Building an efficient, effective call center isn’t easy — especially when you want to make calls pleasant for your customers and your customer service team.
But having the right call center tools can make all the difference. To help you narrow down the top call center tools that are crucial for your small business or mid-market business, we’ve gathered a list of top call center tools you need to cut down on manual processes. Gather insights and clear the way for human connection with your customers using our exhaustive call center tools list.
What tools and equipment do you need to set up a call center?
Call centers need multiple tools to run effectively and maintain an above-par customer experience. Some of the commonly used call center software tools are:
- PBX Switch
- Interactive Voice Response (IVRs)
- CRM Systems
- Call conferencing
- Call Barging
- Metrics and Analytics
- Real-Time Reporting
- Call Recording & Call Monitoring
- Predictive Dialers
1. Hardware for call centers
No matter the advanced calling technology used in your call center, every agent should be equipped with a range of hardware tools to manage operations, data storage, and customer relations — irrespective of cloud storage capabilities.
Let’s start with the basics— you’ll need a computer to access your call center software or cloud contact center (as well as things like your customer relationship management (CRM) system and your email).
Luckily, this doesn’t have to be a top-of-the-range laptop or desktop. Just make sure it’s reliable, reasonably fast, and has antivirus protection that can keep your data safe.
You might not always need one of these if your call center software is good enough — your smartphone and your laptop can often provide clear enough sound.
If you purchase a headset, remember that your agents will be talking to customers for long periods each day, so they need to be comfortable and of good quality. Ideally, look for noise-canceling headsets to ensure your agents and customers aren’t distracted by background noise from your call center.
2. PBX Switch
PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange — basically, your business’ private phone system. Your PBX is responsible for helping you make both internal and external phone calls.
A PBX also handles call routing, voicemails, hold music, and interactive voice menus (IVR).
You can choose between three types of PBX:
a) On-premise PBX : It is the most traditional form of PBX. This is fitted to your work desk and can’t be moved around — thus, taking calls on the go is not feasible. They’re pretty reliable and provide good sound quality, but installing and maintaining on-premise PBX is a tedious process.
b) IP PBX : Connects calls via the internet and your company’s private network. IP PBX doesn’t need much physical hardware, and just a phone on your desk would suffice.
c) Hosted PBX : No physical hardware is required since everything is hosted virtually via the cloud. This enables the agents to work as long as they have a laptop with good internet connectivity. A third-party provider maintains all the data and operations, and you won’t be responsible for upkeep and maintenance.
Software for call centers
While the software built for call centers is abundant, only a few are essential for delivering outstanding customer service.
3. Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
‘Press ‘one’ to make a payment, press ‘two’ to speak to our customer service team….’
An interactive voice response system is a concept every consumer is familiar with. It is an automated system that presents callers with prerecorded voice menus or instructions, asks them to choose from a list of options by pressing a key on their dial pad or speaking into their phone.
When customers choose an option, IVR routes the incoming call to a submenu or a customer support agent, depending on the option they choose. If you get it right, IVR is a great way of segmenting customers early by asking them to define things like their preferred language or the nature of their query. This way, you can direct customers to the right agent faster. You can even speed up issue resolution by getting some of the primary customer information out of the way before agents even pick up the phone.
4. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system
When customers call your contact center, they hope to resolve their issues without being put through a cumbersome process. But your customer service agents need context if they’re going to provide customers with the best service possible across various communication channels. This is where call center or cloud contact center CRM systems are essential.
A call center CRM is software used to store and manage customer data. Call center agents can use a CRM system to instantly see all the relevant information about a particular caller, like order history, last point of contact, and location. Customer service teams can put every customer conversation in context with this information at their fingertips. Suppose customers have specified that they prefer to receive communications via real-time messaging on Whatsapp. In that case, you can offer to follow up on their query with a text instead of a call. If your CRM integrates well with your call center tools and software, you can use it to enhance your omnichannel communications seamlessly.
5. Call conferencing
Conference calls aren’t just for internal meetings — though a good call conferencing software can make it much easier for teams to collaborate virtually.
Firstly, no one likes to be left on hold while they’re transferred from one customer service agent to another. With call conferencing, you can invite other team members to join an existing call instead of transferring customers back and forth. If an agent doesn’t know the answer to a question and wants to bring in an expert, they can do it easily without making customers feel they’ve been palmed off or left to wait around.
Secondly, call conferencing makes it much easier to train customer service agents. Instead of listening to recordings or reading transcripts, agents can listen live as their colleagues handle tricky or unusual calls. This real-time observation lets agents experience the situation first-hand.
6. Call barging
‘Call barging’ might sound discourteous, but it’s an essential way of keeping the quality of your customer service high. Call barging software allows supervisors to listen in on live calls discreetly and, if necessary, join the call and speak to both the customer and the customer service agent. When the supervisor is ready to leave, they can hang up while the other call participants carry on their conversation.
This is useful for two reasons:
a) Workforce management team leads and managers can do spot checks to see how their customer service team performs on calls.
Deescalation and responding to customer complaints – Harvard Business Review found that escalations rose by 68% in 2020. Hence, it’s more important than ever to have systems to make supervisor interventions easier.
b) If a dissatisfied customer asks to speak to a supervisor, call barging enables them to step in without placing the customer on hold or taking the customer service agent out of the loop. Barging into a call can be a confusing or irritating experience for some customers and customer service agents, so it’s important to set up clear protocols for when it’s acceptable for supervisors to barge in.
7. Metrics and analytics
If you want to build deeper, longer-lasting relationships with your customers, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your call center KPIs. Call center analytics software allows you to assess how well your call center performs against those KPIs. The best software does this by gathering together all of the relevant data and presenting it in clean, easy-to-understand dashboards. Good analytics software will monitor helpdesk productivity, call volume, customer interactions, and average call wait time.
8. Real-time reporting
Some contact center solutions can give you insights into key metrics in real-time, updating dashboards every few minutes to get an up-to-date picture of your performance. Real-time reporting is beneficial when tracking call volumes or the number of closed service tickets. Suppose you can spot trends in these indicators quickly. In that case, you’ll be able to avoid long queues and burned-out call center agents early by reallocating team resources.
9. Call recording and Call monitoring
Call recording software collects the audio (and sometimes customer service agent screen activity) from all inbound and outbound calls and saves it for later review.
It’s essential to keep a record of your calls for three reasons:
Quality control – Spot-check conversations to see how agents have performed and give feedback to individual members of the team.
Compliance – Deep dive to see if agents followed the mandatory workflows when supporting customers and collecting their data.
Accuracy – Provide agents with a concrete record of what was said and done on a call. This will set the context for their future conversations.
10. Call monitoring
Call monitoring software allows supervisors to proactively listen to agents’ calls as a way of tracking their performance and keeping an eye on customer satisfaction. If you want to get a complete picture of your team’s performance, look for software that allows you to monitor calls from multiple perspectives:
a) Call recordings can be reviewed in the long term to spot trends and areas of improvement.
b) Real-time listening, which allows you to sit in on a call and hear how agents handle customer service conversations so that you can provide feedback on a more regular basis
c) Live dashboards for metrics like average wait time, average talk time, number of agents involved in a conversation, number of agents online, and number of service tickets resolved — all of which tie directly into customer satisfaction.
10. Predictive Dialers
In its simplest form, a dialer is a piece of software that automates calling large lists of phone numbers. Instead of manually typing in numbers, call center reps can upload a list of contacts and allow the dialer to call customers one after another.
By removing the fiddly process of entering numbers into a keypad or finding customer details in a database, a dialer significantly reduces the time needed between each call. As a result, the automation of dialers can enormously improve your agents’ productivity and free up their time to have more in-depth, attentive conversations with customers.
About Freshdesk Contact Center
Give your agents all the essential call center tools they need with Freshdesk Contact Center. Running a friendly, efficient, and reliable contact center requires lots of different tools — but, with the right partner, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Freshdesk Contact Center brings you all of the advanced features your business needs, to have fast, straightforward conversations with customers every day. That’s why over 50,000 customers rely on us to help them keep their call centers running.
And with everything you need all in one place, your customer service agents can focus on what matters: having conversations that delight your customers.
Illustration by Sahul Hameed
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