The call center is an essential component of a successful customer service strategy. Call it what you will—call center, contact center, operations center, helpdesk—having a company representative ready to receive calls and answer questions can make or break your business.
That’s why it’s so important to get your call center phone system right.
Call center phone systems are specialized. A normal phone system doesn’t cut it when you’re setting up a contact center.
With the advent of the IP or VoIP call center phone system, which has the power of the internet behind it, features and capabilities that were once luxuries are becoming commonplace. To compete, you need to know.
Call Center Phone Systems
We get this question a lot: What should I look for in a call center phone system?
Scalable and flexible pricing
First off, look at how the phone system pricing works.
Many phone systems price by extension. This means that for every extension you pay a set cost.
Call centers, however, have such large groups of people, so paying by extension can get pricy. You can keep costs down if you find phone systems that price by concurrent calls. This means that you are paying to be able to handle, for example, 20 calls at once. You might have more extensions, giving you flexibility, but you’ll be able to handle even a sizeable rush of calls.
Flexible pricing also allows you to expand or contract how many calls you’re paying for as the situation requires it.
Many contact centers also expand and contract their workforce periodically. For example, a tax preparation company will need many more service agents answering phones in April than in August.
If your business has dramatic upticks during certain periods of the year, looking for a system that allows you to upsize and downsize without penalty can save you a lot of money.
Managing the queue
The call center is all about the queue. When a customer calls, what happens? This can be the make-or-break point in your relationship with the customer.
Digital receptionist or automated assistant
A digital receptionist saves your company a lot of headache, and when properly customized can be a sort of positive advertising for your company. “These guys are really professional! They know what they’re doing.”
Digital receptionist refers to a menu of options that is presented to a customer when they call: “Press 1 for auto insurance. Press 2 for home insurance. Press 9 to speak with an agent.”
Customizing the auto attendant to provide individualized options is well worth your time.
Prioritizing the queue
Call center phone systems like 3CX Pro give you rich options for dealing with the queue. You can, for example, randomize or prioritize certain agents to ensure an equitable workload for your staff.
Holding the place in the queue
One feature that customers really appreciate is a call back system where they can hang up yet retain their place in the queue. Let’s face it: no one enjoys being on hold for an extended period of time.
You’ve gotten the call. Now what happens?
Integrated call recording is essential. Where once this would either be a premium feature or require a dedicated piece of equipment, you can now find IP phone systems that bundle call recording as a standard feature.
Recording calls protects your company and improves workplace performance.
When thinking about call recording, you need to think about storage. Your server will have to have enough room to store potentially days’ worth of audio, and have a system that makes the audio searchable.
Listen in, whisper, and barge
Managers need to control conversations. What features are available to help
Listen in means the manager can hear a conversation in progress without it being noticeable to the customer.
Whisper means the manager can speak to the attendant during a conversation. The audio is played in the attendants headset or handset, but isn’t audible to the customer.
Barge means the manager can enter into any conversation.
These features are especially important when training new employees, as they allow managers fine-grained control and help the trainee to know that help is available if they need it.
Helping your team with unified communications
Team members should be able to communicate with each other as calls are going on. Maybe John knows that Sarah is the expert on car stereos, and he wants to see if she’s free. Or maybe Sarah has a quick question for John about integrated amps.
What are their options?
Some call center platforms, like 3CX, integrate advanced features into the phone system.
Presence is the industry term for the status indicators that show if someone is busy or not. Usually this is a green or red dot.
In call center environments, presence call help attendants communicate with each other and provide quick visual information for managers to know what’s happening right now.
Corporate chat is an increasingly common feature that many organizations now can’t live without. A secure, internal chatroom for employees helps them communicate quickly. It’s particularly useful when an attendant is on the phone with a customer and needs to communicate with a team member.
And a bonus: corporate chat can also liven up the workplace!
These are some of the features that will make the difference between having an ok phone system, and one that will empower your employees, make life easy for your customers, and help your business grow.