Call center phone systems and software can range from basic to comprehensive, but they all help your business to deliver better service and utilize your resources more efficiently.
We looked at all the top options and chose to review Nextiva, Talkdesk, and RingCentral. They cover the range from industry giants to relative startups and offer different solutions for different needs. Read on for our comparison and review of these three options, as well as our top recommendations.
Best Call Center Phone System and Software for Small Businesses: Nextiva
We recommend Nextiva as the Best Call Center Phone System and Software for Small Businesses in 2017 because of its comprehensive list of features, economical pricing, and exceptional customer service — something that is of particular importance to small businesses.
Call Center Phone System and Software Comparison Table: Nextiva vs Talkdesk vs RingCentral
|Best For||Small businesses that want a feature-rich solution and easy access to a dedicated and responsive support team||Small businesses in either the healthcare or e-commerce industry, or if your business wants to integrate third-party apps||We do not recommend RingCentral’s call center phone system and software above Nextiva or Talkdesk|
|Ease of Setup and Use|
|Mobile App||iPhone, Android||None||iPhone, Android, Windows|
|Industry-leading multi-tiered support, available 24/7, with single point of contact by phone or online||"Round-the-clock" support, online knowledge base, and video academy||24/7 support, online community, and online knowledge base|
Paid annually, plus $0.02/minute.
Paid annually, plus $0.019/minute.
|Free Trial||None, only a free demo||Yes, 250 minutes of talk time||None, only a free demo|
Best Call Center Phone System and Software for Small Businesses: Nextiva
Nextiva offers a comprehensive list of features for an accessible price, but what most sets it apart from its peers, and what will most benefit small businesses, is its industry-leading customer service. Because of this, we recommend Nextiva as the Best Call Center Phone System and Software for Small Businesses in 2017.
Nextiva delivers most of the basic features that you would expect from your call center system and software:
- The interactive voice response (IVR) system greets your customers, guides them through your phone system using voice prompts, and allows for some self-serve options like basic account information.
- Automatic call distribution (ACD) intelligently routes your customer’s calls to the customer service representative who is best able to assist them, based on criteria you define like skill sets, knowledge, demographics, or language.
- The service is cloud-based, so your representatives can be located remotely and managed centrally
- Metrics and analytics are updated in real-time, so you can coach your representatives and/or make adjustments to how they’re allocated to optimize your resources on the fly
- Call monitoring and recording allow supervisors to coach your representatives to ensure the highest levels of performance
Where Nextiva goes above and beyond its competitors is in its customer service. Their award winning team is there to guide you through the entire lifecycle of your service, from setup to training and ongoing support. Your business will be assigned a single point of contact for each phase, and 95% of their incoming sales and support calls are answered by the second ring with the goal of answering any question or resolving any issue within your first contact with them.
One of the significant shortcomings of the Nextiva call center system and software is that it only supports two (2) third-party integrations. In this area, Nextiva falls far short of the over 25 third-party apps that both Talkdesk and RingCentral each support. While this wasn’t enough for us not to recommend Nextiva, we would still like to see them expand their third-party app support to become an even more flexible and adaptable solution.
Best Call Center Phone System and Software for Healthcare and Ecommerce Businesses: Talkdesk
Talkdesk stands apart from its peers with its enhanced security features, which ensure compliance with federal data storage, management, and privacy regulations including the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), and HIPAA Business Associate Agreement. This makes Talkdesk particularly suited for businesses in the healthcare industry where sensitive patient data may be captured, stored, and accessed.
Similarly, ecommerce businesses will benefit from Talkdesk’s enhanced security features. Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards (DSS) and data encryption are included with Talkdesk, but not Nextiva or RingCentral.
Non Recommended Call Center Phone System and Software: RingCentral
Although RingCentral’s call center phone system and software includes a comprehensive list of features, we found little to positively differentiate it from the other options that we reviewed. While it would likely meet the needs of most small businesses, it would do so at a significantly higher cost than other similarly featured options.
As well, we found the customer service to be lacking. When we contacted RingCentral to request screenshots of their product to help augment our review, it took several emails for their representatives to respond to our questions and they were unable to assist us in the end. This did not instill us with the confidence we would need to proceed with them were we a prospective customer.
Therefore, we are not able to recommend RingCentral’s call center phone system and software above its competitors.
In-Depth Review: Nextiva vs Talkdesk vs RingCentral
One of the foremost concerns for any small business building out their call center is that the phone system and software they use to do so is easy to setup, use, and his a minimal learning curve for supervisors and representatives. Small businesses may not have the resources to invest in a drawn out training process, so the more intuitive a system is to use the more value it can provide more quickly.
Ease of Setup/Use
The learning curve of any new tool is probably the most significant barrier to its adoption. No matter how powerful it is, it’s only as useful as the people using it. And for call center phone systems and software in particular, it must be easy to use to ensure that your representatives are maximizing its features to deliver the best customer service possible.
Setup occurs within each service’s dashboard and generally consists of the following initial steps:
- Your phone numbers is either newly purchased or an existing one is ported into the system.
- Ring groups are created for calls to be routed to.
- Your representatives are added to the system and assigned to ring groups.
- Your phone number is configured in the system, such as routing it to specific ring groups.
- Your IVR and ACD are configured according to your business needs and rules.
The specifics of how you navigate through these steps will vary based on the system, but the general idea is the same — initialize your phone number, create groups of representatives, add representatives and assign them to their group(s), and define how your calls are to be mapped and routed. Then you’re ready to start receiving calls!
Your customer service team is at the heart of your business and is often the first and/or most frequent interaction your customers have with you outside of your product or service itself. And your call center is often the first point of contact between your business and your customers, and directly reflects your commitment to their care. Arming your customer service representatives with the tools they need to deliver exceptional customer care, including the phone system and software that connects them, is imperative to the success of your business.
All of the call center phone systems and software that we reviewed offered a similar basic suite of features that are essential to the daily operation of your call center:
- Call routing and call queueing will place calls in queue, whether in simple sequence or based on the specific issue or the severity of it, and allows your business to assign who receives calls based on skills, demographics, language, or other logic you define.
- Computer telephony integration (CTI) software systems allow your customer service representative’s computers to interact with their telephones — or to replace them altogether.
- Call monitoring to allow your supervisors to be able to silently listen in and monitor calls for coaching and quality control purposes.
- Metrics and reporting to improve and optimize the effectiveness of your customer service call center by making data-driven adjustments to your service delivery to meet any changes.
- Interactive voice response (IVR) allows the computers behind your call center to interact with your human customers via the tones from their phone’s keypads or voice recognition.
Integrating third-party applications into your call center phone system and software allows you to expand its features and functionality, creating a customized solution for your specific needs. It also allows you to better integrate your call center phone system and software with other tools that are used elsewhere in your business, which helps to better align individual departments.
Both Talkdesk and RingCentral offer over 25 different third party integrations each, including CRM apps like Salesforce and help desk ticketing apps like Freshdesk and Zendesk.
But with only two this is one area where we found that Nextiva fell far short of their peers.
While it might not be entirely fair to judge a call center phone system provider by the customer service they provide themselves, it can give some insight into their understanding of your needs and the needs of your customers. It is also an important consideration for a small business owner who won’t have the time or resources to dedicate to setting up, managing, or troubleshooting their system — it just has to work, and when it doesn’t, a resolution needs to be within easy reach.
All Call Center Phone System Options
There are many other call center phone systems and software solutions on the market that may be a better fit for your business’ needs. Here are some of the others that we liked and what makes them unique:
|Software Name||Best For|
|Nextiva||Comprehensive list of features and industry-leading customer service|
|Talkdesk||Complies with federal data storage regulations, making it suitable for healthcare and ecommerce businesses|
|RingCentral||Comprehensive list of features and established industry player|
|8x8||Enterprise-grade with industry-leading SLA|
|Five9||Offers more CRM integrations than any other call center phone system and software|
|ShoreTel||Offers both cloud-based and on-premise solutions|
|Vocalcom||Easily scaleable for mid/large-sized businesses|
|Avaya||Note: Avaya has recently filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection|
The Bottom Line
Most of the call center phone systems and software that we reviewed in our research covered the basics that a small business would expect — IVR, ACD, call monitoring, and metrics and analytics.
However, Nextiva emerged as our recommended call center phone system and software for small businesses because of its comprehensive list of features, economical pricing, and industry-leading customer service — something that will be of particular importance to small businesses who work with limited resources and need a solution that is easy and reliable.