When choosing call center software, businesses should be like drill sergeants. You know how drill sergeants in movies run their white-gloved fingers across surfaces to check for grime, or grill the recruits on their knowledge of military topics? This is the type of relentless focus businesses should direct towards their software selection process.
The equivalent of the white glove treatment takes place during the demonstration phase when vendors show how their software meets the organization's requirements. Chances are good that just about any respectable call center software product will meet 75-85% of a business's needs. But what about the other 15-25%? That's often where attention to detail is most crucial. Pull out those white gloves and do a thorough inspection!
As to grilling the vendors, that needs to be done, as well. Not only do organizations need to understand the call center software solution, but they also must find out more about their potential long-term partner. This may include asking tough questions about, for example, the vendor's financial health or how they will prioritize support requests.
Boot camp, where drill sergeants reign, is a very soldier-centered process. A main purpose of boot camp is to instill disciplined habits and teach fundamental skills so that the soldiers will fare well in battle.
Although not a life or death situation, there is also a very important group of people that should be firmly in the center of any call center software selection process - customers. Sure, operational and financial results are also important considerations, but it's really customer experience (CX) that should be star of the selection show. Get that right and the positive business results should follow.
An organization's customers won't even know what call center software they are using, but they'll certainly feel the effects. Choosing the right platform takes a drill sergeant's unabashed love for detail. Your customers will reward you for it.
Customers will never directly interact with most of the components that are included in a typical call center software suite, so it can be easy to lose focus on how these modules impact their journeys. But have no doubt about the influence call center software has on customer experience.
Here are ten meaningful examples.
1. Empowerment through self-service
When a customer calls a business, the very first touchpoint is often handled by an interactive voice response (IVR) system. Good IVRs enable self-service through integrations with other business systems (for example, billing software). This gives customers choices, including the option to solve their own issues. That's empowering.
2. Being matched to the right agent
Connecting customers to the best available agent can have a significant impact on customer satisfaction. "Best" doesn't mean the smartest agent. It typically means an agent that has been specially trained to handle certain types of issues, or is familiar with specific accounts, or perhaps is multi-lingual. A competent automatic call distributor (ACD), which is a foundational call center software module, can route according to all these rules and more.
3. Low wait times
Nobody likes to sit on hold. We all know that. High wait times can sour the customer experience, while a short queue time does the opposite. Wait times are largely influenced by how many total agents a call center has employed and when they're scheduled to be on the phones. Good workforce management software optimizes wait times by ensuring organizations hire the right number of agents and schedule them according to forecasted call volumes and patterns.
4. Data security
A data breech is a surefire way to torpedo the customer experience, so look for call center software that has built-in data security features. For example, the best call recording software can be configured to pause recording while callers are providing credit card numbers or other sensitive information. This greatly reduces the risk of that data being compromised and ensures the customer journey doesn't become a disastrous voyage.
5. Focus on quality management
Competent call centers have quality assurance programs that assess agent performance and provide corrective coaching. When done right, QA efforts result in better agents, and this leads to an improved customer experience. Quality management software automates the monitoring and feedback process and brings visibility to performance through intuitive reporting tools. When infused with artificial intelligence (AI), speech analytics tools can take QA one step further by analyzing 100% of contacts and flagging ones needing attention.
6. Channel choice
Consumers value choice, which includes choosing the way they interact with businesses. Even if an organization currently offers only phone support, their call center software shouldn't be similarly limited. The best platforms enable the easy addition of other support channels, such as email and chat. This allows businesses to evolve according to customer demand and thus enhance customer experience.
7. Seamless omnichannel experience
Channel choice is great, but to really elevate customer experience, organizations need to integrate all their channels so they can provide seamless experiences. This means, for example, that customers can effortlessly switch channels within the same support transaction. Businesses should look for call center software that has omnichannel capabilities, including omnichannel routing and an integrated agent inbox.
8. An opportunity to be heard
Sometimes customers want to be able to vent, praise, or just share their opinion about their recent service experience. Survey tools provide this capability and are often included as an optional module in call center software suites. When survey feedback is transformed into meaningful improvements, this typically translates into an improved customer experience.
9. Agents who care
The agent is probably the most important factor in delivering a high quality experience during a support interaction. Customers can tell when an agent is motivated to help them and that could mean the difference between service victory or failure. Savvy call centers use performance management software to engage and motivate agents. These tools help agents monitor their own performance and align on organizational goals for CX success.
10. Continuously refined experiences
Organizations that are genuinely committed to their customers spend a lot of time measuring and analyzing. This allows them to identify pain points, implement improvements, and then measure results. The best call center software platforms include sophisticated analytics tools that enable a cycle of continuous improvement to the customer experience.