Inbound Call Center Solutions: When Software Isn’t Enough

When it comes to call center solutions—alongside many other elements in growing brands—the first response is often to scale up technology, or buy more software to solve the problem. And while this is often a good first step, software usually isn’t enough. 

The key to using software successfully is having the right team in place to use and manage it. 

The right software—even if it’s world-class—isn’t enough to create the inbound call center you need. You actually need the right humans powering that software to create an inbound call center solution that nails it, every time. 

If you feel like your call center software is falling short, here’s what you need to know—and how to fix it. 

The Limitations of Software in Inbound Call Center Solutions

Even with today’s technology, modern software still comes with a number of limitations when it comes to inbound call centers—namely: a lack of the human touch and intuition

Perhaps counterintuitively, the more technology advances, many customers still want to chat with a human when they have questions or concerns. The most recent data shows this quite clearly: 

  • 98% of customers will try to skip through IVR systems to get to a human 
  • 70% of consumers would rather speak to a human than use a chatbot
  • 80% of consumers cite “friendly and knowledgeable service” as one of the most important elements of a good customer service interaction

The human touch and relational aspect of customer service is still a must in today’s tech-centric world: and it’s something that software alone can’t provide. But there’s other limitations as well, such as: 

The dependence on reliable infrastructure. With a software-first or software-heavy call center, you’re much more dependent on reliable infrastructure to keep all the elements of your customer service running at all times. As a result, you’ll need more reliable options and more scalable backup solutions for when your infrastructure is down. For example, if you rely heavily on chatbots or webchat options to serve customers, and then experience a natural disaster that downs your infrastructure or connectivity for a time, it can be more difficult to come back from than if you were relying on a human call center with a backup overflow team in another location that could seamlessly transition into taking calls. 

Training and familiarization challenges. The more software is involved in running your call center, the more training is needed to get agents up to speed on using the systems and software correctly. While the right software is essential for effective inbound call centers, using more just for the sake of being technologically fashionable can slow down your training and onboarding periods, and keep agents from being truly effective and efficient with the tools they have.  

Software can’t replicate human empathy. In many industries, such as healthcare, finance or insurance, the need for human empathy and understanding during customer interactions is essential. These sensitive industries require careful human touch that a software program or chatbot just can’t replicate. But it’s not just sensitive industries that require a human touch—the human connection creates a sense of more caring, connected and reliable brands, which increases consumer trust and loyalty across the board. 

Benefits of Integrating Human Agents Into Your Inbound Call Center Solutions

The solution? Don’t just rely on software—but don’t just rely on human agents, either! Instead, integrate the two for an inbound call center solution that creates the right balance between empathy and efficiency. 

When you blend technology with human understanding and intuition, you get the best of both worlds—cost-effective and high-quality solutions. Some of the benefits: 

Increased customer satisfaction. Outsourcing your inbound call center solutions to a reputable partner often results in increased CSAT. This is because outsourced call centers typically have a strong technological-human integration, with a team of skilled and empathetic agents who are well-trained in using the technology at their disposal to work efficiently and productively to serve your clients. 

For example, at ROI CX Solutions, we train our agents to work with technology, not against it. Technology can help speed up manual work, data processing, and more to provide more support for human agents and allow them to do their jobs better, leaving them more time to connect with customers and deliver spectacular service. This integration of human agents and software have allowed us to increase CSAT for clients in a variety of industries, achieving results like: 

Improving problem resolution rates. Obviously, improving problem resolution rates improved customer satisfaction, but it also improves customer loyalty, retention, experiences and more. One of the easiest ways to improve it is to strike a stronger balance between technology and staffing. We’ve found that using modern call center technology allows our agents to be more productive, more efficient and find the answers and solutions they need more quickly, allowing problems to be solved faster. Not only does this create better experiences for customers, but it allows our teams to serve more customers in less time, optimizing efficiency and productivity. 

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Enhancing brand loyalty. Customers want to have a connected and human experience with brands—and when they do, it increased brand loyalty because customers feel that your brand has a face, voice or experience that stands out from other generic options. However, this requires actual humans who can be the face and voice of your brand. After all, an experience with a bot is necessarily, well… robotic, which doesn’t leave a lasting connection. 

Challenges with Relying Solely on Software

While chatbots and other call center software certainly have their place—especially alongside human agents—if you’re relying on software to manage your customer service, there are three key issues you’ll have to overcome (and may not be able to). 

  1. Complex customer issues. Software has to be programmed, either manually or trained on a database. Either way, it’s difficult to account for every complex customer situation that can arise, which means that chatbots and call center software is generally only good for dealing with straightforward, routine customer interactions. 

As a result, it’s great for IVR and simple chatbot systems that can help with common problems, such as accessing account information, starting a return, checking an account balance, or renewing a subscription. In these cases, customers can get help immediately, at any time. However, for more complicated problems, it pays to have customers immediately queued to a human agent, as software programs will struggle to adequately assess their problem and come up with a solution. 

  1. Navigating emotional and sensitive conversations. As discussed above, chatbots and other software programs lack human empathy and emotional intelligence, so they often react inappropriately when attempting to navigate sensitive conversations. For many industries, such as healthcare and finance, which need more delicacy in customer interactions, they’re simply better suited to a human-first customer service strategy. In many cases, chatbots don’t have enough context, emotional intelligence, and conversational cues to know how to respond appropriately to concerning, troubling or emotional concerns. 
  1. Overcoming technical glitches and limitations. Finally, a challenge with chatbots and other call center software is simply overcoming the challenges that come with all technology. There will, of course, be occasional glitches, downtimes, software updates, and other challenges and needs that require human attention and oversight. Relying too heavily on software can cause problems for the consistency and regularity of your customer service when these problems inevitably arise. 

How Human Agents Add Value Beyond Software

Beyond just managing the limitations of software, human agents add value beyond this as well. Not that you need convincing, but consider how much human agents add to your inbound call center solution. 

Ability to build genuine customer relationships. The team at Chewy—an online pet food and supplies brand—is well-known for nailing this technique. If a customer reaches out to cancel an order or delay shipping due to a pet’s death, surgery or other concern, customers regularly receive handwritten notes or flowers in the mail from the customer service agent they spoke to. This level of detail and care simply can’t be automated—but going above and beyond to show their customer’s they care builds strong customer relationships that result in loyal, committed customers. 

Offer personalized solutions. While software solutions and chatbots can easily be programmed with your standard policies, human agents can learn how to implement customized, personal solutions that still fall within standard policies, without being rigid or inflexible. And for many customers today, personalization really matters—in marketing, in customer service, and in the solutions they receive. Allowing your human agents flexibility to provide customized solutions not only improves customer satisfaction for that given problem, but also strengthens loyalty and retention to your brand by showing customers that you care about and value them as an individual. 

Adapt to unforeseen challenges in real-time. Humans are endlessly adaptable, and can tackle and overcome challenges, changes and unforeseen events in real-time, while software has to be carefully updated and re-programmed as needed to adjust to current events. This is one of the key reasons why customer service teams should always have a solid team of human agents. As today’s world moves quickly, having a team of agents who can adapt in real-time is essential. 

Exceed customer expectations. It’s simply really difficult for software programs and chatbots to exceed customer expectations, since, by nature, their job is to do exactly what you’ve programmed them to do. They’re not intuitive, creative or able to make new connections between what they know and the situation at hand, so when you need to deliver spectacular, memorable experiences that are personalized to customers and exceed their expectations, you really need human agents to make that possible. That doesn’t mean that every interaction has to be handled by a human—but for bigger concerns, more complex problems, or more valuable customers, having a human agent who knows your brand—and knows how to connect with customers—is invaluable. 

Best Practices for Combining Software with Human Agents

So, how do you actually do this? Far too many companies rely on humans without giving them the software or technology they need to succeed, while others rely solely on technology without having the right team in place. Here’s how to balance both together: 

Implement effective training programs. Effective training makes the biggest difference in ensuring that team members can really use the software you have to the fullest. Having best-in-class technology doesn’t matter if your team doesn’t really know how to use it. This is a big reason why many companies outsource to improve their customer service quality and efficiency—outsourced teams manage onboarding and ongoing training for you, so you can be assured that your agents are always up-to-date on the software and technology at their disposal, without having to waste your valuable resources managing training and updates. 

Integrate feedback loops. Ongoing feedback loops are essential for ensuring your processes and workflows are continuing to serve your company and customers well. For example, feedback loops can exist between: 

  • agents and management 
  • management to agents 
  • agents providing feedback on the software
  • software programs providing feedback on agent performance 
  • and more 

Software can help ensure compliance and provide real-time feedback to agents, but agents should also provide feedback to management about the software and tools they’re using. As agents are on the “front lines,” they’re often the ones who can provide the most valuable feedback about how to increase efficiency and serve customers better. 

Ensure seamless handovers between software and agents. When you’re combining both technology and humanity, ensuring a seamless transition between one and the other is essential to ensuring the customer has a good experience. This includes transitions between IVR and an agent, a chatbot to a web chat with a live agent, a chatbot to a phone call, a knowledge base page to a live chat agent, and so on. Prioritize software that keeps all customer information tied to each customer interaction, so that consumers don’t have to repeat their requests and situation each time they are transferred. 

Prioritize data security and compliance. Software can actually help your team increase compliance—but it also introduces more storage and data points that need to be kept secure and in line with standard compliance regulations. Use modern tech to your advantage to ensure compliance, especially for monitoring real-time calls and customer communications, but also ensure that you have human oversight and observation ensuring that the software is being used with the highest levels of security as well.

Conclusion: Achieving the Right Balance

At the end of the day, you can’t run an inbound call center in 2023 or beyond without software—but you can’t do it without humans either. 

As chat-based AI technology continues to grow in popularity and functionality, it’s important to know what it can and can’t do. Human agents will continue to be integral to provide strategic oversight, real-time adjustments, empathetic concern and emotional intelligence, and a human touch to your customer service strategy. 

But software is essential too to provide efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and productivity and support for your agents. 

Need help achieving the right balance between these two elements of your inbound call center solution? Our team at ROI CX Solutions has decades of experience managing inbound call centers. With our combination of skilled agents and world-class technology, we’re here to create an inbound call center that integrates the best of humanity and technology, while delivering standout results for your customer service and brand.  

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