolve customer queries, most of which are back-office processes.
10. Robotic Process Automation (RPA): RPA automates a number of the activities that are required to resolve customer queries, most of which are back-office processes, as well as those that are of high value to the customer but may be an irritant to the business.
11. Softphones: This call centre software allows advisors to make calls to customers straight from their desktop, meaning that your organization will have no need to invest in specialist communications hardware.
12. Voice of the Customer (VoC) Software: With VoC technology, you can capture customer feedback and use the data that you collect to better meet customer expectations. While this is often through surveys, there are less invasive technologies, such as social listening.
13. Wallboards: By displaying wallboards around your contact centre, you can distribute live performance updates to help spur the team on, while the technology can also be used to share news of contact centre events, training material and product updates.
For more detailed information regarding many of the pieces of call centre software discussed, read our article: The Top 10 Emerging Technologies in Contact Centres
Developing a Strong Business Case for Call Centre Software
Once you have identified the technologies that link best to your approach to serving customers and wider organizational goals, it’s time to create a business case.
To create a strong business case and to determine which call centre software will be most beneficial to your operation, you need to be able to confidently answer the following four questions.
1. Do You Understand the Benefits?
Software is an enabler, but it’s the wider operation that delivers the outcome.
So, when you assess the benefits that a tool may bring, can you isolate which benefits are currently relevant to your organizational goals and those which may be relevant with a slight culture shift?
When you assess the benefits that a tool may bring, can you isolate which benefits are currently relevant to your organizational goals and those which may be relevant with a slight culture shift?
Vendors will promise a lot from their software, but you need to build a business case that highlights specific areas in which you can gain the greatest benefit.
So, generally, you will craft a business case that works towards any of the key aims listed below:
- Improving customer experience
- Reducing operational costs
- Making life easier for your staff
- Ensuring consistency and compliance
2. Is It Feasible to Implement the Software?
Now you have laid out your benefits, you need to ensure that business leaders can see the feasibility of achieving that change.
So, the first point here is to consider; what will it take to get the technology implemented?
When brainstorming around this question, you will need to think about:
- What resources do you need? (even if you’re bringing in a third party capability)
- How long will it take?
- What training do you need to do to support advisors in using the software?
You can calculate your “cost to achieve” metric and compare that to the benefits outlined earlier.
By considering all these points, you can calculate your “cost to achieve” metric and compare that to the benefits outlined earlier.
Obviously, you hope the benefits will greatly outweigh the cost to achieve figure, as you hope to create a return on investment (ROI) figure that lays out the value of the software.
If you thoroughly conduct your research across different vendors and independently calculate ROI figures, you can estimate which would provide the best value.
Just remember, though, technology that easily integrates with your other contact centre software will bring more benefits, if a key goal is to better manage your data.
3. Why Is Now the Right Time to Invest?
You know the benefits and have estimated a good ROI, now you just need to focus on winning the argument for why change is needed.
So, the key here is to develop a clear and competent change-management strategy. This involves highlighting not only the positives of the change but also the negatives and how you plan to overcome them.
These negatives may be that it changes people’s jobs, that it has always been done this way. or maybe some customers just won’t like it.
When you outline negatives like this, you can better overcome them by planning how you can get people to buy into new ways of working and getting ahead of expected objections.
Also, as Paul tells us: “If you want to lobby and gain support for your project, then you may need to give something else up or realize that somebody else in the organization is going to have their project deprioritized.”
So, you need to be prepared for that, while you can also project a cost of not doing anything, to help make your case that this investment should be a key priority.
4. How Will You Measure the Outcome?
The final element to any business case is to be clear on how to measure the results.
If you’re looking to implement new call centre software with the overarching goal of improving customer experience, a key outcome may be an improvement in your Net Promoter Score (NPS).
So, you want to map out the benefits to KPIs in your business case, but after also measure a before and after.
At this stage, you must also be prepared to continuously improve, tweak and adapt to make sure that any improvements that you achieve when first implementing new call centre software are sustained over time.
If you can do each of these things, next time you go to stakeholders and ask for more budget, they are far more likely to look favourably on you.
Find more hints and tips about how to best put together a business case for call centre software in our article: 11 Ways to Secure More Budget for Your Contact Centre
Before you jump into the process of implementing any new technology, remember that call centre software is an enabler; without the right processes and people around it, it is nothing.
As Steve Jobs once said: “What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”
“Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.”
We have presented lots of new contact centre innovations, but assess your organizational goals and talk to your team, gathering lots of insight into where you need to improve.
With this research, target a certain call centre software and start to build a business case which outlines your intended outcomes, how you will measure your success in achieving those, and the feasibility of your plans.
For more expert advice for implementing and best using call centre software, read our articles: