What Is Contact Center Technology? Types, Benefits, & Trends

March 15, 2024 11 min read

Julie Bai

Julie Bai

Contact Center Technology & Trends

Lost calls, long wait times, and outdated technology — call center managers know the pain of having to run on poor call center technology.

Today’s customers demand fast, personalized, and omnichannel service. Thankfully, contact center technology has evolved far beyond the days of cramped booths and corded phones.

Contact center solutions now offer innovative tools like automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and self-service, propelling effective customer experiences, valuing human connection, and keeping clients coming back for more.

This article explores the key contact center technologies in use today, their benefits, future trends, and what the contact center of the future may look like.

What Is Contact Center Technology?

Contact center technology encompasses all the hardware, software, and tools call centers use to manage and optimize customer interactions. These technologies keep contact centers running smoothly and efficiently with inbound and outbound customer communications.

This technology goes beyond answering incoming calls or making outbound phone calls — it aims to optimize the entire customer experience.

Call center technology enables efficient routing and management of all customer interactions, providing quick resolutions and excellent service.

Cloud-based call center solutions combine omnichannel capabilities like voice, email, chat, SMS, and social media to drive more meaningful and consistent customer conversations.

Capabilities like IVR systems speed up self-service, freeing agents for complex issues. AI-powered chatbots can even engage customers in real time, accessing data to provide contextual recommendations.

For customer service leaders seeking to strengthen customer relationships, investing in the right call center technology is a must. Adoption does require upfront software investment and agent training, but the long-term benefits make this a priority.

Core Call Center Technologies

Several core call center technologies prove crucial to the enablement and productivity of your call center. These enable call centers to function and provide excellent customer support.

1. VoIP

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) powers business phone systems by enabling feature-rich, high-quality calling over the Internet.

More than just replicating landline functionality, VoIP integrates next-gen unified communications, including calls, voicemail, SMS, and fax, to improve customer contact.

With VoIP, calls are routed over secure broadband connections to allow flexible anywhere access via software phones, traditional handsets, and mobile devices, facilitating remote work and continuity.

VoIP also future-proofs investments with easy scalability to support business growth.

Advanced cloud-based VoIP features like auto attendants, call recording, intelligent call routing, omnichannel queues, analytics, and built-in redundancy optimize the customer experience. Tight CRM integrations empower personalized service with instant access to customer records.

VoIP merges the best of legacy telephony with internet-enabled feature enhancements tailor-made for modern customer service. Contact centers gain a competitive edge via flexible, unified communication.

2. CRM integration

Great customer support begins with the right context to personalize conversations.

A customer relationship management (CRM) system captures this invaluable data — order histories, support tickets, product preferences, and more.

However, simply having this information isn’t enough. CRM integration empowers agents to easily access the details they need when they need them.

CRM-telephony integration unites data with calls, powering the following functionality in an all-in-one tool:

CRM integrations optimize workflows while enabling personalized, contextual interactions, driving intelligence-driven customer service.

Agents spend less time digging for information, managers gain data-backed recommendations, and customers get the dedicated care they deserve.

3. Interactive voice response (IVR)

Being put on endless hold or transferred to the wrong department is frustrating for customers calling your business.

The interactive voice response (IVR) system offers the first impression when someone calls your contact center. This automated attendant greets customers and intelligently routes calls using voice prompts and menu options.

How IVR works

An effective IVR system can:

As an example, a caller could hear “Thank you for calling ABC Company, if you know your party’s extension, dial it now. For billing questions, say or press 1. For tech support, say or press 2.”

The menu options then route the customer directly to the correct department. Optional sub-menus can further qualify the query if needed. Customers can speak or use touch-tone commands.

4. Skills-based routing

Skills-based routing automatically sends customer inquiries to agents with the skills to handle them. This prevents misrouted calls and improves customer satisfaction.

For example, billing questions are routed to billing agents, while technical issues go to technicians.

When customers call a contact center, they must reach the agent best equipped to resolve the issue. Otherwise, sales reps field complex technical questions, and support agents handle billing disputes.

Skills-based call routing uses pre-configured agent skills profiles to connect each customer to the right agent.

Let’s say Mohammed specializes in billing and payment processing. He hasn’t received training on troubleshooting broadband connectivity issues.

When a customer calls with a broadband problem, skills-based routing will connect them to Tina rather than Mohammed. As a broadband technician, Tina can diagnose the issue and restore service promptly.

Routing calls based on agent skills minimizes transfers, reducing handle time and improving first-call resolution rates.

Customers’ problems are addressed quickly without repeating information to multiple agents, improving contact center efficiency and customer satisfaction.

5. Call queuing

When call volumes exceed agent capacity, effective call queuing helps manage the customer experience during inevitable wait times.

Call queues set proper expectations around delays while deploying features to shorten queue times.

Key call queueing capabilities include:

The most effective queues balance technology and communication to ease the waiting experience.

Transparent estimations, intelligent routing, and callback options demonstrate respect for a caller’s time. This drives greater satisfaction despite delays from high demand.

6. Screen pop

Screen pop integrates phone and CRM systems to display customer information when calls come in automatically. Integrated customer data allows agents to personalize interactions knowing who is calling before even answering.

For example, when a prospect returns a sales call, the agent can proactively greet them by name and continue a previous conversation instead of validating their credentials from scratch. This shows professionalism and saves both customers and support agents valuable time.

Nextiva Call Pop displays customer intelligence in a screen pop

Screen pops also provide agents with the full context of previous interactions and customer history right on their desktops. They can reference relevant details that make conversations more meaningful.

By eliminating redundant identification processes, screen pop keeps interactions personal, efficient, and focused on value-building. Agents spend less time managing logistics and more time strengthening customer relationships.

7. Predictive dialer

Outbound call centers help businesses connect with potential customers to drive sales, market research, or generate leads.

Manually working through lists is tedious and prone to human error. Predictive dialing eliminates overhead and optimizes engagement rates by automatically queueing and placing calls with leads.

Sophisticated algorithms determine when agents finish current calls and automatically dial the next numbered queued for attention. This ensures reps stay productive by eliminating downtime in between interactions. Caller ID even displays account information beforehand allowing agents to personalize outreach.

For scheduled callbacks, predictive technology monitors staff availability in real time. Once an agent is free, the system automatically places the callback without agent intervention.

Predictive dialers funnel warmed leads, driving better agent productivity. Customers appreciate timely, professional follow-through. It’s a win-win for operational efficiency and customer trust.

8. Call analytics

Using call analytics, you can get insight to make faster, better decisions for your business (without the need to employ a data analyst). 

Managers can forecast call volume, and call metrics, and route calls based on real data.

Choose from one or all of the real-time, historical, and overall analytics across your business dashboard to work out which departments and channels perform best or need improvement.

With the right analytics tool, you get out-of-the-box reports or can build your own to measure exactly what you need at any given time.

Nextiva voice analytics

9. Conversational AI 

When introducing self-service options, one of the first technologies you should look at is conversational AI.

Using chatbots and intelligent virtual assistants, conversational AI provides automatic and personalized self-service options.

For simple, repetitive inquiries like store locations or account balances, AI-driven chatbots deliver instant 24/7 resolutions through natural language conversations. This reduces call volumes so agents can focus on complex issues.

Additionally, virtual assistants analyze context and user history to provide relevant recommendations during interactions.

Illustration of conversational AI as a part of proactive customer service.

Conversational AI also streamlines call routing.

Advanced speech recognition parses spoken requests to instantly connect callers with the optimal department. Sentiment detection ensures priority queueing for distressed customers.

These intelligent self-service tools increase customer satisfaction by 10 points or more while cutting inquiry times by over 90%, providing convenient automated assistance across languages and channels.

10. Voicemail to email

Voicemail alone has limited value in a fast-paced call center where timely follow-up is expected.

Messages can sit untouched for hours as agents juggle competing priorities. Voicemail-to-email integration helps ensure no customer inquiries fall through the cracks.

With this feature, whenever a new voicemail comes in, agents and managers automatically receive email alerts complete with audio recordings and voice-to-text transcripts. Better visibility allows them to quickly triage and delegate the next steps based on urgency and staff availability.

Proactive notifications and centralized access to inquiry details keep customer issues from being overlooked. And the ability to instantly discern the topic without having to listen to messages saves managers time.

Most importantly, voicemail-to-email enables call centers to meet their SLAs and speed up resolution.

Customers get callbacks faster, and no opportunity goes unaddressed. This reliability transforms an often neglected communication channel into a catalyst for providing better service.

There’s no doubt we’re experiencing a shift in call center technology. Features do get rolled out regularly. So it’s important to always be aware of potential and emerging trends.

The rise of automation and AI

Intelligent virtual assistants and chatbots are being implemented to handle routine, repetitive inquiries from customers. Automation allows human agents to address more complex customer issues and questions.

Chatbots use natural language processing to understand questions while machine learning helps them improve answers over time.

Automated call routing systems powered by AI can study past interactions and caller data to determine where to most effectively direct incoming calls. This improves efficiency and first-call resolution.

Speech analytics further aids routing by analyzing real-time call dialogues.

Call center monitoring

Enabling omnichannel experiences

Customers want flexibility in how they engage with brands. Call centers are unifying capabilities across channels like voice, email, messaging apps, social media, and self-service web portals.

Customer interactions across channels are logged into centralized systems for agents to reference.

Technologies like cloud computing enable omnichannel call centers to integrate multiple channels into a single system.

For example, chat histories with a customer are visible to the agent that same customer later speaks to over the phone.

Managing remote and hybrid teams

Cloud-based solutions have enabled many call center workers and service agents to productively operate from anywhere.

Workforce management tools help leaders oversee distributed teams by tracking key call center metrics and ensuring quality interactions.

However, supporting remote staff requires concerted engagement strategies involving overcommunication, digital team building, and an emphasis on wellness and work-life balance to prevent isolation and burnout.

Leaders must rethink how to motivate and unite hybrid on-site/remote workforces.

Analytics driving service excellence

More call centers are tapping into the wealth of data from customer interactions to uncover actionable customer insights. Speech, text, and QA analysis tools can decode recorded calls and online chats to identify areas for improvement.

Pairing these findings with operational analytics helps diagnose inefficiencies while conveying changing customer sentiments. The automation of quality monitoring also provides consistent evaluations so leaders can pinpoint coaching opportunities.

Valuing security, ethics, and transparency

Customers expect their personal data to remain private and secure, making compliance capabilities table stakes for call centers. But managing AI also introduces risks of algorithmic biases which leaders must mitigate through responsible design.

Clear explanations of how automated systems or AI aid in interactions can counter skepticism while giving customers recourse if the technology fails or harms them. As AI permeates customer service, trust and transparency should remain top priorities.

Top Benefits of Contact Center Technology

Contact center technology brings several key benefits that translate to better business outcomes. It streamlines workflows and empowers call center agents to provide efficient, exceptional customer service.

Here are some things you can do with the right call center technology.

Related: Enterprise Contact Center Solutions: Overview & Key Features

Future of Call Center Technology

Contact center software is undeniably headed toward greater automation, integration, and customer self-service.

As AI advances, expect to see more conversational bots handling routine customer inquiries. Cloud platforms evolve, and anticipate seamless connections between your phone system, CRM, and other critical business software.

However, the human touch will still retain value. Customers will likely continue to demand the option to speak with a live agent for more complex issues.

The call center of the future may function more as a hybrid model — leveraging automation for efficiency but enabling personalized service when needed.

The keys will be flexibility and listening to customer feedback.

Evaluate new technologies not just for their capabilities, but for how they can enhance the customer experience. Monitor channels that customers themselves are embracing and support agent mobility to attract top distributed talent.

Constantly refining strategies around emerging innovations and customer expectations will help you rapidly adapt to technological change while delivering exceptional customer experience.

The future remains bright for call centers focused on customer-centric evolution.

Get call center software from Nextiva.

IVR, call recording, VoIP numbers, call routing, advanced reporting–integrated in ONE cloud platform.

Call Center Technology FAQs 

What is the main function of call center technology?

Call center technology enables smart queuing and distribution of both incoming and outgoing customer calls offering a better customer experience.

What is the difference between a call center and a contact center?

A call center only supports voice calls whereas a contact center agent supports other channels like email, web chat, and social media. 

Contact centers are either multichannel or omnichannel. Multichannel means you have more than one channel available for your customers to reach you. Omnichannel takes those channels and shares information cross-channel. So when a caller references a web chat they had last week, the agent handling the call has access to the entire customer journey.

What are the types of call centers?

There are five types of call centers for supporting customers and engaging sales leads:
1. Inbound call center
2. Outbound call center
3. Mixed call center (inbound and outbound)
4. Multichannel contact center
5. Omnichannel contact center

What are the systems used in a call center?

Every call center uses its own suite of software and tools. These range from phone systems, CRMs, line of business apps, and specialist call center technology.

Nextiva provides business VoIP, CRM, call center, and multichannel contact center software for small and medium businesses ready to take their next step in cloud communications.

Julie Bai


Julie Bai

Julie Bai was a product manager at Nextiva, UCaaS evangelist, no-bull communicator, and translator for people, dog lover, and mother to an adorably active boy.

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