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  • Academy
  • What is a Contact Center?

What is a Contact Center?

What is a contact center software?

Contact center software is a communication and collaboration application. It enables companies to manage a high volume of inbound and outbound customer communications across a range of channels. Many currently available software solutions are omnichannel, or multi-channel. They allow businesses to handle and integrate customer interactions across all potential channels and touchpoints including; voice, VoIP, email, fax, chat, video, SMS/text, and social media platforms.

Over recent years, contact center technology has considerably evolved enabling new software functionality and capabilities. Rapid advancements in CRM, integration of machine learning, and AI into business processes are anticipated to have; a major impact on the contact center software industry and accelerate its growth in the following years.

Historically, contact center software was an on-premises based service; meaning the software was downloaded and maintained in-house, and required significant upfront and ongoing investment. With the movement to the cloud, contact center software has become more affordable to a broader range of organizations. Cloud-based software solutions are now widely preferred by businesses due to; low implementation and maintenance costs, greater scalability, and flexibility.

Contact center software components

Unlike call centers, contact centers are broader in their scope and encompass a larger set of services and capabilities. Core components and features of a typical contact center software include;

Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)

Automatic Call Distribution is the backbone of any contact center software. It allows effectively manage the flow of incoming calls, emails, chats, and texts. How? Well, by queuing and routing them to the most appropriate agents or departments. This depends on the agent availability, matching expertise, or other routing options.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

IVR enables customers to interact with a company’s voice self-service system via a telephone keypad or by speech recognition. It can identify and segment callers. Moreover, resolve queries without human assistance, or pass them on to live agents, if further help required.

Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)

CTI is a technology that allows computers to interact with telephones and other channels of communication. For contact centers, CTI enables the connection of these communications with customer data stored in CRM platforms. Therefore, provides pre-call authentication, so the agents get caller information even before picking up the call.

Outbound dialer

Outbound dialer automates the process of dialing numbers. Thus, maximizes outbound call volume by; allowing agents to increase the number of outbound calls they can make. Furthermore, decreasing the time it takes to place them.

Real-time call monitoring

Real-time call monitoring enables listening to agents’ calls in real-time. Thus, you can monitor their performance and ensure the quality standards are being met. It also assists in the training of new agents, both working from home or in the office.

Reporting and analytics

Reporting features allow tracking various call data including; the number of calls per agent, average call length, agent downtime, etc. As a result, you get a full view of daily statistics and track contact center KPIs over the long term.

Multi-channel integration

Multi-channel contact centers enable businesses to offer a unified, seamless, and consistent service experience; across different channels by streamlining all interactions into one centralized location. The channels include email, voice, text, social media, and the web.

Workforce management (WFM)

Workforce Management capabilities help to ensure a contact center is staffed with enough employees. Moreover, it ensures employees have the right skills to effectively handle customer queries. That includes forecasting customer call demand, predicting agent staffing numbers, agent work scheduling, performance reviews, timekeeping, and day-to-day management.

Contact center vs call center: What is the difference?

‘Call center’ and ‘Contact center’ are very often used interchangeably. However, they are two distinct models for business communication and customer service. When it comes down to it, the primary difference between the two is that; call centers handle voice communications, while contact centers handle all communications.

what-is-a-contact-center-vs-call-center

Contact centers are basically the evolution of call centers. In addition, they appeared with the proliferation of digital communication channels to meet the growing demands of consumers. Today, call center software often comes as an integrated part of help desk software. Some of the key differences between call centers and contact centers are the following;

Voice vs. digital service channels

Call centers are focused on inbound and outbound voice calls; either on traditional phone lines or over VoIP. They are designed to handle a massive volume of calls. Contact centers are able to interact with customers over a variety of service channels. For instance, traditional voice, email, live chat, as well as social media, video, bots, in-app, SMS/text.

Reactive vs proactive service

Traditionally, a call center’s default strategy for providing customer service is to; reactively respond to inbound requests and complaints as they arise. Though today’s call center software solutions allow keeping track of customer information; contact center software compiles all customer data from across all channels into a single customer profile. Thus, giving agents a more comprehensive view of customer behaviors and preferences. This also enables them to deliver a more predictive and proactive service.

Self-service options

Both call centers and contact centers use automation through IVR systems that operate via spoken responses and/or keypad entries. These allow customers to resolve issues in a self-service mode, often without involving a live agent at all. Contact center software solutions, however, usually offer additional self-service capabilities with; AI and bots.

Choosing between a call center software or a contact center software solution depends on; your goals, requirements, and complexity of your business processes. It’s also critical to take into account which channels your customers actually prefer to use to engage with your brand.

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