All call centers are not created equal. Whether your team is based on support, sales, or something else, you can cut costs and be more efficient with a cloud-based system. Keeping customers happy should be rule number one for all business owners, because poor customer service or poor support won’t bode well for anyone. Cloud-based support systems have all the tools you need to answer and route calls, create queues, and it even runs reports to see how your team is performing. How’s that for a silver lining? Call center phone systems provide the needed tools that your team uses to keep your customers thrilled with your company. If your Customer Support team is the heart of your Customer Support operation, your call center phone system is the backbone. In this article, we will give you the key issues related to picking and implementing call center phone systems.

Call Center Phone Systems

Small businesses thrive or die based on how well they support their customers. In many cases that means providing phone support to help your customers get more out of your product. Also, you solve problems they may have encountered. While your standard phone system (either PBX or VoIP based) may give you the basics for that phone support, taking advantage of optimized call center phone systems can help you do it cheaper and provide higher levels of customer care.

Key Considerations of Call Center Phone Systems

Call Queues and Distribution

The more calls that come into your Customer Support team, the more likely you’re going to need to triage those calls. Your team needs to get the right calls to the people who are best able to handle the call. Also, you will want to minimize the wait time.

Good call center phone systems provide a queuing mechanism, so the first caller is taken by the first available agent. Calls can be routed according to rules you specify. For instance, your Customer Support team might be segmented by geography, so a given call should be forwarded directly to a particular agent based on the area code shown on caller ID. However, with the mobility of cell phones, this method isn’t perfect but will work the majority of the time, eliminating multiple waits for your customers.

Agent Status

A standard phone system knows when somebody is on the line. Call center phone systems determine whether a call should go to a given extension based on other factors, such as whether an agent is on break. An agent indicates that he is not available to take calls and a supervisor can see how many agents are currently available. They can rearrange the number of agents to take customer calls.

Key Metrics and Reports

The best way to improve your operation is to know what’s going on. In a call center, like in other areas, that means having metrics you can use to evaluate the situation. Call center phone systems have the ability to create reports around these metrics and can help your call center in several ways, including the best times to staff your call center and which agents are doing things better than others.

You should be able to analyze call volume, length of calls, staff’s resolution methods, and how the metrics change from agent to agent. This gives you good decision-making data and helps you start conversations with your agents. You can find out what makes the good agents good and help the poor performing agents get better. The reports provide justification in case you need to take action related to employees or contractors.

Call Monitoring and Barge-In

Sophisticated call centers have full-time supervisors or second tier support people. If this is your company, you will want your leadership to be able to monitor calls silently or even be able to barge-in when needed. Call center phone systems provide these capabilities. They give you more qualitative data than the metrics you typically see in reports. Also, they provide typical agents with help when they encounter rude customers or more difficult support situations. On many call center phone systems these features are an extra cost.

Connectivity is Key

If you use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, you will likely link your CRM system and your call center phone system. This will make it easier for you to mine your customers and prospects to better support callers. Call center phone systems allow you to integrate with your CRM system, whether it is a cloud-based CRM (i.e., Zoho, or Sugar) or a system that you operate in-house (i.e. Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Act!, or Microsoft Outlook).

The integration types differ. You might want your agents to click-to-dial outbound calls directly from your CRM or you might want your CRM system to pop-up a window with customer data every time a call comes in from that customer.

Don’t Forget the Basics

Call center phone systems offer many features you will want for your call center that are similar to those of your general company phone system.

You will want an interactive voice response (IVR) capability, known to many as auto-attendants or voice prompt system. Your callers can properly direct their calls without having to reach somebody on your staff. Many companies use robust IVR systems to provide automated answers to callers. This often means the callers get more prompt responses than waiting for an agent. The company can reduce the number of agents required at a given time.

If you don’t staff your call center 24/7, you will probably have your callers greeted by a different message(s) when it’s not open, so they will know how long to wait until it opens or when they should call back.

Most call center phone systems that record calls will also provide a message to tell callers they are being recorded. The ability to record calls will help you in your training efforts and in handling some caller situations.

Choosing Your Call Center Phone System

The actual call center phone system you need will depend on which of the functions mentioned above are appropriate for your particular business and methodologies. It may also be based, in part, whether your call center is for sales, support, or both.