Contact Center Features for Phone Systems

By Gene Teglovic
Updated: February 15, 2011

Implementing a new business phone system for a contact center operation can result in lower costs, increased efficiency, and improved customer relationships. Ever-changing technologies continue to bring better features and lower costs. When the time comes for your company to either install a new phone system or upgrade an existing one, a good understanding of available features of a basic business phone system for contact center operations will help the decision-making process.

The purpose of a business phone system for a contact center is to handle inbound and outbound calls for sales, customer service, and customer support. The features needed in a business phone system contact center environment vary based on the size of the company, its customer base, and whether the contact center is located on a company premise or is extended to allow remote workforce access.

Most businesses tend to use either inbound or outbound services most heavily, although some may use both. For example, a bank or other financial services company would tend to use inbound services to take applications or service customers. A telemarketing company would be mostly outbound call focused, to contact potential customers. A product sales company may use both heavily: inbound to service customers, and outbound to drive sales.

Contact centers can be built and run on a company premise, or they can be Internet-based using technologies such as a VoIP PBX, which allows remote employee access. Many businesses also outsource their entire contact center operations to professional contact center companies, which specialize in handling inbound and outbound calls for several simultaneous companies and their customers.

The features available on business phone systems are rich and varied. Some of the major features include:

  1. Single Inbound Toll-Free Number: Allows customers and prospects to call a single number, which dramatically increases efficiency and lowers marketing costs.
  2. Automatic Queuing, Distribution, Routing and Forwarding: Contact center software can automatically queue incoming calls, distribute them among representatives based on skills, forward, and otherwise intelligently adjust call distribution based on a wide range of parameters (volume, customer support contracts, product, etc.).
  3. Call Monitoring: Allows supervisors to listen in on calls to improve quality and performance.
  4. Interactive Voice Response (IVR): Routes calls based on customer voice recognition.
  5. Automatic Dialing: Dials numbers for contact center agents based on tables, caller ID, or other previously defined rules.
  6. Predictive Dialing: An evolution of automatic dialing, which uses algorithms to monitor calls, predict availability of contact center agents/sales representatives, determine how parties will answer, connect sales representatives to prospects, deal with unanswered calls, and perform other intelligent call automation services.
  7. Call Recording: Records and stores audio files of conversations with customers for quality, legal and regulatory compliance purposes.
  8. Call Scripting and Instructions: Prompts contact center agents with customer responses and actions, based on previously defined rules.
  9. Analytics and Other Reporting: Detailed, intelligent reporting is available in contact center phone systems, which can be used to measure contact center agent performance, customer satisfaction, and operational efficiencies.
  10. Workforce Management: Adjusts contact center agent schedules based on information gathered by the contact center system such as changing skills, performance targets, and call patterns.
  11. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Integration: Contact center phone systems can provide their own CRM software, or integrate with existing CRM systems, giving contact center agents a 360-degree view of a customer.
  12. Self-Service via the Internet: Allows customers to browse a knowledge base of possible solutions, potentially eliminating the need for support calls.
  13. Survey Capabilities: Allows customers to rate their contact center experience, which provides important performance improvement data.

A new phone system in a contact center environment can provide the tools to improve the customer experience, increase efficiency, and reduce costs. These tools continue to improve rapidly

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