Call center software and phone system features help businesses provide top-notch service to callers and improve the customer experience. Automatic call distributors (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR), computer telephony integration (CTI) and call monitoring tools work together to help improve call quality and reporting and analytics features offer feedback on call center performance.
The most important call center phone system feature for your company depends on your overall business needs. RingCentral, which came in high on our list of best VoIP service providers, offers the best combination of call center phone features, making it a great choice for businesses that want to offer the best call center performance.
Common Call Center Phone Software & System Features
|Automatic Call Distributor||Customer support and sales teams that handle a variety of inbound customer calls|
|Interactive Voice Response||Businesses that want to save money and improve agent efficiency by automating call center tasks|
|Computer Telephony Integration||Businesses that use CRM platforms like Salesforce or HubSpot|
|Call Monitoring||Businesses that want to listen in and monitor calls for quality and training purposes|
|Analytics and Reporting||Businesses that want detailed information on agent and call center performance|
Automatic Call Distributor
The ACD feature of a call center phone system routes inbound calls to employees with the right skills to handle the call the first time, decreasing the number of call transfers and which typically increases customer satisfaction. Distributors also scale as call volume fluctuates, whether seasonally or throughout the day.
From emergency routing commonly used in the healthcare sector to preferred agent routing that pairs callers to the same agent they spoke to previously, ACDs can be programmed to route calls many different ways. Call centers frequently use it for tasks like skills-based, time-based or round-robin routing.
Skills-based routing matches callers to the most suitable agent to meet their needs. Pairing callers with the correct agent right away reduces the likelihood of transferred calls and improves the customer experience.
Skills-based routing supports a variety of criteria, including:
- The identity of the caller
- The caller’s phone number, area code or calling region
- Selections the caller made on the IVR system
- Ads the caller clicked through before calling
Time-based call routing distributes inbound calls to agents based on when the call is received. Businesses with a nationwide presence use this feature to route calls from one region to another to staff phone lines with a minimum of agents. Time-based call routing can also be used to distribute calls to certain agents or teams at designated times.
Round-robin call routing distributes inbound calls evenly among agents rather than the first available agent. The first call goes to the first location, the second call to the second location and so on until all agents have taken a call. Then, the process begins again. This feature ensures a fair and equitable allocation of sales leads to all agents.
Who an Automatic Call Distributor Is Right For
ACDs are a good choice for busy call centers with a high volume of inbound calls. Its features also help direct callers to the right agents the first time, redistributes calls when offices are closed and make sure sales leads are shared fairly among teams of agents.
The ACD feature in a call center phone system is right for:
- Businesses that receive a large volume of inbound calls: An ACD can route a large volume of calls according to a variety of rules and criteria
- Customer support teams: Skills-based routing ensures customers reach the right agent with the skills to help them address their needs and concerns
- Sales teams: Round robin routing ensures sales leads are allocated fairly among agents
The ACD feature in a call center phone system can help businesses and sales teams route inbound calls quickly, even as call volume fluctuates seasonally or just throughout the day. RingCentral, which ranked highly in our list of best VoIP phone services, offers this feature as part of its contact center package. Visit RingCentral’s website for details on how to get a demo and free trial.
Interactive Voice Response
The IVR feature of a call center software is automated technology that greets callers and interacts with a caller’s voice to gather information and respond appropriately to requests. IVR system features are helpful for automating frequent call center tasks and allowing customers to serve themselves 24/7 while maintaining personalized customer service.
IVR can be used to gather post-call survey responses, gauge sales lead interest by listening to a customer’s response or instantly routing calls to human personnel-based specific responses. IVR features are commonly used in call centers include speech recognition, text-to-speech and personalization tools.
IVR systems with speech recognition allow callers to speak their responses to an automated system to get the information they need rather than press buttons on their phone’s keypad. Speech recognition is an effective way to automate frequent call center tasks in a way that allows customers to serve themselves, even during nonbusiness hours.
The text-to-speech feature in IVR systems provides real-time information to callers by converting typed text to computer-generated speech. Businesses can use this feature in addition to prerecorded IVR personalization greetings, in place of prerecorded messages or offer supplemental information like account balances upon caller request.
IVR systems can be tailored in a variety of ways from welcoming customers with company-branded greetings to recognizing customers via Caller ID to provide personalized greetings for known callers. IVR personalization can improve the customer experience, and it may reduce the likelihood the caller will need to request a transfer to a live agent for further assistance.
Other IVR personalization options may include:
- Permanent language selection: When a caller is prompted to select a language, the choice is remembered for future calls
- Offer to look up account balance: Callers are offered the option of hearing their account balance before taking further steps
- Prepopulate contact information: Callers with account information on file don’t have to repeat information like address and phone number each time they call
- Offer to look up order status: Callers are offered the option of hearing the status of their order without waiting for a live agent to come on the line
Who Interactive Voice Response is Right For
The IVR system feature in call center phone systems is a good choice for businesses that want to automate frequent call center tasks to improve efficiency and save money. IVR speech recognition and speech-to-text features do the heavy lifting ordinarily done by live agents while personalization tools help tailor calls for good customer experience.
The IVR system feature in a call center phone system is right for:
- Call centers that regularly provide routine information to callers: IVR’s speech recognition and text-to-speech features help customers get basic information about their accounts or orders without waiting on hold for an agent
- Call centers that are understaffed: IVRs personalization tools and tailored messaging allow businesses to deliver personalized service to customers even during periods of understaffing
Automating common call center task with speech recognition, text-to-speech and personalization tools helps businesses save money on staffing and allows callers to access information on their own, which may improve customer satisfaction.
Computer Telephony Integration
The CTI feature of call center software allows computers to interact with the system’s telephones to improve productivity. CTI is often applied to phone call controls, phone number dialing and business applications integration to help agents manage and track call activity as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Business Tools Integration
The business tools integration feature connects CTI to a range of customer relationship management (CRM) applications commonly used in call centers. Documenting every interaction with callers is a crucial part of providing excellent customer service. However, it’s equally important that information is accessible to any agent at any time.
The business tools integration feature also supports other types of applications including:
- Support ticket systems: Online customer support ticketing systems and service desks
- Chat: Systems that support chat messaging with customers and other agents
- Email: Systems that support email messaging with customers and other agents
A predictive dialer feature, found in many call center phone systems, saves time and money by automating the dialing procedure. Predictive dialing can increase the call connect ratio which may lead to higher agent productivity and increased sales. If you’re in the market for call center phone system with built auto-dialer software, RingCentral ranks high on our list of best auto dialer software for small businesses.
Predictive dialers increase outbound call efficiency by:
- Automatically dialing phone numbers from a list
- Screening for busy signals, voicemails, answering machines, fax machines and disconnected numbers
- Automatically connecting answered calls to the first available agent
- Using algorithms to predict agent availability, and how long it will take a call to be answered and adjusting the dialing speed accordingly
Phone controls are an important feature of CTI and call center software. They free agents from the constraints of a desk phone or headset so they can make, receive and manage calls right from a computer desktop. Common CTI phone controls include click-to-call, hold, transfer and hang up.
Who Computer Telephony Integration Is Right For
CTI is a good fit for call centers and sales teams that divide their workday between their computers and phones. CTIs help bridge the two with automated dialing, phone controls and business application integrations that allow agents to work inside a single ecosystem.
The computer telephony feature in a call center phone system is right for:
- Teams that use CRM products: CTIs integration with CRM applications makes it a good fit for businesses that manage customer contact information across agents and teams
- Call centers and sales teams: The predictive dialer feature in CTI helps teams make a lot of outbound calls quickly, with fewer dropped, lost and missed calls.
- Inbound sales and tech support agents: Call controls are a helpful feature of CTI for reducing or eliminating the need for inbound call agents to switch back and forth between a computer and phone to take inbound calls
CTI adds a lot of flexibility to a call center phone system. It offers a nearly unlimited combination of CRM, collaboration, productivity, business app, auto dialer and call control configurations, allowing businesses to customize CTIs to their needs.
The call monitoring feature of a call center phone system allows managers to listen in and monitor calls for quality and training purposes. Call monitoring for quality assurance may be used for internal metrics and reporting or as part of mandated quality assurance (QA) programs in industries like health care or finance. Managers can use the monitoring features to improve agent performance and enhance the onboarding experience.
The listening tool allows managers to listen silently to agent calls in real time. Also called eavesdropping or spy mode, neither the caller or agent know a third party is on the line. This mode is often used for quality assurance purposes.
There are two types of coaching modes commonly found in the call monitoring feature of a call center phone system. Both can be used during employee onboarding and training and as part of an agent’s performance management process.
- Whisper: This coaching tool allows managers to speak to the agent without the caller hearing the conversation; this mode is often used when training agents on inbound calls
- Barge: This coaching tool allows managers to join a conversation already in-progress between an agent and caller; it then becomes a conference call where all three parties can hear each other; this mode is typically used to escalate a call or to intervene when a caller becomes abusive to an agent
Often used in tandem with call listening and agent coaching, call recording is useful for agent training, quality assurance and compliance. This call center software feature allows managers to spot-check calls for QA, review calls complaint resolution and document agent performance.
Who Call Monitoring Is Right For
Call monitoring is a good choice for businesses that want to listen in and monitor calls for quality and training purposes and document and review calls at a later date. Reliable training tools save businesses money by getting agents ready to take calls quickly and reducing agent churn. Proactive QA with call monitoring tools can save thousands in non-compliance legal fees down the road.
The call monitoring feature in a call center phone system is right for:
- Managers and supervisors: The listening and coaching tools in the call monitoring feature are helpful for training new employees and ongoing agent performance management
- Quality assurance administrators: The call monitoring toolset helps quality assurance administrators manage and document calls for industry or company-mandated compliance programs
Call monitoring tools give managers an opportunity to whisper in-call feedback to agents and intervene on their behalf through barge mode if the need arises, creating a collaborative team environment that builds trust between agents and managers. Call monitoring tools come standard in most call center phone systems, including RingCentral.
Analytics and Reporting
The analytics and reporting feature of a call center phone system provides detailed data on a number of metrics including agent performance, call volume, campaign success and caller demographics. They can be combined to gain insight into a number of things like the customer experience, agent performance or real-time analytics in the call center.
Customer Experience Reports
Customer experience reports give businesses insight into the health of a call center’s relationship with customers through data collected via post-call surveys, call length, hold time and whether a call was escalated. In-depth customer experience reports also help managers make intelligent staffing decisions and alert them to potential issues before they become big problems.
Agent Performance Reports
Agent performance reports provide detail on individual call volume, call time, compliance scoring, first call resolution rate and more. Accurate performance metrics are an important measurement tool as part of an agent’s performance management process, but they are also a good way for agents to monitor their progress during each evaluation period.
Real-time call center analytics are a good way for managers and agent team leaders to track call center activity and pivot as needed to keep up with fluctuating needs. Real-time analytics include queue information, agent interaction data, customer status and agent wait and idle times.
Who Analytics and Reporting Are Right For
Analytics and reporting are right for business owners and call center floor managers who want historical and real-time insight into call center performance. Data points on customer experience, agent performance and other metrics can help businesses short- and long-term strategic decisions.
The analytics and reporting feature found in some call center software programs are right for:
- Business owners: Detailed data reports provide historical and predictive insights to business owners for short- and long-term planning and strategizing
- Call center floor managers: Real-time analytics allow call center floor managers to continually assess and monitor the call center’s daily functions and appropriately adjust to staffing or call volume fluctuations as needed
A call center phone system’s analytics and reporting feature can save companies money by helping business owners plan for the future by looking at past data. Analytics and reporting tools are also useful ways for call center managers and admins to make day-to-day decisions and provide feedback to agents.
Call Center Phone Software Cost and Providers
When choosing a piece of call center software or VoIP phone system provider, you’ll want to consider things like features, price and customer support to determine what’s best for your business. Service providers range in price from $12 pay-as-you-go service with Grasshopper for 100 domestic minutes, to $24.99 per month with 8×8 for international calling, to $49.99 per month with RingCentral for unlimited domestic minutes. We also compiled a list of best call center phones that you can choose from if you’re on a hunt for that hardware.
The Bottom Line
Call center phone system features help businesses improve customer service, save money and provide insight into call center performance. Tools like ACDs, IVR and CTI, call monitoring and analytics and reporting work together to help busy call centers succeed and stay competitive.
There are several call center phone system providers on the market. However, RingCentral is worth checking out because it ranks among the highest on our list of best VoIP services and comes bundled with all the features mentioned on this list. The company offers a free trial of its product and 30-day money back guarantee when you purchase an account. Check out RingCentral’s website for details.