Buyer's Manual for Purchasing Call Center Solution

By Ryan Ayers
Updated: July 13, 2011

Contact centers, also known as call centers, are the hub of your customer contact and interactions, and can be the deciding factor between your business’ effective or ineffective handling of customer issues and your sales cycles. Modern contact center solutions are vastly different from the call centers of the past, they are no longer rooms full of representatives wearing headsets and doing nothing but answering phones. Your contact center should be a multi-faceted and dynamic system that funnels your existing customer and prospect information (from your CRM, accounting, and other systems) to the most effective area of your organization.

These solutions are readily available for almost every industry and business type, and can usually be customized to fit into your daily operations without a great deal of trouble or inconvenience. With a bit of research and an understanding of your specific needs, you will be able to find a contact center solution that is right for your business.

What You Need to Know About Contact Centers

The Basics: Contact center solutions are the central point in a business from which all customer interactions are handled. From sales leads and prospects to existing customers and their service and product needs, your contact center can help your employees better serve your customers and more efficiently address their needs. Inbound and outbound communications are both served by this solution, and more often than not, an effective contact center solution is integrated into your existing systems such as CRM, telephones, and others.

Contact Center Solutions Serve:

  • Telephone (Inbound and outbound)
  • E-mail
  • Correspondence (mailings, newsletters, mass emails, etc.)
  • Live Chat/IM
  • In-store Interactions

What to Look for In a Contact Center Solution

The Basics: A contact center solution should be the main point-of-contact system for your customer interactions, so it is important to figure out the ways that your employees typically interact with your customers. For your contact center solution to be effective for your business, it needs to be set up in an intuitive manner and provide the options and features that fit into your typical methods of customer interaction. It should integrate with your existing CRM and other systems to make the information that you gather available at all levels if service.

Features to Look for In Your Contact Center:

  • Interoperability with Existing Systems
  • Call Recording
  • Collaboration
  • Skill Based Routing
  • Real-Time Monitoring and Reporting
  • Case Management

Evaluating Cost Factors

The Basics: Many contact center suites are sold as subscription based SaaS packages, and can be modified or adjusted depending on your business’ ongoing needs. Less expensive options start at extraordinarily affordable rates, but offer fewer customizable options and less in the way of training and support once the system is up and running. The more expensive services tend toward a greater degree of personalization for your business and offer more in the way of after-sale service, support, and training for your employees. Finding the right fit for your budget is generally a matter of determining the level of sophistication that your business needs from its contact center systems.

Factors in Determining Cost:

  • What capabilities will your contact center solution need?
  • What features and benefits might your business benefit from and utilize?
  • What level of customization and after-sales service will you require?
  • Is there a scalable and/or changeable option available that is the most effective option for your business?

Evaluating Contact Center Vendors

The Basics: Contact center software and service packages exist in today’s market for businesses of virtually every type. There are sure to be service a variety of options available to your business that will perform the basic contact center functions that you will need. The difference in finding the optimal fit for your business will be in the details of customization and service.

There are a multitude of service providers that offer basic contact center solutions at a relatively inexpensive price point. These systems may suffice for businesses that do not have a need of highly complex or heavily customized options that interact with several other systems in an organic manner.

There are also many vendors available that have the capability of tailoring their contact center solutions to fit your business, interact with your existing systems, and provide in-depth training and support after the sale is completed. These options may be a better option for a business that needs higher levels of complexity and/or has greater call volume.

Note: Outsourcing contact center functions is another economical and practical option for many businesses. There are many contact center providers who are able to integrate their internal systems into those of their clients and operate as the point of contact for their clients’ customers. This eliminates the need to purchase a contact center solution, removes issues of staffing and training, and allows for a high level of changeability in service levels.

Checklist for Selecting Your Contact Center Vendor:

  • Pricing
  • Scalability/Changeability
  • Customization
  • Features
  • Integration with Existing Systems
  • After-sale Service/Training

Finding the most effective contact center solution for your business will rely on identifying and addressing the core needs and methods of interaction for your customer service team. There are contact center solutions available to meet almost every need, and most often it is simply a matter of carefully planning for and identifying your specific needs in order to be certain that you have found the correct fit for your business.

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