Call centers used to be thought of as the sort of thing only enterprise companies could afford, but accessible and affordable cloud-based phone systems can sometimes also offer a an accessible and affordable contact center solution, to make it easier to manage all customer and staff communications.
As it's all driven by software, this means no expensive outlay of hardware costs, let alone constructing your own call center. Additionally, as it runs from your existing business phone system, this means all of your communications can be handled by the same software and phones that you are already using.
Additionally, using the same software platform means being able to collect and analyse data regarding all aspects of your business communications, from KPIs for phone agents, through to workflows that result in the best customer resolution. The result is the ability to generate reports on efficiency and productivty and have clear ways in which to improve both.
The fact that a call center can now be run through a software solution means that the market place is becoming increasingly crowded, with existing VoIP providers jostling with legacy phone companies to offer a plan for you. To help make the decision-making process simpler, as we enter 2020 we'll feature the best in call center software solutions.
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Best call center software - at a glance
- RingCentral Contact Center
- Avaya Contact Center
- ZenDesk Talk
The innovative call center software provider
RingCentral offer one of the most innovative of the cloud-based phone platforms, and the RingCentral Contact Center software is no exception.
The platform is designed around a number of core features, such as true omnichannel routing, CRM software integrations, agent management software, as well as the inevitable reporting dashboard and analytics.
What sets RingCentral apart from many competitors is that the service has been built in the cloud for the cloud, avoiding some of the technical problems that have plagued other vendors who have tried to migrate legacy systems online.
Additionally, RingCentral's Connect platform offers a backend with a powerful yet easy to implment range of customizations which makes it a leading CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service) provider.
Pricing is also very reasonable, with an Essentials plan costing $19.99 per user a month, with more feature-packed plans available.
Local call center for sales
CrazyCall is a cloud-based service that can be easily managed through an app. You can make calls both through an automatic dialer as well as using a click-to-call browser extension.
A unique feature of CrazyCall is that it allows you to route outgoing calls through local phone numbers, which may increase response rates for sales calls. Call recording comes as standard to help monitor agent results, and reporting is included to allow you to organize and analyze calls and manage success rates.
Rather than providing general customer/client support, CrazyCall is more focused on being a sales-calling platform and doing that well, especially in terms of improving conversions and increasing ROI.
Pricing starts at $11 per month per user for up to three projects, with 200 minutes free per user per month, going up to $45 per user per month for unlimited projects and unlimited data storage with 1,250 free minutes per user.
Easy to use call center software
Freshcaller is an all-round call center platform that runs from the cloud and is simple to use. Everything can be managed from a single control panel, and calls can be made with nothing more than a click.
The fact that it doesn’t require any hardware makes it an obvious solution for small businesses, but it still includes a lot of features, such as call masking, routing, recording/monitoring, forwarding, and conferencing calling. Although it allows for global use, local numbers still have to be bought through the Freshcaller management inventory.
Overall, it’s a good general platform for integrated call purposes, and that it’s internet-based makes it both very accessible and affordable. The starter level is free to use for unlimited agents, with the only cost being call charges.
There are paid versions available at $19 (£16), $40 (£30), or $59 (£45) per month per agent, the more expensive options offering more advanced features, such as call routing after business hours and metrics, as well as service-level monitoring and omnichannel routing.
Focus on productivity savings
Five9 is an all-in-one call center solution that enables management of customer support and sales through a single dashboard. Aside from all the usual features you’d expect, it also includes a predictive AI to maximize efficiency among teams.
This means that if there’s a surge in inbound calls, agents normally involved in outbound calls will be diverted to handle the extra workload, and vice-versa. There are various settings and features involved with this, all focused on improving efficiency.
If that wasn’t enough, this solution also integrates with a number of major CRM software platforms, such as Salesforce, Zendesk, and Oracle. Five9 is also a cloud-based solution, making it easy to access without the need for telecoms hardware. Built for anything from small business to enterprise needs, pricing is customized according to need.
The big daddy of IP telephony
Avaya is one of the heavyweights of telecommunications, providing hardware and software solutions for business networks. The Avaya Aura platform has been constantly evolving and growing over the years and continues to mature.
As expected, the Avaya Contact Center software provides a comprehensive range of advanced features as standard, whether it’s through automation, call routing, or performance management. It doesn’t just work with voice calls, but can intelligently manage and route communications through website sales chats, instant messengers, email, SMS texts, voicemail, fax, scanned documents, video, and even company social media accounts.
However, Avaya’s main focus remains on telephony and the extensive management of communications through that channel. For the array of features and advanced settings here, though, you can expect to pay enterprise-level prices.
While many cloud call-center providers build customer relations management (CRM) into their product, ZenDesk has done it the other way around by building a cloud contact center around customer relations management. The result is ZenDesk Talk, a smooth and sleek solution that really does put the customer first.
Customer service teams now have the ability to provide telephone support from the same place they manage other channels, with the customer information and history provided as the call is taken. The aim here is to maximize efficiency and workflows by presenting everything together. However, as well as calls Zendesk Talk also has built in SMS, with texts automatically working to raised tickets, making it easy to keep track of communications.
Additionally, there are all the features you'd normally expect with a call center solution, not least call recording, IVR, routing, and real-time monitoring. As a cloud-based system it can be set up within minutes, and analytics allows for KPI to be tracked and monitored.
There is a free tier available for a single landline number, which allows for basic call features. The Team plan costs $20 (£15) a month per agent and opens up most features, while the full set are available with the Professional plan at $45 (£39) per month per agent. An enterprise edition allows for more data controls to be implemented.
More contact center solutions
Improvements to internet and network technology have allowed cloud solutions to flourish, and while we've covered the best in contact center solutions, here are some strong contenders to also consider:
LiveAgent is a helpdesk solution for improved customer service, that includes the ability to route and work with phone calls in its more expensive plan. At the basic level LiveAgent is a CRM platform that deals with email ticketing and live chat, but its All-Inclusive plan for $39 per month per agent includes a cloud contact center along with all the options and analytics you'd expected from a best-of service provision.
Talkdesk offers an enterprise cloud contact center that could allow you to make big efficiency and cost savings. It's simple to use but packed with wide range of advanced features, and there are a number of integrations available to improve productivity. The system can be adapted and customized according to your needs, but automation is available for routine tasks to help improve workflows.
8x8 offers a dedicated cloud contact center alongside its VoIP services, offering features such as omnichannel routing and analytics, as well as a range of CRM integration options with SalesForce, Netsuite, Microsoft Dynamics, and Zendesk. The focus here isn't just on providing a communications solution as much as a platform for improving productivity and efficiency.
VICIdial is the most widely used open source call center platform, and it’s free to use. This solution is also very feature-rich and undergoing constant development. You can either download and install it on your own server network, or else opt to use VICIdial’s own hardware and have the company manage everything for you. Because VICIdial is open source, you’re not locked in to a vendor.