It’s important to distinguish between two types of call center software. One type offers conventional call center functions by distributing incoming and outgoing calls to a team of handlers. This is the equivalent of a virtual PBX (private branch exchange) phone system.
The alternative is often referred to as a contact center. This type offers a much broader means of communicating with customers. In addition to phone, these may include social media, email, SMS messaging, etc. And this broader approach is often part of a larger customer relationship strategy.
Below are some popular call center applications worth looking into. Some are designed specifically to deliver the call center function and others are oriented to the Contact center role, whereas a few can do both.
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Best for Enterprise Business
Part of the Freshworks suite, Freshcaller is a traditional call center solution where the focus is on directing the caller to the right person to help them.
Freshcaller is a traditional call center solution where the focus is on directing the caller to the right person to help them. It can be either cloud-based or locally installed on-premise, and it acts a lot like a virtual PBX telephone system. Call handlers can redirect calls, initiate conference discussions or even direct calls to support staff. Everything is handled via the Freshcaller web portal, but those fielding calls do so on their mobile phones as well.
Administrators can easily add, port or mask numbers through a simple web-based interface. What most customers like about Freshcaller is that it is very quick to set up, and the interface is largely intuitive, allowing new users to get up to speed quickly. It works with the other Freshworks business applications, but Freshcaller can be used separately, too. Signing up for a free trial costs nothing, and the cost of continuing is based on the number of users you have, plus usage
Best for Zendesk Users
Zendesk Talk is part of a family of business applications that work together.
If you already rely on CRM from Zendesk, you’ll probably be interested in Talk, as it naturally links those two functions together. It also links to other components, like the Zendesk content management system. You can use the call center software with or without Zendesk’s other programs as well though, depending on your needs, so you don’t have to have their other applications to benefit from using Talk.
Even without the Zendesk suite, this is an elegant and well-designed application that most computer-savvy staff members should be able to navigate with minimum training. The front end allows the directing of inbound and outbound calls, distribution of voicemail recordings, and the submitting of tickets into a system to generate follow-up support or sales. Conversely, the back end provides line managers with easy-to-follow statistics for their agents and teams, allowing them to redirect resources to manage the workloads effectively.
Alongside call management, Zendesk has SMS functionality so your team can text responses and service updates. This doesn’t quite make Talk all-encompassing, even if they do have a Zendesk Chat widget. So, if you need social media and live chat, you probably need to look elsewhere. Unlike many of the applications that are exclusively for English-speaking usage, Zendesk is designed to function with those that speak Turkish, Dutch, Polish and Swedish in addition to English.
Best Call for Medium-sized Business
RingCentral Contact Center
RingCentral has a suite of business-oriented software solutions, and Contact Center is one of its newest tools.
Any growing business will appreciate this sophisticated call management model, which scales from a few agents up to thousands. It also has agent training features that enable new staff to get on board faster. As the whole solution is web-based, the agents can be housed in a common workplace or distributed across many sites, even working from home.
Built using the NICE inContact platform, Contact Center delivers automatic call distribution, auto dialer, interactive voice response, CTI and virtual PBX functionality. For both calls and online contact, smart routing can be used to allow those with the most appropriate skills to deal with a customer or inquiry. Management tools for administrators include real-time reporting, omnichannel analytics, screen recording, whisper coaching, silent monitoring and call barge-in.
RingCentral also integrates with CRM solutions like Salesforce, Zendesk, Oracle Sales Cloud and Microsoft Dynamics. To get cost information, you’ll need to contact RingCentral for a quote. Note that SMS and email functionality are only available at the Advanced Plan level.
Best for Startups
If you need to set up a call center solution on very short notice, many existing customers would recommend Aircall.
This cloud-based call management platform can be used easily for a sales force or customer support team. And, with existing agreements in place, Aircall can provide local phone numbers in 30 countries (though not in mainland China), making it great for international businesses.
Calls can be taken on a PC, Mac or smartphone with no need for any PBX or physical phone infrastructure. For collaborative projects, the platform can interface with Slack via the Aircall API, allowing larger companies to build completely linked business solutions. Features aside, the strongest aspect of Aircall is how it integrates with other common business tools. It can work with Zoho, Freshdesk, Salesforce, Zendesk and many more CRM programs.
Aircall’s simple cost model is attractive, with just three levels of service based entirely on the number of phone lines and users you have. And contracts can be monthly or yearly. This flexibility allows the cost to be perfectly tailored to your business needs should a rapid expansion or shrinkage be required. As the service itself isn’t cheap, this might be critical.
Best Call Center Software for Omnichannel users
Five9 Cloud Contact Center is a customer relationship focused solution more than it is a pure call center tool.
To that end, Five9 delivers a cloud-based solution that works well for inbound, outbound or blended contact with customers over a wide range of communication systems. That includes phone, email, SMS, chat and social media.
But what sets Five9 apart from other solutions is the amount of smart, AI-driven technology it includes to get customers to the best person to help them. It even provides a degree of automated responses based on speech recognition. This functionality frees up agents to focus on those that need the most help, and it increases their individual efficiency.
Five9 can be integrated with a CRM solution that covers other campaigns and services. Although, you might need to build a workflow mechanism. The major weakness of Five9 is that most users find the reporting to be complicated. A few customers have also complained about customer service, but others have had a much better experience getting help with their issues. Five9 isn’t the cheapest system, but those who use it appreciate its value.
Why Trust Us
We have been reviewing call center services for over a decade, and we’ve considered more than 20 call centers in order to bring you the very best. We’ve included services that do inbound and outbound calls, are U.S. based and stay open 24/7. We scoured the websites of these companies and talked with their sales and customer service representatives to better gain information about how they work. We also looked at user reviews to see how real-world users of the services feel about their functionality and quality.
What to Know About Call Center Services
Does Your Business Need a Call Center?
Call centers can be great resources for a business, but they’re not always necessary. Use our checklist to see if you should seriously investigate call center services. If several of these statements are true, it might be worth trying a call center solution.
- My employees and I speed too much time answering phone calls.
- My company is losing sales because we don’t have time to follow up on leads.
- I don’t have time to run my business because I have to focus on answering customer questions.
- We miss many customer calls because the phone lines are busy.
- It takes my team longer than 24 hours to return customer phone calls because there’s so much to do.
- We have a hard time keeping track of appointments.
- My team doesn’t have time to call and remind clients about upcoming appointments.
- Several of our customers speak languages other than English, but none of my staff can assist them.
- Customers often call in for help placing orders, but we don’t have the extra time to guide them through the ordering process.
- We want to improve our customer service, but we don’t currently have the resources to do so.
- Our customers call at all hours, but we can’t always answer the phones when our clientele needs us.
What Services Can You Get With a Call Center?
Most of the companies in our comparison are based in the United States and available 24/7. Also be sure to look for services that have at least some bilingual agents who speak Spanish as well as English. Several companies in our comparison can also help your customer with other language needs.
You can instruct your call center service representatives to do any number of things with your calls, according to your business’ needs. They can take messages from inbound calls, transfer your calls to you, set appointments, help with order processing or handle technical calls themselves with a custom script for your business.
By working with the call center service, you can create a script specifically for your business and industry. This ensures that your brand stands out and your customers receive the best service for their needs. Some companies charge an extra fee for custom scripts, especially for complex ones. Keep this in mind when you look for a call center service.
You can have call centers perform outbound calls as well as take inbound calls. Outbound calls can include surveys, scheduled calls to customers for follow-up purposes, lead generation services and even cold calling, though some call centers no longer participate in cold calling if you do not already have the customer’s information in your system.
What Are the Benefits of a Call Center?
Call centers focus on handling your company’s phone calls, freeing up you and your employees to focus on other important aspects of your business. A call center is a good way to improve your customer service without taxing your current resources, and it’s a cost-effective solution, especially if you purchase a plan that lets you pay for the minutes you use as you go.
Other Standard best-picks
Call center services can also help you close sales since someone will be available to help with order processing and appointment setting. You can also have call centers follow up with your customers and work on converting leads into customers.
What Does a Call Center Cost?
Call center services have different pricing models. Some companies may charge you for a particular number of minutes that never expire, so you can use those minutes at any time and don’t pay again until you run out. Other services charge a monthly fee plus an additional smaller fee per minute you use beyond the limit of your monthly plan.
Some call centers require that you use a minimum number of minutes each month for inbound and/or outbound calls. Other companies require a minimum invoice amount each month, so the cost of your minutes might be larger if you have a lower monthly call volume in order to meet the minimum invoice. Some solutions, particularly for shared call centers (which means that yours is not the only business representatives are answering phones for), charge only by the minute, and you only pay for what you use. Global Response prices its shared call center services this way.
Call Service Options
If you need a call service that will follow up with customers, convert leads and gather more customers, look for a service that specializes in outbound calling. If you only need inbound calls answered, it might be worth looking into an answering service, which is meant for inbound-only calls, usually for a smaller call volume. Answering services are good options for smaller businesses.
If you want your inbound and outbound calls handled in-house (which may be the case if you have highly technical and specific customer service need) but need the resources and equipment to be able to do so, our small business phone systems review might be helpful.