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Large businesses use call centers to interact with their customers, including services like customer and technical support. A company can run its own call center or contract a third party for the service.
A call center functions through operators, known as agents or sometimes customer representatives, and computerized telephony (CTI). An agent’s workstation consists of both a computer and phone, with which an agent can automatically dial numbers, transfer customers, or look at customers’ account/profile details.
Call centers traditionally use PBX systems for call management, which can include an Automatic Call Distributor or line hunting to distribute incoming calls. A PBX may also feature voice recognition and IVR.
Call Center UsesA call center can be either inbound, outbound or both.
Outbound call centers may be used for:
- fraud prevention
- conducting surveys
- debt collection
Inbound call centers that receive calls from customers seeking assistance can be technical support or customer service.
Businesses can use call centers for the above-mentioned customer interaction to complement their work (service, sales, billing, etc) or a business can offer products and services primarily served via interaction, such as:
- mail-order catalogs
- other ordering services (e.g. flower delivery)
- telephone triage, or nurse consultation
If a call center also handles letters, email, fax, text chat, or any web-based interaction, it is called a contact center.
Call Center Varieties
- Inbound Call Center
- Outbound Call Center
- Blended Call Center
- Virtual Call Center
- Web Enabled Call Center
- Telemarketing Call Center
- Offshore Call Center
- Contact Center
Call Center SystemsTo run a call center, one must first know the call volume for one’s company (if outsourcing). A smaller call center has less need of line hunting and call routing to select which agent receives a call, but it must have agents able to handle differing tasks.
A call center needs a number of technological features. First and foremost, call centers require a call management system such as a PBX. A PBX should have Automatic Call Distribution for all call centers and Interactive Voice Response included for inbound or blended call centers.
Automatic Call Distribution assigns agents inbound calls based on a pre-determined ruleset, such as which skills are needed or who has an idle phone. Interactive Voice Response can act in accordance, allowing a caller to select where to be routed.
For communication, VoIP is a bandwidth-efficient method of connecting one’s telephony. A call center can accept and send thousands of calls per day, depending on its size. Using one system, i.e. Internet Protocol, for data, networking, and voice maximizes the usage of broadband versus having hardware and wiring for both IP and landline phone networking.
VoIP can also be more efficient for the agents using computer-based systems. Computer telephony integration software can interact with both analog and VoIP telephony.
With VoIP, consider installing a secure network like a VPN along with the usual network security measures like firewalls and anti-malware. Network Access Control will also benefit a call center’s security, a solution that can force a user to update the system and software before allowing access.
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