Choosing Contact-Center Software

Contact-center infrastructure purchases can be costly, but they

also bring serious ROI through a boost in efficiency and

customer experience.


Whether companies are expanding their contact-center presence or trying to

become more efficient with the agents...they have, they often turn to contact-center infrastructure upgrades to achieve those results. Stepping into the modern contact center era can be costly and

time-consuming, but companies need to do so to enhance customer

experience. Routing customers to an agent who is not properly skilled and

then requiring a customer to repeat all the information related to their issue is

a waste of time and frustrating for customers.


At the heart a call center infrastructure upgrades is customer call routing and

quality. For many companies, upgrading contact-center infrastructure means

heading to the cloud, particularly in areas such as telephony. According to

Gartner, in 2017, cloud-based telephony will surpass premise based and according

to recent research by Aberdeen Group, infrastructure changes are on the

agenda primarily to improve customer experience (95%). Other important drivers

were to improve agent productivity (79%), increase cross-selling opportunities

(71%) and reduce operating costs (70%).


Contact-center software has evolved from a simple ACD platform with various

add-on modules to more fully integrated technologies. From call-routing

software to help desk ticketing and knowledge bases to help agents as they

try to help customers, there are a series of important technologies companies

need to consider as they make upgrades. Many of these technologies come in

on-premises or cloud-based versions. One important buying criterion should

be how well these systems can work together. And, in some cases, cloud-

based software will more easily integrate with other elements. Much on-

premises software is legacy and will suffer from integration problems.


As organizations consider upgrading contact-center software platforms, they

should ask some key questions:


  • Which add-on technologies does my company need?
  • Is it best to have a contact-center software platform with the technologies already integrated, or is it best to acquire the technologies as separate modules?


There are at least nine pieces of technology that must be considered when

looking to purchase a new contact-center technology platform:


  • Multichannel support;
  • Contact recording;
  • Call monitoring;
  • Workforce management;
  • Integrated voice response (IVR);
  • Post-contact surveys;
  • Speech analytics;
  • Knowledge database; and
  • Workflow management.


The following focuses on the functionality of each specific add-on module.

Whether to acquire a platform with the technologies already integrated or as

separate modules can be decided at a later date.


Multichannel support. Customers often communicate through multiple

communication channels in their efforts to make a purchase or get a problem

resolved. So, contact centers need ways to monitor those multiple channels

and aggregate the data to create an Omni-channel view, or complete of the

customer.


Multichannel support provides the ability to funnel all types of customer

interactions -- e.g., voice, email, chat, SMS, social media and video -- through

one platform using an integrated queuing strategy. There are two key benefits

that come with this approach:


  • Work is moved to agents via predefined rules and, therefore, processing efficiency increases. An agent would not have to log off the telephone system and work emails via a system such as Outlook.
  • There is an ability to monitor key metrics -- e.g., volumes, average handle time and so on -- to evaluate and track the resources required to perform resolving inquiries on various channels.


Contact recording. Contact recording provides the ability to review contacts

after the fact for various reasons, including quality assurance, compliance,

escalations and more. The recording of contacts primarily focuses on inbound

and outbound calls where a written transcript of the interaction is not

available. There are many recording options, including 100%, random and per

predetermined schedule, among others.


Contact monitoring. Contact monitoring provides the ability for individuals to

review contacts, either live or recorded. Live monitoring allows an individual to

listen to a contact while it is happening -- valuable for supervisor monitoring.

On the other hand, listening to a recorded contact improves efficiency in the

quality-assurance program -- users don't have to wait for phone calls to arrive

for a specific individual. In addition to monitoring contacts, it is critical to be

able to utilize preloaded forms in the system, so calls can be scored and

reports automated to support the quality-assurance program.


Workforce management. Workforce management software helps plan the

allocation of resources to meet customer demand. Workforce management is

the engine that evaluates inbound work volumes and recommends staffing

schedules to attain predetermined service levels.  Workforce management

has many modules, including budgeting, forecasting, staffing and scheduling,

and intraday management. Automated workforce management becomes a

critical tool as contact centers grow larger in size.


Integrated voice response. IVR allows customers to self-service during a

phone interaction. As a result of a caller pressing specific keys on their phone

or speaking specific items into the telephone, the system can access a

database and provide specific information in response to a customer inquiry.


Post-contact surveys. Post-contact surveys allow for customers to provide

feedback to an organization immediately following an interaction with the

contact center. The technology exists where the contact-center system can

ask the customer to stay on the phone following an interaction or can call a

customer back following an interaction with the contact center.


Knowledge bases, provides a repository of information that agents can

access when they have a question or need assistance in resolving a customer

inquiry. A knowledge base provides a single version of truth, which eliminates

the need for agents to have manuals at their workstation that need continuous

updating. Two critical requirements for a successful knowledge database are

to have a search engine that is easy to use for the agent and the assurance

that the knowledge database is up to date.


Workflow management, provides the capability to manage and monitor the

process of moving work from one area to another. Workflow management

automatically moves work from one queue to another, with the ability of

presenting the work item in an automated manner. Workflow management

also provides reporting on volumes, aging and more.


Contact-center technology has advanced tremendously, and there are many

capabilities beyond call routing that are available. These technologies include

intelligence for agents to better serve customers and software to bring new

efficiencies to service processes.


As companies consider upgrading their contact-center technology platform,

they should evaluate whether these additional technologies could provide ROI

by reducing the number of agents required or by boosting call quality and

enhancing customer experience.