Best call center software
Once your business begins to grow, handling communications can become an increasing challenge. There are varying degrees of solutions available to help in this endeavor, beginning with call handling and virtual assistants. However, at some point it may become necessary to employ a call center solution to handle a larger volume of communications, especially where the business works with a large customer base and/or sales team.
While traditionally a call center would handle telephone calls, these days the call center is just as likely to provide email support as well as live chat facilities for web visitors to the business website, and can even work with social media.
It used to be the case that call centers were the preserve of multinational corporations, but these days there are software solutions tailored to small business use, so don’t think you need to be an enterprise company to use one. Even better, pricing is generally based on usage, so call center services can be very accessible to businesses of any size.
There is a perhaps bewildering variety of call center software out there, and what solution you require depends on the degree to which the customer/client or sales experience needs to be managed. So to help you choose, here are five of the best packages to allow a business of any size to manage its own call center solution.
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The biggest open source call center platform
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.
To describe VICIdial as comprehensive would be an understatement. It covers the fundamentals such as inbound and outbound calls, email, and website chat, but centralizes everything into a Unified Agent Screen for easy management.
There are settings for predictive dialing, forecasting reports, call recording, and call balancing. It’s simple to operate from the outset, with no complicated configuration settings. And because it’s open source, every aspect of the software is available for editing and customization.
Updates and new features are constantly being pushed out, but you don’t have to use them if you don’t want to. There are also no hardware-specific demands, and because VICIdial is open source, you’re not locked in to a vendor.
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.
Bitrix24 is an extensive communications and task management platform, that includes a contact center for all types of messageing and calling, alongside CRM, collaboaration, and project management tools. The contact center solution itself offers a full range of email, phone, SMS, social media, or live chat options. Aside from its own extensive options, there are also integrations available for Slack, Mailchimp, G Suite, Office 365, Xero, and Quickbooks, among others.
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.