Launching a call center software selection process? Congratulations on modernizing your operations! If you choose the right solution, you'll likely see an increase in customer and agent satisfaction, especially if your transition is long overdue. And, if new workforce management software is included in the mix, you'll probably experience better labor cost management. There are many benefits to implementing the best call center software.
Rigorous software selection processes are heavily focused on requirements, features, and pricing, and rightfully so. If you're going through the effort and expense of switching to a new software solution, your choice better do what you need it to do at the quoted price. Plus, some fancy new features are always nice.
But requirements are often focused on current circumstances, which is fine if you think your call center will never change. But is that realistic? Will you ever expand to a second site? Add more support channels? Decide to implement a quality management module? If you think your call center will grow and change, you need to choose the best call center software to facilitate that evolution.
It's important to select software that will support future plans, even if those plans haven't been established yet. Asking informed questions will ensure you are choosing the best call center software for your organization.
Here are five questions to ask to find out if the solutions you're considering will support your future call center.
1. Does it support channels we might add in the future?
Even if you only offer phone customer service right now, ask vendors if and how their software handles contacts from digital channels, like email, chat, text (SMS), and social media. Odds are pretty good that your call center will support some of these channels in the near future, and you'll want to choose a solution that can handle the additional channels. The best call center software enables omnichannel experiences in which customers can move seamlessly across multiple channels as they interact with organizations. Here are some specific software modules to ask about:
- Automatic Contact Distributor (ACD) - The ACD is the traffic cop that directs where incoming contacts go. Omnichannel ACDs can intelligently match contacts from all channels to the right agent at the right time using sophisticated rules established by the business.
- Workforce management - Adding more channels means your workforce management team now needs to expand forecasting and scheduling beyond just phone calls. The best call center software can handle this, even factoring in the impact of multi-skilled agents.
- Agent interface - Speaking of those multi-skilled agents, find out what their desktop looks like when they support multiple channels. Ideally, agents will have a unified inbox that helps them holistically manage their entire workload.
2. Is it easy to integrate?
Are you planning to use your call center software as a standalone solution? You should still ask about integrations in case your plans change. Look for solutions with pre-built integrations using APIs for faster and simpler connections. Call center software is commonly integrated with customer relationship management (CRM) systems. These integrations enable capabilities that increase efficiency and improve customer experience. For example, when the two are connected, contacts can be automatically logged in the CRM system so that organizations have a more complete record of each customer's interactions. Look for out-of-the-box integrations with top CRM providers like Salesforce and Oracle Service Cloud.
Here are some resources that provide more information about CRM integrations:
- Contact Center 101: The What and Why of CRM Integration
- Increase Contact Center Efficiency with CRM Integrations
- NICE inContact CXone Pre-Built CRM Integrations
3. Does the software support an at-home agent model?
The recent pandemic really highlighted the importance of having work-from-home capabilities. Many call centers were caught flat-footed, but those with the best call center software were able to shift to an at-home model in a matter of days. Cloud-based solutions give organizations the technical capability to support a widely dispersed agent workforce. Even if work-from-home agents aren't part of your permanent plans, it's prudent to have realistic contingency plans in place.
NICE inContact helped many clients swiftly establish work-from-home operations. These resources are informed by this experience:
- Ensuring business continuity and success in remote contact center model
- Global outsourcer transitions employees home in a day
- Your work-from-home contact center: getting the foundation right
4. What other modules are in the software suite and what are their capabilities?
Are you just in the market for a new ACD? And maybe a workforce management solution? Planning to integrate your existing IVR with your new ACD? You should still understand what other modules the shortlisted vendors offer, including capabilities. You might decide to add analytics and quality management software in the future, and ideally they should all be from the same vendor to ensure they work together optimally. Knowing their capabilities now will ensure you aren't surprised down the road. Plus, you might need to quickly replace that old IVR if the integration doesn't work out.
5. What if we open an additional call center in a different location?
Growth is a great problem to have and the best call center software makes expansion easy and cost-effective. If your software is on-premises, opening an additional call center might mean purchasing more servers, hiring more IT staff, and buying more licenses. In comparison, expansion with a cloud-based solution is often as simple as establishing a connection and paying for the additional seats. Knowing what it will take to support growth will allow you to make a more informed purchase decision.
Here's some additional information about the cloud: