North American Customer Service Management Association

Support for Contact Center Professionals

Step 5 Software Review

The contact center phone system is the backbone to a successful running center.

If you are still running with a premise-based solution and are under 800 seats, it is time to embrace the cloud! The cloud offers the contact center more features, functionality and flexibility making the contact center more cost effective and more productive. It’s amazing how many contact centers are still running on equipment that has long become obsolete. Agents thrive in environments where the tools not only work but also make their jobs easier.

Moving to the cloud doesn’t mean moving to a cloud based office phone system. Too many contact centers skimp and use a “hunt group” in lieu of an automatic call delivery (ACD) system. No wonder their abandoned call rate is so high! Office phone systems are designed for offices. Yes, many vendors are providing an overlay of call center features on top of office phone systems. That is like putting a horn, mirror, odometer, baskets, and a cushy seat on my bicycle. Those items are an overlay on my bike, but it is still a bicycle at the end of the day; I didn’t transform it into a car. I am not going to ride it to Boston any time soon from Phoenix. An office phone system is still an office phone system, overlay or not.

Invest in a comprehensive cloud based contact center software system. The disaster recovery, reporting (real-time and historical), and the power of an ACD will make your contact center operate at the highest level of efficiency and effectiveness for true success.

Most contact centers today record every call for quality assurance and training.

Call recording equipment can be software and/or hardware especially when it comes to the storage of the audio files. If you have a HIPAA compliant shop you are storing calls for 7-10 years. You can store those files on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) or you can choose a physical storage device. The challenge with a physical device is where do you store it for 10 years? Someone must physically manage the monthly swap out of storage devices and be sure they are organized; files are retrievable, and safe. Storing audio files up on the AWS eliminates all that hassle.

Your call recording application should include:
- Encrypted audio is the best practice standard for security
- Password protected audio files
- Searchable files for easy access
- Capability to record both inbound and outbound calls
- Pause and Resume recordings; agent controls
- Ability to listen to calls anytime
- Integrated with the contact center platform to eliminate extra phone line charges

Is it time to upgrade the CRM/ERM or service desk applications? You have been running these applications for a long time and in many cases maybe even limping along, reluctant to make the change. It is a major endeavor but doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

First and foremost, for CRM/ERM success, it must be used by everyone in the entire organization; everyone from front line sales to top line management. It if is too complicated people will avoid it. If it takes too much time to input data and takes them off their number one task of working with customers, they will not use it.

Secondly, to avoid CRM/ERM catastrophe, understand and set the expectations right from the start. CRM’s can track a ton of information; marketing wants to track leads, accounting wants to tracks orders, legal wants to tracks compliance and sales people want to track hot prospects. Prioritize what is a must-have, important to have, and nice to have but neither a must nor important. Knowing the difference will simplify this step.

To make your CRM implementation successful you want to boil it down to the top 3-6 pieces of information. People can handle fewer, more meaningful pieces of information and are willing to comply with the data entry. CRM/ERMS’s can handle 100’s of data points but if no one is willing to use it or enter the data, all those empty fields don’t help anyone.

Customer service contact centers are turning to ticketing systems or service desk applications to manage customer service requests and SLA’s. Integrating the ticketing system with the contact center platform allows you to automate the ticket. The ticketing system recognizes the phone number and pops up a new ticket. It is then prepopulated with the customer’s name, address and other standard information when the call comes in. Saves time filling in data, gets the caller off the phone faster and helps meet client Service Levels.

An automatic call distributor for call routing to specific agents can be a premise based physical switch or a cloud based contact center applications. Unless you are operating a contact center with 800 plus agents, a cloud-based solution is the most versatile application for many reasons.

You can add/remove agents daily; a physical switch has limitations. Once all the ports are used on a physical switch adding one more means another new switch. You either have more than you need or not enough. Hosted applications are a matter of contacting the vendor and adding additional agent login. You always have exactly what you need and therefore paying for exactly what you are using.

Dialers can keep you TCPA compliant if you have the right one. While direct marketing is becoming a thing of the past, collection departments will always be around al long as people don’t pay their bills. Collections departments rely on a quality dialer. How cool would it be to have a dialer built into the contact center software? A dialer that has three modes: 1. A predictive dialer, which will automatically dial batches of numbers for outgoing calls from the center. You can load lists from the client database with an API daily transferring the daily phone numbers and accounts. 2. Click-to-dial, which gives the agent the opportunity to read the customers account notes and details before dialing and 3. Manually dial the number.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems can take away many simple tasks from agents, providing the callers with self-service. There are simple IVR’s and then there are banking level IVR’s that can take an account number, check the balance and report it back completely automated. The mistake in IVR design for many companies is they create too many options and levels, making it difficult to talk to an agent. This increases the caller’s frustration and decreases customer satisfaction. Make it easy. A few options are all you need for the caller to get where they need to go.

Workforce management in a contact center is both an art and science of having the right number of employees, with the right skills at the right times to meet accurately forecasted volumes of work while maintaining a predetermined service level.

Workforce management is a critical function for contact centers. Poor planning and execution will have a negative impact on the business in terms of costs, poor customer satisfaction and employee burnout and motivation.

Workforce Management Software available today to manage this task has greatly improved in function and capability as well as price. There is no reason today to be using spreadsheets and whiteboards!

What is Workforce Management and what does the software do? Workforce management (WFM) is an integrated set of processes that an institution uses to optimize the productivity of its employees on the individual, departmental, and entity-wide levels. Here are the functions of workforce management:

Calculation of an Accurate Forecast:
- Collect call history data
- Identify call patterns (day, week, season, etc.)
- Identify special day patterns (holidays, etc.)
- Identify other event or business drivers that might impact call volume/pattern

Monitoring, Managing Adherence and Managing Exceptions:
- Inform and educate about adherence importance and impact
- Measure and manage adherence throughout the day (real-time adherence)
- Provide incentives
- Changes in call volume or arrival pattern
- Staffing or scheduling issues
- Business related exceptions

Measuring and Adjusting:
- Analyze daily/weekly reports
- Investigate causes for under-performance
- Apply findings into workforce management process


Integrating the ACD with the Workforce Management software makes data collections faster and more accurate for forecasting, real-time adherence monitoring and intra-day management.
Begin your software upgrade with the cloud based contact center software that integrates using API technology with the CRM/ERM, Service Desk application and workforce management software.

Take the Next Step!

Activity happens so fast in a contact center that days fly by. While it might seem that just yesterday you implemented a CRM, it’s more probable that it is already time to consider upgrading. Contact centers ebb and flow. Many start out small and soon outgrow applications. It is vital to the effectiveness of the center to take an assessment annually of the software applications that are in use. What is working, what is not working any more, what is integrated with the contact center platform and what could be integrated for a more seamless workflow?

Best in class tools are everything to contact center agents. The best centers retain agents simply by implementing current cloud based contact center software that includes ACDs, dialers, IVRs, call recording, safety features for compliance, CTI’s for popping agent information, as well as integration with other applications like workforce management systems, that agents use every day. All these upgrades make the agent’s day less frustrating now that they have access to everything they need to serve the customer. Ask the agents what is working and what isn’t and you will get firsthand insight on where to start.

Work Space Vendors

Contact Center Furniture

Commercial Interior Designer

NACSMA Consultant


Specialized Office Systems offers customized solutions to deliver printing, promotional products, apparel, office supplies and business furniture to multiple locations across the country. You will receive the personalized service you want and the attention to detail you need.

Interior Designer

Cresa Commercial founded in 1993 was convinced that representing tenants exclusively was the best way to go. Not only would it give our clients the kind of objective, unbiased advice they might not get elsewhere, but it would also give us a unique offering in the real estate marketplace.


The North American Customer Service Management Association (NACSMA) assists Service Center professionals with improving the delivery of Customer Care to their clients by providing a collaborative networking approach to operational issues.