Despite the increasingly growing popularity of self-service, live chat and social media support channels, phone still remains a preferred method of communication with businesses for a considerable number of consumers from all demographics. In fact, according to the Microsoft’s survey, 39% of consumers prefer support via phone or another voice channel. The eMarketer Ecommerce Insights Report conducted by Bizrate Insights also revealed that 31.9% of respondents prefer to talk to a customer representative over the phone. While the latest report from BrightLocal found that as many as 60% of customers prefer to call when contacting a local business.
Managing phone support can be a major challenge for companies as it’s typically the most time-consuming, least cost-effective and hardest to measure support channel. This is where call center software can play a critical role. Call center software is a software system that allows businesses to effectively manage customer communications by handling incoming and outgoing calls. Without the right software in place customers will be left on hold when calling support, while agents will struggle to answer queries quickly and efficiently. Most of today’s help desk software solutions provide call center functionality as a part of their offerings.
When customers call your support line, they naturally want you to answer quickly and handle their request efficiently. With automated call routing and IVR functionality of call center software, calls get automatically forwarded to the right agents, thus reducing wait times for customers. It ultimately results in improved communication and increased customer satisfaction.
A solid call center software allows you to monitor and manage every aspect of your call flow, such as customers in queue, the average speed to answer, the average talk time, the number of missed and answered calls, etc. With these metrics at their disposal, managers can clearly see how their support is performing and make well-informed decisions about the improvements needed.
With call center software, agents usually have instant access to a customer’s data, ranging from personal information to the customer’s purchases and full history of previous interactions. That enables them to interact with customers in a more timely, professional and personalized way, while also increasing their efficiency and productivity.
Apart from answering customer calls, call center software can also be utilized to drive additional sales opportunities. By having a complete view of caller information such as buying habits, payment history and product preferences, the agents can up-sell and cross-sell relevant products or services to your existing customers whenever it’s appropriate.
Data security and the risk of losing sensitive customer and company information are some of the major concerns for every organization. Modern call center software solutions offer advanced security features including data encryption, strong password policies as well as data backup to keep both customer and company data completely safe.
With a cloud-based call center software you can set up and run your call center with little investment as it doesn’t require specialized hardware and capable IT professionals to manage it. Since the vendor uses their own servers, software and IT team - cloud-hosted call center software solutions can help you reduce operational costs.
Depending on how the system is deployed, call centre software can be classified into the following types:
1. On-premises call center software
With on-premises call center software systems, the software, hardware and associated infrastructure is installed at your office, upgraded and maintained by your IT team – thus, you maintain control over all integrated systems and data. These are the most professional type of call center solutions, however, they are also the most expensive ones due to costly upfront investments for the software, hardware, licensing and infrastructure. On the flipside, on-premises call center systems offer limited customization and integration options and don’t provide the same level of security and uptime as cloud-based and browser-based types.
2. Hosted call center software
Hosted call center software solutions are deployed off-site, on the provider’s premises or a third party’s hosted site instead of the customer’s premises. It is maintained by the vendor and accessed through a network connection. This type of call center software is usually cheaper than on-premises solutions, however they also require an upfront investment so they are more costly than cloud-based and browser-based systems. Hosted call center software requires upgrading with each new version released.
3. Cloud-based call center software
Cloud-based call center software systems are hosted online and accessed through an app installed on a computer or a mobile device via the internet. The data is stored in the cloud on the servers that belong to the vendor or third-parties, and can be cashed allowing users to access it offline. Cloud-based call center solutions are managed by the service provider, are quick to deploy, involve minimal upfront investment and don’t require dedicated IT staff to maintain it. This type of call center software offers better data security, privacy and uptime as compared to on-premises and hosted tools. In addition, they can be easily integrated with other business apps.
4. Browser-based call center software
Browser-based call center software is similar to cloud-based software – the main difference between them is that it can be accessed through the internet browser rather than through an installed app. Cloud-based call center software vendors often provide a browser version of their app, for the convenience of their users. These are the most cost-effective solutions, and are also the easiest to implement and scale.
Virtual call center software is increasingly becoming adopted by many businesses across various industries. It is hosted in the cloud and works through Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) using a data network to place a phone call rather than a traditional phone line. The software allows agents to manage customer calls virtually from different geographic locations, as opposed to being centrally located in a single location, with many often working from home. Other than that, virtual call center software typically carries the same set of features as a regular call center software.
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