This interactive guide to call center software provides an overview of the most popular providers, the features they offer, current pricing and plans, and the user experience. We test hundreds of popular call center solutions, including sponsoring partners, to give you the information you need to make the right choice for your business.
What is Call Center Software?
Call center software is cloud-based business communications software that improves call volume management with the ability to optimize contact flows, help customers get faster and better support, and automate business processes.
There are three main types of call center software: inbound, outbound, and blending.
- The incoming call center receives incoming calls from current or potential customers. They most often provide customer service and support, make product referrals, place orders or make appointments, collect account payments, or assist with account management.
- Outbound call centers make outbound calls to current or potential customers, most of which take the form of sales, surveys, fundraising, or raising awareness of political campaigns. When you think of telemarketing, you think of outbound call centers.
- Mixed call centers receive incoming/outgoing calls for all of the above reasons and for additional business processes.
Call Center Software vs Contact Center Software
Although they are often used interchangeably, call center software and call center software are slightly different.
Contact Centers are omnichannel, allowing agents to connect with incoming/outgoing callers through multiple communication channels, such as voice calls, website chats, SMS, email, or social media.
Call center solutions, as the name implies, communicate through voice calls.
Today, many cloud-based call center software offers multi-channel communications, such as voice and SMS calls or voice and video calls, but since most of the focus is focused on business phone systems, the term “call center software” can be used to describe the product. In addition, cloud call center software is often integrated with third-party software that provides other communication channels.
Important Features of Call Center Software
The features below are essential for a quality call center solution. Most of these features are standard, but depending on your provider, you may need to purchase them as add-ons or upgrade to a higher-tier plan.
1. Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
Interactive voice response (IVR) is a self-service feature that consists of pre-recorded call menu options that interact with customers through touch tones or voice. These customers provide information about the reason for the call and help you connect with the right agent/department.
IVR automates various business processes such as paying bills and verifying/updating account information. The IVR menu also helps agents choose “Warm Transfer” to hear or obtain information about customer interactions with the IVR system before talking to the caller, so they can better prepare for customer calls.
Best of all, this menu helps the caller make sure the contact is someone who is qualified to help him, or direct the customer to a specific pre-recorded submenu where they can solve the problem on their own.
2. Automatic call distribution and call routing
Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) automatically routes callers according to a predefined call routing strategy.
ACD, often associated with IVR, is designed to increase call center productivity by eliminating the need for manual call transfer.
Call routing strategies are a way to route calls to agents to maximize productivity, ensure that agents don’t feel overwhelmed by calls, and increase the likelihood of resolving the first call.
Popular call routing strategies include:
- List-based routing: Agent A comes first, Agent B, then Agent C. The next incoming call is sent back to caller A.
- Round Robin Routing: Popular with sales agents, round robin routing allows each agent to get their own “order”. Agent A answers the first call, agent B answers the next call, and agent C answers the third call. The list does not “restart” with agent A after each call.
- Skill-Based Routing: Calls are routed to agents based on how well the agent’s expertise matches the caller’s needs. This is common in customer service settings.
- Simultaneous Rings: Here, incoming calls are simultaneously sent to a group of agents with the same/similar skills. The first agent to answer is the one who “answers” the call.
3. CRM Integration
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) integration allows users to connect third-party CRM tools to their call center software, eliminating the need for agents to switch between applications to access key customer data.
The Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) screen automatically fetches the current caller/customer information from the CRM system and displays it on the agent screen.
This ensures that the agent is fully prepared for the call and the caller does not have to call again.
4. Automatic callbacks
Automatic callback eliminates the need to wait long for callers, greatly increasing customer satisfaction.
Instead, callers can schedule when they want to receive a callback from an available agent based on their preferred time and date.
5. Auto Dialer
Auto dial mode helps increase lead list penetration and avoid time loss between manual calls.
Most call center solutions offer multiple call modes, including:
- Power Dialer: Power dialing mode automatically queues and dials the next outgoing call in the default list when the agent finishes the previous call. This way, agents only talk to people who are on the call and are ready to talk.
- Progressive Dialer: Progressive Dialer dials at a slower rate and waits for a toll-free agent to dial the number.
- Predictive Dialer: Predictive Dialer helps agents make the most calls in the shortest amount of time by filtering out busy signals, voicemail, dropped phone lines, and more.
- Dialer Preview: Call Preview mode allows agents to select from a list of past contacts and view important information about previous calls, accounts held or held, and past sales.
6. Call queue
Call queues allow many callers to wait for free agents to help.
It is important to provide callers with an estimated waiting time or update their position in the queue. Call queues can be sequential, VIP-based, need-based, etc. Call queues help reduce the number of customer callbacks.
7. Call Recording
Call recording agent and customer calls are available automatically or upon request. These records are then stored in the cloud where agents and supervisors can review them to assess customer service standards, agent effectiveness, and more. Often providers provide transcription of call recordings.
8. Reporting and Analysis
Real-time and historical analytics provide detailed insight into call center activity and effectiveness through KPI tracking. Reports can be fully customized, or administrators can choose from a variety of pre-built report templates. Users can choose to automatically receive analysis and reports at predefined intervals, and reports can be generated across individual agents and departments.
Key call center metrics include:
- First call resolution speed
- Average Talk Time and Average Handling Time
- average holding time
- Percentage of calls sent to voicemail
- response speed
- Current call queue information
- Currency Abandonment Rate
- cost per call
- customer satisfaction
- customer churn
9. Call Monitoring
Call monitoring allows others to hear your calls in real time. Often used to provide better training, monitor individual agent performance, or supervise new agents to better understand customer needs.
Call monitoring also enables call coaching in the form of call prompts. From here, administrators can listen to and provide an answer to an agent on the call in real time without the caller listening.
Call Barge allows you to “take over” the call of the current agent if the person monitoring the call clearly needs to intervene.
10. Multi-channel routing
Multi-channel routing automatically synchronizes up-to-date customer agent interactions and conversations between channels.
So, having multiple communication channels throughout a customer interaction allows everyone to continue where they left off, even if another agent takes over.
11. Caller ID
Caller ID displays the name and contact information of the incoming caller so agents can better prioritize calls and prepare to assist customers before they speak to them.