If you run a small business, you’re probably used to taking on big challenges with limited resources. And adding a call center might seem like a major undertaking that’ll only strain your workload and budget.
Spoiler alert: it doesn't have to be.
In fact, a call center can help you streamline communication with customers, saving your business time and bringing a host of benefits, like improving customer engagement and increasing sales. And you don’t need a large staff or budget to do it.
Wonder where to start? The best solution for a small business is often a flexible call center platform. It’s just a matter of finding the right one that’ll meet your needs. This post will cover what to look for in call center software.
But first, is call center software right for your business?
Does my small business need call center software?
Let’s start by addressing why you need a call center. It boils down to creating a positive experience for the customer any time they connect with your business—whether it’s a customer service request, a simple question, or feedback.
Giving customers a convenient way to reach you and resolving their issues quickly will help nurture your relationship and create a positive experience. And that’s just what you can accomplish with an inbound call center. Additionally, an outbound call center enables you to tap into new audiences and increase sales.
Now, that all sounds good, but how can a small business make this happen with limited resources? That’s where call center software comes in.
Picture a traditional call center with dozens or hundreds of agents. You might think there’s no way your small business could afford this kind of setup, right? The good news is that you don’t have to because virtual call center software allows businesses of all sizes to build a call center with a modest investment and small staff.
Additionally, the traditional call center has expanded into the contact center, encompassing every communication channel, including voice, chat, SMS, email, and more. This allows you to connect with customers on their preferred channels.
With the right contact center software, you can equip a small team with the necessary tools to start reaping the benefits of a call center without making large investments in infrastructure or staff. Then, as your needs evolve, you can scale your contact center accordingly.
Now, let’s dive into how to choose between call center services for small businesses.
Important call center features for small business
As you look for a small business contact center solution, keep an eye out for these features to help you find the right fit.
1. Quick to deploy
Setting up a traditional call center can take months of back and forth, contract negotiations, installation, and training. This process and timeline is probably not realistic for a small business.
Contact center software gets rid of these barriers, allowing businesses to deploy a solution in a matter of days or even minutes. But look for a solution that’s quick to deploy with low code, allowing you to get up and running quickly.
2. Omnichannel capabilities
While you may want to start with a true call center—focused on voice support only—you might need to expand to other channels eventually. That’s because most customers today expect to communicate with businesses on their preferred platforms, such as live chat and messaging.
Plus, adding channels like webchat can lighten the workload for your support teams, leveraging integrations and automation to solve straightforward queries quickly (more on this below).
You’ll also want to look for a contact center solution with omnichannel capabilities, meaning it enables you to serve customers on any channel. And most importantly, ensure you can manage all these channels from a single platform—so your agents don’t waste time toggling between platforms.
Efficiency is the name of the game for small businesses, and burdening your call center agents with basic questions and call routing can get in the way of that efficiency.
To avoid this, look for a call center solution that allows you to quickly build an interactive voice response (IVR) system with menus that help the customer get automated answers to common questions, like business hours, or route themselves to the right agent.
An IVR system can help you reduce call center costs, solve calls faster, and free up your agents’ time to handle more complex questions that require human assistance.
4. Intuitive UI
Convenience isn't just for your customers—prioritizing ease of use for your agents will also set them up for success.
So look for a contact center with an intuitive user interface (UI) that’s easy to learn and navigate. For example, make sure it’s straightforward for agents to pull up customer data and switch channels. This will get your agents up and running quickly and empower them to provide a positive customer experience.
5. Useful integrations
Data silos can reduce the efficiency of your contact center and keep you from providing a personalized customer experience. That’s why you should look for a call center solution that seamlessly integrates with your existing software.
For example, integrating your contact center with customer relationship management software, like Salesforce or Zendesk, equips your agents with the data they need to personalize every interaction. Other useful integrations to look for include workflow automation platforms, like ServiceNow, and messaging apps.
Learn more about the most important contact center integrations.
6. Chatbot capabilities
A chatbot can make your contact center more efficient by using artificial intelligence to answer basic questions, giving your agents more time to focus on other tasks. This can save time and money, which is especially important for a small business call center.
Look for a contact center solution that supports chatbot integration on your website, making it easy for customers to contact you by pressing a button. Additionally, look for a solution that allows you to set up a seamless hand off from the chatbot to a live agent for complex issues.
Tracking and analyzing call center performance is essential to provide excellent customer service. And if you run a small business, you don’t want to spend a lot of time pulling reports and creating dashboards.
So look for a solution that allows call center supervisors to quickly generate reports and dashboards to track performance and gain insight into how to improve your call center. Most importantly, opt for a platform that allows users to do this without using code, enabling anyone in your business to learn to pull these insights.
Gathering the right data will ultimately help you understand how you can improve the customer experience and ensure your call center provides return on investment for your business.
You might start your call center with a handful of agents and a few core channels, but if business begins to boom, you may have to expand sooner than expected. So pick a contact center solution that can grow with your business.
The right platform will make it easy to add new channels as your business needs evolve. Conversely, you’ll also want to look for a solution that scales down if you no longer need certain channels or the call volume fluctuates seasonally.
Additionally, focus on a solution that allows you to make changes and iterate quickly without negotiating new contracts or waiting for new systems. Cloud-based solutions give you this flexibility to scale and expand your reach as your business evolves.
9. Flexible pricing model
Last but not least, consider your budget and the pricing model that will benefit your business. After all, when you get started with a contact center, you probably want to try it with a modest investment before you commit.
So look for a solution that lets you start with a free trial or small investment, then increase your investment if you decide it’s the right fit for your business. Additionally, look for a solution with different pricing options, such as usage-based pricing and flat-rate pricing, to help you choose the one that makes the most sense for your business.
Try Twilio Flex for small businesses
Now that you have an idea of what to look for in your call center solution, check out the top providers for 2023.
At the top of the list, you’ll find Twilio Flex, a scalable contact center platform you can deploy in a matter of minutes rather than spending months working out a contract with a legacy system.
Flex is highly programmable, so you can customize it to fit your current needs. Plus, it supports omnichannel communications, enabling you to add new channels as needed. And with its intuitive UI and code-free analytics dashboards, your employees can get started in no time.
Sound like the right fit? Try Flex today with a free trial that includes 5,000 active user hours, then choose from per-hour or per-month pricing. Want to learn more first? Check out an interactive demo.