Call centers no longer deal with just voice or fax over a phone landline. Instead, they now use various communication channels, such as web-chat, email, social media, and SMS. Of course, they still use voice, but the other channels add extra dimensions and increase contacts. Furthermore, modern contact center solutions have very affordable prices too, which makes them even more attractive.
Average call center software costs $50-$300/month/agent for cloud-hosted software. In comparison, in-house hosted software costs up to $1,500/agent, with hardware costing $500/agent extra. However, larger companies usually negotiate a lower rate of around $1,000/agent or maybe less. Although every software package has different prices, most of them are in approximately the same ballpark if you consider them like-for-like. However, the most significant price variation generally compares in-house hosted call center costs and cloud call center pricing.
There are two types of call center software, which we’ll look at in more depth elsewhere in this guide. But, for now, we’ll give a brief introduction:
- In-house or on-premise hosted – You own the software, which sits on your servers, on your premises. Furthermore, your agents access the software using an in-house network. Overall, you are responsible for all upgrade and maintenance costs, and hardware is expensive.
- Cloud-hosted – You “rent” this software by paying a regular subscription to the provider. It sits on their servers, and your agents access it using high-speed, good-quality internet. Furthermore, your agents’ PCs use an app to access the provider’s server. Moreover, the provider handles all software maintenance and upgrades, and you only have to provide a PC to run the app, plus supply an internet connection.
Call center sizes vs. average price
Here are some estimated average costs of cloud-hosted call center software depending on the number of agents.
- Small call center – with a maximum of 10 agents, costs an average of $175/agent/month.
- Small call center – with a maximum of 10 to 50 agents, costs on average about $165/agent/month.
- Medium-sized call center – with 50 to 100 agents, costs on average $59 to $120/agent/month.
- Large call center – with 100 to 250 agents, costs on average from $24 to $40/agent/month.
- Large call center – with more than 500 agents, costs on average a maximum rate of $40/agent/month. Usually, you can negotiate favorable terms with the provider.
Call center software providers
The table below gives a quick price comparison of the top US providers for call center software solutions.
|Company||Minimum Monthly Plan Cost* (per agent)|
|8x8 Virtual Contact Center||$115|
*Disclaimer: The companies highlighted here are in no particular order. Furthermore, prices are correct at the time of writing (August 2021). We compiled the data from the official company websites as far as possible, but prices may have changed since. Therefore, use this guide as a starting point for your own research.
Below we profile each of the call center software companies’ services and features in more detail.
8×8 Virtual Contact Center
8×8 Inc provides call center SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions. Its packages have a fee structure where the user pays a monthly fee per agent. Furthermore, the charge varies depending on the features included within the plan.
There are basic tiered plans, but these can be modified to suit your company’s requirements and priced accordingly. When billed monthly, plans start at $113/user/month and range up to $188/user/month.
The features available include:
- Desktop sharing.
- Call recording.
- Historical reporting.
- Real-time monitoring and reporting.
- Web callback.
- Virtual queue.
- CRM integration.
CallFire is one of the market leaders in text and voice software for call centers and has its headquarters in Santa Monica, California.
The company charges users per minute and has some tiered pricing plans for set time durations.
- LITE – This includes 2,500 minutes/texts and costs $99/month.
- STARTUP – includes 5,500 minutes/texts and costs $199/month.
- GROW – offers 10,000 minutes/texts and costs $299/month.
- PRO – includes 20,000 minutes/text and costs $599/month.
- PAY AS YOU GO – has no monthly fee but charges $0.06/minute or text.
Features vary depending on the chosen plan but include:
- Customer history and notes.
- CRM integration support.
- Real-time reports.
- Single line autodialer.
- Call dispositions and statistics.
- Unlimited call transfers.
Five9’s products are ideal for high call volume, global corporations. The company charges their customers a monthly fee per agent but charge extra for international calls.
- There is a one-time setup fee of $250.
- All the listed features, plus inbound and outbound calls, cost $175/agent/month for up to nine agents. Alternatively, the features cost $165/agent/month for a minimum of ten agents.
- Automatic call distributor.
- Campaign and list management.
- Minimum of ten standard reports.
- Interactive voice response.
- Real-time reporting plus a user dashboard.
Freshdesk offers call center software to provide completed customer help desk solutions. The software uses IVR and other tools to provide the best help for clients.
Apart from the standard call center tools, one of its most valuable features is offering unlimited call recording. This feature is helpful in training, performance reviews, and many more scenarios.
The company offers the following plans:
- FREE – this plan is for those who want to get started but are unsure of their requirements. This plan includes basic call center features.
- GROWTH – This plan costs $15/agent/month when billed annually and $18 when billed monthly. GROWTH includes everything in the FREE package, plus additional features such as Automation, Marketplace apps, Helpdesk report, Custom email server, Ticket fields and status, Customer SSL, and much more.
- PRO – costs $49/agent/month when billed annually and $59 when billed monthly. PRO includes everything in GROWTH plus features such as Customised reports and dashboards, Up to 5000 collaborators, Custom roles, Multiple SLA & Business hours, a Multilingual knowledge base, and many more.
- ENTERPRISE – costs $79/agent/month when billed annually and $95 when billed monthly. ENTERPRISE offers all features found in PRO plus other more specialized features such as Sandbox, Audit Log, Agent shifts, 5000 bot sessions per month, Auto-triage, Robo- assist, and much more.
In addition to these prices, each plan has a free trial.
There are many features included in the company’s packages. However, some of the best include:
- Features to make ticketing an easy way to categorize, prioritize, and assign tasks to ensure your agents handle them efficiently. These can be as varied as tracking and managing support tickets, ensuring agents don’t work on the same tickets, and setting deadlines for ticket response and resolutions.
- Working together as a team to produce solutions for your customers. Sharing the ownership of support tickets with multiskilled agents without losing track of where they are.
- Using all the communication channels such as phone, email, chat, social media, website & WhatsApp.
NICE inContact offers services based on per agent per month fees. Moreover, the prices also vary depending on the features you choose.
Reviews suggest that prices start at $100/user/month. However, the company doesn’t list any prices on its website. Instead, the company prefers clients to contact them for a customized quote based on their requirements.
Possible features to include in your plan include:
- Predictive dialer.
- Network connectivity.
- Multi-channel ACD.
- Quality management.
- Software upgrades twice a year.
- Speech enables IVR.
- Analytics and reports.
NICE inContact provides ideal plans for small to mid-sized companies that want to start out using call center software.
Talkdesk offers ideal solutions for large companies with lots of agents. However, the cloud software is simple to set up and easy to use.
The company offers three different plans:
- BASIC – this plan costs $15/agent/month. Best for small businesses.
- PROFESSIONAL – costs $25/agent/month. More suited for small/medium businesses.
- ENTERPRISE – costs $45/agent/month. Suited for large businesses.
However, each plan also charges $0.02/minute for incoming calls from the US and Canada. In comparison, outbound calls to the US and Canada cost $0.03/minute.
- Features included in the plans include; call queues, dashboards, skills-based routing, and more. However, the overall cost of each plan determines the number of features.
Twilio is a call center software provider that offers a unique call center platform allowing customers to build a cloud-based communications system and add it to their existing web and mobile channels. The platform uses video, voice, and SMS.
Businesses can customize Twilio Flex to their requirements and manage their customer channels into a seamless experience.
Payment for this unique system is based on a PAY AS YOU GO method. Meaning it’s helpful if you don’t want a costly long-term contract. The company’s main product, FLEX, includes 5,000 hours free of charge. Furthermore, each agent’s hour costs an additional $1. However, if this is a bit too loose for your liking, they have a plan offering unlimited traffic volume or activity for a flat rate of $150/agent.
Probably, one of the significant advantages of this platform is if you’re likely to have outbound conversations with customers and don’t know the likely duration, perhaps during IT troubleshooting, etc.
Some of Twilio’s features include:
- Automated emails.
- HTML editing.
- Responsive email templates.
- Programmable voice.
- Agent coaching.
As with all software companies, the number and type of features depend on how much you pay.
Local vs. Cloud Call Centre Software
First, you need to know what each type of software is before you can discuss the differences.
The software service provider hosts cloud call center software in the cloud, allowing their customers access using apps. Moreover, the cloud stores and processes all information. In turn, the software user must have a high-quality internet connection with sufficient bandwidth to access the full benefits of the software. Furthermore, as the software is in the cloud, users can access it anywhere in the world with a reliable internet connection. Moreover, it’s relatively easy to set up; The user installs the app linking to the cloud software, adjusts some configurations on the PC, and that’s it.
The user subscribes to the service, paying a set fee each month. In exchange, the provider handles all updates and software maintenance and can easily remove or add agents if the user’s business fluctuates. They also have the flexibility to change their package if needed just by altering the monthly subscription. Moreover, cloud-based call center software pricing is usually very competitive, and you can easily find a plan that suits you.
On-premise (in-house) software
The hosted in-house call center software operates from servers bought and maintained by the user and placed on their premises. To use this type efficiently, the user requires a communication server, software, agent hardware, and a built-in network to connect everything together. Unfortunately, the system needs a trained IT support team to handle software installation, maintenance, and software and hardware upgrades. In this case, unlike cloud-hosted software, the user buys the software and license from the provider. Furthermore, setup can often take several weeks and requires specialists to connect the hardware and get the software working.
Call Centre Software Features
There are many features included in call center software packages. However, to understand which features your company needs, you must learn what each one means. Let’s look at some of the main features:
Automatic Call Distributors.
Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) routes incoming calls to the most appropriate agent for the call. The process is entirely automatic and monitors progress and performance.
This feature assists in the training and monitoring of new agents. If the new agent is struggling with a customer, they can transfer the call to their supervisor, who will listen in and comment to the agent using a feature called “whisper coaching.” During the call barging session, the customer is completely unaware of what is going on.
Virtual call centers use call queues to keep the customer waiting on the call. Once the call has been skills routed to a specific department, it is held in a queue waiting for an agent to become free. Supervisors can measure real-time data analytics using a customizable dashboard.
All call center software has this feature to a degree dependent on the plan. The agent uses a mouse click to hold, divert, or mute callers. They can also use live chat, email, interact with social media messages, or make conference calls.
Agents attach these codes to a caller’s profile using a special menu. The feature tags each call with its outcome. For example, NOT INTERESTED, REFUNDED, TRANSFERRED TO SPECIALIST SUPPORT, etc. This feature helps generate monthly reports and analytics.
Integration capability allows the software to work with other third-party software or apps to use more caller information. The software feature extends its functionality, allowing it to process and analyze caller data, improve customer relations, and operate other software from a single platform. For example, the agent might need data from product inventory, refer to order optimization, and use payment software.
Interactive Voice Responses.
Interactive Voice Response, or IVR, takes care of callers before transferring them to human agents. Typical responses could be message greetings, waiting for queue coverage, and numbered menu prompts.
Predictive and Power Dialers.
These dialers inform a caller when an agent becomes available. Furthermore, the feature automatically makes calls and connects the agent to the appropriate caller.
Real-Time and Historical Reporting.
No business is complete without feedback reporting. This feature produces reports about the calls received. Moreover, typical call metrics include waiting time, average abandonment rate, average call duration, number of calls per agent, Service level, etc.
Voicemail and Notifications.
As you’d expect, this allows callers to leave messages for agents who are not available. Some advanced voicemail features can transcribe messages and send them to the agent via email or text.
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and high-speed internet allow remote agents to work and receive telephone calls from remote locations. In fact, some call centers use remote agents to the exclusion of any other method. However, you can only employ remote agents if you subscribe to a cloud-based software platform. Moreover, you must also use software that monitors and analyzes call volume so your management team can keep track of agent performance remotely.
Some of the main benefits of using this type of call center are:
- You don’t have to provide premises capable of holding all employees at the same time.
- Your company doesn’t have the other overheads involved with using office premises.
- Agents can live in different time zones and have calls routed to them depending on their working hours. This way, you can easily provide out-of-hours and 24/7 customer support.
Call Centre Software Benefits
Call center software platforms need to benefit your business to be of any use. Ultimately, to get the most benefits from a call center, you must offer customer service and other benefits to customers who call your company.
The following list provides some of the main benefits:
Time and cost reduction
Call center software reduces the time spent by your agents on each call. It does this by increasing efficiency and reducing downtime between calls. Thus, having all the customer’s previous call history onscreen enables the agent to give a prompter service. Therefore, your agent can handle more calls per shift and increase customer satisfaction by already knowing their background.
Reporting & Analytics
Reporting on the outcome of each call is an essential feature of call center software plans. The software can generate standard reports as well as provide customized versions for specific reasons. Furthermore, reporting allows you to analyze each agent’s performance and decide on potential improvements you can make by tweaking the system. Reports show you how many incoming calls and their reason, how long your staff takes to answer the calls, and whether you should invest in more agents. Information such as this helps make your call center a more efficient work environment and shows the best places where changes, training, and financial investment should occur.
Most call center software plans allow the customer to move freely around the provider’s available packages depending on what features you require to run your center in the best way possible.
Depending on how many agents you employ and whether they work remotely, you can choose to subscribe to cloud-based software or in-house hosted software.
It’s essential to choose the correct management tools when choosing your software p. You need the ability to monitor and train new agents and assess the performance of existing agents. It’s essential to monitor and record calls and use these recordings when training agents in an efficient, fast-moving call center. What better training material than existing real-life scenarios? The only way you can do this is to have this integrated as part of the software so you can use it whenever you want.
If you choose to employ remote agents, you need an easy way for them to connect to the software. And, you must be able to have reports on each remote agent’s performance. For remote workers, it’s best to use cloud-hosted software. After all, the agent doesn’t need expensive and cumbersome hardware and a connection to the central office premises. Instead, they need an app installed on the PC capable of accessing the cloud-based software. Furthermore, they only need a PC of the correct specifications and a reliable internet connection to allow VoIP communication.
Most companies need their call center to adjust to changing priorities and variations in the market. Moreover, they must be able to work with their clients’ databases to improve their services. However, sometimes customizable software introduces unnecessary options and choices, thereby increasing the software’s complexity. Instead, you need your software to be simple to install and straightforward to use, so you reduce the amount of training each agent receives.
Therefore, always choose a company that offers simple software or one that will change the options in the cloud, so you don’t have to onscreen. Finally, check that the software provider has an efficient and comprehensive customer support service. Do they have a guaranteed up-time target? And, if your company works 24/7, can you access support at any time of the day or night in case things go wrong?
Local Vs. Hosted:
We’ve already discussed the differences between local and cloud hosting elsewhere in this guide. But, the fact remains that it is a great benefit that you can choose the type of hosting depending on your circumstances. Probably, the most significant benefit when using cloud-hosted software is the overall reduction in cost compared to a locally hosted system.
Cloud systems don’t need expensive hardware or a dedicated IT team to maintain and run the system. Furthermore, there are also the high upfront costs of buying the software, hardware, and infrastructure necessary to create a workable network. In comparison, all you need for cloud hosting is to pay an affordable monthly or annual subscription, load an app onto the PC, change a few configurations and the software is up and running. Furthermore, you always have the most up-to-date software version because the provider deals with it. Furthermore, the additional pricing for updates is already built into the cloud-hosted call center software rates.
Finally, and this is vitally important, the provider takes care of all the regular data backups. So you never have the problem of losing data or suffering data corruption.
Call center software needs to be secure whether you use in-house hosting or cloud hosting. You hold a lot of data about your customers, and the software must be secure and unable to be hacked. Therefore, check that your provider has the necessary security protocols in place. Fortunately, most call center software suppliers already have security built into their programs, are compliant with federal government regulations regarding confidential data, and the stipulations laid down by the credit card providers and major banks.,
Choosing The Right Call Center Software Solution
Choosing and comparing call center software depends on the type and size of the company you have. Usually, most large companies that employ high numbers of agents also have an IT team dedicated to keeping the equipment in order.
In-house hosted software
If this sounds like you, then it might be advantageous to choose an in-house hosted system. You already have the IT resources and the room to invest in servers and the network infrastructure. Probably, the main benefit of in-house hosting could be that you have more control over your call center. You have bought and paid for the software that sits on your server. Also, your IT team handles the regular backups, or the server handles that automatically. But, mainly, the benefit is that if you have downtime, you don’t have to wait for outside tech guys to fix the problem. Your IT team will handle everything. As you know, downtime means a loss in income, so you should do everything you can to minimize this scenario.
In contrast, cloud-based hosted systems have many advantages that suit all sizes of companies. There are few up-front costs; you pay a monthly subscription and don’t need expensive hardware. Furthermore, you don’t need an IT team. Because making do with either one person or a third-party contractor to keep the computers up to date is usually enough. But, perhaps the most significant benefit for cloud software is that you can change contracts to a different provider when your contract ends if you find a better deal elsewhere. If you host your software, this isn’t so easy to do. With this in mind, you have probably noticed how competitive cloud-hosted call center pricing is. Many cloud-based software providers offer 30 days free trial as an incentive to try out their packages. So, take advantage of this offer and try these out before signing on the dotted line.
Choosing the correct call center software for your company can end up being very difficult if you aren’t sure what you’re doing. It’s often difficult to compare call center software prices and the packages that suit you because packages often aren’t like-for-like. Instead, you should ask for professional help from someone who knows which companies to approach for the best possible deal.
Complete the form on this page, and you can get up to four quotes from reputable call center software companies for packages to suit your circumstances.