Contact centers have become essential for organizations fostering a positive customer service strategy since 50% of customers state that advanced customer service is a major need for brand renovation (see figure above).1 Customers today expect and demand efficient service from businesses. No longer confined to traditional phone calls, customers now interact with businesses through various channels such as chat and social media.
Businesses that aim to establish a renovated brand strategy must satisfy customers’s expectations by pursuing an AI-powered contact center strategy, however, with a myriad of options on the market, each offering different features, integrations, and pricing models, choosing the right contact center solution for your business can be a complex decision.
This article covers the top seven contact center vendors, their key features, and the benefits of using contact center software.
Source: Salesforce Research (State of the Connected Customer Report)
Top 7 contact center software
|Customer feedback options
|Salesforce Contact Center
– Chat – Voice – SMS – Messaging apps – Web
|$150 per user / month
– Chat – Voice – Email – SMS/MMS – Social media
|– 6 pre-built CRM integration
– Allows customer CRM integrations
|$149 / month
|Genesys Cloud CX
– Chat – Voice – Email – SMS – Social media – Web
|$75 / month
– Chat – Live chat – Social media – Messaging apps
|Contact Nice CXone
– Chat – Live chat – SMS – Fax – Messaging apps
|$75 per user / month
– Voice chat – Live chat – SMS – Messaging apps
|Available when integrated
with partner platforms
|Webex by Cisco
– Chat – Call – Email – SMS – Social media
7 benefits of using contact center software
1- Improved customer experience
With features like omnichannel support, customers can reach out to companies through their preferred communication channel, whether it’s voice, email, social media, or live chat. This not only increases convenience but also ensures consistent, high-quality service across all channels.
2- Increased agent efficiency and productivity
Features such as intelligent call routing ensure that customer queries are directed to the most appropriate agent based on their skills and availability. Additionally, AI-powered tools can assist agents by providing relevant customer information and suggested responses, reducing response times and increasing productivity.
3- Streamlined operations
Integration capabilities allow contact center software to work seamlessly with other business systems like CRM, helpdesk, and sales platforms. This centralizes information, streamlines workflows, and eliminates the need for agents to switch between multiple systems, leading to more efficient call center operations.
4- Enhanced reporting and analytics
Contact center software provides detailed insights into key performance indicators (KPIs) such as call volume, average handle time, first call resolution, and customer satisfaction scores. These analytics can help identify areas for improvement and inform strategic decisions.
Cloud-based contact center solutions are easily scalable, allowing businesses to quickly adjust their operations to meet changing demand. Whether you need to add new agents, incorporate additional communication channels, or expand into new markets, the software can adapt to your evolving needs.
6- Cost savings
By automating routine tasks and optimizing resource allocation, contact center software can lead to significant cost savings. Furthermore, cloud-based solutions typically require lower upfront investment and can reduce costs associated with hardware maintenance and upgrades.
7- Improved security and compliance
Quality contact center software includes robust security measures to protect customer data and ensure compliance with industry regulations. Features might include data encryption, access controls, and regular security audits.
Salesforce is the CRM market leader and Salesforce Service Cloud platform designed specifically for customer service and support with AI-driven assistants. Service Cloud enables workflow automation for many branches of customer service by streamlining customer support processes, managing cases, and providing an exceptional customer experience by centralizing customer interactions and data in one unified platform.
Key features of contact center software
Contact center software offers a range of features to enhance customer service operations. Here are some essential features to look for when evaluating contact center software:
An omnichannel approach ensures seamless integration of all communication channels (voice, email, chat, social media) to provide customers with a consistent experience, regardless of their preferred method of contact. Omnichannel support includes channels like:
- Phone call
- Live chat
- Messaging apps
- Social media
Figure 2. Channels consumers used to contact brands in the US as of June 2022
To learn about social software with omnichannel capabilities, please read our data-driven and transparent article on social customer service software.
Advanced routing features direct customer interactions to the most appropriate agent based on factors like skill, availability, and workload. Intelligent routing can include automatic call distribution or chat distribution to the call center agents. This helps to reduce wait times and improve first-call resolution rates.
Tools for forecasting, scheduling, and managing agent workloads can help optimize resource allocation and maintain service quality. These may include features like real-time monitoring, shift management, and adherence tracking.
The software should easily integrate with your existing CRM, helpdesk, and other business tools to facilitate smooth data sharing and workflow optimization. This ensures agents have access to relevant customer information and history when handling interactions.
Reporting and analytics
Comprehensive reporting and analytics features provide insights into contact center performance, helping you identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions. Look for customizable dashboards, real-time monitoring, and the ability to track key performance indicators (KPIs).
Customization and scalability
The platform should be adaptable to your organization’s specific needs and able to scale as your business grows. This may include options for customizing user interfaces, adding new communication channels, or increasing the number of supported agents.
AI, automation and intelligent chatbots
Artificial intelligence and automation capabilities can enhance customer self-service, predict customer needs, and improve agent efficiency. Features might include AI-driven chatbots, sentiment analysis, or automated routing based on customer behavior patterns. In fact, after the self-service account portals, customers are mostly interested in using chatbots for handling simple tasks (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Extent of Customer Use of or Interest in the Following
Source: Salesforce Research (State of the Connected Customer Report)
For example, most contact centers today use Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology that allows a computer to interact with humans through the use of voice. IVR allows customers to interact with a company’s host system via a telephone keypad or by speech recognition, after which services can be inquired about through the IVR dialogue. IVR systems can respond to incoming calls with pre-recorded or dynamically generated audio to further direct users on how to proceed.
Security and compliance
Ensure the platform meets your industry’s security and compliance requirements, including data protection and privacy regulations. Features may include encryption, access controls, and regular security audits.
Ease of use
User-friendly interfaces and intuitive features will help agents adopt the software more quickly and minimize the learning curve. Consider the platform’s overall usability and any training resources available for onboarding and ongoing support.
Vendor support and reliability
Assess the vendor’s reputation, customer support, and ongoing product development to ensure a long-term partnership. Look for responsive support channels, a history of reliable service, and a commitment to keeping up with industry trends.
For more, you can check our vendor fraud guide.
Although not a widely adopted feature, voicebot, also known as a voice assistant or voice AI, can be a feature of contact center software. A voice bot is an AI-driven tool that uses natural language processing (NLP) and voice recognition technology to understand and respond to voice commands or questions from customers. Using voicebots in contact centers increases both automation and data collection.
Customer feedback tools
Customer feedback tools are designed to collect, manage, and analyze customer feedback, helping businesses understand their customers’ needs, expectations, and experiences. By integrating customer feedback solutions such as conversation rating, customer surveys, etc., contact center software can help evaluate customer satisfaction.
How to choose the right contact center software
1- Understand Your Business Needs
Start by assessing your business’s unique needs. Consider the size of your contact center, the volume of customer interactions, the channels your customers use most, and the level of customization you require.
For instance, a small business might prefer a simple, user-friendly system, while a large enterprise might need a robust platform with advanced features and integrations.
2- Evaluate Software Features
Once you understand your needs, consider the features each software offers. Look for key functionalities such as omnichannel support, intelligent routing, workforce management, integration capabilities, and AI automation. Remember, the software should improve efficiency and customer service, not complicate it.
3- Consider deployment options
Decide whether an on-premise, cloud-based, or hybrid call center solution is best for your business. Cloud-based systems offer flexibility and scalability, but you may prefer an on-premise solution if you have stringent data security requirements.
4- Check integration capabilities
Your new software should integrate seamlessly with your existing systems, such as CRM, helpdesk, and other business tools. This allows for smooth data sharing and can greatly improve workflow efficiency.
5- Test drive the software
Most vendors offer demos or trial periods. Use this opportunity to test the software in a real-world setting. This will give you a sense of its ease of use, efficiency, and how well it meets your needs.
If you have questions or need help in finding the right vendors, we can help:
Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.
Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.
Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.
He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.
Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.
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