When setting up a contact centre you’re going to be faced with choosing from a huge selection of software, including cloud contact centre solutions, hosted solutions and premises-based solutions to cover different sizes of organisation.
Before choosing contact centre software, you’ll need to consider a number of factors that will impact which choice will be best for your organisation. There are quantitative considerations, like the number of calls you expect to handle, the size of your team, and your budget. There are other considerations too, including:
1. How well will the system integrate with your existing tools?
If your business has been running for a while and already has a customer relationship management system, or a sales system, then it’s important to choose a system that can be integrated with this. It would be a waste to spend a lot of money on a system that won’t offer improvements in productivity and the customer experience.
2. How reliable is the service?
You cannot afford for your contact centre service to go down, even for a few minutes. Ask the software vendor what their uptime guarantee is, and get them to explain what is included in that calculation and what is not. Sometimes there are exceptions made for scheduled downtimes, for example, which can skew the calculation.
3. Can the service scale as your business grows?
If you are buying a relatively small or simple contact centre solution, can it be scaled to cover more complex needs? There are many contact centre solutions that are flexible and effective and that can expand as your business grows. Don’t lock yourself into a solution that can’t keep pace with your growth.
4. Does the solution have good reporting tools?
As your business grows you will find that you come to rely on reporting and analytics tools to predict staffing needs and assess the performance of your business. Choose a contact centre system that offers a comprehensive and user-friendly set of reporting tools, to ensure accessing key data and information will be as easy as possible.
5. Does the software have multi-channel support?
Are you buying a system that is purely telephony-based, or does it also support social media, SMS, email and web chat/support ticket-based queries? Customers today expect businesses to be contactable by an array of channels, and while you could manage each channel separately, this approach is not ideal for either the customer or your business.
Invest in multi-channel support early-on to stay at the head of the game.
6. What is the pricing structure?
Pricing structures vary from up-front payments and ongoing licenses, to pay-as-you-go solutions where you pay only for the features that you use, and the amount that you use them. For smaller organisations this kind of pricing structure often makes the most sense. Associated with pricing is the cost model – that is, is the cost primarily Capital Expense (as with most on-premises solutions) or does it lean more towards Operating Expense, like cloud-based solutions usually are? What approach makes the most sense for your organisation?
7. Do your customer service agents find the software useful?
If your agents feel that the software is disruptive or difficult to use then their productivity will suffer. Talk to your agents before doing a large scale deployment, and ask them if they like it. Bear in mind however that people fear change, and you will get some resistance to any new deployment as a result.
To help determine whether what you are hearing is simply a fear of change or legitimate objections, ask your agents to explain their issues. Are they struggling with new features? Do they find the user-interface to be cumbersome?
These are things that could be resolved with training, or with changes to the software’s configuration.
If, on the other hand, they are saying that the software lacks features that they need to do their jobs, then this could be a valid objection. If most of your agents are complaining about the same issues, listen to them, because they are the people who will be spending most of the time with the software.
8. Is there support for blended agents?
More and more contact centres are adopting a blended approach to managing a contact centre in order to keep costs low and make the most efficient use of the staff they have available. Software that supports blended agents will allow a staff member to jump from inbound campaigns to outbound campaigns with a few mouse clicks, then switch back when call volumes require it.
9. Can agents work remotely?
Remote worker support is another useful tool for many companies. Is it easy to add more agents to the system and direct their calls to an external number? Remote working is great for customer morale, and it can help you cope with fluctuating call volumes by bringing on extra agents when there is short term need, without having to have additional staff in the office that are being under-utilized.
10. Can the system scale to handle busy periods?
If you are a small or medium sized company, it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of money on a system that will be under-utilized most of the time. Look for a system that can scale up when needed, and be switched back to handling lower volumes and fewer agents when necessary. Cloud systems are good for this because they are based on a large and powerful infrastructure, and typically offer on-demand provisioning.
11. How rigorously can you demo the system prior to deployment?
You can usually try contact centre software on a separate network to get a feel for how it will perform. This is a rather different experience to using it live, but it will help you see if there are any glaring gaps in what the software has to offer. Try a few solutions and do some test runs before deploying a solution for real, and get several agents to test the solution too. Your existing agents will be able to give the best feedback about how the software fits with their current workflow.
12. For hosted or cloud-based solutions, how broad is the product solution set offered?
Today’s telecommunications environment is extremely complex. How well-versed is your partner in telecommunications generally? Do they offer a solution set that includes enterprise-grade telephony? Are they accustomed to knitting these solutions firmly into critical business processes? Can they bring a wide-ranging expertise to the table in support of your overall objectives? Remember, it’s not just about the software, it’s about the capability, expertise, and experience of your potential partner.
Find out more about Hoot Contact – a fully-featured, out-of-the-box cloud contact centre solution.