9 Best Call Center Software (2024 Review)

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The best call center software for you depends (almost entirely) on the number of agents you have. It sounds like an overly simplified approach, but it actually works really well.

Want a Quick Answer? The Best Contact Center Solutions in < 5 Minutes

Less than 100 agents: Nextiva is the most scalable multi-channel option, Aircall offers hundreds of out-of-the-box integrations for connecting your systems, and Cloudtalk delivers top-tier call routing options but limited integration opportunities (jump to reviews).

100 to 999 agents: RingCentral has strong workforce optimization and engagement tools, Talkdesk is highly customizable with strong quality management features, and Dialpad offers advanced AI-powered coaching + insights without buying an expensive add-on (jump to reviews).

1,000+ agents: NICE CXone is largely focused on improving conversational AI for contact centers, Genesys is actively working towards unifying support across social channels, and Five9 is growing in the direction of advanced analytics and integrations (jump to reviews).

Best of the Rest: 17 Alternative Call Center Tools for Specific Scenarios

This section covers other solutions that may be a good fit for you, but are lacking in (what we consider) key areas, are new and don’t yet have a proven track record, or cater to a very specific type of contact center.

Suitable for 1 – 5 users: OpenPhone or CallHippo (jump to reviews)

Helpdesk solutions: LiveAgent, Freshdesk, or Zendesk (jump to reviews)

Outbound campaigns: PhoneBurner (jump to review)

DIY options for IT professionals: Twilio (jump to reviews)

Self-hosted options: 3CX, FreePBX, and Asterisk (jump to reviews)

New but have potential: Zoom or GoTo Connect (jump to reviews)

Don’t use without strong in-house IT or through an MSP: Cisco, 8×8, Webex, Avaya, or Mitel

Our Methodology: How We Review Call Center Software

We started with 27 solutions that have call handling and advanced routing, softphones, analytics, call recording, select CRM/ERP/help desk integrations, in-call coaching, and auto dialers in some capacity.

These were the bare minimum for inclusion in this post.

From there, we dialed in on execution of these capabilities, easy self-administration, long-term scalability, automated compliance, multi-channel functionality, customer and tech support, user interface, depth of integrations, and feature availability vs price.

This made it clear what the best options are and how to group them (by number of agents).

Along the way, we eliminated one provider entirely—the remaining 17 are included at the bottom of this post as alternatives.

For Small Call Centers with Fewer than 100 Agents

Our top recommendations for small call centers are:

  • Nextiva: The most scalable multi-channel solution
  • Aircall: Tons of integrations, focused on interoperability
  • Cloudtalk: Stronger call routing, fewer integrations

All three make it easy for anyone to add or remove users, update call flows, program IVRs, and configure settings at any time.

While these solutions lack advanced features and customization on their entry-level plans, it’s easy to make changes whenever you need to rather than having to wait (weeks or even months) for someone else to do it for you.

Aside from self-administration, we focused on solutions that include essential AI functionality, like call summaries, in-call coaching, and AI-powered chat bots. Features like these help reduce the number of calls you get, lower operating costs, fill gaps if someone’s out of office, and save time on post-call activities for your limited (often multi-tasking) workforce.

We also chose providers with simple, actionable insights that offer a quick way to understand performance without spending hours manipulating data or digging for answers.

However, even the best solution won’t do much for you if you can’t connect it to your CRM.

If you don’t have in-house IT, out-of-the-box CRM integrations are all you have to work with. Since there are a ton of variables here, we can’t tell you what will or won’t work—the best way to know is to ask about it during a live demo. Even better if you can see it in action.

As a smaller business, you may be able to switch to a supported CRM, but you’re already making a major change. It’s best if you don’t have to make two.

Nextiva—The Most Scalable Multi-Channel Solution

Nextiva logo

Nextiva’s a long-time Crazy Egg favorite for all things business communication—its call center solution is no different. It offers the best balance of functionality, ease of use, and affordable pricing on the market.

It’s our top choice for small teams that provide customer service or sales support via multiple channels.

The company just acquired Thrio (announced in January 2024), a top-tier contact center solution that has tons of experience with AI throughout the customer journey. On top of that, they bought Simplify360 in 2023, making Nextiva an emerging leader in social media, reputation management, live chat, and CRM.

Actions and investments speak louder than words—they’re clearly dedicated to creating the best AI-focused, multi-channel contact center platform.

If your call center is brand new or has basic needs, the top tier of Nextiva’s business phone system may be more than enough for you.

It’s $35.95/mo per user if you have 5 to 19 users with volume discounts once you grow beyond that. It’s not the cheapest option on our list, but you can’t beat the value per dollar.

It comes with a multi-level auto attendant for routing calls, call groups, call recording, 12,500 free toll-free minutes, SMS/MMS, video calling, team chat, faxing, call logs, and lightweight CRM features plus call logging for taking notes and keeping track of interactions.

As you grow, you can upgrade to Nextiva’s intelligent call center plans to unlock powerful features for growing call centers.

Workflows and automations, skills-based routing, a visual call flow builder, and omnichannel inboxes make it easy for customers to get in touch with the right agents, no matter the channel they use.

There are tons of other time-saving, quality-boosting features, including:

  • AI summaries and transcriptions
  • Real-time analytics
  • Voice bots and virtual assistants
  • Agent coaching and quality management
  • Outbound campaign management
  • Workforce management

Nextiva’s affordable and feature-rich entry-level option plus infinite scalability with strong AI and a clear focus on call center improvement makes it our top choice.

Sign up for a personalized demo or check out our full Nextiva review.

Aircall—Tons of Integrations, Focused on Interoperability

Aircall logo

Aircall’s entry-level tier is cheaper than Nextiva’s business phone system, making it the second-cheapest option on our list—it starts at just $30 per user per month.

There is a minimum of three users, but it’s per-agent pricing is a few dollars cheaper. It includes more call center-specific features and fewer internal collaboration tools. It’s also not as scalable as Nextiva.

It still may work well for you, especially if you already have solutions for internal collaboration and don’t plan to grow beyond a few hundred agents.

For example, Aircall doesn’t cover social media messages, video, or team messaging. But it does have basic texting, IVR, call recording, transcriptions, queuing, a call flow builder, and more than 100 integrations on its cheapest plan.

There’s also a wide range of productivity features, like call tagging, assignments, and shared contacts so its easy for teams to work together.

It’s features are based around the idea of interoperability and integrating systems together, rather than being an all-in-one with every single communication feature you could ever need. That’s why you’ll find a much larger integrations list plus fewer tools than other providers.

The APIs are robust, so you can customize those integrations further or connect with other tools that don’t have a one-click integration.

One of the cool things you can do with Aircall’s API is programmatically start or stop recordings based on actions taken in various payment systems—this ensures you don’t record credit card numbers to maintain PCI compliance.

There are a few add-ons, which can ultimately make it more expensive than even some of the higher-end tools on our list.

Analytics+, for example, is an extra $9 per month per license. You’ll also have to pay extra to use Aircall’s AI features, including transcriptions and summaries which come included in most other solutions—it’s an additional $15 per month per license.

Aside from having less built-in functionality, Aircall has limited bulk editing features and customization options (unless you’re a developer) so it gets difficult to use at scale.

Lastly, Aircall only offers 24/5 support, so you’ll be on your own on weekends.

Snag a free trial or check out our full Aircall review to learn more.

Cloudtalk—Stronger Call Routing Capabilities, Fewer Integrations

Cloudtalk logo

To be completely transparent, Cloudtalk’s cheapest plan ($25 per user per month) is pretty limited—it gives you access to local phone numbers in 160 countries, call queueing, ACD, call tagging, ring groups, and one month of call recording storage.

It’s more of a standard business phone system than contact center software solution at this level.

If that’s sufficient for you, Nextiva’s the better place to start because of it’s superior scalability and focus on omnichannel support.

Critical call center features, like analytics, business hours, SMS, conference calling, callbacks, transfers, personalized greetings, IVR, and advanced call routing features are only available on the next tier.

It starts at $30 per user per month, making it the same price as Aircall. The third tier is the same price as Aircall’s second tier, too.

So, if you need anything more than the cheapest tier, the two are neck and neck on cost.

Cloudtalk covers voice, texting, and WhatsApp messaging. Like Aircall, you won’t find social media inboxes or team messaging and video for internal collaboration. Both forego these features so they can offer lower pricing.

So, what’s the difference between them?

Cloudtalk offers more AI features and call routing options than Aircall, but most people prefer Aircall’s UI and execution. Skills-based, preferred agent, and VIP queues, for example, are routing options Cloudtalk offers that you won’t get from Aircall. However, Aircall’s visual call flow builder is more intuitive.

There are also far fewer integration opportunities with Cloudtalk—36 pales in comparison to nearly 200.

Another difference? You don’t have to pay for three users—if you’re in a (rare) position where you only need one or two users, you won’t have to pay for unused seats with Cloudtalk.

Ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with either—it just depends what you care about most.

Start your free trial or learn more about it in our full Cloudtalk review.

For Midsize Contact Centers with 100 to 999 Agents

Our top recommendations for midsize contact centers are:

  • RingCentral: Strong workforce engagement and optimization
  • TalkDesk: Highly customizable + top-tier quality management
  • Dialpad: Best AI-powered coaching and advanced insights

The larger your workforce, the more important scheduling, forecasting, and adherence become. Every provider in this section offers streamlined workforce management features to help with this.

They all also offer skills-based (among other types of) call routing across multiple channels, including voice, social, email, messaging apps, and other digital channels throughout the entire customer journey.

Because agents tend to be more specialized and working in defined roles at this stage, engagement can be a challenge, too. Answering or making calls on the same topics isn’t the most exciting way to spend eight to ten hours, so keeping agents motivated can make the difference between positive and negative customer experiences.

As such, we chose providers that offer things like gamification, call scoring, AI agent assist functionality, and real-time analytics so agents can see how they’re doing.

We also emphasized customizable reporting, speech analytics, keyword tracking, and quality management functionality to identify engagement and performance issues before they become a major problem.

As far as CRM connectivity, depth of integration is the name of the game for midsize contact centers. So, APIs, advanced customization, and automated workflows played a major role in deciding which brands to recommend.

RingCentral—Strong Workforce Engagement and Optimization

RingCentral logo

RingCentral offers two different call center plans—RingCentral CX for small to midsize teams and RingCentral Contact Center for midsize to large contact centers.

The latter is actually a rebrand of NICE CXone’s platform, but rebranded and slightly customized.

The former (and cheaper) option offers a wide range of core features, like IVR for voice, video, social, and 20 other channels, outbound dialers, call recording, CRM integrations, speech analytics, and customizable real-time reporting.

You can supplement all of that with workforce engagement and optimization as an add-on (it’s included at no extra cost in RingCentral’s more expensive plan).

This module comes with everything you need to forecast and create schedules plus boost agent productivity. It’s scheduling tools let you plan everything, down to short breaks and lunches, to ensure your customers always get a consistent experience.

You’ll be able to build schedules based on skills and roles, so every shift is covered. It even includes shift management options, like shift trading.

Aside from that, supervisors can monitor performance with real-time data from a high-level or dig deep into interaction and agent details at any time. With call and screen recordings, managers always get the full picture during review.

For the engagement piece, RingCentral offers gamification, including badges, leaderboards, rewards systems, feedback, and even challenges to push your agents further.

RingCentral’s also highly customizable with more than 400 APIs, hundreds of integrations, and a deep integration with RingCentral MVP (and Global MVP) if you use its standard UCaaS solution.

Plans start at $65 per agent per month, but are highly customizable to match your needs. You’ll also pay per minute for outbound calls.

Get a custom quote or check out our full RingCentral review.

TalkDesk—Highly Customizable + Top-Tier Quality Management

TalkDesk logo

TalkDesk is a great option if you know your way around APIs and low or no code development platforms (or know someone who does).

It’s a solid contact center solution out of the box as a centralized platform for email, chat, SMS, social, and voice interactions. On higher tiers, it’s quality management features shine.

With screen recordings, real-time live performance dashboards, and multi-channel customer surveys, you can stay tuned in to quality at every level.

The top tier has a full suite of performance management and personal coaching tools, too.

But the TalkDesk Builder really takes things to the next level, unlocking nearly infinite customization. You can use it to customize automations, analytics, the interface, custom integrations, and really… just about anything you want to.

You can get as granular as you want, as well. For example, you can create customized interfaces for different roles to highlight the information they need front and center. Sales reps want to see product info and upsell opportunities, service agents probably need quick access to purchase history and previous interactions, and technical support agents want to be able to quickly search your internal knowledge base.

With TalkDesk, all of that is no problem.

The builder also makes it easy to lay out complete business processes, identify automation opportunities, and design entire workflows from start to finish.

Many of these customizations are available in the no-code builder, with more advanced finetuning available in the low-code editor.

Despite it’s unlimited potential, it’s organized really nicely. Aside from A library of pre-packaged routing components you can link together in a few clicks, there are different modules for configuring different things, including:

  • Studio Functions for advanced interaction routing
  • Automation designer to map out processes
  • Workspace designer to adjust the interface
  • Explore Create for reporting and analytics
  • Connections for custom integrations

There’s also a full developer portal with APIs, SDKs, and documentation if you’re not able to do what you want via low or no-code options.

You can get digital-only or voice-only plans starting at $85 per agent per month. You can add digital channels to the voice-only plan as an add-on. Alternatively, you can upgrade to a higher tier at $115 per agent per month to get all channels plus quality management, screen recordings, and customer surveys.

Get a free demo or check out our complete TalkDesk review to learn more.

Dialpad—Best AI-Powered  Coaching + Advanced Insights

Dialpad logo

Dialpad is a strong option if you’re interested in advanced insights, analytics, and AI-powered training tools.

Most providers have AI and coaching tools, but Dialpad’s combination of the two is a step above the rest, more comprehensive, and available for a lower price—similar functionality is an expensive add-on with the other two in this section.

During calls, AI Agent Assist automatically answers questions on screen and provides relevant information based on keywords within the conversation they’re having.

It can even prompt agents on what to say next and offer a range of different approaches or options they can present to the caller.

After a call, AI-powered action items save time and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

Dialpad’s AI scorecards are also a unique feature—they ensure agents follow every stop of your predefined processes. All you have to do is set up scripts and steps to follow (Dialpad calls these Playbooks).

From there, the system will take note of the agent’s actions vs what they’re supposed to do.

Not only does this help with quality control, but it also helps turn mistakes into learning experiences. All without supervisors having to spend time monitoring calls.

Although they’re always welcome to do so with whisper, barge, or live monitoring.

From speech recognition and natural language processing to semantic search, forecasting, scheduling, sentiment analysis, summaries, and CSAT scores across all interactions, there are a ton of powerful AI features.

Plus, detailed analytics, including real-time dashboards, customizable reporting, and performance reports, are included in every plan.

Dialpad has specialized plans for service (starts at $80 per agent per month) and sales teams (starts at $60 per agent per month) plus highly customizable add-ons, so you’ll only have to pay for what you need.

Get started for free or head over to our full review for more info.

For Enterprise Contact Centers with 1,000+ Agents

Our top recommendations for enterprise contact centers are:

  • Nice CXone: Focused on new tech + conversational AI
  • Genesys: Hybrid deployments, emphasis on social channels
  • Five9: Integrations and advanced analytics

All three have been around for a long time. Because of that, they’ve seen the industry change. From on-premise solutions to cloud environments and cutting-edge technology, they know a thing or two because they’ve seen a thing or two.

Every one of them can honestly handle just about anything you throw at them. That’s really why we picked them for this category.

No matter what your specific needs are, you’ll be able to work closely with them to develop a custom solution that matches how you do business. From workforce management, advanced staffing algorithms, and load balancing to elastic scalability, world-wide location support, global compliance, and tailored analytics for massive amounts of data, you’ll get everything you need.

As enterprise entities themselves, they know how painful change is. They’ll work with you to help minimize disruptions during implementation, onboard your analysts and supervisors, plus train your team.

If all of them… do it all, what makes them unique? Honestly, not much.

However, we focused on understanding where they’re going and the improvements they’re actively working on so you can choose a solution that’s growing in the direction you want to go.

NICE CXone—Focused on New Tech + Conversational AI

Nice CXone

Established companies are often the last to implement newer technology into their platforms. Nice CXone is no different, but it is trying to change that.

In December 2023, it purchased LiveVox, an AI-powered outreach solution that specializes in leveraging conversational AI that empowers humans to get more done. Basically, it uses AI for all the things AI is good at to free up humans for the complex activities it can’t do.

Nice CXone is also dedicated to staying ahead of emerging channels so you’re never left playing catch up with your competitors.

Plus, it’s edging ahead of its closest alternatives in terms of features and how those features work. It consistently beats others for skills management, call backs, performance management, training, call routing, analytics, automations, and more.

Aside from its clear focus on innovative tech, it’s able to handle more scale without sacrificing consistency.

Where other providers leverage partners, NICE does it all in all house so you don’t have to worry about third-parties not being able to handle your business.

They’re also well-versed in migrating massive contact centers to their systems, whether you’re currently on-premise, hybrid, or using a less-than-ideal cloud deployment.

Not only will they map out the entire process for you, they’ll help you identify processes, inefficiencies, and other issues along the way. Even more, they’ll work with you to improve or fix it all so you go into your new solution in a better place than you started.

Snag a personalized demo or check out our full Nice CXone review to learn more.

Genesys—Hybrid Deployments, Emphasis on Unifying Social Channels

Genesys Cloud logo

Genesys is one of the last companies to convert to the cloud. It’s cloud solution is definitely playing catch up with our other two picks. However, it can be a great choice if you’re looking for a hybrid deployment—something other providers will be hesitant to help you with.

With that said, the company’s been putting a lot of money, effort, and energy into its cloud solution over the last year, with tons of recent improvements and updates.

One of their main areas of focus is centralizing social channels plus social analytics alongside voice, video, SMS, and messaging apps. Social, including digital listening and consumer engagement, is often considered an after thought—or left out of contact centers entirely.

So, Genesys Cloud may be a good fit for you if your audience is active on social media.

In January of 2024, the company announced its acquisition of Radarr Technologies, further demonstrating the direction it’s heading.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, it purchased a product that already excels at social listening, gathering data from consumer engagements, and personalizing the entire customer journey.

Aside from that, it’s a very customizable platform with tons of third-party partners ready to help you expand Genesys’ base functionality even further.

Talk to their sales team to get started.

Five9—Integrations and Advanced Analytics

Five9 logo

Like the others we’ve highlighted, Five9 recently made an acquisition. In late 2023, it purchased Aceyus, an integration, data visualization, and advanced analytics solution.

It’s a clear differentiation from the others.

Rather than new channels or innovative tech, it’s focused on improving the key elements of contact center software: connectivity, performance visibility, and decision-making at scale.

You collect a massive amount of data from interactions on all sorts of platforms.

With this new acquisition, you’ll be able to bring it all together and make sense of it without getting a college degree in data analysis, using a separate platform, or purchasing yet another subscription.

If you’re coming from a hybrid or on-remise deployment, it’ll also help you maintain visibility during your transition to the cloud.

Head to our full Five9 review for more info or get an instant demo to get started.

What About the Other Industry Dinosaurs—Mitel, 8×8, Avaya, Cisco, and Webex?

These are all massive brands in VoIP, business communications, and call center software.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with these platforms, we don’t recommend them unless you have really strong in-house IT or purchase them through a managed service provider who’s personally recommended one of them to you.

They may be a good fit if you’re interested in SIP trunking, updating part of a legacy PBX system while keeping the rest intact, or need a hybrid or on-premise deployment.

Many cloud-first options don’t offer these services at all.

However, everything gets very complicated when you start talking about on-premise infrastructure and outdated systems. Sales reps at these companies know that and it’s not uncommon for them to use that to their advantage to oversell their capabilities or upsell things you don’t need.

Which… is exactly why we recommend going through an MSP for these—they’ll help you navigate the ecosystem and keep your best interest at heart.

The Best of the Rest: Other Call Center Options that May Be a Good Fit

The rest of the solutions below aren’t your typical call center platform. But that doesn’t mean they won’t work for you. In fact, they may work even better, depending on what you need, your level of expertise, and how you interact with customers.

Suitable for 1 – 5 Users: OpenPhone and CallHippo

OpenPhone vs CallHippo logos

If you’ve made it this far and thought “all of these are far too complex for me”, OpenPhone or CallHippo may work well for you.

CallHippo is a good option if you anticipate using fewer than 1,000 voice minutes and 100 text messages per month. It offers the basics, like business hours, gamification, and a shared inbox.

IVR, recordings, routing, and intelligent reporting are all only available on the top two tiers, which cost about the same as Nextiva, Aircall, and Cloudtalk.

If you need any of those features, you’re better off going with one of those three instead.

Alternatively, OpenPhone offers more call center features at a better price—for $23 per user per month, you’ll get shared phone numbers, recordings, automatic replies, scheduled messages, phone menus, and analytics.

However, it’s a bit different from traditional call center software.

It uses a collaborative approach where users can log into a number or channel, handle the interactions that come through while they’re logged in, and log out when they’re done.

OpenPhone also has international phone numbers, calling, and texting if you need to do that on occasion.

Check out our favorite business phone systems or virtual phone number companies to learn more about lightweight options for really small teams.

Help Desk Solutions: LiveAgent, Freshdesk, and Zendesk

LiveAgent vs Freshdesk vs Zendesk logos

If most of your interactions are via email, social, or text and you consider hopping on the phone a last resort, a help desk platform may be a better choice for your business.

Most of them implement lightweight call center features on top of a powerful ticketing system.

LiveAgent and Freshdesk are great options if you’re on a tight budget. They’re very similar to each other—they both offer a free plan with limited functionality, have integrations with numerous VoIP providers, feature paid add-ons for extra capabilities, and provide lightweight call center features on higher tiers.

The main difference between them is how they structure their plans. LiveAgent starts at $9 per agent per month and Freshdesk starts at $15.

We recommend checking them both out and figuring out which one will be a better deal for all the features you need.

Zendesk is geared towards larger, more established operations. It’s more expensive than the other two, but more customizable and robust with custom integrations, developer tools, automations, analytics, and workforce management.

Its call center features are available starting on the Suite Professional plan at $115 per agent per month.

Check out our full guide on the best help desk software to learn more.

Focused Heavily on Outbound Campaigns: PhoneBurner

While other call center tools aim to provide features for both inbound and outbound calling, PhoneBurner is one of the few that’s maintained its focus on outbound campaigns.

It does offer inbound routing features on higher tiers, but it’s real bread and butter is powerful dialers.

Every plan includes unlimited outbound minutes (just about every other provider charges per minute), call tracking, workflows, contact management, recording storage, and analytics.

Oddly, you have to use the middle tier—at $152 per user per month—to use a softphone. However, you’ll also get access its open API, call monitoring, and coaching tools plus extended recording storage and AI-powered noise cancellation.

DIY Contact Center Solution for IT Pros: Twilio

If you have very specific needs and in-house pros, a DIY contact center solution, like Twilio, lets you build your own apps and customize them as much as you need.

It has pay-as-you-go, calls per second, and committed use pricing options with numerous APIs you can use to add calling and other contact center features to other apps. Alternatively, you can build new applications entirely from scratch.

Since you only pay for actual usage of every feature, it may end up being significantly cheaper.

You can even create and sell your own call center software using Twilio’s highly customizable set of programmable routing, recording, and monitoring tools.

CallHippo and TalkDesk were built using Twilio—they’re good examples of what it can do.

Self-Hosted Options: 3CX, FreePBX, and Asterisk

3CX vs Asterisk vs FreePBX logos

If you have your own cloud or on-premise servers, you can download certain call center solutions and install them + manage them yourself.

Like Twilio, these require a significant amount of knowledge for setup and maintenance. But if you aren’t too worried about that or have someone on your team who knows what they’re doing, it can be a very cost effective and customizable option.

3CX is the easiest, but more limited in features and advanced functionality.

FreeBPX and Asterisk are open-source. They offer more customization and stronger possibilities. However, they’re much harder to use.

There are also dozens of similar options you can use in conjunction—or instead.

New But Have Potential: Zoom and GoTo Connect

Zoom vs GoTo logos

We prefer brands with a proven track record. When a solution’s been around for a while, we’re more confident it won’t be phased out or abandoned.

Plus, that means it’s had more time to gather and implement customer feedback.

However, newer products can also have cleaner infrastructure, faster adaptability to new tech, and smaller customer bases, enabling them to offer better support. The tradeoff here… is risk.

Zoom’s been around forever as a video conferencing platform, but it wasn’t until 2021 that it introduced it’s call center solution. Check out our Zoom review to learn more about it. GoTo Connect is in the same boat—it’s popular for it’s other products and only released contact center software in 2022. See our GoTo Connect review for additional information.

Both have just a few years under their belt, but seem to have a ton of potential going forward. They’re major players in the communications space, just a bit slower to get into call centers.

There are Three Ways to Deploy Call Center Software

You can download and install it on a server you manage, go through a local managed service provider (MSP) or use a fully-hosted service provider (like most of the options on our list).

Alternatively, outsourcing to another call center is also an option. We don’t really recommend that, except as a last resort, so we won’t go into detail about it here.

Self-Managed

If you know what you’re doing, hosting it on your own on-premise server (or a VPS/dedicated server) can be cost-effective in the long-term and give you full control plus extra security. However, it can have higher upfront costs if you don’t already have a server.

Going this route also means security, upgrades, maintenance, and customization are entirely up to you.

Managed Service Providers (MSPs)

MSPs are a great option for businesses without in-house IT that know they’re going to need a lot of guidance—the call center space is notorious for bad customer service, so an MSP is the way to go if you want peace of mind knowing someone will show up in person when you need help.

They work with multiple software providers (including the ones we covered in this post) and will help you pick a solution, customize it to match your needs, and implement it across your business.

MSPs are localized, so you’ll have to search around for someone in your city.

Fully-Hosted Services—This Is What We Recommend for Most People

If you’re more hands-on, willing to learn the basics, or have in-house IT using a managed service directly can be more cost effective than an MSP.

This deployment model also has the lowest upfront costs. To get started, all you have to do is sign up for a plan. Your entire system will be hosted in the cloud and managed by the provider.

You don’t have to worry about infrastructure, security, updates, or anything like that.

All the options we recommend for small or midsize call centers are easy to self-administer and customize yourself.

There may be a slight learning curve, but they aren’t hard to manage.

Expect Additional Contact Center Costs for Usage, Hardware, and Internet

Most VoIP phone systems are all-inclusive—they don’t charge extra for usage, aside from calls to toll-free numbers. Call center software is different.

Depending on the provider, you may pay per-minute for both inbound and outbound calls, or just for outbound calling. The amount you’ll pay depends on the terms of your contract, but it’s something to be aware of.

What About Desk Phones? Do I Even Need Them?

Many businesses don’t, which can help lower up front investments.

However, you may want them for hot desking capabilities, leveraging key system features, or as backups in case headsets walk out the door.

If you do need desk phones, we recommend provider-agnostic options like Yealink, Poly, or Snom. This ensures you can use the same equipment if you decide to switch to a different system.

The best place to get new phones is directly from your provider, as they’ll be pre-configured for you. Phones can range from $50 to upwards of $400 each.

You can also search around for lower prices, refurbished phones, or bulk discounts as long as the devices are compatible and you’re comfortable setting them up yourself.

Headsets Are Another Common Expense

If you need them, we recommend looking into strong noise cancellation, especially if your agents work from home or in close proximity to other agents.

You’ll also need to decide if you want wired or Bluetooth connections.

Wired can get annoying, but it means you don’t have to worry about battery life. They’re also more affordable. Check out our favorite call center headsets, here.

An Internet Upgrade Can Cost More Than You Think

If agents spend nearly all day on the phone in the same office, you’ll need internet that can handle the volume.

You may even need a separate network just for your call center system.

This is especially true if you have other employees using cloud-based software, uploading files, making VoIP calls, or spending time on the internet.

Every call, browser window, and piece of software takes up bandwidth. You don’t want your teams competing for it—this will result in poor call quality, dropped calls, and diminished customer experiences.

You May Have Noticed… Every Call Center Provider Has Horror Stories

If you do any sort of Reddit sleuthing, you’ll see more than a handful of folks who are happy to share their horrible experiences—there’s at least one terrible story for every VoIP phone system and contact center solution out there.

Seriously. Every one of them has made mistakes and lost customers or resellers for one reason or another.

Usually, it has to do with customer service, automated billing, unfair contracts, or overselling their capabilities, all of which are unfortunate problems across the entire industry. Another common culprit is poor call quality, which is often on the user’s end, rather than the fault of the provider.

However awful these stories are, they’re rarer than they seem. Most people don’t go on Reddit to talk about amazing experiences—they go there to vent their frustrations.

On the flipside, every provider has hundreds or thousands of happy customers out there. They wouldn’t be in business if they didn’t.

The best thing you can do is set up personalized demos with multiple vendors, go into them knowing what you need and don’t need, arm yourself with specific questions related to those needs, maintain a healthy dose of skepticism, and be prepared to get into the weeds over the course of multiple conversations.



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