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Best Telephone Systems for a Call Center

What is the best phone system for a call centre in 2018?

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Whether you are looking for an inbound or outbound call center solution, you need a product to work with your team to increase the efficiency of call handling. A phone system is your gateway to the world and when working efficiently, can make a big impact to your bottom line. You need to be able to have your phone system work in harmony with your software to reduce time between calls, thus increasing productivity; and ensuring data is tracked all through one system. It is vital to be able to add and change agents at a touch of a button streamlined with real time reporting to keep track of call statistics.

You can choose between cloud based VoIP systems or on-premises phone systems. Each has its own merits, however cloud is a popular choice because of the flexibility and easy of set-up. It also has a host of sophisticated features that the modern call center needs ensuring it is working most efficiently. There are still some problems with a cloud system, since it 100% replies on the Internet, you need to have a good Internet connection otherwise your call quality can suffer and you may experience dropped calls.

With a cloud solution you can take advantage of some clever features advancing the productivity of your team. Software is downloaded or connected to online, which turns any computer or laptop in to a streamlined work station. All that is required is a pair of plug in headphones to act as the handset. The features the software includes varies from company to company and also depends on the package that is chosen. It is a great idea to have in mind exactly what you want and need for your call center to ensure you choose the package that is right for you. We have outlined the main features available below.

Call Handling

A vital component of an in-bound call center is to ensure a call is never missed. Statistics have shown that 80% of unanswered calls will go elsewhere so if a potential client is not attended to straight away the chances are they will simply choose another company. Features to help reduce inbound call drop off rate are call queueing and auto Attendant. Auto attendant is a clever answering machine that will kick in if the call is not answered after a certain number of rings, thus keeping the client on the phone for longer, giving a wider time window for an agent to be able to deal with the call. The call will be answered with a voice recorded greeting and kept in a queue for attention. You can choose the promotional message or music you would like to be played to your clients allowing for a valuable window of publicity at the same time as not loosing any vital calls. A virtual secretary also can divert incoming clients to the required departments, saving valuable employee time and keeping the clients happy with shorter call answering times. Normally the required options and call routes can be programmed in the back office control panel. Clever features such as voice recognition can help guide the calls, or the traditional push button service. With a sales team you can use call queues, so if one agent is busy the call will simply be redirected to another user, this reduces the drop off rate ensuring the maximum number of calls will be attended to. The call can then be easily re-routed to another agent or department should this be required. Most companies offer basic versions of these facilities in their standard packages, however a higher subscription rate will give more options.

Monitoring and statistics

Integrated call center software allows real time supervision, so you can see the full call statistics of each call and member of staff. This allows you to actively control and set targets as well as give an overview of the performance of the team. Perhaps you want to set some boundaries when it comes to call lengths and numbers, your software can be programmed to highlight when certain boundaries are breeched for quick and efficient management. Have reports sent as requested on a daily or weekly bases to keep track of progress and targets in record timing. Reporting can be programmed to show things like:

  • Average time on a call
  • Number of calls taken
  • total number of incoming calls
  • Call waiting times

Management

The quick addition of new team members is essential for the day-to-day management of the team. Via a back end panel supervisors are able to configure each agent, this allows for easy expansion of your team, as well as assigning rules for call routing and organising departments. If one departments calls are saturated, you can route the calls to go through to another, or assign more agents where it is required at the touch of a button. Since all that is needed to connect to the system is a computer, you can co-ordinate virtual workers and different office locations in one control panel, as if they are all working under one roof.

Time-saving

There are some clever features that save users time which ultimately boosts profitability of the call centre. Predictive dialer allows numerous numbers to be called at the same time. The line will only be connected to a user when it is answered, this means operators will never spend time waiting for the phone to be answered. A database of numbers can be uploaded and easily organised via the systems control panel.

Call Handling efficiency

You can have a programmable script that comes up on the screen with the incoming or outgoing calls, this ensures all calls are handled as required streamlining the professionalism of the team. You can even co-ordinate the clients accounts with their phone numbers, so the history of the client can be seen with the call, this is a great tool for customer service as well as sales. Notes of each call can be added to their account for future record. You can have your calls integrated with other communication avenues such as web chat or e-mails to offer a full range of contact options for clients.

Another great feature that is also available is call recording, useful for making training courses or sometimes required due to current regulations. If you are need to be PCI compliant voice recording will need to stop the moment the client gives the card details.

Integration of remote workers

You may have agents in different offices or want workers to be able to connect from home, you need a system that streamlines all of your agents in to one central system so you can keep track of your targets and performance monitoring. Many companies allow for the diversion of calls to mobiles so you can work on the go as if you are in the office. You want a system that coordinates everything as if everyone is working under one roof.

In terms of cost if you are looking for low monthly charges in terms of set-up, upgrades and maintenance then a hosted PBX call center solution is for you. However over the course of many years, you might find the hosted PBX system more expensive, an onsite system involves a high initial outlay, but then it is yours as you go forward with no monthly rental. Also, a point to note that if you go for a hosted PBX call centre the company providing the software will also provide the calls, so it is worth checking their call charges before you sign up. Don’t be lured into a low monthly fee for a software and then get stung with high international calls. It is easier for a company to add some extra features to the standard packages as a buyers incentive, to then add some hidden costs later.

We have reviewed the top systems on the market and rated them in terms of cost, ease of set-up, adaptability to changes in the office and remote working.

Providers

The most popular IP call center phone system providers are the following:

Mitel

Mitel has solutions for any type of call center, large/small or VoIP/inhouse. They have an integrated suite of features that help a call center manage costs effectively, find new revenue opportunities and maximize productivity. Some of the features of the ShoreTel solution include:

  • Contact call routing or queuing that enables the employees to tailor their caller’s experience
  • Outbound dialling
  • Interactive Voice Response or IVR that allows you to collect information, customize interaction or provide self-service alternative.
  • Flexible reporting
  • Integrated scheduling
  • Telecommuting

Mitel have worked on the reliability of their system with built in redundancy and support, also disaster recovery features ensuring greater stability, reliability and no loss of data. You can choose with Mitel to have the software on site, on-cloud or a hybrid of the two.

3CX 

3CX is software based system that can either be downloaded on to your companies servers or connected to in the cloud. They offer a plug and play solution streamlining any windows or Mac computer in to the office work station, whether they are in the office, at home or on the road. All that is needed is a headset to connect making this a great option for remote workers. 3CX pride them selves on the easy set up and install, with a new fully working system for your team working over night. A great feature that is included in the price is the ability to see the status of other members in the team as well as instant messaging and free interoffice calls, as well as reducing costs this keeps all remote workers and office locations completely connected and streamlined. Other great features which come as standard is the ability to set up conference calls, click to call features and fax and voice mail delivered by e-mail. 3CX offers a great pricing structure which depends on the volume of simultaneous calls required, ranging from $2500 – $5000 per year for a network of 200 extensions.

Avaya

Avaya has a call center solution called the Call Center Elite. This is an automatic call distribution application that allows agents to handle calls more effectively. This software uses conditional call routing. Managers can choose whether incoming calls connect to the first available agent, the least busy agent or the one with the best skills to accommodate the customer’s needs. The Call Center Elite can be integrated with traditional SIP networks and hybrid environments.

Aside from the flexibility this system offers, it can also reduce your costs and increase efficiency in your call center. Managers can also route calls to agents with specialized knowledge of their products and services allowing for a more personalized approach to customer support.

Cisco

Ciscos offers specialised features for call centres, its centre solution is called the Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise and allows the even distribution of incoming calls to all assigned operations including home agents. Agents can also handle outbounds calls simultaneously ensuring full productivity of the team.

Ciscos have recognised the need for call centres to work on multichannel support and include voice, text, web collaboration, video and email services on converged networks. It also includes a CRM and other business applications such as IP networks and IP-based applications. This is a comprehensive solution that integrates all these technologies into your existing infrastructure. This means your agents can support multiple interactions simultaneously in whatever channel the customer uses, for instance answer web chat or e-mail as well as incoming calls.

You will be able to integrate inbound and outbound voice applications with other Internet applications which allows your customers to be routed to the best available resource in your company. The web interaction management feature allows agents to respond immediately to customer queries using your website, chat or real-time web collaboration. You can also manage large volumes of customer emails easily.

Each customer can be assigned a profile with their number to aid the development and organisation of client history.

Nextivia

Nextivia offers a cloud-based call center solution with some impressive features for a highly efficient working environment. With a monthly rental of the software, you would need to purchase your VOIP phones or headsets separately. It includes all the features you would need including call queuing, automatic call distribution, real-time reporting and easy connectivity for remote workers.

Looking for a virtual call centre provider? Simply fill out the form at the top with your requirements and we will contact you with bespoke quotations for your needs.

For smaller call centres, businesses that don’t want a yearly charge, or simply business that want more control it is worth considering an in-house solution which offers companies more control. Call quality is vital when it comes to sales and client care, if your agents are not heard properly or cut out then the conversion and retention rate will be greatly reduced it is possible in rural areas, or areas with slow internet connection, the line quality could be reduced with a cloud system. Normally in house systems occur a larger set up fee, but there is no ongoing fee to rent the system; you may have some maintenance costs, but this could also be handled in-house at a time that suits you. With an in-house solution, with one initial investment you own the phones and the software and for many business this offers piece of mind that they have an asset for their company and no ongoing costly fees.

Popular options include the following:

Avaya IP Office.

Sutable for up to 2000 users this is a great option that combines the flexibility and features of an IP system but the reliability of having the technology in-house. Easy to use once the system has been set-up means in-house changes can be made to the system saving money on engineer call out costs and is able to grow with the company with easy addition of users. Avaya office allows seamless integration to mobile phones which get PBX features such as call transfer and single button access to voice mail allowing users to work remotely around the globe as if they were in the office. Buddy list allows call transfers within the team for efficient call routing. Competitively priced this is definitely an option for consideration.

 

Choosing a Provider

Choosing a call center telephone system provider can be a daunting task. You can easily get lost in all their packages and offers. We make things simple, simply fill out the quotation form above to receive 3 free quotations according to your needs.

 

Author: Yazz

Yazz is a trained telecommunications engineer with a diploma in telecommunications. He has spent the last 15 years working for Telefonica, one of the largest telephone operators and mobile network providers in the world.