Many small businesses, particularly those with active sales teams or customer service departments, operate call centers. Some business owners choose to outsource their call centers to offshore companies and third-party vendors, but for many companies, keeping their call centers in-house is a better option.
Running your business's call center in-house can often be done more efficiently with call center software. Depending on which software you choose, call center solutions can offer many features that go above and beyond just filtering calls to the correct agents and making the placement of outgoing calls much easier. Call center software can integrate with your Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) and can include instant messaging and email integration as well as call recording and monitoring, and much more. [How to Choose the Best Call Center Software ]
Sue Brady, vice president of marketing and client services at sales enablement marketing company RM Factory, explained that with call center software, you can make an immediate impact to your business through sales and improve the overall customer experience.
"Call center software enables companies to listen, learn and react quickly to the changing dynamics of today's business environment, and can help set the path forward," Brady said.
While call center software can be beneficial to a small business, it's not necessarily for everyone. Before deciding on your call center solution, be sure to weigh the pros and cons.
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You can integrate it with your existing online accounts and software.
"Increasingly, customers want to interact with businesses through channels other than voice. Mobile devices, Internet self-service, Web chat, email, SMS, and even social media are now part of the customer experience. This has led to the development of the multichannel contact center; a single point where all channels connect to the right agent at the right time, in a seamless fashion. This holistic approach to the customer base is new and can be a real differentiator in today's markets," said J.R. Rodrigues, vice president of sales and marketing at telecommunications company Allied Communications.
It's reliable and cost-effective.
According to Nick Branica, president and CEO of business communications company IPitomy Communications, there are several benefits to using call center software. Branica noted that call center software is easily updated, more reliable than hardware as it won't wear out, and has a fixed cost.
Call center software can also lower your operating costs by identifying key leakage points in your sales and marketing operation. It can also identify areas of opportunity to increase revenue and profits, Brady said.
You can increase your sales.
"It can increase sales by routing the 'best' calls to the 'best' agents. 'Best' calls can be identified by zip code or area code and then prioritized in the call queue and funneled to the 'best' agents, [who] can be identified as the best skilled at handling a particular type of call based on a particular need," Brady said.
It can improve customer and employee satisfaction.
Call center software can lead to improved customer satisfaction because customers are dealt with more quickly and efficiently and put in contact with the correct people via their preferred communication method, Rodrigues said. He also added that employees are more satisfied with call center software because they have the right tools to do their job in the most effective way.
It makes management easier.
Another benefit of call center software is the ability to keep track of agent performance, Branica said, adding that employees or agents know they're being compared to each other, which can provide a competitive environment.
Managers also have access to the right reports and are able to better analyze and make their company's customer and prospect interface more successful and profitable, Rodrigues said.
You can use it remotely.
Call center software, particularly those with VoIP systems, provides more flexibility for employees to work from home, Branica said.
It's always evolving (which means you have to, too).
One of the mistakes business owners can make when using call center software is not staying updated. According to Brady, the technology becomes obsolete rapidly, sometimes within a year or two, so you need to be constantly on the lookout for the next generation of software.
You have to take the time to train your employees.
"In some businesses, like medical practices, the receptionist answers the call and immediately puts the caller on hold. With queueing, that is not necessary and the calls can be automatically shifted to other available resources. This of course requires some getting familiar with the capabilities of the software and using it to best fit your application," Branica said.
Brady also noted that you need to have your staff properly trained.
"Having the latest and greatest software tools at your disposal without having staff skilled at leveraging the tool is a waste of time, money and effort," Brady said.
You need to monitor your analytics regularly.
If you don't pay attention to your call center software analytics, you can miss important issues like your dropped call rate and therefore lose potential customers, Rodrigues said.
The technology can fail if not used correctly.
"If the company does not put in the correct redundancy technology and their systems fail during business hours, their agents will be left without this most important tool and unable to help customers and prospects as effectively as they should be doing," Rodrigues said.
Originally published on Business News Daily.