If you’re searching for hosted phone support software for your business, you probably know that virtual communications solutions come with a host of benefits. They come with amazing functionality, great cost savings, and easy scalability.
But there are lot of hosted phone support software providers out there. Even if you have already decided to go with a cloud-based solution, you still have your work cut out for you.
When comparing potential providers for your phone support system, there are three primary components you need to think about: features and functionality, training and support, and pricing. In this post, we discuss these factors in detail to help you make the right decision for your inbound call center.
Phone Support Software Features and Functionality
You may have a tough time even starting your search for a phone support software provider if you haven’t already identified which features you will need. We’ve made a table of the most commonly requested features that we receive from inbound call center customers.
Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)
Automatic call distribution, or automatic call routing, is a system that allows you to distribute incoming calls based on customized rules. At the simplest level, you can choose to distribute calls in linear priority or hunt group fashion. More complex automated call distribution software systems allow your business to distribute calls based on time of day, custom percentages, or even the skills of individual agents.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is an automated system that allows callers to interact with a pre-recorded menu of options. Customers are able to navigate through these pre-recorded menus to access self-service information without speaking to an actual customer service representative. This saves time for both the caller and the call center.
Automatic call recording gives you a convenient means of accessing past calls between your agents and customers. Use recorded calls as a reference for disputes and to assess quality assurance standards are being met by your agents.
Live Call Monitoring
Live call monitoring allows managers to listen to calls in real time. Call monitoring often includes two special features: call whisper and call barge. Call whisper means a manager can "whisper" advice and information to their agent without the customer hearing. Call barge means the manager can take over a call when it escalates to a certain point or needs special care to close in your company’s favor.
Think of call queues as waiting rooms filled with agents that are equipped to handle different customer needs. For example: potential customers are forwarded to a queue of sales representatives, and current customers who need billing support are forwarded to the accounting department. Call queues ensure that caller inquiries are addressed and resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Historical reporting lets you measure performance data by individual agents, call queues, time period, inbound calls vs. outbound calls, etc. Inbound call center managers can use this data to evaluate performance, set benchmarks, and create attainable goals.
Onboarding, Training and Ongoing Customer Support
Because phone support software is such a critical component of an inbound call center, transitioning to a new provider can be a daunting prospect. If your customer support team doesn't have the training they need, or your phone support software is not set up correctly, it can be a nightmare. That's why it is so important to find a provider who has robust onboarding, training and support practices in place.
Here are just a few questions you should ask potential phone support software providers:
- Is onboarding or training included in the initial contract, or is it an additional charge?
- Do you offer 24/7 phone support to all customers?
- Do you have a Knowledge Base that my team can use to troubleshoot potential problems?
If you have simple call center needs, you might be fine with a minimum service level that includes an online Knowledge Base, user manuals, and email support. If you are running a large call center and have complex phone support software needs, you might want to find a provider that offers comprehensive training and 24/7 phone support.
Phone Support Software Pricing
Pricing is also a large determining factor in choosing the best phone support software for your inbound call center. Just as the needs of individual customers can vary, so too can the types of subscription packages offered by different providers.
If you are operating a domestic call center - meaning that your agents and your customers are located in the same region - you can probably assume that calling rates will be the same across the board. What you will want to consider is the cost of implementation and the cost per seat, or agent.
If you are operating an international call center, you need to take long-distance calling rates into consideration. Think about the regions where most of your callers are located. Some providers have much higher rates for some countries than others, while some offer packages or bundles that include discounted minutes along with your monthly bill.
Choosing the Right Phone Support Software Provider
Before you start worrying about choosing the right VoIP provider, learn about the many useful features a virtual communications solution can offer. You should have an idea about what functions need to be included in your hosted phone support software solution, as well as the ones you’d like to try, before you test any service. Once you know what features you need in a solution you can shop for providers that provide the functionality you need as well as the level of training and support you can feel comfortable with. When you’ve narrowed down your search, use the tips provided in this article to decide which type of package lends itself to the biggest savings for you.