There is a plethora of technology solutions needed to run a call center today. Call center technology can vary widely, based on the database platforms, vendor offerings and business requirements. But most call center technology packages will feature five core components.
An automatic call distribution software package (ACD) helps to route your customer calls to the appropriate call center associates. This software effectively allocates your incoming calls based on your pre-defined parameters. Choices can include the next available representative, or the group serving a certain type of request.
Often, the automatic call distribution software will route calls based on your integrated voice response (IVR) system. This software provides the automated menu selections that customers often find annoying. “Press one for English“, or “Press two if you’d like an automated balance on your account" are two examples of the types of menu options that these systems offer your inbound customers.
These two components, while not being always the most popular with your customers, are essential to running a cost effective, efficient call center. Together, these packages eliminate the need for live associates to answer each call and transfer them to the appropriate agent. IVR’s can also be linked to your database in order to provide automated responses to basic, routine requests, like the last five checks cleared, or a confirmation of a scheduled service call.
The third component of a modern call center software system is predictive dialer software. Although most common in outbound calling centers, this package can be set up in either the hardware or software. Software applications are generally less expensive and more flexible, although both are fairly common. The predictive dialer automatically calls phone numbers that are stored in a computer database. Often, these numbers represent existing customer’s contact information, or telephone numbers purchased for marketing purposes. Most packages will identify and eliminate disconnected numbers, retry busy signals and calls that connect with an answering machine.
Of course, for all of the data being used and collected by your call center, you’ll need a good, adaptable database. Although often the least noticeable aspect of call center technology, it is the most important, with the marketing and customer service efforts of the center relying on the information it provides. The information contained in the database should be easy to access and sort, and the database should be reliable as well. Import and export functionality are also crucial, and data conversions (mostly from clients’ formats) should be straightforward and problem free.
Of course, your call center should also have powerful reporting capabilities. Many of the database packages include pre-written reporting functions, but an external reporting package may also be necessary to obtain the information you and your client need in the format required.
Setting up and running your call center need not be confusing or difficult. Include an automatic call distributor, an integrated voice response system, a predictive dialer and a good database package with flexible reporting capabilities and you’ll be up and running in no time.
Rex Ryan is an authority on call center technology and maintains a blog at: