At times, putting together all of the hardware and software that call centers need can feel like a daunting task. The following list will make it easier for you to give your agents the essential call center tools that they need to increase their efficiency.
Hardware for Call Centers
You can't have a call center without hardware. Even the earliest call centers needed phones that agents could use for incoming and outgoing calls. Today, you will find the following hardware essential to success. Without these call center tools, every other agency will maintain an advantage over your business.
You can't start a modern call center without a computer that gives agents access to dialing software, customer relationship management (CRM) apps, and notes that will help the team convert leads.
Luckily, you don't need the most advanced computers to make call center agents efficient. In most cases, you can rely on desktop and laptop computers that have:
- The latest Windows or Mac OS X operating system.
- At least 2 GB of RAM.
- About 60 MB of hard disk space.
- A Super VGA monitor that's 15 inches or wider.
- A video graphics card with at least 8 MB of RAM.
- A central processing unit (CPU) with about as much power as a Pentium 4.
- A network connection.
These computers are readily available and affordable.
Keep in mind that the more software you want to store on individual computers, the more money you will need to spend upgrading the RAM, hard disk space, and processor.
Investing in more RAM, hard disk space, and processing power can help your agents perform tasks faster, but it isn't necessary as long as you choose lightweight software that can run on basic machines.
Sitting in one position throughout an entire workday will wear on anyone's body and mind. Headsets are important to call center tools because they let employees move about during their shifts. The more freedom people have to move, the more productive they become.
Headsets also improve efficiency by letting your employees multitask. When equipped with headsets, agents can connect to dialing software, manage calls, talk to clients, look up information, and type without restrictions. It's impossible for them to do those things while holding phones up to their ears.
A private branch exchange (PBX) switch connects computers to internal and external networks. It acts like a gateway that makes it easier for IT professionals to manage all of your call center tools. Plus, you can use them with practically any type of phone, including VoIP and USB phones.
In many call centers, PBX switches are essential for distributing calls to agents. Without a PBX switch, agents may sit without anything to do while they wait for their phones to ring. With a PBX switch, your call center's phones and computers can connect to the internet, VoIP providers, and other services.
Software for Call Centers
Every call center has to invest in hardware. No matter how much money you spend on equipment, though, you won't get a strong return until you adopt software that helps you meet your goals.
Companies that develop software for call centers have created some ingenious options that save time, improve accountability, and boost conversions.
Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)
Automatic call distribution software is one of the most important tools you can use to increase agent efficiency. When calls come into your center, the ACD holds them in a queue. As soon as an agent becomes available, the software directs the call to that person's desk.
By using ACD, you ensure that calls get answered as soon as possible.
Interactive Voice Response (IVRs)
Interactive voice response software reduces the number of actions your agents must take to execute tasks. For example, instead of forcing an agent to look up a lead's phone number and dial it, IVR can execute the entire task with the push of a button.
IVRs can use voice recognition or keypads. Regardless of the option you choose, you need an IVR so your call agents can do their jobs quickly without making mistakes.
Customer relationship management does much more than increase agent efficiency. A good CRM system can also give employees the information they need to assist customers and convert individuals during cold calls.
CRM systems often provide information like:
- Where a call comes from.
- Previous interactions customers have had with the company.
- The types of services and products a caller has purchased before.
- Demographics that help agents tailor pitches to each person.
- How much time callers have spent on hold.
The more call agents know about the people they speak to, the easier it becomes for them to reach goals.
Many CRM systems also connect call centers to automated emails that can retarget potential customers and keep existing clients informed about your company's latest products.
Metrics and Analytics
Metrics and analytics give call centers the information they need to know whether they hit their targets. Without data, managers and agents can only make guesses. With metrics and analytics, they can make informed decisions that lead to better strategies.
Analytics software can track several metrics. You don't necessarily have to pay attention to every option that analytics software gives you. With that said, most data centers use analytics to track:
- Call times.
- Connection rates.
- Hold times.
When it comes to making agents more efficient, adopting analytic software lets employees know that you will hold them accountable for their work performance. During performance reviews, managers can point to accurate data that shows how many calls agents take during their shifts, how long they spend talking to each person, and how long they spend on breaks between calls.
Employees that understand what you expect from them can adjust their behaviors to become more effective call center agents.
Your call center can either review analytics in real-time or generate reports when needed. Most professionals find real-time reporting more effective because it lets them adjust to spikes in incoming calls.
Real-time reporting even benefits centers that place outgoing calls. Instead of waiting until the end of the day to determine whether a sales script works well, you can view conversions as they happen. If you don't like the responses your call agents get, then you can adapt by altering your strategy or choosing to focus on a different location, demographic, or lead source.
Call recording benefits call centers in at least three ways. These call center tools that record interactions let managers:
- Hold agents accountable for how they perform their jobs.
- Give managers examples of excellent calls that they can use to train new hires.
- Create transparency between the agent and the customer.
Without call recording, you don't really know what your agents say on the phone. If someone behaves inappropriately, you can't hold them accountable for their actions. With call recording, everyone in the call center knows that they have to do their jobs well. If they don't, managers can provide evidence that justifies disciplinary action.
Dialers automate the dialing process so your employees don't have to spend time inputting numbers or looking up leads.
Most of today's call centers prefer predictive dialers. There are at least three other options that you can consider, though. One of the following four automatic dialers should meet offer the call center tools that you need to make your agents more efficient.
Preview dialers let your agents review information about the people at the other end of the line. They tend to work well for call centers that place sensitive outgoing calls for cold calls, collections, and other activities that require preparation.
By using a preview dialer, your call agents will have the information they need to use messaging that the prospects find persuasive.
Progressive dialers increase agent efficiency by automatically connecting to the next call in the queue. As soon as an agent hangs up, the next number gets dialed. By automating the process, you reduce the temptation for employees to take unauthorized breaks during their shifts.
Progressive dialers often work well for call centers where agents deliver the same message repeatedly. Since they communicate the same bits of information throughout the day, they don't need time between calls to prepare for the next pitch.
Power dialers can benefit practically any call center or office because they streamline tasks that often take a lot of time. Some of the tasks that they perform include:
- Introducing the caller with an automated message.
- Letting clients know that calls are being monitored for quality assurance.
- Recognizing voicemail so agents don't have to waste time hanging up and waiting for the next number in the queue.
The specific features that come with power dialing software can differ from company to company. Make sure you choose an option that fits your call center's needs.
Predictive dialers are one of the most efficient, innovative call center tools because they perform tasks that no human can duplicate. Instead of dialing one number at a time, predictive dialers can place dozens of outgoing calls at once. The first person to answer a call gets directed to the next available agent. This reduces downtime and increases the amount of work that your call center completes every minute.
Instead of waiting while phones ring, predictive dialers save time by picking out answered calls and connecting them immediately to employees.
Call Tools Puts All of Your Software Options Into One Suite
You could purchase individual pieces of software for your call center. That approach usually costs quite a bit of money, though. You can also encounter compliance issues when you try to get one company's software to interact with apps from a different developer.
Call Tools offers a call center suite that includes all of the software you need to increase agent efficiency. The suite even includes CRM that helps managers and agents increase conversions.
With Call Tools, you gain access to:
- Call logs.
- Real-time reporting.
- Preview dialers.
- Predictive dialers.
Since all of your call center tools come from one company, you don't have to deal with incompatible software or talk to multiple customer service reps. If you ever need tech support, you dial one number. It doesn't matter which aspect of the software that you want to optimize. You only need to dial Call Tools for all of your needs.
Getting a call center software suite can also help you save money. Individual companies will charge higher prices for their apps. Since Call Center provides an entire package of software, it can afford to give you a discounted rate that improves your bottom line. Every call center needs to lower expenses in today's competitive environment.
Other benefits of choosing Call Tools include:
- No long-distance fees.
- Cloud-based software that improves speed and reliability.
- Third-party CRM integrations that take advantage of the data you already have.
- 10 channels per agent.
- No manager seat cost so you can monitor performance in real-time without paying extra.
Learn how Call Tools can transform your call center by visiting the website and chatting with a representative. In some cases, companies have seen their productivity increase by 500%.