The Most Essential Contact Center Software Features

Elizabeth Sullivan-Hasson
February 28, 2020
Customer Success, Marketing

The Most Essential Contact Center Software Features

It is easy to get lost in the abundance of information that comes with identifying and understanding the most important contact center software features. Some features may appear very similar to others, while others may appear highly complex and unclear. 

Dozens of features make up a strong contact-center solution. It is important to cover all of your bases before choosing the best tool for your company; so that is why we have provided the top 15 most essential features for your contact center’s success. This post will help guide you in your call-center software selection process or help to shed light on fundamental features for new managers or agents to familiarize themselves with.   

Necessary Contact Center Software Capabilities

#1 Automatic Call Distributor (ACD)

Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) is the most crucial tool when trying to maximize your call center operations. ACD works with Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems to allow you to easily route inbound calls to agents or the appropriate recipient. It operates as the primary terminal for many call center features, such as skills-based routing, language-based routing, call monitoring and more. 

#2 Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) interacts with inbound callers through voice and touch-tone input to gather information and route them to the appropriate department or person. Multi-level IVR allows callers to choose from a series of audio-prompts to help route them to their desired recipient. This tool is great for a busy inbound call center and for managers looking to customize greetings, menus and other features for smooth call routing. 

“We had a very complex use case for inbound call routing, so we leveraged Five9’s IVR to determine where a call should be routed, to an agent directly? To the general queue? Etc… Very well suited dialer for high volume outbound call centers.”

Verified User | Marketing Manager | Financial Services Company

#4 Call Queues

Queues place incoming callers in a virtual line, or on hold, until an available manager can connect with them. This is crucial when trying to elevate the caller’s experience. Most call center software allows managers to easily tailor queues to each team, department or agent. Managers can even configure the software to offer the option to allow an agent to call the caller back when they become available. 

“[8×8 Contact Center] provides the correct amount of functionality to support agents and metrics for management to make the appropriate business decisions to improve customer satisfaction. Call queue display is easily consumed [and] provides the correct amount of detail.” 

Verified User | Manager in Corporate | Computer Software Company 

#4 Call Routing 

It is important that inbound calls are being directed to the right person to ensure efficiency and positive caller experience. Call routing is a tool that routes callers to a specific agent, person, department or queue based on pre-determined criteria. There are many types of call routing that managers can utilize. 

Skills Based Routing

Skills-based routing routes callers to the appropriate recipient, or manager, based on the caller’s IVR selections as well as the agent’s certain skill set or area of expertise. Certain elements, such as the language, geographic location and the number the caller dialed into, all contribute to the proper routing process. 

Intelligent Routing

“Intelligent” routing identifies the caller and why they are calling to properly match them with the appropriate agent. Intelligent skills-based routing uses an agent’s performance history and skills to ensure that callers are being connected to the most suitable agent. This tool works to reduce the amount of time it takes callers to explain the issue or the reason for calling and for agents to understand it. 

Priority Routing

Priority Routing allows managers to form different queues depending on the priority of the caller. For example, this system could push a company’s “most valuable” or “VIP” customer to a specific queue, while other callers could be pushed to a more broad queue. 

Time-based Routing

Time-based routing allows managers to route calls according to a pre-set time or schedule. For example, someone who calls during regular office hours may be routed to the receptionist first. Individuals who call after office hours may be sent to a particular person’s voicemail.   

Round-Robin Routing

Round-Robin routing redirects calls to the appropriate manager or call group in a pre-determined order. This can help evenly distribute the number of calls among team members or re-route callers based on which agent is most appropriate for the call.  

“In any company’s quest to improve customer and user-agent satisfaction, call center automation tools can play a big part. We have found Genesys PureCloud to be extremely helpful in that regard. Skill-based routing is another excellent feature offered by this tool and helps us in reducing customer wait time.” 

Heather C. | Senior Developer | Marketing and Advertising Company

#5 Voicemail and Notifications

Voicemail is a tool that allows users to leave a message for a company, department or agent if they were unable to reach them at that time. Many call-center software options offer agent and team voicemail, allowing each agent to leave a personalized message so callers have a clear understanding of who they are calling. This also helps the company, department, and agents better organize their voicemail messages. 

Many call-center software solutions also offer voicemail transcription capabilities, which transcribes the message, stores it in the caller’s activity feed and automatically sends an email to the agent with the transcribed message. This allows agents to browse voicemails quickly instead of listening through multiple audio messages.  

“Aircall makes it very easy to assign a voicemail to a specific user so everyone knows exactly what they are responsible for.” 

Verified User | Manager in Customer Service | Media Production Company

#6 Predictive and Power Dialers

A predictive dialer is an outbound calling system that automatically calls a list of contacts simultaneously. This allows for agents to avoid any wasted labor by filtering out things, such as busy-signals, no-answers or hangups, disconnected numbers, etc. 

A power dialer is also an automated outbound calling system that dials phone numbers for the agent so they can focus on the active call. Agents do not have to manually dial phone numbers, thus enabling a more efficient outbound calling system. 

“Member engagement is a huge business driver for our company and the outbound dialer really drives that engagement. [PureConnect] is more efficient and effective than any other dialer I have ever used.”

Verified User | Manager in Information Technology | Hospital & Health Care Company

#7 Disposition Codes

It is important to understand the outcome of a call, for both training and personal purposes. Disposition Codes are descriptions of the outcome of a call. It allows agents to assign “codes” to calls after they have concluded, which will then be stored in the caller’s activity feed. 

#8 Call Controls

Being able to utilize call controls is crucial to the caller’s experience, call efficiency, and outcome. Allowing agents to put callers on hold or mute, transfer or forward them to other agents, and/or enable conferencing can ensure the call is being conducted efficiently and beneficially. 

Call Barging

Call barging allows you to join in on live calls without the caller or agent knowing. It also allows managers or supervisors to “barge” into a call and speak with both the agent and the caller. This is a great tool for training purposes or those monitoring call quality and outcomes. 

Call Parking

Call parking is a software feature that allows agents to put a caller on hold on one phone while continuing the conversation from another or allowing another person to pick it up from a different phone. 

#9 Real-time & Historical Call Analytics

Real-time analytics stores data, in real-time, in an agent or manager dashboard. This provides a live view of call activity in the dashboard, such as agent activity, call lifecycle, agent performance indicators, and more. 

Historical Call Analytics work to display data from any call at any given time. Managers can easily examine the performance of agents, departments, and teams. They can also observe the call’s wait time, length, volume and more. This helps managers to make informed, data-driven decisions for the betterment of the call-center and the company. 

“[Cisco’s detailed historical and real-time statistics] reporting allows for training and development of customer service representatives.

Doug D. | Systems Design Specialist | Higher Education Institution

#10 Call Recording

Being able to playback calls to understand the outcome or identify key elements can help managers and agents troubleshoot any issues they may be having. It is also a great tool for training and performance review purposes, so managers and agents can discuss the results.  Most call-center software allows recording through the cloud, which logs and records data instantly.

“All calls that happen within Fuze are recorded and can be easily found on their portal. By one click, you can download the call and then relisten to it or save it. This is a great feature for call coaching opportunities and also for people to re-listen to their calls to make sure they got all the relevant information.” 

Verified User | Sales Representative | Computer Software Company

#11 Call Monitoring

Call monitoring allows someone to listen in on any active call. This is a beneficial tool for managers or supervisors wishing to monitor the progress of trainees. It also allows managers to ensure all agents are providing the best and most appropriate support, while also giving insight into customer needs, expectations and wants. 

#12 Call Coaching

Call coaching is a two-way communication platform where the coach, manager or supervisor can work with the agent to ensure they are providing excellent caller service and discuss call outcome and information. Call coaching allows managers and agents to collaboratively analyze calls and improve outcomes. 

“[Talkdesk is] great for being able to listen in on live calls to help coach new reps or give advice. It makes it easy to listen back to calls to learn and improve our sales methods.” 

Monique A. | Inside Sales Rep | Computer Software Company

#13 Click-to-Call

Click-to-call works to eliminate the possibility of misdialing a phone-number, while also working to improve call efficiency, by allowing agents to click on a phone number or button to make a call. Sales solutions that integrate with a CRM tool, like Salesforce or Helpdesk, enable agents to place outbound calls seamlessly.

“We use [Talkdesk] for our support team (which can get up to 50 calls per-day, per-person) and as well in our strategy department, which can use it to click-to-call quickly to address people’s needs.” 

Liza S. | Customer Success | Real Estate Company

#14 Omnichannel Capabilities 

A tool that is compatible with additional features, such as SMS, instant messaging, VOIP solutions, video calling, and email is the icing on the cake when it comes to contact center software. Enabling smooth integration with these features promotes fast and reliable access to caller information and communication, as well as strong internal communication between managers, agents, teams, and departments. This also ensures consistent and positive caller service across multiple channels.  

“Because we handle inbound and outbound calls from a variety of companies, we needed a reliable VOIP solution. 8×8 is remarkably supportive and provides an extremely reliable solution.” 

Jeremy S. | Sales Representative | Retail Company

#15 Integrations With other Business Tools

It is crucial to implement software that integrates CRM tools, and other external business tools, to speed up call-time, up-sell or cross-sell, resolve callers’ issues quickly and positively interact with callers. The CRM tool can help immediately supply the agent with caller information and identification (i.e. name, phone number, location, etc.). If they have previously called the company, agents can have full access to call history, voicemails, and more. Doing this allows agents to alter their approach accordingly, thus making for a better, more personalized, customer experience. 

“We leveraged Five9’s Salesforce integration to log all call activity into Salesforce as Tasks. This allowed us to be able to report on our sales team’s activities to know who our team interacted with.” 

Verified User | Marketing Manager | Financial Services Company 

About the Author

Elizabeth Sullivan-Hasson
Elizabeth is a Research Analyst at TrustRadius where she focuses on tracing the evolution of business software and finding new ways to synthesize and visualize reviewer data. Elizabeth has a BA in Economics and Political Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an MSc in International Development from the London School of Economics. When she’s not in the office, Elizabeth enjoys exploring new cities, hiking, trying out new recipes, and diving into sci-fi novels.

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