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GoTo Connect is the all-in-one phone, meeting and messaging software built for SMBs. It boasts an enterprise-class phone system with 100+ features with inclusive minutes for local, long distance & international calls; video and au...Read more about GoTo Connect
Talkdesk is a cloud-based call center solution that helps businesses improve customer satisfaction while simultaneously reducing customer support costs. It uses interactive voice response (IVR), automatic call distribution (ACD) a...Read more about Talkdesk
CallTools offers an advanced predictive dialer and inbound call center management solution that streamlines and optimizes call center operations. With list management tools that include list scrubbing, recycling, and export capabi...Read more about CallTools
SingleComm is the all-in-one contact center solution that offers best-in-class solutions designed to optimize the agent-customer experience from a single unified desktop. Reduce agent training time 50% with drag-and-drop workflow...Read more about SingleComm
CCaaS platform for enterprises of all sizes featuring robotic process automation, inbound and outbound voice engines, a complete suite of digital channels (email, chat, SMS, social), and a range of built-in AI tools. Thrio offer...Read more about Thrio
Evolve IP’s omnichannel contact center helps organizations manage voice, telephonic, email and other communications on a centralized portal. The platform allows managers to manage operations in real-time and gain visibility into t...Read more about Evolve IP
For quickly growing businesses looking to efficiently scale their support teams, Dialpad provides a cloud-based call center with access to real-time customer insights. Dialpad allows users to onboard quickly and focus on deliverin...Read more about Dialpad
Five9 is an all-in-one cloud contact center solution for inbound, outbound, blended and omnichannel contact centers world-wide. Powered by Practical AI, Five9 enables agents to provide customer experiences across phone, emai...Read more about Five9
Ringover is the no.1 business phone system that gives you unlimited calls to 110 countries, video conferencing, SMS and group messaging, call recording, call whispering and more features focused on improving your teams productivit...Read more about Ringover
HGS Agent X
HGS Agent X
Highly engaged agents deliver superior CX that lead to higher customer loyalty. But businesses treat their contact centers as cost units and don’t empower their agents to deliver business value. HGS Agent X enables front-line agen...Read more about HGS Agent X
ice Contact Center
ice Contact Center
ComputerTalk’s ice, is an omnichannel contact center, supporting both inbound and outbound voice, email and chat/sms queues. ice seamlessly integrates with your existing ecosystem of applications such as a CRM, and excells as a br...Read more about ice Contact Center
Convoso’s all-in-one contact center platform generates and converts leads faster using multiple communication channels. The cloud-based solution offers multiple dialing modes (predictive/power/preview) along with two-way texting, ...Read more about Convoso
ReadyMode is a cloud-based call center solution for companies of all sizes in a variety of industries. Key features include automatic call distribution, interactive voice response, auto dialing, scheduling, performance analytics a...Read more about ReadyMode
net2phone Canada is a cloud-based business phone service provider, helping Canadian organizations drive business performance through powerful uCaaS tools. Trusted by clients and partners across the country, net2phone Canada has di...Read more about net2phone Canada
Webex brings together Calling, Meeting and Messaging modes of collaboration into a seamless, engaging, inclusive and intelligent experience. Seamless collaboration across devices, locations and organizations • Use any computer, t...Read more about Webex
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a cloud-based CRM ecosystem for small, medium and enterprise organizations, with a focus on Sales, Field Service, Customer Service complete with strong integrations with Microsoft’s other Office 365 offer...Read more about Dynamics 365
Zendesk is a cloud-based help desk management solution offering customizable tools to build customer service portal, knowledge base and online communities. The solution offers a customizable front-end portal, live chat features an...Read more about Zendesk Suite
Freshdesk is a cloud-based customer service software that helps businesses provide effortless service across every customer touchpoint. Freshdesk empowers businesses to monitor customer conversations across email, phone, chat, soc...Read more about Freshdesk
Zoho Desk is a cloud-based help desk solution from Zoho Corporation, catering to businesses of all sizes. Key features include management of customer support tickets, a customer support portal, contract management and report creat...Read more about Zoho Desk
LiveAgent is an online Help Desk solution for e-commerce businesses at the small and midsize levels. The platform offers live chat application, ticket management, online self-service portals, and change and license management, all...Read more about LiveAgent
Buyers GuideLast Updated: March 16, 2023
Call center systems share characteristics with both standard business phone systems (also known as PBX systems) and customer service/help desk solutions. At the same time, call center software offers a number of dedicated features for both agents and supervisors that can't be found in other types of business communications solutions.
This buyers guide will cover the major differences and points of overlap between these software categories to help you understand which best fits your needs. We'll also highlight the specific functionality that can only be found in a true call center solution.
Here's what we'll cover:
How call center software differs from PBX and customer service software
What is call center software?
Simply put, this is an umbrella term for applications dedicated for use in either a formal or informal call center. The closely related term "contact center software" is in many cases a synonym, but also refers to features used in call centers that handle a number of communication channels in addition to voice (e.g., email, instant messaging, SMS text, social media, and live chat).
Call center software supports the agents whose job it is to assist customers over the phone, or via one of those other channels. It also supports the supervisors who oversee the call center's operations.
Standard features and applications
Here are some common functionalities you can expect to find in a typical call center software package:
Agent Desktop Interface in Five9
Parks incoming calls in a queue, where callers wait until an agent is available.
Most call center systems are capable of a special mode of ACD known as skills-based routing, which distributes calls to agents based on rules that factor in agent skills and performance metrics.
Simpler modes of ACD can be found in standard business phone systems.
The technology underlying the voice menus that allow callers to complete actions over the phone via voice or keypad input.
IVR systems share similarities with auto attendants, but are much more flexible, enabling callers to do things such as paying a bill or checking an account balance.
IVR systems are defining components of inbound call center solutions. Businesses that only need to direct callers to the right extension don't need IVR; a standard business phone system and an auto attendant will suffice.
A jargon term for integrations between phone systems and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. CTI integrations add features both to CRM systems and call center systems.
CRM systems gain click-to-dial functionality, where agents click on a customer's phone number in a database of contacts to dial out.
Contact center systems gain "screen pop" (screen population) functionality, or displays that instantly appear on contact center agents' screens when they receive an inbound call.
Screen pops pull data about the inbound caller from the CRM system to help the agent better manage the interaction.
Applications that automatically dial numbers from a list or at random. There are 3 major types:
• Progressive dialers automatically dial a new number when an agent becomes available.
• Predictive dialers dial multiple phone numbers at once and distribute the answered calls to agents based on availability and wait time.
• Preview dialers are progressive dialers that allow agents to see details about the upcoming call in the dialing list and choose to accept or reject it.
Enables forecasting of staffing requirements based on historical data.
Performance analytics and reporting
Captures and analyzes information about agent interactions (frequently via integration with a call recording application for easy retrieval of problem calls).
This information is fed into agent scorecards and reports on team-wide statistics such as abandonment rate and average time in queue.
Enables supervisors to program agent scripts for sales calls and customer service calls. Also allows supervisors to control operational rules for calls and generates fields that feed data from calls into the CRM system.
These are three standard call control features used by call center supervisors:
• Monitor allows supervisors to listen in on calls without the agent or caller knowing.
• Whisper allows supervisors to coach agents without the other party on the line hearing.
• Barge allows supervisors to immediately join the calls they've been monitoring.
How call center software differs from PBX and customer service software
Call center systems are built on the same technology as business phone systems, and offer many of the same features. Additionally, help desk and customer service solutions can be viewed as a specialized category of contact center software.
Here are the major differences:
Standard business phone service providers don't offer applications such as IVR, dialers, and skills-based routing.
Call center systems are only appropriate for employees who are working in sales or support teams, though some systems include features for front office employees. Many call center vendors also offer standard phone systems and can deploy both, if needed.
Licenses for call center systems are, on average, significantly more expensive than licenses for standard phone systems.
Help desk and customer service solutions offer "trouble ticketing" functionality, i.e., when a customer contacts support, a ticket is created to help agents track the issue until it's resolved. This functionality can be added to call center systems, but it requires integration with a CRM system.
Help desk and customer service solutions are only appropriate for inbound contact centers. They don't offer features for managing sales campaigns in outbound contact centers.
Similarities and differences between call center, PBX, and customer service software
What type of buyer are you?
We've already seen that there's significant overlap between call center systems, business phone systems, and customer service systems. Different categories of buyers will need different types of solutions:
Small offices needing call queueing can usually make do with a standard business phone system. (See examples here.)
Outbound call centers focusing on sales will need a dedicated call center system such as the examples listed on this page.
Inbound call centers focusing on support can use either:
A call center system integrated with a separate CRM system for trouble ticketing functionality.
A customer service or help desk system with built-in trouble ticketing functionality.
Collections agencies need to work with vendors specializing in deployments for this industry segment. These vendors offer tools to help maximize debt recovery rates and to ensure that call centers operate in compliance with applicable regulations.
Virtual contact centers, i.e., contact centers that rely heavily on remote workers, will need solutions that offer robust mobile apps and softphones.
Market trends to understand
Contact center software has evolved as customers’ expectations and needs have shifted with the rise of mobile devices and social media. The following trends are particularly important to consider when selecting a solution:
Multi-channel contact centers: As more customers seek to engage businesses through other channels than voice (e.g., SMS text, live chat, and email), contact center software has evolved to enable agents to interact via these additional channels. Interactions across all channels in a multi-channel system feed into a unified agent queue.
Social media: Contact center software vendors are increasingly offering modules that allow agents to manage interactions via social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. New analytics tools also help businesses data-mine social media for signs of potential customer issues before phones start ringing.
Virtual queuing/web callback: Traditionally, callers had to wait on hold to maintain their place in an ACD queue. Now, a new technology known as web callback or virtual queueing allows callers to "virtually" hold their place in the queue after they hang up in order to receive a callback later. While this technology has proven popular with consumers, it's still not a standard offering in call center systems. If this is a must-have feature, you'll need to shortlist vendors that offer it.
Speech/text analytics: Call center reporting traditionally focused on metrics such as call length and call abandonment. Now, systems are emerging that can analyze audio data to detect anger, frustration and other emotions in callers' vocal tones. The results of this analysis can be used to identify trends in the performance of agents and the contact center as a whole.
Text analytics is used to scour textual interactions (e.g., emails, SMS text messages, and instant messages) for certain keywords that indicate frustration or satisfaction on the part of the customer. While powerful, these tools are still relatively rare offerings compared to standard applications such as ACD and call recording.