A call centre regardless of the type of call centre needs to do two main things:
- Answer all calls, quickly
- Deal with the calls knowledgeably and quickly.
We can’t help with the knowledge section but we can certainly advise on how to get all calls answered and quickly.
What are the essential technologies for call centres?
Naturally, the first on our list, since all call centres rely on the inbound/outbound call dialling is a good phone system.
We generally recommend an IP phone system. It’s one of the easiest systems to operate, it’s the epitome of flexibility because of the ease of managing what happens to calls, adding/removing users, call queues management etc.
In fact, here are some of the essential phone system features you’ll need but are standard with IP phone systems:
- Hold – you may need to check something and not want to subject your caller to background noise, so you can pop them on hold.
- Hold music – with most phone systems, you can choose what hold music you have, perhaps a jingle that reflects your business image? Some even upload their own promotional messages.
- Call Transferring – be able to divert calls to another employee or department.
- Geographical numbers – depending on the type of call centre you operate, you may want the ability to have multiple geographical numbers which ring into certain departments. You can also choose the number that would appear on the recipient’s phone if you were to ring out, too. Ideal if you run a telemarketing agency.
- Monitoring barge – this is where you can have another user listen into a call, with or without the person knowing. Most call centres have a buddying system for new employees; they have someone listening in and helping them with the call.
- Ring Hunt Groups – the simplest example of this would be dialling the main line for the business and it ringing on multiple phones either all at once or on one phone first, then another, and another. Again, an essential requirement for call centres to be able to have a group of agents available to answer incoming calls.
- Do not Disturb / Wrap-up time – this is a great feature for those who deal with a lot of incoming calls; it means they can suspend calls whilst they type up notes or perhaps speak to a colleague or supervisor.
- Automated attendant – this is great if you have multiple departments, especially if they are across multiple sites because you could have someone ring one number and choose which department they need to speak to and it will automatically transfer the call.
- Interactive voice response – this works well with automated attendant, so you can allow the person to say the extension number, department name or perhaps part of their password to get through rather than typing it on the phone.
- Call queues – rather than customers going to voicemail, or hearing a busy tone, you can arrange call queues so they can wait in a queue until someone comes available. You can also set rules on this, for example, you can set it so they only wait for X amount of minutes before being offered to leave a voicemail.
- Call work codes – this feature means you can determine the type of call which is ideal for budget codes or how the call has been dealt with.
We have free resources available to download on Phone Systems, Phone Lines, Broadband and Unified Communications.
Contact Centre Software
We recommend Mitel Contact Centre. It is a great tool that encompasses the best phone system features but gives you additional features such as Supervisor management.
This is where the Supervisor can see what agents are logged on and what their status is. For instance, if they are on a call or not, if they aren’t what “code” they have put e.g. Toilet break / Do not Disturb / Busy. It means the supervisor can see if there are calls queueing and identify who can jump on, quickly. It helps to keep your service inline with your SLA’s.
In fact, if there are a large number of calls, you may want another team to help with the overflow. With a couple of clicks of a button, you can change their settings to divert incoming calls to them. Once the call queue clears you can change the settings back.
This software comes with a customizable real-time dashboard which means you could connect it up to a monitor in the centre. You can display your call volume, service level, handle time and wait time stats are for any given time period.
We recommend a 3rd party integration called Ignite. It operates like a live call which means it allocates an available agent and puts the agent as ‘Busy’ so that they don’t receive any calls whilst they deal with the live chat conversation.
It also records the live chat activity on that individual’s log. They can’t then be penalised for not answering as many calls. This helps on the reporting side.
Also, it stores all chat conversations just like call recording software in case you need to refer to them.
Again, another great feature of Ignite, where if you have an inbox for customer enquiries, it queues them like calls and assigns them to available agents and marks them as ‘busy’, too.
Also, just like Live Chat, it stores responses and records the agent’s activity.
Naturally, you have call statistics which you can report on to work out perhaps your average call volume for the week etc but you can also record on your agent’s activity rather than having them fill out a daily timesheet, which by itself could save every agent 10-15minutes per day where they could be answering calls.
Additionally, you can look at a single agent’s activity to see if they are meeting their KPI’s at a click of a button, rather than utilising multiple systems. Mitel Contact Centre is a great tool for this, too.
It is essential for call centres to have call recording software installed and that it follows the compliance rules of call recording with regards to storage.
It’s great to refer to if you have a customer complaint or even for quality control purposes.