A call-centre relies entirely on its telephone system; if your business already operates one, then this will be incredibly clear - if it does not currently, then it is important to bear that fact in mind.
Whatever the function of your call centre, it is important that the tools and equipment you use are appropriate for the task. Indeed, if your call centre is a revenue generating part of the business, then it is essential that you invest in a high-quality option. The main focus of this system will, of course, be the actual telephones used, although it is also important to consider what kind of other tools will be required.
If you are looking to source a new telephone system, or if you are looking to replace an old one, then the information on this page is likely to be beneficial. If you would like to discover more information about what is on offer, keep reading - otherwise, if you want to compare service and equipment quotes, just complete the form at the top of this page.
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Best Call Centre Telephone Equipment
As mentioned, for businesses running a call centre, it is essential that the high-quality equipment is used. This does not only include the telephones themselves, but also includes additional tools that can dramatically increase the various processes that take place in any working day.
Call quality is vitally important for call centre staff, and so often it is worth investing in more expensive equipment to ensure audio standards. Equally, it is likely that various members of your call centre team will require specific functionalities.
This section is designed to provide some information about what kind of products may be most suitable for businesses looking to start, or source equipment for, a call centre. The phones below have been selected and included on this page as examples of good-quality equipment.
BT Versatility V8 Featurephone
BT is a well-known telephone system supplier that many businesses trust. The Versatility V8 Featurephone is a relatively low-cost option for a call centre.
BT Versatility V8 Featurephone Features
- Caller ID
- Keypad dialer
- Conference call ready
- 8 programmable buttons
- Voice Mail
- Call transfer
- Call hold
The BT Versatility V8 Featurephone is available for between £30 and £45, depending on supplier and availability.
Panasonic NT560 IP Phone
Panasonic is another well-known, reputable telephone supplier. The NT560 is an excellent mid-price option for a number of businesses.
Panasonic NT560 IP Phone Features
- Caller ID
- Keypad dialer
- Touchscreen display
- Programmable buttons
- Call transfer
- Call hold
- Bluetooth functionality
The Panasonic NT560 IP Phone is available for between £230 and £280, dending on your supplier and availability.
Avaya one-X 9650C VoIP phone
This deskphone from Avaya is one of the more expensive options. However, you are paying for an exceptional piece of equipment.
Avaya one-X 9650C VoIP phone
- Caller ID
- Keypad dialer
- Conference call ready
- Function buttons
- Call forwarding
- Call transfer
- Call hold
- Message waiting capability
- Built-in web server
The Avaya one-X 9650C VoIP phone is available for between £400 and £450, depending on supplier and availability.
Call Centre Telephone Comparison
The information above includes details about just three of the telephone systems on offer. These options may not be the most suitable for your business though, so it is important to speak to a supplier.
To compare the services and products available for your business, simply click the button below and complete the form. It only takes a minute and our quote comparison service could save you as much as 40%.
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Choosing A Call Centre Phone System
An effective call centre phone system provides agents and supervisors with the features and services they need to offer a prompt, efficient service to customers while managing resources effectively.
To deliver this standard of service, call centre phone systems require special features that route incoming calls to the right agent and integrate with other systems that provide essential customer information and capture operational data for analysis and control.
Systems based on VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology are proving to offer call centres the features, services, call quality and reliability they need.
Dedicated Call Centre Or Part Of The Business?
Small and medium businesses may set up call centres within the company to handle functions like technical support, customer service or telesales. The call centre team may be only a small part of the business.
In that scenario, look for VoIP providers that offer general business phones with optional call centre features, rather than setting up two separate, possibly incompatible systems.
Call centres that are businesses in their own right can consider dedicated call centre systems. Businesses may also set up virtual call centres, using agents in different locations to provide a service. Look for systems that support remote working.
VoIP manufacturers and service providers offer solutions to meet all three scenarios.
Call Handling Capacity – Premise Or Cloud?
Call centre phone systems must have the capacity to handle high call volumes and minimise waiting times for incoming callers. Existing call centres can use historical data to calculate average and peak traffic requirements. VoIP offers two options to meet capacity requirements:
- Deploy a VoIP system on the premises with spare capacity to meet planned volumes.
- Choose a cloud-based hosting provider that can scale capacity up or down in line with operational needs.
A premise-based system may provide the right capacity, but this can lead to over-provisioning with under-utilised assets. This option also incurs high start-up costs, with capital expenditure on infrastructure and ongoing system maintenance and management costs.
A hosted system can be scaled in line with business growth, with extra capacity available on demand to cope with high-volume events like marketing or recall campaigns. Hosted systems require minimal upfront and running costs as the hosting company provides, operates and maintains the infrastructure in the cloud. A hosted system is paid by monthly fees.
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Ensuring Call Quality
Call quality is essential for a call centre. VoIP service providers offer audio quality at different levels from HD voice up to wideband stereo sound. Call quality depends on other factors. A high-speed, uncontended broadband connection or dedicated leased line will provide the connectivity to match the service provider’s quality level.
Choice of phones also influences quality. VoIP headsets with features like noise cancelling technology, HD sound or higher and dynamic EQ help agents provide clear voice quality on every call.
Routing Incoming Calls
In a small call centre, incoming calls may be handled by any agent who is free. But, as call centre requirements get more complex, a call routing system that directs calls to the most appropriate agent is essential.
A centre may handle a wide range of products, for example. It might offer telephone ordering, technical support or account enquiries in the same facility. Or, it may wish to offer the equivalent of a local service to customers calling from different parts of the country.
A VoIP call routing system can channel calls to specific agents based on a set of business rules or the caller’s preference.
- Callers can select an option for the service they want from an IVR system.
- The system can direct calls to a “local agent” based on the calling line ID.
- The system can identify special campaign numbers to route calls to the most appropriate product specialist.
In a general call centre with high call volumes, the system may be set to route the call to the first available agent, with automated messages to callers giving them likely waiting times or position in a queue.
To handle incoming calls when the centre is closed, VoIP-based systems incorporate auto attendant systems and voicemail facilities to capture callers’ details for callbacks during normal business hours. Alternatively, calls can be routed to remote agents who provide cover outside normal hours.
Whether they are handling incoming or outgoing calls, agents need information on the people they are contacting. VoIP phones for call centres integrate with CRM systems so that agents can quickly bring up callers’ details, purchasing history, service issues, product preferences and other essential information. This enables them to provide a personal service to the caller and take any opportunity to offer other relevant products and services during the call.
Agents working on technical support can integrate their phones with helpdesk systems like Zendesk, which provides facilities such as customer records, system information and self-service.
Agents should also be able to transfer calls easily if they need expert advice or want to pass a call to another agent better suited to handle the customer’s needs. Successful transfers can reduce the need to call customers back, improving productivity and increasing customer satisfaction.
Instant Messaging is another useful VoIP tool for agents. They can ask for information from a colleague while the caller is on the line and successfully resolve the call first time.
Supervisors can provide support by monitoring or recording calls and prompting agents if necessary. They can also use a facility called “barging-in” to intervene in a call if an agent is having difficulties or dealing with an abusive customer.
Managing Call Centre Operations And Performance
Call centre supervisors need two essential tools to manage operations:
- A portal to configure the system.
- Software to collect operational data for analysis and action.
VoIP systems incorporate call centre portals that allow supervisors to allocate identities and numbers to agents, and specify the services and features each agent can use. Supervisors also use the portal to set business rules for routing incoming calls and prioritising certain types of call.
VoIP call centre systems integrate with systems that gather data for analysis against important metrics. The data is available from the portal in the form of reports and typically includes:
- Number of incoming calls
- Average time to pick up calls
- Average queue waiting times
- Time spent on calls by agent
- Number of
- Number of callbacks
This data helps supervisors to allocate resources more effectively and manage the performance of individual agents. By comparing waiting times and numbers of calls at different times of the day, they can reallocate agents to ensure availability at peak times.
By analysing aspects of agent performance, such as time to deal with calls, numbers of transfers, barge-ins and callbacks, supervisors can identify training needs and improve overall call centre performance.
Call recording is another essential feature. It provides useful information for training or performance reviews and, in certain industries, it may be mandatory to meet regulatory requirements.
Virtual Call Centres For Increased Flexibility
Businesses that don’t have their own call centres or want to establish specialist or overflow facilities can set up virtual call centres using VoIP technology. In a virtual call centre, agents work from home or other locations. They may work permanently or when needed by clients.
Virtual agents can use the same facilities as a physical call centre by accessing the VoIP service from a high-speed Internet connection or through connections provided by SIP trunking.
Supervisors in a central location control and monitor the service carried out by remote agents and can use call routing processes to allocate calls by category of call, time of day or other factors.
Key Call Centre Features
- Interactive voice response to determine callers’ needs
- Intelligent call routing to direct calls to the most appropriate agent
- Integration with customer relationship management and helpdesk systems
- Portal to configure the system
- Dashboard to help supervisors monitor call centre and agent
- Call recording for training and compliance
- Support for remote agents
- Multichannel capability to support customers’ contact preferences
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From Call Centre To Contact Centre
Increasingly, call centres are offering customers a wider choice of contact channels to meet individual preferences. As well as voice, customers can now choose to contact a centre by email, chat or Instant Messaging. They can also hold collaborative calls with agents by video.
Call centres that want to offer broader contact centre services can use the multimedia capability of SIP trunking and advanced features of VoIP software to meet their customers’ demands.
Leading VoIP Call Centre Systems
In the same way that there are a variety of telephones available for call centres, there are also a range of applicable suppliers. Below you will find a brief review of eight providers, in which you can compare relative features and advantages.
Avaya’s Aura Contact Centre Elite claims to be the most widely used contact centre solution in the world.
In addition to intelligent routing and resource selection capability, the Business Advocate feature prioritises the most valuable customers while maintaining service levels across all customer segments. Customers are served by the best agent based on their value, agent skill, predicted total wait time, and specific customer service goals.
The system offers multichannel capability, including email, web chat, SMS/text, and social media with the ability to manage all channels through a single agent desktop interface. Agents can use integrated Instant Messaging and Presence capabilities to connect with experts so the customer’s inquiry is resolved the first time. Agents can work in the office or from a home office using the same agent desktop interface.
Bright Pattern’s call centre solution supports multi-channel communications including text/chat, picture messaging, voice and video, and SMS business texting.
The system combines IVR and routing in a continuous call flow, from identification, segmentation, and service selection to call distribution and survey. A virtual queuing feature allows customers to hang up and receive a callback when a representative is available.
The Agent Desktop is a web application that offers controls to handle multichannel interactions, together with internal chat, interaction flagging and real-time personal metrics.
The Agent/Supervisor Desktop incorporates supervision tools and a real-time statistics dashboard. Outbound dialling automation supports predictive, preview, and automatic dialling modes. A campaign operator dashboard allows real-time monitoring and control over campaign execution in an outbound call centre.
Cisco Unified Contact Centre Enterprise incorporates intelligent routing, computer telephony integration (CTI), and multichannel contact management.
Key features include comprehensive customer profiles, customer segmentation, monitoring of resource availability and Presence. The solution supports integrated real-time chat, web collaboration, email, and social media to help agents support multiple interactions simultaneously.
The solution is available in three versions: Unified Contact Centre Enterprise, Packaged Unified Contact Centre Enterprise, and Unified Contact Centre Express.
The Five9 Contact Centre solution includes routing, self-service, and screen-pop capabilities that guide customers to the right answer or agent, based on business objectives and contact centre activity.
Routing algorithms segment and direct callers to the most appropriate agents with caller information and the appropriate script on the screen.
Five9’s multichannel solution includes a Natural Language Processing engine to filter and categorise interactions and eliminate spam. The company’s outbound solution incorporates automated dialler algorithms and integration with leading customer relationship management (CRM) systems, as well as productivity tools like click-to-dial from within the CRM screen and screen pops with relevant customer information.
Mitel offers a wide range of contact centre solutions to meet different business’ needs, including multi-channel contact centre, outbound contact centre, inbound contact centre, and workforce management and reporting.
Mitel solutions provide automated interactions, advanced routing algorithms, workforce management tools, call recording and quality monitoring capabilities. Outbound capabilities include scripting, action prompts, and CRM pop-ups to provide essential information for informed and personal customer interactions.
Customers can interact in the medium of their choice—voice, email, SMS, fax, social media, web chat, or multimedia self-service. Agents have a single interface to handle interactions across all channels, with all the relevant customer information and necessary tools directly at hand. Monitors and dashboards provide a real-time view of all customer activity, supporting performance reviews and simplifying the task of building intelligent work schedules to meet demand.
Nextiva’s call centre solution includes agent status display, automatic call distribution, call queues and call monitoring.
The interactive voice response (IVR) system that directs callers to the right agent and plays greetings, music, advertisements and periodic comfort announcements to callers on hold. The system offers the ability to record calls for monitoring and training purposes, silent monitoring and call-barging.
Remote agent support allows companies to set up phone service for agents who aren't located in the office and manage those calls centrally. The supervisor dashboard allows managers to run call reports on agent call handling and performance.
RingCentral Contact Centre’s interactive voice response (IVR) system lets customers choose the type of help they want, whether agent-based or self-service.The system supports automated speech recognition and text-to-speech in multiple languages.
The skills-based automated call distribution engine has multichannel capabilities and supports automatic call-back to match requests in your queue to the most appropriate agents. Web-based tools provide managers and agents with the ability to measure, monitor, and manage operations. The outbound dialler supports all types of dialling methods, including predictive, preview, and progressive, while intelligent call suppression complies with government regulations.
ShoreTel provides call centre solutions for small environments as well as large enterprise systems that require multimedia, sophisticated routing, enhanced reporting options, self-service, and outbound campaign capabilities.
Key features include Interactive Voice Response (IVR), intelligent routing and the ability to handle voice, Web chat, email, instant messaging through a single interface.
Supervisors have powerful dashboard, reporting, and unified management capability enabling them to create real-time and historical reports to measure performance against business goals. ShoreTel call centre systems are also tightly integrated with the enterprise phone system, simplifying management.
Compare Call Centre Telephone Systems
Given the importance of a call centre's equipment and service, comparing options is vital. It is not good enough just to settle on the first supplier you find, which is why Approved Index lets you compare quotes from up to 4.
The Approved Index quote comparison service is free, quick and easy, and it could save you as much as 40% on your purchase and installation costs.
To find the most suitable telephone system for your call centre, simply click the button below and fill in the form. It only takes a minute.
Let Approved Index help you find the best Call Centre Telephone System for your business today