March 3, 2022
6 Best Call Tracking Software
Keeping track of how leads find your business isn’t easy. However, the best call tracking software simplifies the process by automatically attributing a lead’s actions to a specific PPC keyword or campaign. In addition, a call tracking service attributes the call to a marketing action, routes it to an agent, and displays customer information. The following call tracking service providers are the best based on our research: : Best overall, and best call tracking software for multichannel tracking : Top choice for tracking ecommerce transactions : Best call tracking service for marketers wanting a custom, budget-friendly plan : Most suitable for small businesses needing a subscription-based plan that includes free phone numbers : Best for companies wanting advanced routing options on a pay-as-you-go plan : Most beneficial for agencies wanting seamless white label solutions See fullscreen table × CallTrackingMetrics: Best Overall & Best for Multi-channel Tracking *Usage charges are extra and include per-minute and phone number fees. Pricing is based on monthly payments. Users can also pre-pay annually for a discount. (CTM) is a scalable call tracking service offering dynamic number insertion (DNI) and robust conversation intelligence. DNI automatically attributes a specific number to each ad source so that you can track effectiveness. CallTrackingMetrics stands out because it monitors not only phone calls, but also text and chat messages and forms. All subscriptions include click-to-call ads and ad extensions. It also comes with popular voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) business phone features like call recording and call whisper. Additionally, the service uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify keywords while your caller talks. From there, the AI tool automates actions. For example, if a caller says “cancel” during a conversation, the system could automatically email an account manager. CallTrackingMetrics also provides local and toll-free numbers in more than 80 countries. Only comes close to this by offering numbers in over 60 countries, whereas CallRail supports four. However, CallTrackingMetrics doesn’t include free phone numbers or minutes in its subscription. If you prefer more inclusive packages, consider or . Pricing starts at $39 per month, plus usage. You can save money by paying annually, and all plans feature 30 days of free call tracking service. Additional usage charges include $1.25 to $3.50 per phone number and 3.5 cents to 6.5 cents per minute, depending on plan tier and phone number type (local or toll-free). CallTrackingMetrics Features Intelligent call routing and automation: Select their Marketing plan to benefit from a GeoRouter that automatically sends callers to an agent near them or directs them to a specific rep based on their previous actions. This plan also includes intelligent word detection, which triggers actions according to verbal cues. also offers geo routing at a lower monthly cost. Multi-channel call attribution: CallTrackingMetrics traces the source for most forms of communication, including phone calls, texts, chats, and forms. Call details include the ad, channel, keywords, and website pages visited, along with their call history. Phone and text options: Choose from local, vanity, or toll-free tracking numbers in more than 80 countries, or use the GeoContact feature to display local numbers to your customer. Plus, CallTrackingMetrics provides five- and six-digit shortcodes needed for bulk text messaging. WhatConverts: Best for Tracking Ecommerce Transactions *Included plan minutes decrease for every phone number added. is call tracking software offering advanced lead management tools and a powerful reporting engine. Moreover, it’s the only call tracking service provider on our list that tracks ecommerce transactions. Their monthly packages come with call recording, transcriptions, and campaign and keyword tracking. While WhatConverts and both support automatic call routing, only WhatConverts plans include phone numbers and minutes. In addition, all packages support custom branding, although only the Agency version works for tracking more than one business. Unlike CTM, WhatConverts can’t track text messages unless you add a third-party integration through Zapier. WhatConverts has a unique pricing system. It provides a sliding scale to pick how many local or toll-free phone numbers you want, and then see how many minutes the plan comes with. For example, for the $30 Plus package, you could choose six local numbers and get 335 minutes. Check out WhatConverts to find the right plan for your business. WhatConverts Features Ecommerce data: Connect your Shopify, BigCommerce, Squarespace, or WooCommerce account to WhatConverts to view transaction marketing data tracking in your dashboard or via email. You’ll see source details for web visitors and buyers to help you easily trace return on investment (ROI). Lead management: Internal users can help qualify leads and calculate lead value before sending the data to your customer relationship manager (CRM). Moreover, your sales agents can use filtering and grouping tools to generate lists by campaign or keyword and qualify up to 50 leads in 15 minutes. If you want a solution that includes even more sales tools, consider auto-dialer software. Flexible reporting: Unlike CallRail or Convirza, WhatConverts reports are fully customizable, down to the branding. Personalize not only what type of data, but also chart formatting and scheduling options. Retreaver: Best Call Tracking Software for Tight Budgets *Use the online calculator to get a cost estimate, then receive your quote via email or phone call. is an innovative, pay-as-you-go service offering 15 numbers and 200 minutes for just $25. By comparison, you’d pay nearly double this amount for phone numbers alone when using Convirza ($4 per number) or Ringba ($3 per number). However, Retreaver charges an extra 1 cent per minute for live call controls like call transfer and hold. This call tracking service comes with intelligent call routing, automated workflows based on caller data, and conversion reporting. Unlike CallTrackingMetrics, integrations with HubSpot and Salesforce don’t require you to subscribe to a mid- or upper-tier plan. Plus, it provides plenty of analytics and reporting data, but slightly less customization than found with . Since Retreaver is a pay-as-you-go service, it may be harder for you to estimate your monthly costs, since the charges increase according to volume. If you would feel more comfortable always knowing what your costs will be, use a subscription-based call tracking service like . Retreaver Features Call tagging: Like WhatConverts, Retreaver supports webhooks for creating automated workflows, such as generating post-call tasks or automatically pushing source data to integrated third-party software. Intelligent call routing: Leverage specific call routing rules and conversion data to send callers to certain extensions or play a prerecorded message informing them that they’ve already claimed a promo code, for example. Call logs and call flows: Use Retreaver’s dashboard to filter call logs according to number, campaign, call source, or call endpoint. From there, you can access call flow data for individual callers to examine where calls start and end. CallRail: Best for Subscription Plans With Trackable Phone Numbers is a call tracking solution that uses a subscription-based plan similar to , with a starting price that includes phone numbers and minutes. While extra numbers and minutes cost slightly more with CallRail, your total cost of ownership (TCO) may be lower. For instance, CallRail charges $45 for 10 numbers, 100 text messages, and 500 minutes. In contrast, WhatConverts cost $30 for 10 numbers, no text messages, and 110 minutes. All CallRail plans include call recording, scoring, and forwarding. You don’t need to pay for a higher plan tier to access HubSpot, Facebook, APIs, or webhooks. However, if you want to integrate with Salesforce, you may prefer , since CallRail charges an extra $65 per month for Salesforce integration. Additionally, conversation intelligence and advanced call flows are upcharges. With prices starting at $45 per month, CallRail is a good alternative to pay-as-you-go call tracking software like . The entry plan comes with most essential integrations and standard features, making it a good option for small businesses. CallRail Features CallScore: Unlike manual scoring found with Convirza, CallRail provides automated call scoring. It uses machine learning (ML) and call metadata to automatically develop lead scores for you. Agent performance: Set up each one of your agents as a CallRail user to enable performance-based reports, and pull details according to missed calls or call outcomes by agent. Quick texts: Create text templates in the lead center to save time. These let you send a text to missed callers or customers without writing a new message every time. Convirza: Best Pay-as-You-Go Call Tracking With Advanced Routing is call tracking software offered in pay-as-you-go or bundled subscription plans. All packages come with call recording, call downloading, and call routing. With Convirza, you can track local, toll-free, and text-enabled numbers. Additionally, Convirza provides geo routing and a call flow builder as standard features, whereas you’d need the $99 per month package to get these tools with CallTrackingMetrics. However, Convirza lacks the advanced conversation intelligence and automated call score generation your small business might need that is found in some plans. Convirza’s pay-as-you-go plan charges more for phone numbers and minutes compared to . Even so, the Professional plan starts at $69 per month and comes with white-glove onboarding, which is useful if your business needs installation assistance. Convirza Features Intelligent routing: Send calls attached to tracking numbers to specific agents based on your pre-set rules. Plus, all Convirza plans support geo routing to direct calls according to state, ZIP code, or proximity to your agent’s location. Manual scorecards: Develop custom scorecards assigned to tracking numbers or agents. Agents can add comments during the call, and supervisors or other agents can respond to messages. Plus, you can tag the call and export the file as a portable document format (PDF) file. If you prefer automated scoring, consider . Outbound tracking numbers: Convirza is the only call tracking service on our list advertising outbound call tracking capabilities. Sales reps enter a pin and then dial a tracking number to automatically connect source data to the call. Ringba: Best Call Tracking Service for White Labeled Platforms is inbound call tracking software offered through both pay-as-you-go and bundled package options. It stands out for offering customizable white labeled platforms that are especially ideal for agencies and pay-per-call networks that want to feature branded services. The platform’s visual editor and your ability to host Ringba on your own domain give you control over how your channel looks and feels. While other providers offer white label services, they often cost more than Ringba and offer less customization. Like , Ringba offers international phone numbers in more than 60 countries, but you'll have to ask Ringba for their international calling rates. Additionally, Ringba doesn’t offer a mobile app or SMS support, and call recording costs an extra 5.5 cents to 1 cent per minute. If you want call tracking software with call recording included, consider or . If your agency handles pay-per-click (PPC) marketing or advertising on behalf of clients, Ringba may provide better pricing and features for your business than other platforms. Alternatively, if you want tracking numbers through a pay-as-you-go plan, may be the better option as it has a lower total cost of ownership. Ringba Features Custom branding: Use a drag-and-drop visual editor to design your platform, automate partner updates, and develop branded notifications, registrations, and integrations. Call flow management: Route calls according to demographics, interests, locations, keywords, or agent availability. The visual editor makes it easy to create custom voice response menus rivaling some of the best interactive voice response (IVR) systems. Data collection: Built with agencies in mind, Ringba collects far more details than other call tracking platforms. Information includes homeowner data, lifestyle habits, personal financial information, and interest profiles. How We Evaluated the Best Call Tracking Software While call tracking services are similar to some of the best business phone systems, call tracking software provides more data about your marketing campaigns and advertisements. The best call tracking tools offer smart routing functions, advanced reporting features, and call recording. We evaluated providers by looking at solutions providing a mix of general and advanced features in various package tiers. earns the top spot for a call tracking service with omnichannel routing, scoring 4.36 out of 5 in our evaluation. It provides a user-friendly interface, intelligent call routing, and mobile apps. Although it doesn’t come with a free trial, you’ll get the first month free once you sign up. Learn how we evaluated the best call tracking software providers by clicking on the tabs below: Bottom Line Call tracking software helps you get a higher return on your PPC advertising efforts. Moreover, you can use data from your online and offline campaigns to enrich your customer profiles and to discover what’s working―and what isn’t. Your call management system may already include call tracking features; if not, or if your business needs more features than your system provides, try one of the best call tracking software providers on our list. is our top pick as the best call tracking service. It features mobile apps, international numbers in more than 80 countries, and tracks calls, texts, forms, and chat messages. Learn more about CTM or sign up to get the first month free.
March 2, 2022
UCaaS vs CPaaS: Main Differences & When to Use Them
Unified communication as a service (UCaaS) provides a centralized platform that bundles cloud phone, video conferencing, and team messaging. Communications platform as a service (CPaaS)’s cloud-based collaboration tools are designed to be added to existing business applications. CPaaS is typically the cheaper option but is more difficult to deploy. Determining whether UCaaS vs CPaaS is better for your business then depends on your needs and budget. Based on our comparison, the best use cases for UCaaS vs CPaaS are the following: UCaaS: Best for most small businesses that need an all-in-one ready-made platform for communications CPaaS: Ideal for businesses with in-house dev teams wanting to create truly customize communication infrastructure UCaaS vs CPaaS at a Glance *Prices vary based on the provider, features, and number of licenses. **The cost of CPaaS platforms depends on the application programming interface (API) you pick. When To Use UCaaS Businesses use UCaaS to access a wide variety of communication tools—text, voice, and video—all in one interface. UCaaS solutions often come in the form of business phone services that integrate communication channels, such as email, live chat, virtual fax, video calling, and short message service (SMS). If your company is looking for an alternative to on-premises unified communications (UC) tools, a full UCaaS implementation is a better choice. It offers a voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) system with cloud capabilities, such as telephony, voicemail instant messaging, and video conferencing. Even better, UCaaS providers include third-party business solutions, such as CRM systems—making them ideal for customer-facing environments. Whether you’re managing an on-site, hybrid, or remote workforce, UCaaS makes it easier for all your teams to collaborate no matter where they are. For example, UCaaS solutions offer collaborative workspaces, including file sharing and project management from any location via laptops and mobile devices. UCaaS is a great fit for businesses looking for a scalable communications platform to support their growth. Since most UCaaS platforms are billed per user, a company only has to pay for its employees while maintaining the flexibility to add more users as needed. More importantly, UCaaS offers a reliable solution that expands your communication capabilities without incurring additional costs. Advantages & Disadvantages of UCaaS Service A UCaaS system offers numerous benefits to businesses by providing all employees with the same set of communication tools in one platform wherever they are. However, it also comes with certain features that may affect the quality of its administration. Here’s a list of the pros and cons to determine whether it’s a right fit for your business communication needs. Pros of Choosing UCaaS Cons of Choosing UCaaS When To Use CPaaS The main purpose of CPaaS software is to deliver a more flexible, seamless, and customizable communications system than UCaaS. If you want to select the best tools for your business and integrate them seamlessly into existing applications, CPaaS is a better fit. It enables businesses to create an omnichannel strategy for their communications, leading to efficient operations and seamless customer experience (CX). CPaaS platforms include bundle APIs, code snippets, and programming tools, enabling developers to improve and integrate real-time communications on an existing platform without needing a separate app. For example, CPaaS makes it easy for developers to create a pop-up box to help web leads ask questions as they navigate a website. CPaaS is a great fit for businesses looking to grow their customer bases because it’s primarily focused on enhancing their customer communication channels. It acts as a platform that combines the reliability and back end of communication systems with your own customer service software through the use of APIs. This enables you to embed voice, chat, video capabilities, and even conversational AI in your customer-facing applications. Advantages & Disadvantages of CPaaS Service Both UCaaS and CPaaS have similar benefits when it comes to scalability, flexibility, CX, and cost control. However, CPaaS also has unique advantages for businesses that want to customize their communications infrastructure. It’s also worth noting that there are also challenges involved in the implementation. Here are the pros and cons of CPaaS platforms. Pros of Choosing CPaaS Cons of Choosing CPaaS Providers With UCaaS Service Businesses have plenty of options to choose from when finding the right UCaaS provider. Each platform offers unique features, scalability, integrations, and communication channels. Fortunately, we have already done the research for you and found the top UCaaS providers on the market: Providers With CPaaS Service Whether your company is capable of developing CPaaS solutions on its own, getting the right support from a third-party provider brings several advantages. Here are the leading CPaaS providers that will make it easier to add API-based communications to your business apps: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) What CPaaS functions can I add to my existing business applications? With CPaaS, there are plenty of real-time communications services you can integrate with cloud-based applications. These include outbound calling, inbound call routing, text messaging, and video chat. However, not all CPaaS providers offer multimedia messaging as part of their services. What should I consider when choosing a CPaaS provider? To choose the right provider for your existing communication needs, you need to consider which features your team requires and how much control you need to optimize quality and cost. A CPaaS provider should also fulfill your cloud communication requirements by providing code samples, SDKs, and extensive product documentation. Between UCaaS and CPaaS, what’s the best solution for my business needs? The right communication platform for your business depends on whether you want to combine all communication tools in one interface or build one on your own based on your needs. Businesses that want an all-in-one communications solution without developing their own integrations should look toward a UCaaS provider. On the other hand, businesses that want the flexibility to customize communication applications should consider a CPaaS provider. Bottom Line While UCaaS and CPaaS are both cloud-based communications solutions and deliver the same set of features, each has a unique implementation purpose and manner. That’s why it’s necessary to determine their respective benefits before deploying them into your existing communications stack. Start a free trial with to navigate how a UCaaS platform works. The trial is limited to five users and two desktop phones with 50 minutes of domestic calls per user. Otherwise, if you want to try a CPaaS platform, sign up for a free trial with access to programmable messaging, voice, and video.
March 2, 2022
Zendesk Talk Review: Is It Right for Your Business?
Zendesk Talk is a cloud-based call center software and voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) system integrated into the Zendesk Suite. It enables businesses to provide phone support to their customers while also managing conversations across channels. Monthly subscription fees start at $59 per agent. Our Zendesk Talk review revealed it’s a great option for support teams looking for a call center platform that integrates well with a wide range of customer experience channels. These would include live chat and social media messaging. Zendesk Talk Overview What We Recommend Zendesk Talk For is a call center solution hosted in the cloud. It’s accessible from various devices, such as computers or mobile devices. As its access isn’t restricted from a single location, it’s worth checking out for companies with remote employees looking for a channel-rich customer experience platform. When to Use Zendesk Talk Businesses looking for a call center platform that supports an extensive range of customer experience channels: Zendesk Talk—integrated into the Zendesk Suite—lets you connect with your customers in their preferred channels. Users can address issues through voice, chat, social media messaging, email, and text. Additionally, it provides self-service tools, such as bots, knowledgebase, and community forums. You can also read more about the Suite of software’s other benefits in our comprehensive Zendesk Suite review. Customer service or support teams that need live call monitoring features: Zendesk Talk made it to our list of the best call monitoring software for its customizable ticket system with robust tools like listen in and barge in. It also notifies users when audio and network issues arise to ensure ideal customer experiences. Organizations looking for flexible software that supports a wide range of integrations: Aside from its built-in integrations with more than 90 third-party systems, Zendesk Talk also provides application programming interfaces (APIs) and a computer telephony integration (CTI) toolkit, allowing you to use your own call center solution into its platform. When Zendesk Talk Might Not Be a Good Fit Teams with tight budgets looking for a cheaper call center solution: Zendesk Talk comes with the Zendesk Suite platform where monthly fees start at $59 per agent—more expensive than other providers. If your business doesn’t have a lot of budget for tools, try looking into . It provides a free version and paid plans that start at $18 per agent per month. Plans also come with incoming call minutes, which other providers like Zendesk Talk charge by the minute. Read our Freshdesk Contact Center review for more information. Companies with an international customer base looking for a more comprehensive contact center platform: While Zendesk Talk supports overseas calls and provides global phone numbers to over 75 countries, other providers have more appealing offerings like . 8x8 offers unlimited international calling to up to 48 countries and phone numbers to more than 120 countries. Additionally, it has a wide range of security certifications across regions. Check out our 8x8 review to determine if its offerings are the best match for your needs. Businesses looking for reliable call center software with high uptime service-level agreement (SLA): Zendesk Talk has lower uptime of 99.95%, and users can only gain credits during downtimes with the highest tier subscription. If better uptime is your company’s priority, look into . It provides up to 100% SLA, letting you ensure that you’re always available for your customers’ needs. Learn more about its offerings in our Talkdesk review. Zendesk Talk Pricing , integrated within the Zendesk Suite, has monthly fees that start at $49 per agent when billed annually. It comes with support for managing customer communications across channels, such as voice, live chat, email, and social media messaging. Zendesk charges call usage by the minute, depending on how agents receive calls, their type of phone number, and their location. *Fees are applicable for yearly contracts and are paid in full at the beginning of the billing cycle. To get the total cost, you need to combine your subscription fees plus your usage. Usage fees include phone numbers, text messages, minutes, and voicemail transcription. Several factors also affect prices, such as forwarding calls to an external number and the type of phone number. Zendesk Suite Add-ons Zendesk Suite lets you add features and inclusions when you need them. These extra capabilities are available depending on the plan. Users subscribed to any plan can purchase the following: Inbound and outbound text message usage: Starts at 0.0019 of a cent per text Local and toll-free numbers: Starts at $1 per number Inbound and outbound call minutes: Starts at 1.2 cents per minute for inbound calls and 2.2 cents for outbound calls Talk credit package: Starts at $1,000 for $1,031 Talk credits Call recording: 0.003 of a cent per minute Voicemail: Starts at 1.2 cents per minute Voicemail transcription: Starts at 5 cents per minute Sunshine Conversations license: Fees not published Those subscribed to Suite Growth plan or higher can purchase additional data storage and API volume (rates not publicly available). Suite Enterprise users can also pay for additional Premium Sandboxes, which can be used for testing, development, and training purposes. Moreover, if the Suite Enterprise plan isn’t enough for your business needs, you can also explore enterprise-ready plans that start at $215 per agent, monthly. Zendesk Talk Features is a cloud-based voice solution that comes with other customer experience channels. With its features integrated into a suite of customer service tools, it works best for support teams looking for a platform with a wide range of channels. Zendesk Talk Alternatives When looking for alternatives, users must ensure that the platforms come with robust call center features and inclusions. We also considered providing options for popular use cases. Top competitors like and provide business phone systems. However, below, we’re referring to their Contact Center offerings instead. What Users Think of Zendesk Talk The majority of recent reviews align with our analysis of its platform as an excellent solution for managing conversations across voice and digital channels. It works best for companies looking to offer a wide range of communication options to ensure that they can reach their customers in their channel of choice. At the time of publication, Zendesk Talk has earned the following scores on popular user review sites: TrustRadius: 8.10 out of 10 stars based on 19 reviews SelectHub: 88% out of 100% stars based on 2,704 reviews Capterra: 4.4 out of 5 stars based on 2,736 reviews G2: 4.3 out of 5 stars based on 3,554 reviews Most users like Zendesk Talk’s ease of use and deployment, without the need for long waits and installations by technicians. However, some users mentioned that they experience occasional call quality issues. Others shared that there are times when data is lost or call recordings are unsuccessful. Meanwhile, there are mixed reviews on its customer service. There are a few users that applaud its customer support team for being helpful and responsive, while some complained about how slow and unhelpful their representatives are in addressing their issues. Bottom Line According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report, a phone is the most preferred channel by customers to connect with a business. offers one of the excellent platforms to consider when looking for a contact center solution. It comes with a wide range of customer experience channels to address issues and improve sales, helping you ensure that you can be reached with ease. Moreover, it provides flexibility in terms of access, making it work best for companies with remote customer service and support teams. However, its rates are higher compared to some popular tools, like . Small businesses with tight budgets can look into Freshdesk Contact Center as it provides a free version and cheap paid plans that come with incoming call minutes that are packaged for advancing business needs. Those interested may sign up for a 21-day free trial to determine if it matches your current business requirements.
March 2, 2022
The 6 Best Vonage Alternatives
The best Vonage alternatives are voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) providers offering plans with unlimited international calling, high-definition (HD) video conferencing, and advanced analytics. In addition, top Vonage competitors offer some of the same fan-favorite features that come with Vonage, such as call flip and intuitive mobile apps. To determine which are the best, we evaluated the top alternatives to Vonage based on price, features, and usability. Based on our research, the six best Vonage alternatives are: : Best Vonage alternative overall and best for integrating with existing tools and scaling your phone support : Top choice for small or large teams that frequently host video meetings with up to 500 people : Great option for small to midsize businesses (SMBs) looking for artificial intelligence (AI) and automation tools : Best for organizations that need quickly customizable call flow capabilities : An excellent Vonage alternative for flexible deployment options, including on-premise and cloud-hosted services : Best for organizations that want unlimited international calling at an affordable price Vonage & Best Alternatives at a Glance See fullscreen table × RingCentral: Best Overall Vonage Alternative for Scalability & Integrations is a top Vonage competitor and the best business phone system for organizations wanting to scale and integrate existing tools. It provides four feature-rich plans, and each subscription supports team messaging, texting, document sharing, and unlimited calling within the United States and Canada. RingCentral also supplies the highest number of integrations, allowing business users to connect their phone system to customer relationship management (CRM), helpdesk, and calendaring tools. However, RingCentral can be expensive for small teams, and the entry-tier plan lacks video and audio conferencing. In comparison, has a $15 plan (monthly per user) for up to 10 people. The 8x8 Express plan supports team messaging and unlimited domestic calling like RingCentral and includes video meetings with 100 people and meeting recording and transcription. Learn more about how these providers compare in our RingCentral vs 8x8 comparison guide. RingCentral Pricing at a Glance* Essentials: $29.99 per user, per month, for up to 20 users for unlimited calls and texting, team messaging, voicemail-to-text, and document sharing Standard: $37.99 per user, per month, for 100 video participants, integrations, unlimited internet fax, and a multilevel auto attendant Premium: $44.99 per user, per month, for 200 video meeting participants, automatic call recording, call whisper, single sign-on (SSO), and call barge Ultimate: $59.99 per user, per month, for unlimited media storage, device status reports, device alerts *Pricing is based on two to 20 users with monthly billing. Prepay annually and save up to 33%. RingCentral Features Start a team huddle from your cellphone. (Source: RingCentral) International support: Establish a global presence with virtual international or DID numbers. You can forward calls to your US-based team or employees located worldwide. The RingCentral MVP app provides language support for German, English, and Spanish, and you can set up a bilingual auto attendant for customers. Integrations: Connect your phone system to your favorite tools with RingCentral’s out-of-box integrations. Popular voice apps and integrations include Freshdesk, Microsoft Teams, HubSpot, and Salesforce. You’ll also find several industry-specific connections, such as Canvas and Lawmatics. Team collaboration: Keep your team in the loop and encourage interaction with RingCentral’s collaboration tools. RingCentral users can share documents and chat in real-time like other Vonage alternatives. But your team can also interact with co-workers in a persistent Team Huddle room and send individual messages quickly during a meeting by simply tapping and holding their teammate’s portrait. 8x8: Best Vonage Alternative for High-capacity Video Conferencing is one of the best small business VoIP services for reaching a vast audience during a video conference. Its X series plans support 500 participants, including 25 simultaneous video displays. The 8x8 Express package is also the best value for teams of 10 or fewer people. You can meet with 100 people, livestream to YouTube, and view meeting recordings or transcriptions. 8x8 features 59 integrations with services such as Microsoft Teams, Salesforce, and HubSpot. While there are fewer integrations than offered on RingCentral’s Standard package, the 8x8 X2 plan costs less and provides unmetered calls to 14 countries. 8x8 Pricing at a Glance* 8x8 Express: $15 per user, per month, for unlimited domestic calling, 100 video conference participants, an auto attendant, meeting recording and transcription, file sharing, and visual voicemail X2: $32 per user, per month, for unlimited calling to 14 countries, 500 video conference attendees, Microsoft Teams integration, text messaging, and a multilevel auto attendant X4: $57 per user, per month, for unlimited calling to 48 countries, supervisor analytics, call whisper, and call barge X6: $125 per user, per month, for post-call surveys, call recording, customer experience journey mapping, and an autodialer X7: $138 per user, per month, for omnichannel routing for social media and email, skills-based routing, and co-browsing X8: $175 per user, per month, for speech and text analytics and quality management tools *Pricing is based on a monthly payment plan. Prepay annually to save up to 25%. 8x8 Features Video meetings: Host large meetings and webinars from your mobile phone, tablet, or desktop. 8x8 features the largest conferencing capacity at 500 participants. In comparison, Vonage and Dialpad allow up to 100, whereas RingCentral has a limit of 200, and GoTo Connect and 3CX support 250. 8x8 video conferencing tools include breakout rooms, attendee polling, and YouTube live-streaming. International calling: Lower your phone bill with 8x8’s unlimited international calling plans. Or connect your overseas team to your business phone system with local number support in more than 40 countries and virtual numbers in over 120. Unified communications: The 8x8 Work app keeps your conversations in one spot. Without switching applications, your team can access text messages, video meeting transcripts, shared content, and visual voicemail. Dialpad: Best Vonage Alternative for Advanced AI & Automation Tools Most Vonage competitors lock multilevel auto attendants, call recording, and voice intelligence behind more expensive packages. In contrast, is one of the best Vonage alternatives because it offers an expansive list of VoIP phone features on its base plan. You’ll also find plenty of AI and automation tools, allowing your team to work faster and avoid tedious data entry tasks. Automatic post-call notes summarize your meeting points and CRM integrations keep data synced. These tools come on the Pro plan, reasonably priced at $30 per user, per month, or $20 per month with annual prepayment. Similar packages from and 8x8 cost over $7 more. However, Dialpad only supports five-hour video meetings with 100 participants, whereas users can scale from 100 to 500 attendees. Dialpad Pricing at a Glance* Standard: $20 per user, per month, for unlimited calling and texting within the US and Canada, voicemail transcription, schedule-based routing, call recording, and a multilevel auto attendant Pro: $30 per user, per month, with a three-seat minimum for 25 ring groups, hold queues, international texting, and CRM integrations Enterprise: Request a custom quote for a minimum of 100 licenses with a 100% uptime SLA and unlimited ring groups *Pricing is based on monthly billing. Prepay yearly to save $5 per user, per month. Dialpad Features Advanced analytics: View heat maps with call volume or answer time trends. Or explore your interactive voice response (IVR) menu effectiveness with menu analytics. Additionally, real-time metrics highlight calls and availability, allowing supervisors to manage call queues before service quality drops. Voice intelligence: Use Dialpad’s VI to transcribe meetings in real-time, automatically detect customer sentiment, and monitor keywords in conversations. Plus, automatic call notes and identify action items to keep your teams focused. Call routing: Advanced call routing tools direct customers to suitable agents. Along with standard schedule-based call routing, you can forward calls based on agent skills or who’s been idle the longest. Dialpad also supports queue prioritization, so your very important person (VIP) or emergency callers can move to the top of the line. GoTo Connect: Best Vonage Alternative for Call Routing , which is part of GoTo package, provides easy ways to customize how calls are handled. Formerly known as Jive, GoTo Connect has a Dial Plan Editor that permits you to create a quick diagram of inbound calls so that you can decide where they go. Each stage of the process can be dragged and dropped so that call routing is intuitive and efficient. GoTo Connect is also a top Vonage alternative for companies with high volumes of international calls. The Standard and Premium packages let you call 52 countries for free with pricing starting at $29 per user, per month, vs 14 countries for $32 or 48 regions for $57 with 8x8. Still, GoTo Connect falls slightly behind , which grants unmetered calling to 70 countries with some of its plans. GoTo Connect has limited video conferencing capacity on its base plan, supporting 40-minute video calls with just four people. costs $9 less per user for unlimited meetings with 100 participants. Teams with fewer international calls may prefer the less expensive or systems, as they provide similar feature sets without unmetered international calls. GoTo Connect Pricing at a Glance* Basic: $24 per user, per month, for an auto attendant, unlimited extensions, smart call routing, and team messaging Standard: $29 per user, per month, for unlimited ring groups and call queues, hot desking, internet faxing, and unmetered calling to 52 countries Premium: $39 per user, per month, for call analytics, real-time queue updates, call monitoring, supervisor dashboards, and call whisper *Pricing is based on two to 10 users with monthly bills. Prepay annually to save up to 12%. GoTo Connect Features Auto integrations: GoTo Connect is an excellent fit for companies in the automotive industry as it works with dealer tools like DealerSocket and Cox Automotive. Plus, you can use GoTo Connect’s video conferencing feature to give virtual vehicle tours. Bundled services: GoTo Connect is part of the LogMeIn family of companies. It offers additional tools like GoToWebinar Lite and LastPass as part of its bundled plans. This can provide extra savings and help with password security. Smart call routing: Preconfigure your call flow to ring multiple devices in a preset sequence. Or map out call flows based on your holiday, weekend, or after-hour schedules. Learn more about the dial plan editor in our GoTo Connect VoIP feature spotlight. 3CX: Best Vonage Alternative for Flexible Deployment Options has the lowest fees of all Vonage competitors and is the only service you can deploy onsite using a computer as a server or through private cloud services. It provides a free license for up to 12 users and four simultaneous calls. Or add eight or more concurrent calls with 13 or more users for ultra-low pricing. For instance, it’ll cost you $0.58 per user for 25 employees plus an additional $100 hosting fee per year. All 3CX subscriptions include unlimited extensions, an auto attendant, and screen-sharing tools. Enterprise-grade capabilities like skills-based routing and Microsoft Teams integration require the highest plan tier—but you’ll pay a total of just $280 for the year for four simultaneous calls and 10 users. Compare that to $1,800 per year with basic plan tier with fewer features. However, 3CX pricing doesn’t include customer support as other Vonage competitors offer. For example, you’ll pay $75 per tech support call. If you prefer more customer service options, like live chat, helpdesk tickets, and phone, consider hosted VoIP systems like , , and . 3CX Pricing at a Glance* Standard: $0 licensing fees and $100 per year for hosting for an auto attendant, 25 video participants, unlimited extensions, and screen sharing Pro: $145 per year licensing fee and $100 per year hosting fee for Microsoft 365 and CRM integrations, 100 video conference attendees, call queues, and call recording Enterprise: $180 per year licensing fee and $100 per year hosting for Microsoft Teams integration, skills-based routing, and 250 video meeting participants *Pricing is based on 12 users and four simultaneous calls. Additional licensing and hosting fees apply for eight or more simultaneous calls. 3CX Features Video conferencing: Share screens, documents, or whiteboards with up to 250 people during video meetings. Your team can also use remote screen controls to assist customers or co-workers. However, it lacks breakout rooms offered by other Vonage competitors like RingCentral and 8x8. Multichannel communications: While other VoIP services unify voice, chat, and video into one application, 3CX goes a step further. It pulls conversations from Facebook Messenger and your website’s live chat into the 3CX app, allowing employees to view and respond to communications from multiple channels. Similar omnichannel capabilities from 8x8 cost $138 per user, per month. Call center capabilities: Scale your customer service department with 3CX’s rich feature set. It can alert you to missed service level agreement (SLA) metrics and let supervisors monitor and coach agents in real-time. Discover more features in our 3CX review. Ooma: Best Vonage Alternative for Unlimited International Calling Businesses are becoming more global, which is why a provider like is so valuable; with Ooma, you’re able to dial unmetered to 70 countries. This means you can significantly cut international calling costs and pay only a monthly subscription fee. Ooma also comes with access to both local and toll-free numbers so that you can provide domestic customers with multiple means of contact with your business. While Ooma and both offer unmetered international calling plans, neither offers international numbers. If you want your international customers to be able to reach you outside of their country, you’ll have to provide them with local numbers to do so. Currently, of the Vonage alternatives in this guide, is the only one to provide both unlimited international calling and numbers. Ooma Pricing at a Glance Ooma Home: Free with purchase of the $99 Ooma Telo analog telephone adapter. Includes basic service, which allows you to call domestically for free. Ooma Office: $19.95 per user, per month, for a virtual receptionist, extension-to-extension dialing, call forwarding, call flip, and multidevice ring Ooma Office Pro: $24.95 per user, per month, for video conferencing, call recording, enhanced call blocking, and voicemail transcription Ooma Features Extensive hardware and software support: Ooma isn’t limited to the Telo. Not only does the service have its own listing of Ooma VoIP phones from Grandstream, but it also supports several of these devices from other manufacturers. Multidevice ring: Multidevice ring allows inbound calls to ring on multiple devices so that your agents can pick up whichever phone is most convenient. Devices supported include the softphone, IP phone, or smartphone app on their Android or iOS device, ensuring that customer needs are met efficiently. Extended support: Ooma has extensive phone support that’s available 24x7x365. While some providers charge extra for comprehensive support, Ooma’s agents help customers for free via website and chat options as well as on the phone in the US and Canada. How We Evaluated the Best Vonage Alternatives Several Vonage competitors offer basic and advanced VoIP features at comparable prices. In addition, these business phone systems provide capabilities you won’t find with Vonage, including unmetered international calls and online faxing capabilities. We reviewed the top Vonage competitors and rated them based on several factors, including scalability, analytics, and video conferencing tools. Here's a breakdown of how we measured each provider: Bottom Line Although is an excellent phone system, it’s a la carte features can add to the monthly cost. In comparison, top Vonage competitors provide advanced capabilities packaged into affordable monthly plans. Once you determine your budget and must-have features, explore the complimentary trials offered by the best Vonage alternatives. earned 4.61 out of 5, making it the best alternative to Vonage. It provides a robust entry-tier plan for up to 20 users and is scalable up to contact center packages. RingCentral has user-friendly mobile apps with team messaging and video conferencing tools. Take RingCentral for a test run by signing up for a 15-day free trial.
March 1, 2022
IVR Self-service Best Practices to Increase Customer Satisfaction
When implemented well, an intuitive interactive voice response (IVR) self-service system improves key call metrics, such as the average speed to answer (ASA) and call abandonment rate, which increases your customer satisfaction score (CSAT). Below, we’ll go through IVR self-service best practices and how to optimize this feature of your business phone system. 1. Create a List of Common Contact Types Understanding the customer journey is essential to building an effective self-service IVR system. Doing so identifies the root causes of contact and ways to improve customer satisfaction. This can be as simple as a spreadsheet listing the caller's motivations, such as checking order status, and currently used methods like online tools and toll-free customer service lines. You may also add details about customer demographics and the probability of first-contact resolution (FCR) using existing channels. For instance, if a significant number of people speak to a live agent to inquire about delivery status, add this option to your IVR menu. If you offer self-service for deliveries and still receive requests for operator assistance, break down the callers by location and demographics to see if your call flow is confusing to older adults or speakers of a non-primary language. Use customer journey maps and call detail reports from your business phone system to determine caller locations, call types, and final call dispositions. Next, highlight contact types that are ideal for self-service. These are typically easy to answer using data from your business phone system, customer relationship management (CRM), or ecommerce software. 2. Have a Defined Customer Self-service Strategy A customer self-service strategy encompasses all interactions that don’t require human intervention. It keeps your support consistent across channels and improves accountability within your organization. Once you’ve documented contact types and highlighted self-service options, it’s time to review your current approach and outline your new IVR solution. Look at the performance and purpose of your existing customer-centric tools. Do specific frequently asked questions (FAQs) on your website have more traffic than others? Has your customer care or sales teams mentioned increasing requests for a self-help feature? Compare your results to your list of opportunities to incorporate a self-service menu option in your IVR system. What outcome do you want from implementing IVR technology? How does this connect to your overall company goals? For example, many businesses select objectives relating to customer satisfaction and cost savings, such as “increase CSAT by 2% and call containment rates by 2%.” Outline your key performance indicators (KPIs) and reporting frequency for each support channel, including transfer and FCR rates. Write down what tools you’ll use for measurement and define what self-service success looks like to company leaders, agents, and customers. 3. Make Use of Best-fitting IVR Technology Capabilities Technology plays a significant role in the success of your IVR system. It affects administrators, employees, and customers. A user-friendly but less advanced tool for small businesses can deliver better outcomes than one that requires a significant learning curve. Sure, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered applications with advanced analytic capabilities provide greater insights than basic automated services. But if it’s overkill for your needs, you may not see a quick return on investment (ROI). A standard IVR service with a few menu options is suitable for basic transactions and small teams. However, some interactions can feel robotic and impersonal to customers, so it’s still necessary to analyze their effectiveness. Tools with voice recognition and analytics answer complex queries by referencing a connected knowledge base. These tools often have sentiment detection, allowing the IVR to transfer callers to live agents if their tone appears frustrated or distraught. Modern IVR systems go beyond basic menu capabilities by asking your callers questions based on customer relationship management (CRM) software-supplied data, geography, or the dialed phone number. It can automatically open a support ticket, and when combined with agent assist tools, your caller won’t have to repeat the same information to your agents multiple times. This can be critical to customer satisfaction, as Deloitte reports that 87% of customers find it frustrating to repeat themselves in multiple channels. To find out the best options for implementing IVR self-service best practices in your company, take advantage of free trials and demonstrations offered by the best IVR systems. Compare the reporting tools and IVR components provided at various price points. 4. Engage Customers & Agents Early in the Process Regardless of the size of your business, switching a process or adding new technology can upset your current customers and staff. It changes the way they’ve always done things, and a certain percentage of individuals will want the old method back. You can improve self-service IVR adoption rates by gaining buy-in from the people using the system. Reach out to your customers to gauge their needs on social media channels using one or two poll questions or sending post-call surveys after conversations. Ask callers to rate their satisfaction with a recent interaction or which task they complete the most, like checking account balances or hearing the latest promotion. Likewise, team leaders can use surveys to assess potential skill gaps and the benefits of an IVR solution. Ask them about their current challenges, such as not having incoming caller data on their screen. Also, provide a list of helpful IVR and phone system features and use cases for each. Does your team prefer certain functionality over others? Continue to request feedback as you move through the decision-making and implementation process. Doing so allows you to tweak things as you go and keep engagement levels high as your process transforms. 5. Take Time to Plan Menus & Your IVR Design Call flows can make customers happy or result in unpleasant interactions. Many voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) phone systems provide a menu editor with drag-and-drop functionality to build your main menu and add multiple levels as needed. You can also check out our article on how to create a phone tree for help designing IVR menus that keep your end user in mind. IVR self-service best practices for menu design include: Make it easy to reach a live agent by reminding the caller that they can “press 0” Keep your primary menu options succinct—ideally your callers will be able to get through the main menu in 30 seconds or less Review the amount of time your IVR software gives customers to respond to prompts Create submenus to keep your initial menu short 6. Keep Your IVR Database Up to Date Interactive voice response tools link to a database, such as your customer relationship manager (CRM), to greet known contacts by name or allow users to retrieve account information. It may also connect to your online knowledge base. However, your customer needs and expectations constantly change, and your self-service IVR should keep up. Use voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) software tools like those offered by to discover commonly used keywords and phrases. In addition, your call recordings, transcripts, and post-call surveys can all help you identify areas for improvement. 7. Provide Callers With Information While They Wait Self-help tools benefit your company and clients, and you should try to accommodate your customer preferences whenever possible. Plus, guiding people to the best method based on their problem and history can save them headaches and your company money. According to the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), “IVR-contained calls have no marginal cost” and other methods like “an email or web-submitted contact is about 81% of the cost of a voice contact.” The goal is to drive personalized, in-the-moment experiences. Achieve this using voice analytics, CRM integrations, and knowledge management tools. For example, callers in a queue for your billing department may appreciate a reminder that they can access account tools online. AI-based services can send mobile users a text message to verify identity using their cell phone biometrics feature or ask them to respond with a keyword that triggers a help ticket. Offer callers in queues wait time estimates and provide alternative options, such as sharing a URL for your help ticket platform or scheduling a callback. 8. Integrate Your IVR Self-service Menu With Other Tech Tools Some self-service options require your IVR to be connected to a database. Integrations expand the current functionality of your contact center software and let you personalize calls while collecting data about the customer or issue. Here are the top integrations to facilitate IVR self-service best practices: CRM: Use CRM integrations to personalize caller experiences. It can match inbound calls to known contacts using a telephone or account number, allowing your IVR system to greet customers by name and prioritize them based on their customer status. Payment gateways: Integrations with payment gateways let callers make payments or purchase items through self-service and live agent interactions. Ecommerce systems: Provide access to order details or delivery updates by integrating your online purchasing software. Help desk software: Automatically generate a help ticket based on touch-tone or voice inputs by your caller. Customers can request a callback or report a problem without speaking to an agent. 9. Consistently Measure Your IVR Performance Evaluate your customer support system frequently to ensure it’s meeting service quality standards and your KPIs. Standard reports and user feedback help supervisors identify trends and catch problems early, such as how many callers hang up after being prompted to enter their account number. For example, you can review company performance reports to find the number of abandoned calls during an IVR prompt. RingCentral’s IVR/Answered report provides this data. Advanced analytics, including speech recognition, provide additional details about agent performance and customer sentiment. AI-based tools offer more context, alerting you to pain points in the call flow process. McKinsey reports that “companies have already applied advanced analytics to reduce average handle time by up to 40% and increase self-service containment rates by 5% to 20%.” What Is IVR Self-service? An IVR system is an automated menu or directory that callers interact with via their phone's keypad or voice commands, which the system can interpret using dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF). For example, a caller can either tap the number "5" on their dial pad or say “five.” It’s considered a self-service tool because consumers independently interact with the IVR technology without needing to speak with a live agent. Self-service IVR refers to one or more menu options that connect callers with the support they need, whether through a live agent or self-service tool. Its purpose is to decrease call handle times, improve customer experiences, and reduce agent call volume. IVR self-service technology helps callers with: Resetting a password Booking or canceling an appointment Hearing an account balance Looking up an extension for specific agents or departments Checking help ticket or order status Making a payment Setting up a reservation Initiating an order return Learning business hours Finding time-sensitive promotions Getting answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) Opening a help desk ticket Scheduling a callback Advantages of Self-service IVR Systems Not all self-service IVR systems are created equal, and initially, encouraging customers to interact with automated tools can be challenging. However, Gartner reports that service leaders believe “that as much as 40% of today’s live volume could be resolved in self-service channels.” This shift could result in significant benefits for your company, and, when combined with effective IVR menu design, automated voice recognition technology also enhances the customer experience. Benefits to organizations include: Cost Savings Live support is the most expensive call center channel. Gartner also says, “live interactions, even when only one step in the resolution journey, means that resolution will cost 80 to 100 times more than a fully self-service fix.” Companies can route many calls to self-service IVR options while reducing the number of times a customer gets transferred. Sending callers to automated tools can minimize agent call volumes. In addition, intelligent routing can result in lower cost per call and offer additional savings from operational efficiency improvements. Increase Agent Productivity & Satisfaction An effective IVR routes callers to the most appropriate agent and provides customer details so that your employee feels equipped to handle the call. Automation features and integrations reduce after-call work (ACW), allowing your team to focus on meaningful work with fewer mundane tasks. Also, intuitive call center software decreases the amount of training needed and has other features, like call monitoring and call whisper. These let you coach agents in real time. With workforce costs at a premium and employee churn high, improvements in these areas can provide multiple benefits, from cost savings to higher employee engagement levels. Gain a Competitive Advantage Zendesk’s 2020 report found that “over the past four years, self-service adoption grew by 103%.” However, “only a third of companies offer some form of self-service, whether through a help center, knowledge base or FAQ.” The data suggest that adding self-support options can make your business stand out from the competition. Even if your team is small, a voice-driven IVR system can make your business appear larger. Your employees may have several duties, from answering billing questions to setting up appointments. Your IVR can show which department the caller requested, so your team is prepared with the right greeting. Improve the Customer Experience Resolving issues quicker and getting 24/7 support is important to consumers. Zendesk found that “69% of customers want to resolve as many issues as possible on their own,” and over 60% “say being able to resolve their issue quickly is the most important aspect of a good customer service experience.” An IVR system with self-service tools can provide round-the-clock support, even if your employees are fast asleep. As a result, effective services increase your CSAT and net promoter score (NPS). Drawbacks of IVR Technology Implementing IVR isn’t without its risks. Much of the troubles stem from inadequate technology and poor design. In an attempt to ensure the adoption of an IVR system, some companies make it hard to reach a live person. Yet, according to Zendesk, the most frustrating aspect of subpar customer service experiences, reported by more than 40% of consumers, is an “automated system that makes it hard to reach a human agent.” Customers who are used to reaching a live person immediately upon calling your company may feel that your IVR is impersonal. Or, they might avoid interacting with it altogether when faced with an error. The most important thing to remember is that simple is better in most cases. Start with the services offered by your current provider and keep an ongoing list of the things you love and hate about it. Your small business doesn’t have to jump from no IVR into one with hundreds of menus and submenus. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) What is an IVR tree? An interactive voice response (IVR) tree outlines your menu options and designates an extension for employees and departments. You can use a template to draw your call flow manually or use tools provided by VoIP services to edit your menu. How do you set up an IVR? Most business phone systems supply a tool for setting up your IVR, such as a call flow or dial editor, that is typically located with other administrative features. Select the phone number for your IVR menu, choose menu options (like 1 for sales), and connect each menu item to an extension that rings the appropriate staff members. Learn more in our step-by-step guide to setting up an IVR system. How do you make an IVR recording? Record auto-attendant and voicemail greetings by creating a sound file on your computer or mobile device. Alternatively, some providers, like , include free professional recordings with subscriptions. The files are uploaded to your business phone system and IVR software in both cases. Bottom Line Encourage IVR self-service adoption by implementing best practices. Start with a user-friendly menu and human-like voice prompts. Then configure your call routing to ensure calls quickly get to the right agent if your caller abandons the IVR menu. Designing a practical service empowers clients to tackle easy problems independently while giving them access to live support.
February 23, 2022
What Is Call Masking & Its Benefits for Businesses?
Call masking, also known as number masking, is a voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) feature used by businesses to hide the contact information of all individuals involved in a call. Deploying a call masking solution protects both parties' privacy, identity, and personal information, whether through voice call or text message. Keep reading to learn more about call masking’s meaning and how it improves your business communication. How Call Masking Works Call masking works by providing the caller and the recipient a temporary number, called masked phone numbers or proxy phone numbers. It does this using the following process: When an agent or customer initiates a call, the call is placed to a cloud-based application programming interface (API) proxy service. In this stage, the original phone number is replaced by automatically generating a proxy number. The call is routed from the API-based platform. From there, the call gets forwarded to the receiver. The recipient receives a call from a masked phone number. The call will now take place without revealing any contact information. Once the call ends, the proxy number returns to the pool for reassignment. Providers offering a call masking feature assign a temporary number for a specific period. Once the time is over, the numbers are recycled and reassigned to other parties within the platform. The same feature also applies to short messaging services (SMS). Business Benefits of Call Masking There are plenty of ways that small to mid-sized businesses benefit from call masking when making outbound calls. Here are some of the benefits of masking your phone number: Increases Call Responsiveness Customers who deeply care about their privacy typically abandon incoming calls with a suspicious caller ID or unfamiliar prefixes. Call masking allows you to create a local caller ID with a recognizable area code. The customer or prospect sees an incoming call with a local number, which puts them more at ease, and increases the likelihood they will answer. Protects the User’s Privacy As cases of data breaches increase over the years, businesses should take critical steps to protect their private information as well as their customers. Call masking enables both parties to freely interact without exposing sensitive contact information. It also offers the flexibility to make calls from different devices without leaving traces of your contact information. Establishes Customer Loyalty to Improve Sales & Revenue Customers are more comfortable transacting with a business if their number is safe and secure. Call masking is an effective retention strategy, as it helps companies build trust and confidence with customers. This is important for increasing brand loyalty and encouraging repeat purchases. Saves Communication Costs Call masking eliminates the need to set up multiple contact centers or purchase local numbers for all your business locations. Masking your phone number makes it easy to expand geographically at a lower cost and meet the communication requirements of your enterprise branches. Centralizes Business Communication Masking your phone number improves your overall business communications. It ensures all calls are carried out on one platform and routes auto-response voice messages within the preferred time frames. Analyzes Agent-customer Conversations Call masking enables you to track calls and messages, making it easier to record, track, and analyze conversations between agents and customers. It also allows contact centers to evaluate the quality of interactions, gain customer insights, and identify areas for improvement in agent performance. Types of Businesses That Utilize Call Masking Call masking is a technique commonly used in short-term transactions between customers and vendors. Despite the simplicity of this feature, it has deeper implications for service-oriented businesses. Here are the different use cases of call masking across various industries: Businesses With a Global Presence Global teams use call masking when making calls to customers in different countries. Instead of setting up multiple contact centers, call masking will give you a local caller ID your business owns for a specific country. With a local phone number, customers are more likely to answer your calls. Contact Centers With a call masking feature in place, all communications between the agents and clients are monitored and recorded. This allows call centers to evaluate both incoming and outgoing calls and extract insights to enhance the customer experience. It also helps monitor agent performance and call center metrics, such as call abandonment rate and cost per contact. Delivery Services Call masking centralizes all communications between customers and vendors in one application. Masking phone numbers secures the recipient’s privacy to prevent service providers from accessing their contact information after a completed transaction. Also, it reduces the chances of wrong delivery updates and helps businesses monitor the delivery status. Transportation & Ride-sharing Transportation companies and ride-sharing services use call masking to monitor conversations between drivers and riders. All interactions regarding the ride take place through the masked number, ensuring full supervision and privacy of both parties. Finance Companies Collecting payments owed by individuals and businesses isn’t easy, especially if they recognize your number on the caller ID. If debtors keep dodging your phone calls, using a masked number increases your chances of reaching them. Healthcare While healthcare professionals always need to be available to patients, they have to be cautious in revealing their contact information. Call masking helps physicians and patients stay in contact without compromising their security. Online Marketplaces Ecommerce platforms use call masking to guarantee their users that their personal information is safe when making online transactions. Call masking equips both vendors and customers with a temporary phone number during the entire transaction period. It also allows ecommerce platforms to verify all service-related updates and monitor service status. Providers With Call Masking Features Most business phone solutions offer a wide range of features to improve customer interactions. However, not all of them include call masking on its list of call center tools. To find which providers offer call masking functionality, we listed the top three platforms with call masking features. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Is call masking legal? Yes. Call masking is a fully legitimate customer service technique businesses and phone systems use to place outbound calls or messages. According to the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009, call masking is considered illegal if it is done with the intent to defraud or deceive. Who uses call masking? Any business can use call masking to protect their contact information when exchanging calls or messages. This is common for companies with global or remote teams wanting to display a familiar business number instead of an unknown one. Call masking is also useful for service-oriented businesses involved in short-term transactions between vendors and customers, such as ride-sharing apps, delivery services, and online marketplaces. What is the difference between a masked number & a virtual number? A virtual phone is any permanent number used to establish a local presence or reduce costs on making long-distance calls. Meanwhile, masked numbers are short-lived numbers in disguise to protect the contact information of both parties engaging in a conversation. Bottom Line Call masking is a useful VoIP feature for businesses wanting to keep their contact information private when transacting with customers, prospects, or third-party vendors. Whether you need to save communication costs, streamline contact center operations, or improve sales performance, call masking offers an all-in-one solution to make these things happen.
February 23, 2022
IVR Systems: Definition & How They Improve the Customer Experience
Interactive voice response (IVR) is an automated phone menu that interacts with human callers through voice response or telephone keypad. Call centers use IVR to provide callers with quick information and facilitate self-service actions, which saves them from needing to connect to live agents and reduces the risk of aggravation from improper routing. Integrating a computer and telephony technology, an IVR system also enhances call flow metrics and lessens hold times. Keep reading to learn more in-depth about what IVR systems are and how they benefit your customer's calling experience and your business. How IVR System Works IVR systems are a core contact center technology that allows customers to handle routine phone transactions without a human operator. IVR systems do this via the following process: When a customer makes an inbound call to a contact center, the IVR system will respond with an automated greeting followed by a series of guided menus (e.g., “Press 1 for Sales, Press 2 for Billing”). The IVR will facilitate self-service actions based on the caller’s answers through their voice response or telephone keypad. If the IVR system isn’t able to resolve the caller’s query, it will route the call to the right department or agent. If the contact center platform has a skills-based routing feature, the IVR will identify the most qualified operator to handle the caller’s inquiry. If all agents are busy, the IVR system will put the caller in the queue until an agent is ready to take the call. There are three components of how IVR systems help a computer process a caller’s request. This includes touch-tone placement, directed dialogue, and natural language. Touch-tone placement: The most common type of basic IVR system uses dual-tone multi-frequency (DMTF) signaling. This feature prompts the caller to use the phone’s dial pad or touch-tone keypad to provide the requested information. Directed dialogue: This IVR system uses voice recognition technology, in which the caller uses verbal responses instead of pressing a keypad to navigate the menu. Natural language: Modern call center platforms have built-in natural language processing (NLP) software, a type of conversational artificial intelligence (AI) that recognizes commands in full sentences instead of words or phrases. What Is IVR’s Benefit for Customers According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report, phones remain the most preferred channel to interact with a business. In this case, most customers expect businesses to make phone interactions as smooth and efficient as possible. Here are ways why implementing an IVR system to your call center operation benefits your customers: Unlimited service access: IVR systems operate without a live agent and are always available to assist callers any time of the day, even outside business hours. Even if the caller ends up leaving a message, a task still gets accomplished, which improves the customer’s view of your brand in terms of providing efficient service. Saves the caller’s time: One great benefit of IVR systems is allowing callers to skip irrelevant options. Dropped calls are less likely to occur because IVR systems allow a caller to choose to be called back instead of waiting in the phone queue. Enhanced mobile experiences: As more people rely on smartphones to do practically everything, companies need to deliver mobile-optimized customer service. IVR systems are a practical solution for customers who have limited time to talk and prefer to transact on their phones. This provides a seamless customer experience tailored to their needs. Quicker problem resolution: An IVR system has the ability to detect the issues faced by a caller through a set of questions or options. Once it identifies the problem, it will directly connect the caller to the right department to have it solved right away. What Is IVR’s Benefit for Businesses IVR technology benefits small and mid-sized businesses in many ways. It goes beyond providing quicker transactions—it also affects the overall call center operations. Here are the advantages when adopting an IVR system into your contact center workflow: Better customer service: Automatically routing callers to the most qualified agent enhances the customer journey. Customers appreciate it when their call instantly gets answered or directed to the right team. This leads to greater customer satisfaction as they quickly get the answer they need without spending time on hold or transfer. Improved company image and credibility: The IVR system is at the first stage of the customer engagement process because it’s one of the first contacts your customers have with your business. Mapping your IVR system to the customer journey delivers on-brand and personalized experiences, leaving a strong brand image and an engaging process for the callers. Increased agent productivity: IVR systems enable intelligent and efficient call routing, which helps connect callers to the right department. This reduces the time spent collecting the caller’s information or transferring calls from one department to another. Call routing enables agents to prioritize urgent calls and improve performance metrics, such as first-call resolution rates, average answer speed, and handle time. Fewer errors: Large call volumes are a huge mental strain to agents, leading to misrouted calls and long wait times. An IVR system uses automated routing that reduces errors in directing incoming calls. Reduced operational costs: Every second spent by your live agents on the phone is causing your business extra money. IVR systems are cost-effective call center phone system features that help agents spend less time on the voice channel. A visual IVR, in particular, is cheaper to deploy than a traditional IVR because it significantly reduces call volumes, allowing agents to focus on more complex tasks. Delivers a more comprehensive customer view: Most companies utilize IVR systems to learn about their customers. It reveals the caller’s demographics, likes, and interests, which, in turn, are used in post-campaign evaluations to modify brand messaging. IVR Setup Mistakes to Avoid A poorly deployed IVR system has a major impact on business productivity and customer satisfaction. Here are some common mistakes when designing an IVR system for your contact center: Overcomplicated or irrelevant menu options: While you want to include many options in your IVR menu, you don’t want to confuse or overwhelm your callers. The best solution is to provide only the necessary information and arrange the options in easy-to-follow categories. Loud, jarring hold music or repeated sale pitches: Although lengthy wait times are inevitable, you don’t want to make your caller's queue experience worse by playing loud music or aggressive marketing messages. Instead, play a track that identifies with your company brand or anything easy on the ear. Hard-to-reach live agents: While self-service options are enough to solve questions in some cases, they are also unhelpful if the caller’s query is too complex. Allow customers to bypass the IVR system by giving them a clear path to speak to a live agent. No callback option: There are times when your IVR system cannot accommodate all callers and solve every issue. That said, it should provide an option to request a callback once a live agent is available. How IVR & Auto-attendants Differ An auto-attendant is a static message whose primary function is to route calls and play music while a caller is on hold. An IVR provides interactive prompts that feed the caller with information and collects their response into a database. Bottom Line A properly deployed IVR system significantly impacts call center operations and customer service. IVR systems are a cost-saving solution for any business that wants to simplify the entire contact center experience and large enterprises handling large call volumes. Now that you know what IVR is, and why your business needs it, the next step is to find contact center providers that offer IVR system functionality. To do this, check out our buyer’s guide about the best IVR systems. It includes helpful information about different providers’ pricing plans, key features, and the best practices to set up an IVR system.
February 22, 2022
Talkdesk Review: Is It Right for Your Business?
Talkdesk is a cloud-based contact center platform that helps businesses provide optimal customer experiences. It lets users manage client conversations through their preferred channels, such as voice, chat, text, email, and social media. Pricing starts at $75 per user, per month with a three-year contract. Based on our Talkdesk review, we found it provides flexible and advanced omnichannel contact center solution for various industries, such as healthcare, financial services, and retail. Talkdesk Overview What We Recommend Talkdesk For is a contact center as a service (CCaaS) software solution that supports omnichannel engagement—unifying conversations on calls, texts, emails, chats, and digital channels. It also helps supervisors manage teams, regardless of their location, to ensure optimal customer experiences. It is worth considering for remote teams with advanced customer experience management and strict security compliance needs. When to Use Talkdesk Companies looking for a reliable contact center solution: One of the best call center phone systems on our list, Talkdesk, offers up to 100% uptime SLA. Sales teams reaching a large number of customers: Talkdesk offers impressive automated outbound dialers and is among our best predictive dialer providers list. Businesses looking for an industry-specific contact center: Talkdesk has platform versions built for a variety of industries, such as finance and healthcare. Those who want to automate call routing for customer satisfaction: Talkdesk offers automatic call distribution—connecting callers to the most appropriate agent or department. Agents who want to improve connection rates: Match your call recipients’ phone number with Talkdesk’s local presence dialer for familiarity and trust. Businesses that want to ensure quality conversations: Talkdesk made it to our list of the best call monitoring software with its quality management tools, like transcripts, call recordings, and interaction analytics. When Talkdesk Might Not Be a Good Fit Small businesses with tight budgets: Try if you are looking for a low-cost solution for your needs. It has a free version and cheap paid plans that come with an impressive set of features, including omnichannel engagement support and custom reports. Companies with a global presence, handling high call volumes: If you aren’t impressed by Talkdesk’s per-minute charges, try . It offers unlimited calls to up to 48 countries and has a comprehensive set of features and security/standard certifications. Sales teams looking for a more basic platform: If Talkdesk’s price and advanced tools are overkill for your business, try instead. Its prices start at $35 per user, per month and has excellent contact center and sales engagement tools, which are great for sales organizations. Talkdesk Pricing requires users to subscribe for a minimum of three years with monthly fees starting at $75 per user, per month. It does not publish straightforward pricing information, unlike other providers that display fees for a certain number of users and contract length. Other pricing options include per-hour login consumption and concurrent billing. *Prices are based on three-year contracts and are exclusive of per-minute usage rates. Fees are paid in full at the beginning of the billing cycle. Talkdesk unlocks premium features per tier, unlike its competitors, which provide some capabilities across plans with increasing limits, such as more minutes or longer storage. However, all users can experience the flexibility of its platform’s functionalities through their wide range of add-ons. Talkdesk Add-ons Talkdesk offers a variety of add-ons, including more integrations, services, and features. Below is an overview of its offerings: Packages: Extend your plan’s capabilities with feature add-ons, such as workforce management, customer experience analytics, agent assist, and proactive outbound engagement. CX Cloud Elite and Experience Clouds plans let users select one of the four add-on package options as part of their subscription. Integrations: Those with unique needs and environments can also choose from its premium connections with popular third-party software, like Salesforce, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Epic. Products: Talkdesk also offers numerous products for specific needs, such as more engagement channels, PCI-compliant payment, local presence, and a softphone. Services: If you need more Talkdesk support, you can also choose to add premium support, a technical account manager. Other services include custom hosting, managed services, and CX Talent. Talkdesk Features allows businesses to provide optimal customer experiences across channels in a single platform with computer telephony integration (CTI). It is equipped with robust capabilities for process automations to save teams time that they can utilize for more important tasks. Extensive AI-powered tools are available for various purposes, including workforce and quality management, real-time agent assistance, and customer experience analytics. While Talkdesk highlights its industry-specific solutions for financial services and healthcare on its Experience Clouds plan, it is also built for a variety of industries, such as: Communications, media, and entertainment Government and education Information technology and services Manufacturing Retail, ecommerce, and consumer goods Staffing and employment services Transportation and logistics Travel and hospitality Talkdesk Alternatives There are numerous alternatives, but with its focus on improving customer experiences, we opted for competitors that provide contact center platforms. Below are some similar solutions you can check out. Looking to explore more options? Check out our list of the best Talkdesk alternatives to determine which product matches your needs. What Users Think of Talkdesk Most of the recent reviews match our analysis of its platform’s flexibility and ease of use. It works well for small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) looking for a reliable contact center system that helps them manage customer communications through phone and digital channels. Those with tight budgets and average call volumes may look into other low-cost platforms, such as Freshdesk Contact Center. At the time of publication, Talkdesk has earned the following scores on popular user review sites: TrustRadius: 8.7 out of 10 stars based on 469 reviews G2: 4.4 out of 5 stars based on 1,639 reviews Gartner: 4.6 out of 5 stars based on 446 reviews GetApp: 4.5 out of 5 stars based on 674 reviews Software Advice: 4.54 out of 5 stars based on 674 reviews GetVoIP: 4.6 out of 5 stars based on 218 reviews Trustpilot: 4.4 out of 5 stars based on 848 reviews Cuspera: 4.46 out of 5 stars based on 10,205 reviews The majority of users who left high Talkdesk ratings appreciate its user-friendly and easy-to-deploy platform. They also commended its flexibility with its functionalities—offering add-on packages and integrations. There are mixed reviews on its customer service, but most users commend its team’s expertise and responsiveness. Bottom Line is a great choice for small to medium-sized businesses with advanced contact center needs. Its AI-powered platform eliminates repetitive tasks and helps resolve customer issues faster through automation, including real-time agent assistance. Additionally, it also offers quality and workforce management tools to ensure smooth communications with clients and colleagues. Meanwhile, is an excellent Talkdesk competitor, with its similar comprehensive set of features and high 99.999% uptime. While its contact center appears more expensive, its plans include unlimited calls to up to 48 countries, which Talkdesk lacks. Those interested may view its demo and request a quote for more accurate pricing information.