Overview of VoIP Call Centers
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) allows call center agents to make phone calls via the internet rather than through an analog line. This opens the door to remote calls across devices, providing you access to advanced calling metrics that give you more control over what goes on in your call center.
How does VoIP work? It converts outgoing calls into data packets, allowing them to travel across the internet instead of a phone line.
In this article, we will provide an overview of VoIP call centers, their history, and a rundown of the key features to look for when choosing a VoIP service provider.
- VoIP calls, which use the internet rather than a traditional phone line, have been around since the 1990s for use in call centers.
- Switching to a VoIP call center from a traditional one offers cost savings, increased flexibility, and access to more advanced tools.
- When considering what VoIP provider to use for your call center, there are multiple features and options that you should look for.
- Before choosing a VoIP provider, consider factors like quality assurance tools, call recording options, and built-in analytics.
- Depending on your business model, you should also consider factors like remote work and the scalability of the software.
The Evolution of the Call Center
In years past, the only option for call centers was a traditional phone line running over the Public Switched Telephone Network. Beginning in the 1970s, however, researchers started experimenting with a new, line-free telecommunication method. As a rudimentary internet was developed, researchers began searching for ways to harness this technology for better phone calls.
The first VoIP phone call was placed in 1974 over ARPANET. However, it was a grainy, and static-filled call that was almost unintelligible. It would be twenty years before the concept of VoIP phones would gain traction as a practical strategy for real businesses and contact centers.
Fast forward to the mid-1990s, when internet technology was advanced enough to support VoIP on a large scale. Several companies emerged offering VoIP services, although internet speeds were still too slow for many businesses to justify switching from traditional phone networks.
That changed in the early 2000s, as the internet became ubiquitous, broadband speeds increased, and VoIP became a more attractive option for companies looking to cut costs associated with traditional landlines.
Today, the benefits of a cloud call are hard to ignore. More companies are turning to VoIP providers to improve their call center experience and offer more advanced features for customers and agents.
Benefits of Switching to VoIP Call Centers
Is VoIP a good choice for your call center? Is it worth paying installation and setup costs to transition away from traditional landlines? The answer to both of these questions is an emphatic yes. Below are some advantages you can expect when switching to VoIP calling technology.
Cost savings with VoIP call solutions
The significant advantage of VoIP call centers is massive cost savings. When you switch to VoIP for your call center, you can expect to reduce monthly costs by 30% to 50%. If you’re starting a new call center on VoIP, your savings could be even more significant, as you’ll avoid the hefty installation fees associated with traditional landlines and phone systems.
What makes VoIP so much cheaper? VoIP doesn’t require special hardware like traditional phone systems. Instead, it runs off internet connections that most businesses already have. Thus, the setup and maintenance costs are far lower with a VoIP call center.
VoIP provides additional savings by eliminating the need for your internal IT team to support your call center, as your VoIP provider will cover any technical issues that arise. VoIP also allows you to consolidate your operations, using only one service instead of multiple providers.
Access to comprehensive call center data with VoIP
A VoIP call center gives you enhanced insight into your call center’s performance. The technology lets you record more than call duration and offers actionable agent performance and customer satisfaction insights. For example, VoIP enables call recording and transcription, allowing you to turn individual calls into teachable moments after the fact.
Enhanced flexibility and customization options for your call center
Another advantage of VoIP for call centers is the flexibility it creates. With traditional call centers, the hardware makes it impossible for agents to do their jobs remotely or to use other devices, such as laptops and mobile phones, to handle calls. Customers get a better call experience, and you get more flexibility in designing a nontraditional call center that might include virtual elements.
Key Features to Consider in a VoIP Call Center Software
If you’ve already decided to switch to VoIP for your call center, the options available can feel overwhelming. Which features are essential, and which are irrelevant and unnecessary? Below are a few key features that you should look for when choosing the right VoIP provider for your business and call centers.
Efficient quality assurance tools for calls
Improve service quality and provide a superb customer experience by using the quality assurance tools offered by some VoIP providers. These tools include elements like call recording, which helps your security, reduces liability, and allows you to review calls as needed.
Other quality assurance tools allow you to track detailed metrics, determine ROI, and otherwise keep your finger on the pulse of the call center to ensure that everything is running smoothly. The quality assurance offered by VoIP call centers ensures that your service is always top-notch.
Built-in analytics for performance tracking at call centers
A good VoIP provider will give you a list of analytics and metrics that you can use to track call center performance. Much of this data is collected automatically, meaning that all you have to do is view the reports when you need them. Below are some of the metrics and features you should look for when choosing a VoIP provider for your call centers:
- Call recordings
- Call tracking
- Call logs
- Talk time
- Answered to missed call ratio
- KPI measurements
Depending on your needs as a business and the makeup of your call centers, there may be other metrics that you’ll need as well.
Unified communication and contact center solutions
Unified communication means that all the different types of communication your business uses are streamlined through one cloud call service. This includes internal Zoom meetings, telephony, video conferences, external calls, and all other forms of messaging. Using one vendor for your call center and your other unified communications streamlines operations and keeps things simple. If you want to simplify your processes, a VoIP vendor that can integrate call centers and other communications is a must-have.
Call recording options
Your agents’ calls include various scenarios, from customers seeking tech support to irritated customers threatening to terminate their agreement. To help educate your team to respond well in every situation, it’s a good idea to record calls for training purposes.
Some companies are legally required to keep phone recordings to comply with current laws. Depending on your industry, call recordings might also be essential to help protect you from liability. If a customer takes you to court for advice over the phone, you need recorded proof showing what the agents said during the call.
Efficient call queue and call routing systems
When a high volume of calls comes in at once, you need a system that distributes them quickly and efficiently, getting the customer to the right agent and avoiding frustrating delays. A VoIP program with call routing can do just that.
A good VoIP service can identify the problem and connect customers to the correct agent, keeping their calls from bouncing around from agent to agent before finding a solution. Features and capabilities that you should look for include:
- Language capabilities: Ensure that your call routing gets customers to an agent that speaks their language.
- Agent skill set: Get the customer to an expert in the field that they need.
- Auto-selections based on caller input: Offer an automated menu that uses voice prompts to get customers to the right place.
Call routing and queue services are invaluable features that go a long way toward helping you build a more effective call center.
Choosing the Right VoIP Software
Given the explosion in VoIP popularity, there are many software options to choose from. However, not all offer the functionalities that you need for your business. Below are some essential VoIP software components you should look for when choosing your provider to create a lasting call center solution.
Mobile and desktop application availability
One of the significant perks of VoIP is its flexibility. If you use good VoIP software, agents can take calls from their desktop computer, laptop, or mobile phone, allowing them more options to help customers. Be sure to ask plenty of questions about device integration before selecting the VoIP provider for your call center.
Scalability of the VoIP solution
When your business grows, you need a VoIP provider that can facilitate your growth. Would your VoIP solution still be effective if you increased or decreased your number of agents, switched to a more remote call center, or changed your business’ organizational structure? Ensure that routing capabilities, call recording functions, and data collection options can scale with your business as it changes.
Voicemail management for call centers
Ideally, customers won’t use your voicemail often—they’ll get connected with an agent instead. However, it’s unavoidable that at some point, a caller will reach your phone when an agent is away from their desk or after call center hours. When this happens, you need a VoIP provider with excellent voicemail management. Customers should be able to leave a detailed voicemail, and agents should be able to quickly and easily access those recordings to handle missed calls effortlessly.
Here are a few voicemail functions to look for in your VoIP provider:
- Voicemail to email: Agents may not always have access to their voicemail box, but they almost always have email access. Many VoIP providers can forward voicemails to an email inbox, allowing agents to understand and address customer concerns even when they can’t accept a call.
- Customizable greetings: Leave customers with the confidence that their voice was heard with customizable voicemail greetings that change based on the type of call, time of day, and situation.
- Individual and department voicemail boxes: Depending on the situation, a customer might need to speak with one specific agent or have a more general request that anyone in the department could handle. A good VoIP service can route voicemails to a personal inbox or a department one, depending on the type of call.
Monitoring multiple active calls
Many VoIP providers allow you to view all active calls, call durations, and listen in on an ongoing call if needed. This functionality provides invaluable data and insights, enabling you to listen in on a difficult call in real-time. This allows you to give the agent pointers and ensures a smooth solution for the customer.
Ensuring excellent VoIP call quality
Your call center agents represent your organization, so clear voice communication is vital. Call quality hinges on your network and the responsiveness of your internet access. Therefore, it is important to select a service provider knowledgeable in IT networking, and who is capable of aiding in troubleshooting should quality issues emerge. The key to resolving issues rather than assigning blame lies in the service provider’s capacity to supply diagnostic data identifying the issue to your IT department. A competent service provider will conduct network readiness assessments before activation and provide diagnostic data if problems arise.
Your customer service phone number is the gateway your customers use to reach you. Therefore, it is important to maintain that number when migrating to a new provider. It is important to choose a VoIP contact provider that can facilitate the porting of your existing numbers to the new VoIP platform. Additionally, you should ensure that the VoIP provider lets you keep the same phone number(s) your organization has been using and that customers are accustomed to, even if employees make and receive calls across different devices.
Determining the Need for a VoIP Contact Center
While certain VoIP functions are always essential, other features may or may not be necessary based on your specific business needs. As you decide which VoIP provider is best for your call center, here are some business-specific metrics to consider.
Catering to remote or hybrid teams
Do you have many call center agents working from home? Are you hoping to make your call center more remote and less bound by office space constraints? If so, you should prioritize a VoIP provider that offers robust integration across devices.
Planning for scalable growth
Companies don’t remain static. They grow and change, and their needs evolve along with them. A VoIP service may be perfect for your current call center situation, but is it flexible? Would it still be effective if you increased or decreased your number of agents, switched to a more remote call center, or changed your business organizational structure? It’s only possible to plan for some scenarios. However, you should choose a VoIP provider that will still be beneficial if you change your business or call center in the foreseeable future.
Since its inception in the 1970s, VoIP calling has offered exciting possibilities for call centers. As it becomes more ubiquitous and advanced, VoIP is a great option to help your call center save money, increase efficiency, and keep ahead of the competition.
Are you interested in making the shift to VoIP? VerCom Systems offers cloud-based phone solutions with a low setup cost, easy mobile options, and complete scalability that grows with your business. Whether you’re a large or small business, we can help you find the best call center solution for your unique needs. Contact us today to learn more and get started!