Top 10 Call-Center Technology Tools

Updated: April 30, 2009

VoIP provides a great platform for call centers that can grow with your business. But call center technology tools can be a challenge to sort out: The options are numerous, interesting and often a nuisance. Still, there are a few select call-center technologies that are so powerful, so intrinsically useful, that it would be foolish not to take advantage of them. Here they are:

Predictive Dialing : What outbound call center wouldn't want to utilize a technology that increases agent productivity and efficiency? Predictive dialing fulfills these goals by using preset algorithms to determine when an agent will become free and then dials the next number just as the agent is wrapping up his or her current call. A predictive dialer can also eliminate the need for an agent to choose a number, dial it, listen to busy signals and encounter wrong numbers or answering machines.

Skill-Based Routing : This technology satisfies callers by placing them in touch with the person who is most likely to answer their questions quickly and authoritatively. Skill-based routing automatically matches call inquiries with the most appropriate agent or system resource based on topic subject, service level and agent aptitude, as well as agent availability and workload.

IVR (Interactive Voice Response) : This is perhaps the most popular and useful call-center technology. An IVR responds to caller-entered digits or speech in much the same way that a computer responds to keystrokes or mouse clicks. The system lets users preroute calls to the agents best-equipped to handle their inquiries (such as sales or product-service representatives). When an IVR is linked to a database, callers can also perform specific tasks, such as checking their order status or transferring funds between accounts, all without agent intervention.

Screen Pop : In any call center, knowledge is power. Screen pop technology ties agents' workstations directly to a company database to instantly view important information. A caller's records are automatically retrieved and "popped" to an agent as soon as the call arrives. The technique allows an agents to greet a caller by name and to view the caller's location, past sales and returns, product and service preferences and other relevant data.

Click to Talk, Click to Call : One method of linking call centers to the Web is click to talk (also called click to call). This technology connects Web site visitors to agents via a simple, clickable icon. Click to talk typically allows agents to answer questions about a product or to complete a sale.

Web Callback : The flip side of click to talk is Web callback, a tool that allows customers visiting a company's Web site to request a callback from an agent, usually within a specified time period.

Collaborative Browsing : This technology links both caller and agent browsers, enabling both parties to see the same Web page simultaneously. This technique can be highly useful for troubleshooting computers, software products, mobile devices, Web-based sales orders, Web-delivered media and a variety of other tech products and services.

VoIP : We've said it before, we'll say it again: Lower calling costs, simplified computer-telephony integration, easier call center management, lower infrastructure expenses and Web compatibility are just a few reasons for basing a call center on VoIP. As quality concerns recede, VoIP is becoming a modern call center cornerstone .

Virtual Call Center : Skip the cost and headaches of a brick-and-mortar call center by creating a virtual substitute. A virtual call center features geographically dispersed agents who, through the use of the VoIP and other advanced technologies, function as single entity that can span continents and time zones.

Noise-Canceling Headsets : Distracting background noise, generated by nearby people and equipment, can gradually sap agent productivity and efficiency. Noise can also irritate callers when they are forced to frequently repeat words and numbers to agents working in clamorous call centers. Noise-canceling headsets are more expensive than their standard counterparts, but businesses usually recoup the additional cost through improved agent morale (which slows workforce turnover) and enhanced caller satisfaction.

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