If you are searching for the ideal call center software to fit your business, our interactive guide is here to help. Our team has rigorously tested hundreds of popular solutions in order to provide a comprehensive overview of their features and user experience, as well as current pricing plans – all tailored specifically to helping you select the most suitable provider. From sponsored partners through numerous other options, we have everything covered!
What is Call Center Software?
It’s easy to think that in today’s digital world, everything can be solved with emails, text messages and webforms. While that might be true some of the time, many customers still prefer an old-fashioned phone call for sorting out more thorny issues.
Talking to another human being gives a sense of immediacy and familiarity that’s perfect for customer support, making call centers agents your front-line agents in the war to build a positive corporate image.
As a direct result of this, however, phone support and phone marketing is time-consuming, expensive and hard to measure an effective return-on-investment for.
Delivering a consistently excellent customer support experience used to mean staffing your centers with massive amounts of staff to ensure no one customer was left hanging; thankfully, our modern digital world has a better solution.
Call center software supports your service team by routing calls to the right agents, providing your agents with the context they need for each lead and giving managers the data-driven insights they need to execute mature, omni-channel strategies.
Call Center software is an invaluable asset to businesses, revolutionizing customer service with cloud-based business communication technology. It helps streamline call management and make it easier for customers to swiftly get the assistance they need while automating repetitive processes in the background.
What kinds of call center software are there?
Call center software is divided into three distinct categories: Inbound, Outbound and Blended. When it comes to inbound call centers, they are designed specifically to receive incoming calls from existing or potential customers. The purpose of these types of systems is usually providing customer service and support, making product recommendations, taking orders or setting up appointments as well as collecting payments and assisting with account management.
Outbound call centers specialize in connecting with existing and potential clients, usually for sales purposes, surveys or political promotions. This is what most people think of when they hear the term “telemarketing.” Blended call centers take it one step further by offering both outbound and inbound services that fit a range of business needs.
There are two main kinds of call center software. The core difference is where the software ‘lives’ – your company’s computers, or the computers of the company who develop it.
With an on-premise system, you have to install the call center software on your own local machines, usually after buying license keys.
On-premise systems give you a greater degree of control over the software, but also added responsibility. You have to figure out how to get it to work with your existing systems, which might be outdated or incompatible, plus updating the call center software to keep it stable.
Another issue to consider is that if you manage multiple call centers, you’ll have to co-ordinate the installation of the software for each of them. Different centers using different versions of the software might lead to errors when trying to pass calls between departments and other issues.
Rather than hosting software on your own machines, your team simply connects over the internet to programs hosted on the servers of the company who developed it. This means that you don’t really have control over what they do with it, and if your internet connection dies, so does your call center.
But on the other hand, it means you don’t have to worry about installing, maintaining or upgrading the software. It’s all covered in your subscription fee. Even better, you can have as many computers as you once all connect to the software’s web portal, meaning that scalability simply isn’t an issue.
You can even use cloud-based software to promote remote working. Your teams can use the software just as well from Majorca or New York as they can from your offices.
Call Center Software Essential Features
Powerful features that are critical to a successful call center solution come standard with most providers; however, it is important to note that some of these capabilities may be classified as add-ons or part of an upgraded plan. Investigate the different tiers and packages available in order to discover which one best suits your business needs!
1. Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) offers customers a hands-off experience that eliminates the need for tedious call menus. With IVR, customers can easily provide information about why they’re calling and quickly connect with the right agent or department without any hassle.
Automating your company’s processes with an IVR system can be incredibly advantageous. Not only will you save time and money, but it also provides a better customer experience with menus that help agents prepare for their conversations by offering “warm transfers” where they can listen to or obtain information about what the customer has already interacted with in the IVR menu before speaking to them.
Most importantly, these menus ensure that the caller can speak with a knowledgeable individual who is capable of assisting them or be transferred to pre-recorded sub-menus where they are able to find their own solution.
2. Automatic Call Distribution and Call Routing
Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) is an invaluable resource for any call center, delivering pre-determined routing strategies to ensure that customer calls are managed in the most efficient way possible. This technology allows operators to avoid manual transfers and instead concentrate on improving overall productivity.
With ACD, businesses can create effective call routing plans which will help maximize agent availability, prevent them from becoming overwhelmed with requests and increase their chances of providing a first time resolution for each caller’s query.
The two most commonly used call routing strategies are list-based and round-robin routing. List-based is an ideal strategy for when the same agent should be responsible for handling all calls. In contrast, with a round robin system, each agent receives their own turn to handle inbound calls – there’s no resetting back to Agent A after every call has been handled!
With Skills-Based Routing, your customers can get fast and efficient service as calls are routed to agents whose capabilities best suit the caller’s needs. Simultaneous Ringing ensures that no call is missed by sending them out to a group of skilled agents at once – so you know that someone will always pick up!
3. CRM Integration
Enhance your call center with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) integration, which facilitates the connection of third-party CRM applications to your software. With Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) Screen Pops, agents receive a caller/customer’s data from their CRM system and have it displayed onscreen before they even answer. This helps ensure that each agent is prepared for every call while preventing customers from having to restate their information multiple times.
4. Automated Callbacks
Automated callbacks are an innovative solution for your customers to be free from long phone queues and wait times. Instead, they have the option to select their preferred time and date where an agent will automatically contact them back – no need for tedious waiting! This increases customer satisfaction drastically as it provides a much more efficient service.
5. Auto Dialers
Automating dialing modes not only enhance lead list penetration, but also save time that would be wasted in manual dialing. Most call center solutions offer a variety of options such as Power Dialer and Progressive Dialer. The former automatically connects agents to the next outbound person on the list while they are finishing their current conversation; ensuring every agent speaks with someone who is already engaged and ready to talk. Meanwhile, Progressive Dialers make connections at a slower speed; waiting until an agent becomes available before initiating any calls.
Predictive Dialers are the ideal tool for agents who need to place numerous calls quickly, as they help filter out busy signals, voicemails and disconnected phone lines. On the other hand, Preview dialing mode enables agents to view essential information in relation to past contacts like prior sales or accounts when selecting from a pre-existing list of contacts.
6. Call Queueing
Call queueing can be a blessing to customers looking to connect with an available representative quickly and efficiently, by allowing multiple callers to stay on hold until the right agent becomes available. It is equally important that you provide your patrons with accurate wait times or update them regarding their place in line; whether it’s based on need, status or simply sequential placements, these queues will help diminish customer callback numbers.
7. Call Recording
With call recording, it’s possible to capture customer-agent conversations either on demand or automatically. Recordings are instantly saved in the cloud and can be accessed by both supervisors and agents for analysis of customer service standards, agent proficiency, etc. Plus, many providers provide transcription services as well!
8. Reporting and Analytics
Get comprehensive and timely analytical information about your call center’s performance by tracking KPIs with real-time and historical data. You can either design reports to fit your desired needs, or simply choose from an array of pre-made report templates. Automatically receive analytics at predetermined intervals, whether it’s for individual agents or whole teams – the choice is yours!
9. Call Monitoring
Call monitoring gives a supervisor the ability to monitor live calls for better training, optimization of agent performance and improved customer service. It provides call coaching through “call whisper,” which is when a manager can guide an agent on the phone without being heard by their caller. Additionally, with “call barge” they are able to take over as needed in order to ensure that each situation has been handled properly.
10. Omnichannel Routing
Omnichannel routing links up the latest customer-agent interactions and conversations across channels, enabling seamless transitions even if another agent takes over. This means that with multiple communication channels in use during a customer interaction, everybody can feel right at home as they pick up where they left off.
11. Caller ID
By using Caller ID, agents can quickly identify who is calling and access their contact information before speaking with them. This makes it easier for them to prioritize calls and be prepared to deliver the best possible customer service experience.
Best Call Center Software Ratings
To help you select the best call center software, our team of experts has evaluated each product while taking into consideration criteria such as pricing plans, value for money, ease-of-use, features available and customer service & support. After exhaustive hands-on testing and user reviews analysis we have compiled a list of top rated call center solutions; here are our recommendations:
Five9’s cloud-based call center software enables companies to make the most of their customer communication by providing multichannel support. Thanks to Five9’s AI-driven workflow, businesses can use its revolutionary Genius™ Intelligent Omnichannel ACD system and screen pops for extra detailed information related to customers.
Five9 boasts an impressive range of features, such as: Skills-based routing for calls prioritized based on time or importance; drag and drop agent script building tools; predictive dialing modes (Power, Preview, Progressive) to connect customers from all over the globe with live agents in their local timezones; a suite of workforce management utilities like shift bidding and cost of schedule analysis that use six forecasting methods.
Five9’s plans are tailored to your business size and desired features, with basic plans beginning at a reasonable $100.00/month per agent. On the other side of the spectrum is top-tier pricing, which can reach up to an affordable $175.00/month per agent – all for scalability that won’t break your budget!
Talkdesk CX Cloud
Talkdesk CX Cloud is an all-encompassing cloud call center solution that emphasizes on streamlining workflows and optimizing resolution times through automation. Its AI Agent Assist™ tool provides real-time automated recommendations to customer service agents by recognizing key phrases in conversations, thereby yielding useful information from internal wikis instantly. This effective tool has enabled us to reduce response time drastically, making our customers happier!
Talkdesk CX Cloud Key Features:
Talkdesk CX Cloud offers powerful Quality Management tools, such as agent and team skill scoring/ranking, live agent activity feeds and manager feedback through call transcriptions. Additionally, Speech Analytics are supported with sentiment analysis, keyword search capabilities and intent & topic analysis. For self-service convenience there is AI-powered Talkdesk Guide which automatically ranks the knowledge base articles depending on customer query needs in addition to learning from caller feedback for optimal experience. It even goes a step further by suggesting which knowledge base articles need improvement for maximum reach!
Talkdesk CX Cloud Pricing:
Talkdesk’s pricing is tailored to the number of agents, desired telephone numbers, and call prices. Though not openly listed before getting a quote, plans with AI are available at just $65.00/month per agent – so you can start benefitting from this powerful technology without breaking your budget!
What to Look for in Call Center Software
High-grade call center software should include robust security protocols, Service Level Agreements (SLAs), guaranteed uptimes, and reliable network performance. To ensure data privacy and safety of users’ information, the best providers will incorporate two-factor authentication (2FA) with end-to-end encryption along with GDPR, PCI & HIPAA compliance measures like SRTP/TLS/AES encryption as well as third-party security audits conducted at regular intervals.
Service Level Agreement (SLA)
A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is an invaluable contract that safeguards both the service provider and customer by laying out precisely what services are expected. Typically, the SLA would contain information about: guaranteed uptime; features/functionalities provided to customers; penalties for noncompliance with stipulations in the agreement; security details, billing details, lengths of contracts & any costs not initially agreed upon; as well as other exclusions which may absolve providers from certain liabilities.
A Guaranteed Uptime of Over 99.9%
Uptime is the duration of time that your call center software functions and offers the services outlined in its Service Level Agreement (SLA). This metric can tell you how much downtime to anticipate without penalties from a provider. If any supplier does not guarantee 99% uptime or above, it’s best for you to move on immediately.
To ensure reliable uptime and guarantee that your provider’s system remains operational over 99% of the time, you need to look for a service with high network reliability. Network redundancy is essential; if one server goes offline, other servers in different geographic locations must be able to take on the burden so that services remain functional.
Finding the right call center software for your team depends on your goals and what you need to accomplish them. If you’re solely concerned with outbound calls, for instance, features that only help with inbound ones are of no use to you whatsoever.
To make the best possible choice, then, you have to understand the kind of features that call center software solutions typically offer, and how they map onto the common goals of a calling campaign.
It’s quite rare for a company to offer a phone line as the only way for customers to contact them. Instead, there’s usually multiple other communication channels they can use, such as emails, social media, live chats or even physical letters. (Some people still use them!)
You don’t want one experience to be markedly better than the others, and you also don’t want the transition from one channel to another to be stressful for the customer. Imagine a scenario where they talk with an agent on live chat, who then recommends they go into a phone call for a more in-depth discussion – only to never call the customer due to an error in switching channels.
Focus on finding call center software that makes it easier to establish and maintain an omnichannel customer service pipeline. This can comprise multiple smaller features, like incoming calls being logged to a help desk where agents can compose follow-up messages via email, or letting everyone on a team see the context of past interactions with a customer, regardless of where it took place.
An omnichannel approach to customer service is a lot more effort to set up, but it’s worth it. It makes it far easier to deliver consistent customer journeys which lead to improved satisfaction down the line.
How routing works often differs wildly between each call center software package, and they’re usually hard to update on the fly. Make a point of reading the documentation for whichever package you’re interested in to make sure there’s no nasty surprises, and consider going so far as to set up a workflow during its trial period to make sure customers get directed to the right agents at the right time.
While most call center software packages work off of a subscription model, meaning you’re charged a flat fee every month, you might also be charged more than you expect for each minute your agents spend on the phone.
This goes to show that it’s always worth reading the fine print. While companies won’t try to hide these charges from you, it’s important to make sure there aren’t any extra prices you’ve missed waiting for you down the line. It could easily be the difference between your choice in software solution returning a positive or negative return on investment.
Call Center Software FAQ
What kinds of companies should use call center software?
Compared to other tools, call center software has relatively little overhead when it comes to installation and setup. This means that it’s usually still a good return on investment to use it when you have only a small number of employees. And, of course, the more employees you have, the more the efficiency of the software will shine.
Even if you only take a few calls a day, the management and organisational features of call center software make it useful for planning calling campaigns and gathering insights for future decision-making. This means that even with a start-up that’s just started trading, using call center software can lead to substantial improvements in efficiency.
Efficiency, as we all know, is the easiest way to boost any company’s profits: time is money.
How long does call center software take to set up?
It depends mostly on whether it’s on-premise or cloud-based.
On-premise software needs to be installed manually on the computer of each agent you want using it. Even with mass-installation tools, this can take a long time, and it’s something you have to repeat when the software needs updating.
With cloud-based systems, there is no installation. The only set-up required is opening accounts for your team members and giving them authorisation to access the app online. Once you do that, all they have to do is open their web browser and head to the right page.
Does call center software have any hardware requirements?
No. There are zero telephony requirements to using call center software, meaning things like telephone cables, extension leads or desk phones just aren’t necessary.
Well… that might be a white lie. You will need hardware in the form of computers, like laptops or tablets, plus a stable internet connection. This is because call center software typically uses VoIP to send calls over the internet, rather than through physical cables.
It’s very rare, however, for a company to not already have access to these resources.
Do agents need training for call center software?
The creators of call center software put a lot of time and effort in making their product easy to use – it’s in their best interest, after all.
As such, most software will require only minimal training, if any at all. The controls are typically well-labelled and the core functions of the app displayed in a logical manner.
The main issue that can arise is learning how to integrate the tool into your team’s existing workflow, or how to adapt that workflow if necessary. These programs do, however, almost always come with extensive documentation and support centers that make the onboarding process much less stressful than you might otherwise assume.
How do you buy call center software?
Most call center software works off the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, which means that you pay a monthly subscription fee to continue using the app.
This is most common with cloud-based software: on-site programs might instead work with one-off payments and license keys.
What is the difference between a call center and a contact center?
Despite many modern cloud based call center software packages providing multi-channel communication such as voice calls, SMS messages or even video calls, they still continue to refer to their products as “call center software” due to the majority of focus being on business telephone systems. Furthermore, these Cloud Call Center Solutions often link with third-party applications that add yet another channel of communication!
That’s the core difference between call centers and contact centers: in addition to handling inbound and outbound phone calls, contact centers also manage customer communications through mediums such as text messages, live chats, social media and email.
Contact centers are part of a broader push from many businesses to move to a more centralised operating model, especially when it comes to customer-facing communication.
Rather than having separate teams to manage separate channels, which can easily lead to inconsistent messaging or branding, having agents that multitask and manage all of your targeted channels leads to much more consistent user stories and customer journeys.
Of course, there are potential downsides to using contact centers over call centers. By branching out and becoming more general, they lose their focus on taking phone calls, which can be an issue if you regularly receive a high volume of them.
Deciding whether to establish a contact center or a call center for your business – or both! – depends heavily on your specific circumstances. What channels do your customers prefer, and what age ranges do they skew towards? Younger generations prefer digital platforms, whereas telephones are increasingly used mostly by older customers.
Though people often use the terms interchangeably, call center software and contact center software have some distinct differences. Contact centers are omnichannel meaning agents can interact with customers through multiple communication platforms like voice calling, website chats, SMS messaging, email or social media channels. On the other hand, Call Center solutions only facilitate conversations over phone calls.
What’s the difference between inbound and outbound call center software?
Call centers run on thin margins and can’t afford to be a jack-of-all-trades. In other words, you need to specialise based on the kind of calls you’re dealing with, and that means your software has to be specialised as well.
The key thing you have to decide is whether or not the center will be inbound-based or outbound-based. Analyse how many minutes are spent dealing with inbound calls versus outbound ones: if the ratio is more than 70:30 in favour of inbound calls, you’ll want specialised, heavy-duty inbound software.
Inbound call center software comes with extensive routing capabilities designed to handle as many incoming call scenarios as possible. This kind of setup is most common among SaaS, B2B and eCommerce companies, as they usually have to deal with more orders and customer queries than outbound requests.
If that 70:30 ratio swings the other way, you’ll unsurprisingly be in the market for outbound call center software.
Companies in the banking, financial and insurance sections typically need this, as they spend more time following up on leads than fielding queries. Indeed, the number of leads available at any one time usually outpaces the number of free agents, meaning your call center software has to be able to call a large number of customers at once.