Complete Buyer's Guide: Inbound Call Center Software For 2022

35 min read
Call Center

Inbound call center software needs to check several boxes to keep your business competitive. First and foremost, it needs to help your customers connect with the best agent as quickly as possible. But inbound call center software also needs to help your agents work more efficiently. This means minimizing downtime between calls and reducing the time needed to resolve problems. 

Finding the best call center software is challenging, especially when so many advanced features exist. So, where do you begin? This guide will break down the key functionality, features, and considerations you need to keep in mind. By the end, you'll be able to confidently choose the best inbound call center software for your business. Let's begin! 

Table of Contents

  • What is inbound call center software? 
  • How does inbound call center software work? 
  • What problems does inbound call center software solve? 
  • Key features to consider when selecting call center inbound software 
  • How to choose the best inbound call center software for your business 
  • Implementing inbound call center software 
  • 10 best inbound call center software solutions 
  • Conclusion 
  • Frequently asked questions 

What is inbound call center software?

Your business may receive thousands of calls in a given day, and managing those calls properly is key. Aside from ensuring a fantastic customer experience, great management can also improve profitability. The thing is, manually routing calls is highly inefficient. It can even be impossible, especially when dealing with a high-volume contact center. 

More businesses are adopting inbound call center software to meet rising customer expectations. When chosen carefully, this software can reduce your agents' time on the phone. Plus, it can improve personalization and engagement for your users. 

Inbound call center software is often cloud-based and may employ a variety of features. For instance, many solutions use artificial intelligence to route calls in real-time. Regardless, the best software is interactive. It should help your call center agents prioritize customer inquiries while utilizing automation to improve personalization, self-service capabilities, and resolution times. Plus, even small businesses can benefit from advanced software thanks to flexible pricing.

How does inbound call center software work?

Today's call center solutions can boost agent performance by providing a wide selection of tools to improve agent workflows. In fact, modern software is capable of completely transforming how call centers work. 

An autodialer is one of the most common tools bundled into call center software. This tool helps inbound and outbound call centers quickly get in touch with leads and effectively follow up on inquiries. Meanwhile, call routing can improve call outcomes by automatically sending customers to the best available agent. This increases agent productivity. Plus, it helps your business address incoming calls much faster and more effectively.

Your phone system can even boost customer engagement when tied into customer relationship management (CRM) software. By providing information about callers to agents, a CRM can improve personalization and resolution time. Other popular inbound call center software features include call scripting, monitoring, and recording. Together, these tools help businesses maximize agent capacity while improving customer interactions. 

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What problems does inbound call center software solve?

  • Reduce wait times. Intelligent call routing means customers will automatically be connected to the best available agent. This reduces wait times and improves outcomes. 
  • Resolve issues faster. Integrating with a customer contact database gives information about previous inquiries, orders, and sales. This reduces the average call resolution time. 
  • Personalize phone calls. Integrating with a CRM can also improve customer experience. For instance, the information can help agents personalize interactions. 
  • Better follow-up. With an automated dialer, your agents can follow up more effectively with less downtime between calls. 
  • Ensure maximum productivity. Your contact center can be more productive and efficient with an automatic call distributor. This means the workload will be evenly divided amongst your agents. 
  • Engage across channels. Advanced tools allow you to offer chatbots, social media support, and SMS follow-up. These features help to create an omnichannel customer experience. 
  • Streamline the workflow. Using cloud-based call center software, your on-premise agents will enjoy seamless, consistent workflows. 
  • Grow your remote workforce. Flexible software can empower you to tap into remote work by allowing agents to work from anywhere. 
  • Improve quality control. Call monitoring and call recording help to improve the overall quality of service. These features allow management to listen in to phone calls and use them for training purposes. 
  • Track performance trends. Advanced metrics empower your call center managers to keep tabs on operations and ensure the team is on track to hit your performance goals. 

Key features to consider when selecting call center inbound software

1. Interactive Voice Response

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is an advanced call center technology. IVR allows for automatic call routing based on intelligent workflows. When customers call in, they will interact with a chatbot that guides them through simple questions to determine the best agent to speak to. As a result, they won’t have to deal with annoying transfers. Instead, they will be directly connected to the individual capable of handling their request.
Aside from reducing transfers, IVR can also reduce the workload of your agents. For instance, it can create fully automated solutions for certain requests. So, if a customer calls to make a payment, they don’t have to interact with a human Instead, the IVR can take the appropriate information to process a payment over the phone. This means your customer won’t have to wait for a rep, and your agents can focus on serving the customers that need them the mostIVR can also handle verifications, renewals, and other straightforward processes in a completely automated manner. 

2. Call Scripting

Providing a consistent experience for all of your customers may seem like a lofty goal. But it’s one of the many perks of creating a cloud-based contact center. Using interactive agent dashboards, your contact center software can help optimize your call center operations by providing agents with a pre-designed script to handle common requests.
With the help of call scripting, your agents will no longer have to mull over basic questions or put customers on hold while they search for answers. These scripts can be created for any number of use cases. However, they’re commonly used for pre-sale questions, pricing information, and technical troubleshooting. Call scripts help your agents resolve inquiries faster. Plus, they ensure customers always get the most up-to-date information possible.

3. Call Recording and Monitoring

As you strive to create a consistent customer experience, one of the most significant variables is how your agents are trained to handle callsThis is especially true when no script is available for a given inquiry. Call recording and monitoring features will help your managers stay on top of these situationsThese features allow them to hear first-hand how agents resolve both expected and unexpected inquiries.
Call monitoring is excellent for training as it allows managers to listen in and even provide “whisper coaching” when a new agent gets stuck. Meanwhile, call recording can help agents review the best practices. You can continue improving customer interactions by learning from techniques that work well and those that don’t.
Image: https://www.hubspot.com/hubfs/Imported%20sitepage%20images/Calling_hero.png

4. CRM Integration

Optimization in a call center doesn’t just mean helping agents work more efficiently. It ultimately means serving your customers more effectively in less time. Integrating with your customer relationship management (CRM) software is a must-do to meet this goalWhether you’re using Salesforce or a CRM that’s built-in to your call center software, this integration will help you provide a seamless multichannel customer experience that goes beyond phone calls.
Integrating your inbound call center software with your CRM will let your agents utilize known information about a customer on the call. This creates a more personalized and direct interaction that can speed up resolution times. Additionally, collecting information about callers and putting it into your CRM throughout the conversation can help inform future interactions and power your sales and marketing goals.

5. Video Chat Capabilities

Phone calls can seem a bit impersonal, depending on the customers you serve. This is why more service providers are offering video chat capabilities integrated directly into inbound call center softwareYour customers can talk “face-to-face” with your agents using video chat capabilities. Plus, they won't even have to dial a separate phone number.
Video chat capabilities can be particularly valuable if your business deals with physical hardware that may require tech support to see what’s happeningInstead of asking customers to submit photos, your agents can guide customers in real-time to help them resolve problems fasterVideo chat can also provide a more genuine and personal interaction, even for intangible brands, like software providers.

6. Multichannel Communication

Having a phone number where customers can reach your business is excellent. However, it’s essential to recognize that customers don’t always want to call you up. For some customers, a phone call represents a captive experience that they may associate with slow resolutions, frustration, and long wait timesEven if that isn’t the case, providing alternative options to those who are reticent to call you up can help you meet customers where they’re at.
The best inbound call center software will provide a truly multichannel experience. That means integrating your call center with SMS and social media support channels. With these features, you can offer customer service whether a customer dials in, texts, or messages your company on Twitter, Facebook, or elsewhere. As a result, customers can get the support they need faster without going out of their way to find it.

7. Metrics and Reporting

Improving the customer experience requires an ongoing investment in agent performance. Consequently, the best way to track agent performance is to review in-depth metrics and reports periodically. The right call center software will allow you to do so without needing third-party software or extensions.
Managers should be able to log in to your call center software and monitor calls in real-time. Plus, they should be able to see a variety of live metrics at a glance. For instance, the number of agents currently on calls, the average length of a call, and the average wait time for customers calling all matter. These metrics should also be reviewable in a given timeframe. This means you can compare year-over-year and month-over-month performance to ensure improvement.

8. Interactive Dashboards

Giving your managers a dashboard to review metrics and reports is important. However, finding software that provides your agents with an interactive dashboard is worthwhile. The agent dashboard can highlight their performance and progress toward productivity goals. It should also provide an interface that optimizes their workflow
Ideally, agent dashboards will provide a call list, information about the current caller they’re talking to, call scripts to guide them through various conversations, and a knowledge base to help them address customer inquiriesA system that combines all of these things will boost productivity, efficiency, and user satisfaction.

9. Cloud-Based Reliability

You can still deploy your call center software on-premises. However, cloud-based call center software is highly preferred. By deploying your software in the cloud, your team will enjoy immense reliability and higher speeds without worrying about local system downtime or other issuesWhat’s more, you can often choose whichever cloud provider you wish, whether it’s Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services.
Once your software is deployed in the cloud, the only thing left for you to worry about is setting up your agents with secure access to the cloud-based portalThis means all of your agents will have a seamless, consistent workflow, no matter what type of device they are connecting from.

10. Options to Hire Remotely

Speaking of providing a seamless experience, another perk of choosing a cloud-based call center software is that your agents don’t have to be on-premises to work at their peak performance levelUsing a cloud-based solution, your agents have the option to work remotely using a company computer or the equipment they have at home.
Remote work also gives your company greater flexibility. For instance, it can open the doors to seasonal hires and the ability to scale your team up and down throughout the year based on demandIn other words, cloud-based call center software will give your company more power than ever when meeting customer demand.

How to choose the best inbound call center software for your business

Find a solution that integrates with your CRM

Even the best agents will perform poorly if not given enough information about the customer they’re talking to or the appropriate path to a resolutionFor these reasons, finding a call center software that integrates with your CRM should be a top priority
When evaluating software, ask questions like:
  • Do you integrate with the CRM software we currently use?
  • If so, do you have a prebuilt connector or will we have to code our own?
  • Do you offer a two-way sync so that contacts can easily be enriched with information collected during a call? 
Making sure that software checks these boxes will improve usability. Better yet, seek call center software with a fully integrated CRM already in place. This means you won't have to rely on a third-party connection, and all information in your CRM will be readily available to agents. 

Look to optimize agent workflows

Optimizing your agents' workflows means empowering them to get more done in less time. This is why one of the top priorities in choosing your call center software should be finding a user-friendly solution.
When evaluating software, ask questions like:
  • Is the interface compatible with all browsers and devices?
  • Do you have guaranteed uptimes and speeds? 
  • Can I customize the workflow to meet the needs of my agents?
Not only should the software be easy to use, but it should be robust enough to support the typical workflow of your agents so they don’t have to learn brand-new processes. Your software should conform to your agents’ optimal work processes.

Choose a system with supervisor tools

Supporting your agents to do their best work means empowering supervisors with the tools necessary to review their calls and provide feedback.
When evaluating software, ask questions like:
  • How can managers keep tabs on phone calls and interactions?
  • What insights will my company have into agent performance? 
  • What tools do you have that will help agents perform better?
Supervisor tools may include call monitoring, call recording, whisper coaching, and in-depth KPIs that allow managers to guide agents toward achievable goalsTeam messaging and gamification are also worth considering to keep your agents motivated by a positive work environment.

Use automation in the right places

Automation is a great way to improve the productivity of your call center, but you don’t want to try to automate everything.
When evaluating software, ask questions like:
  • How does this software employ automation to improve productivity?
  • Can automation be customized to match our agents' workflows?
  • What advancements do you have in the roadmap for the next year? 
Remember that your customers care most about having authentic, personalized interactions with real humans, so automating too much of the process can be detrimental to the customer experienceFor this reason, you must look for areas where automation will benefit everyone, freeing up time for better human interactions.

Consider pricing and scalability

Your company’s budget will certainly factor into your decision. That's why you must consider software pricing before moving forward.
When evaluating software, ask questions like:
  • Does the base tier have access to all of the advertised features? 
  • Will we be charged for exceeding a certain number of calls or minutes? 
  • How long of a contract do you require our company to sign? 
Keep in mind that call center software can be priced in a variety of ways. For instance, some companies offer a flat monthly rate and others charge per agent, per minute, or through some combination. You’ll want to ask for a detailed quote for any software you’re considering so that you can compare apples to apples.

Implementing inbound call center software

The software implementation process has come a long way, especially if the last time you upgraded was when you made the move to VoIP or changed your on-premises hardware. Today, call center software lives in the cloud, which means no one has to be on-site to handle the change. All you need to do is talk to the provider about the cloud service that will be used and coordinate the creation of agent credentials.
In most cases, the implementation process will be handled for you. This means your company will only need to worry about the provisioning of any hardware upgrades — like computers and phones — that will integrate with your new softwareOf course, many software companies now provide softphones that require no hardware whatsoever beyond a computer and headset, which can cut down on cost and complexity.
If you have any questions about the implementation process, realize that it can vary from one software provider to the next, but all you need to do is askThe sales team should be readily able to walk you through the process, along with any requirements your company will need to fulfillThey should also be able to give you a complete timeline of the average time to implement the software based on the size of your company and any unique considerations, like data migration. In general, the process is very straightforward.

10 best inbound call center software solutions

1. FiveCRM

FiveCRM is a CRM and call center software combined into one. This makes it the only customer relationship management system built specifically for telemarketing. With the ability to handle both inbound and outbound calls, FiveCRM is a flexible, scalable software able to support large and small businesses.
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Key features
  • Intelligent call routing to make the most of your available agents
  • Call scripts and call monitoring to improve the customer experience
  • Email marketing tools to boost outreach and follow-up
  • Integrated CRM to supercharge call personalization
Price
Simple, all-inclusive tiers that are billed on a monthly or annual basis. Pricing starts at $70/month for one seat and goes down to $46/seat for a team of 300.

2. RingCentral

RingCentral promises smart service by empowering your agents using artificial intelligence and automation. With multichannel tools, RingCentral helps your company stay in touch with customers. In addition to phone calls, RingCentral supports communication via email, SMS, and more than 30 digital channels.
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Key features
  • user-friendly dashboard that allows agents to interact with customers anywhere
  • Smart call routing that automatically directs customers to the best available agent
  • Intelligent self-service capabilities to reduce agent workload
  • AI-powered agent coaching and guidance to improve performance
Price
Pricing information is not published. However, RingCentral has many plans to decipher, including Essentials, Standard, Premium, and Ultimate.

3. Hubspot Customer Service Software

Hubspot is known for having a large suite of business tools, including a CRM solution. However, the Service Hub is a separate toolkit designed to support inbound and outbound call centers. In fact, the inbound calling features are actually in beta. Still, Hubspot’s combination of advanced features provides a robust option for any company needing a complete service solution.
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Key features
  • Customer portal to help users handle tickets, requests, and inquiries
  • Knowledge base to provide self-service answers to common questions
  • Live chat to allow agents to service customers in real-time
  • VoIP calling directly from Hubspot’s own platform
Price
Hubspot’s pricing model can be quite confusing due to how they have divided up their various features, like the CRM. The Service Hub Starter plan is $20/month for two users. Unlocking additional features (like email marketing tools) requires a higher tier.

4. Vonage Contact Center

The Vonage Contact Center is built around the concept that call center software should be easy to use with minimal setupThis solution provides a cloud-native integration with a minimal learning curve for your agents without compromising on advanced features. In fact, it's one of the more modern solutions regarding tools. 
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Key features
  • The conversation analyzer automatically transcribes and tags calls
  • Virtual assistant improves self-service with conversational AI
  • Video and screen sharing to help engage customers on calls
  • Omnichannel tools for live chat, SMS, email, and social media
Price
Vonage does not publish pricing information but offers a Priority and Premium plan. Add-on options are also available, like screen recording. This pricing structure means you won’t have to pay for features you don’t want. However, you may end up paying substantially more if you need a lot of features.

5. Talkdesk

If you’re seeking an inbound call center software that helps your company manage everything, not just calls, then Talkdesk might be the advanced solution you’re looking forBeyond inbound calling, Talkdesk strives to be the go-to for employee collaboration, engagement, and business analytics. However, like Hubspot, you might be irritated by Talkdesk's lack of focus on inbound calling solutions. 
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Key features
  • Intelligent call routing and a customizable agent dashboard
  • Call recording and speech analytics to improve performance reviews
  • Self-service and omnichannel tools to boost engagement
  • Over 60 pre-built interactions to expand the platform’s functionality
Price
CX Cloud Essentials starts at $75 per user per month. However, unlocking collaboration, quality management, and other tools require an upgrade to the higher tiers.

6. Freshworks

Described as an intuitive, all-in-one call center solution, Freshworks promises a user-friendly experience that will promote customer satisfaction using advanced tools. One of the most notable features of Freshworks is the promise that you can get going in just a few hours. Plus, it's a remote-ready platform, giving you flexibility in managing your workforce. When it comes to tools, Freshworks is very focused on the customer experience, which is good news. 
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Key features
  • AI-powered voice bots to reduce agent workloads and customer wait times
  • Call recordings, transcripts, and analytics to review performance
  • Live monitoring of call volumes and agent productivity
  • Integrates with Freshdesk Omnichannel to create a multichannel experience
Price
Freshworks requires you to pay per agent and per call, but agent fees start as low as $0. Call charges can be difficult to estimate, especially if you’re unsure of your call volume, so it’s worth reaching out to the sales team for information.

7. Cloudtalk.io

Cloudtalk.io promises that your company can save up to three minutes on every call. That’s based on automated tools and advanced integrations designed to streamline the agent workflowAnother key promise of Cloudtalk is the ability to expand beyond your local market using international phone numbers, which is helpful for growing businesses
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Key features
  • Cloud-based software with over 160 national phone numbers
  • Automatically tracks and records calls
  • Integrates with many business tools, including Zendesk
  • Two-way sync with your CRM to enrich customer data
Price
The basic plan starts at $25 per user per month when billed annually. The platform offers a 14-day free trial on all plans.

8. LiveAgent

If you’re looking for a hardware-free call center solution, LiveAgent might be the right choice for youPowered by VoIP, LiveAgent promises effortless omnichannel engagement with an all-in-one platform designed for easy setup and integrationPlus, while the user interface might not be the most modern, advanced features will help your agents get more done in less time.
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Key features
  • Intelligent call routing and automatic call distribution (ACD) to keep agents moving
  • Call transfers to get customers connected with the best available person
  • Video calls to support customer engagement and resolutions
  • Real-time monitoring and metrics to improve customer service
Price
The all-inclusive LiveAgent plan is $49 per user per month. However, LiveAgent is notable for offering a “forever free” plan that’s ideal for very small businesses.

9. Zendesk

One of the better-known call center software solutions, Zendesk offers embedded and unified tools aimed at improving personalization and resolutionsTo improve implementation, Zendesk gives you the option to use its out-of-the-box cloud calling tools or to integrate with over 90 telephony providers using a prebuilt connection. The functionality of Zendesk can also be expanded upon thanks to integrations with various apps.  
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Key features
  • IVR, group, overflow, and after-hours routing tools keep customers in the loop
  • Cross-channel reporting to see how phone calls stack up to email, social, and text
  • Workflow optimization to reduce wait times and abandonment rates
  • Personalization tools to improve the overall customer experience
Price
Zendesk offers multiple plans, including one aimed at service centers and one aimed at sales centers. The former plan is $49 per agent per month when billed annually.

10. Channels

Channels is a newer inbound call center tool designed to support data-driven customer service. One of the most notable features is the integrated calling tool. This allows you to add a call button to your website to help customers connect with your team quickly whenever they have an issue. SMS can also boost follow-up and engagement with new and existing customers. Overall, it's one of the sleekest and most modern solutions on the market. 
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Key features
  • Leverage customer data to improve interactions
  • Connect service and sales data to reduce abandoned carts and lost sales
  • Empower your remote teams with an all-in-one cloud-based platform
  • Integrate with your eCommerce tools to boost productivity
Price
Simple pricing starts at $29/month for up to three users, but this plan is limited to 5,000 web calls per month. The next tier offers unlimited web calls for $75/month for up to five users.

Conclusion

Your inbound call center is anything but ordinary, so why rely on outdated software to drive customer interactionsIf you aren’t already leveraging advanced features like intelligent call routing, voice bots, and automation, your business isn’t performing optimallyUsing a new inbound calling software like FiveCRM, you can supercharge your customer interactions while helping everyone work more efficiently.
Are you interested in learning more about how a new calling software and CRM combo could support your company’s growth goals? FiveCRM is standing by to help. Contact us today for answers to your questions, or schedule a demo to see for yourself how FiveCRM can transform your call center’s performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is inbound call center software?

Inbound call center software is a cloud-based toolkit designed to support agent workflows. With smart call routing and auto-dialing tools, inbound call center software helps agents work more efficiently while improving call resolution times and customer satisfaction. FiveCRM is an example of inbound calling software with a built-in CRM.

What software do most call centers use?

Most call centers use cloud-based software like FiveCRM, which gives organizations an integrated CRM to improve call personalization. Meanwhile, other features, like call monitoring and whisper coaching, promote more efficient and consistent interactions. Such software is essential for connecting call centers of all sizes, especially with remote and hybrid workforces. 

What is CRM in call center?

Call centers utilize customer relationship management (CRM) software to collect and review information about a caller’s order history, past inquiries, and demographicsUsing a CRM as a call center can improve call personalization, resolution times, and customer satisfaction while reducing friction in the agent workflow. 

What is call center software?

Call center software like FiveCRM is designed to optimize the agent workflow through automation, artificial intelligence, and advanced toolsCall routing, call scripting, and call monitoring are often integrated into call center software.

What are the features of call center software?

Call center software may have a variety of features, including smart call routing, call scripting, live monitoring, advanced analytics, and automationSolutions like FiveCRM also include a built-in CRM to improve call personalization and resolution times.

Michael King says...

"I can’t think of a time where a client has requested something that we weren’t able to do with FiveCRM. Unlike most systems, it has a lot of flexibility."

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Managing Director, Senior Response

JANE HUSBANDS SAYS...

“Each client, and each of their campaigns, has its own unique specifications. We essentially needed to set up mini CRMs on one platform to meet those requirements.”

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