Tips for Buying CRM for a Call Center

By Jelani Harper
Updated: May 13, 2011

The single most important facet of purchasing a Customer Resource Management system for a call center is its integration with the current call center software and hardware, as well as with any other applicable information technology systems. Awareness of this issue is heightened by the high degree of specificity which most call center system’s require, since they are typically not “off-the-shelf” purchases and vary considerably in terms of a company’s phone systems, its call center software provider, and its hosting options.

Adaptability of CRM Solution

Although most CRM vendors claim their products are adaptable to virtually any system, it’s essential to determine how much effort such integration will require for a particular business’s telephony needs. A methodical querying of vendors will determine what specific actions are necessary to align a CRM with particular call center components, as well as ascertain the amount of experience the vendor has with such components and other traits indicative of an enterprises’ size, communication needs, and potential upgrades necessary to integrate the systems.

Intrinsic Requirements

In addition to hardware and software concerns, the nature of a company’s needs for both its customer relations management and call center capabilities will determine what specific CRM is most prudent. Such needs consist of how many employees will be utilizing the systems from how many separate locations, as well as for what specific purposes (be it for incoming or outgoing calls, if not both). Another important factor is the origination of a call center’s communication, as well as how great a need a business has to receive and transmit information via email, fax, web site or online chat room.

Hosted versus In-House Call Center

Other important considerations revolve around whether the current call center system being used is hosted or in-house. In-house systems generally have a greater adaptability and potential for customization, but place greater demands on a company’s IT department. Hosted systems are usually less expensive (in the short term) and are more applicable for small to mid-size companies. These same characteristics apply to CRM, which can be hosted or in-house as well.

Final Reminder

Some of the best tips for purchasing a CRM for call centers is to involve personnel from IT and call center management, as well as actual agents who will be using both systems in the decision-making process, which ideally includes a product demonstration and trial period. Determine how long it will take to integrate the CRM with any call centers, and find out what specific hardware and software requirements will be needed to do so.

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