How to Shop for Call Center Software

BThe customer experience is directly related to the quality of your call center software. Think about what happens when IVR routes customers to the wrong department or an agent can’t pull up customer information to resolve a billing issue. Customers feel frustrated at best. At worst, they write off your company entirely.

Purchasing call center software is a major decision, and it’s one that should be supported by a significant amount of research and analysis. Here, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to compare products and end up with the right software.

On-Premise vs. Hosted Call Center Software

This is the first important decision: Do you want premise-based software that is installed locally and managed by in-house IT staff, or do you prefer hosted call center software (also called cloud-based software) that is managed by a third-party vendor?

We’ve blogged in the past about the pros and cons of on-premise vs. hosted call center software, but we’ll do a quick recap here.

    • On-premise systems are attractive to companies who prefer to have in-house control of their software and data. Historically, companies with a robust IT staff and/or very sensitive data have opted for on-premise software; however, attitudes are changing as companies recognize the flexibility and mobility that cloud-based software provides.
    • Hosted call center software is more flexible and scalable. Pay for only the number of agents you have. Hosted call center software is billed on a monthly, per-agent basis, and few if any upfront expenses are required. Hosted call center software also allows employees to work remotely.

We sell hosted call center software, of course, and we do so because we think it’s the best option. But we recognize that every company has unique needs and should make its purchasing decisions based on those needs. Don’t take our word for it – we always recommend doing outside research on the pros and cons before making a choice.

Comparing Vendors and Features

Once you’ve decided between on-premise and hosted call center software, it’s time to start shopping various vendors. Here are some tips:

  • Talk to other call center leaders about the software they’ve selected. Are they happy with the vendor? Why or why not? What features have worked well and which are problematic or less than desirable?
  • Make sure the software is user friendly. Always request a live demo of any software that you’re considering. A great salesperson can make the product sound perfect, but there’s no way to know for sure until you test it out.
  • Request quotes from multiple vendors to compare prices. Pricing shouldn’t be your only consideration, but it’s an important consideration. Comparing quotes ensures that you’re not overpaying for the same set of features that cost less elsewhere.
  • Always find out exactly what the quoted price includes. Some vendors, including hosted call center software vendors, advertise a low upfront rate but charge extra for important features such as call monitoring or predictive dialers. Don’t be fooled by a low upfront price that comes with hidden fees.
  • Always ask about the availability of customer support staff. What happens if your system goes down during the third shift? Are agents available 24/7? What are the average hold times to reach customer support?

It bears repeatings that purchasing call center software should never be a spur-of-the-moment decision. Take the time to carefully consider your needs and the available options before committing to a vendor. Patience pays off.

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