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Top 10 contact center platforms of 2021

Contact centers enable organizations to support customers through various channels, but finding the best-suited platform can be difficult. Explore 10 options in this expert tip.

Vendors design contact center platforms to manage operations for contact centers of all sizes, shapes and industries. These platforms aim to provide optimal CX through cloud-based or on-premises services.

Organizations seek core contact center features, such as skills-based routing, intelligent routing, voice analytics, insights and digital agents. Many contact center platforms also offer omnichannel capabilities to increase and foster customer engagement, as well as enable contact centers to move beyond traditional phone service and human agent support. Omnichannel technology can integrate with other communication platforms and support customers across social media, text or SMS, video, email, voice and voice over IP (VoIP) technology.

Contact center platforms can integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) systems and other key systems that enable workforce management (WFM) and quality optimization.

Explore this roundup of 10 contact center vendors and their platforms. This list is not ranked.

1. RingCentral

RingCentral Contact Center comes in three different pricing plans. Each plan has different supported features, including omnichannel support for inbound and outbound voice, SMS, social media, live chat and email. The platform also includes intelligent routing -- including skills-based and omnichannel routing. Some plans include automation, predictive and progressive dialing, WFM and optimization, as well as supervisor and agent tools and analytics. RingCentral's platform can also integrate into pre-built CRM and external CRM systems.

Other features include the following:

  • inbound, outbound, real-time and historical reporting;
  • standard and advanced interactive voice response (IVR);
  • standard and advanced automatic call distributors (ACD);
  • real-time dashboards;
  • third-party integrations;
  • open platform with API and software development kit; and
  • speech recognition.

Pros: Integration for RingCentral's contact center platform takes less time than traditional systems. This can decrease implementation time. It also offers an uptime of 99.9%.

Cons: RingCentral's platform has technical glitches and issues, which can result in more dropped calls reported. It also struggles with buggy software and an interface that needs improvement. Additionally, the pricing plan costs aren't readily available on the vendor's website.

2. 8x8

The 8x8 Contact Center is cloud-based. It offers omnichannel services and customer analytics, including advanced speech, engagement and interaction analytics. Also, each agent license can integrate with CRM applications and open APIs to connect to third-party systems. Key features include integrated voice, web chat, email and social media, skill-based routing, and queued and web callback. 8x8's contact center platform offers pricing plans in three tiers, which start at $87 per agent monthly with an annual subscription plan or $113 per agent when billed monthly.

Other features include the following:

  • simplified access to subject matter experts;
  • interoperable team messaging;
  • post-call surveys;
  • cobrowsing;
  • graphical call flow design so agents can view a customer's contact duration and timeline;
  • real-time supervisor feedback;
  • predictive dialer; and
  • collaborative performance management.

Pros: 8x8 offers reliable uptime and many CRM integration options.

Cons: 8x8's service struggles with customer support contact and has limited queue options. Also, its pricing options may be costly for small businesses.

3. Genesys

Genesys Cloud CX is an omnichannel platform. CX leaders can manage interactions and metrics -- including supervisory actions, like real-time performance management -- in real time to address issues quickly.

Other features include the following:

  • WFM;
  • ACD;
  • speech analytics;
  • IVR with speech-enabled options;
  • outbound campaign capabilities, including outbound dialing;
  • call recordings and quality evaluations;
  • unified communications and collaboration capabilities;
  • Genesys Cloud CX for Salesforce and other CRM tools;
  • security and compliance; and
  • reporting and analytics.

Pros: Organizations can deploy and scale Genesys Cloud CX easily. It offers simple interfaces for non-technical users.

Cons: Genesys' contact center platform has several pricing plan options. Plans start at $75 per agent monthly, which may be costly for smaller businesses. The platform also has a longer learning curve for users and administrators than other platforms.

4. Five9

The Five9 Intelligent Cloud Contact Center platform supports inbound, outbound, blended and omnichannel contact centers. Five9's platform includes its practical AI feature, which can integrate inbound and outbound communication functions, including predictive dialing. It also offers call forwarding, recording, routing and analytics features. With this platform, organizations can also create business rules to meet changing business needs.

Five9 offers several pricing plans, although the options aren't readily available on its website.

Other features include the following:

  • agent dashboard;
  • click-to-call technology;
  • IVR with visual options;
  • API integrations;
  • call scripts and transcriptions;
  • CRM software integration;
  • natural language processing (NLP) and speech recognition for IVR;
  • quality management;
  • live and historical reporting;
  • customer interaction analytics;
  • predictive analytics features; and
  • AI assistance for live agents.

Pros: Five9 has outbound call dialer capabilities, among other call features and software. It also charges no maintenance fees and offers customizable pricing.

Cons: Five9's contact center user interface and systems are more complicated than its competitors. The platform also crashes when too many applications run simultaneously and has higher rates of dropped calls than other tools.

5. Talkdesk

Talkdesk CX Cloud includes integration support, integration for new contact information and automatic missed call notifications. It includes various call conferencing, tracking, monitoring, recording, reporting, tagging and scheduling capabilities. Call features also include outbound and predictive dialer capabilities. Talkdesk has tiered pricing plans, which start at $65 per agent monthly.

Other features include the following:

  • real-time activity dashboard for contact and customer management and tracking, including the customer database;
  • answering machine detection;
  • ACD;
  • CRM tool integration;
  • compliance management, including for HIPAA;
  • customizable fields and reports;
  • helpdesk management, including ticket management and tracking;
  • hot keys;
  • IVR;
  • process and workflow automation;
  • statistics and analytics for reporting; and
  • VoIP technology.

Pros: Talkdesk's contact center platform offers ease of use, integration support and reliability.

Cons: Talkdesk struggles with survey customization and reporting. Additionally, customers want more integrations and applications than are currently available.

6. Avaya

Avaya's OneCloud CCaaS -- contact center as a service -- platform is newer to the contact center space. The platform builds off Avaya's original on-premises platform, although organizations can use Avaya OneCloud CCaaS for cloud, hybrid or on-premises contact centers. Channels available include voice, email, webchat and text.

Other features include the following:

  • intelligent routing;
  • AI-enabled self-service automation and interactions;
  • call and desktop screen recording, as well as call transcriptions; and
  • employee engagement tools.

Pros: Avaya OneCloud CCaaS includes Avaya's Conversational Intelligence -- an AI-enabled feature that can transcribe calls in real time, identify questions from customers and give agents the answers. The platform loads the transcription into Salesforce rather than having the agents add the transcript.

Cons: Avaya's contact center platform requires organizations to provide their own WFM tools. Its pricing plans start at $82 per agent monthly for voice only and $111 per agent monthly for omnichannel support. These may run up costs for smaller businesses.

7. Dialpad

Dialpad Contact Center is cloud-based. It offers ease of use, open APIs for application integrations and various call features, including conferencing, management, recording, transfer and automated routing capabilities. Its pricing plans start at $125 per user monthly.

Other features include the following:

  • AI and machine learning;
  • ACD;
  • CRM;
  • communication and contact management;
  • employee directory management, as well as performance management;
  • hot keys;
  • IVR and NLP;
  • multiuser collaboration;
  • self-service portal;
  • single sign-on capabilities; and
  • VoIP capabilities.

Pros: Dialpad Contact Center is best for small to medium contact centers and office environments that need a phone system. 

Cons: Dialpad's service lacks necessary contact center analytics, as well as real-time and historical reporting.

8. Nice inContact

Nice inContact's CXone is a CCaaS platform. It offers workforce intelligence, which enables organizations to capture data through AI for workforce optimization (WFO), planning, staffing and scheduling. Its pricing plans aren't readily available on the vendor's website.

Other features include the following:

  • Optimized Voice as a Service;
  • interaction channels and analytics;
  • ACD;
  • real-time reporting and dashboards;
  • customer satisfaction surveys;
  • WFM;
  • quality management and analytics;
  • performance management;
  • call recording capabilities;
  • IVR; and
  • predictive dialer.

Pros: Nice inContact's CXone has a reported 99.99% uptime. This is currently the highest reported uptime in the industry.

Cons: CXone has Salesforce-ready integration, so organizations that don't use Salesforce may struggle with integration. Also, the platform doesn't have chatbots built into it, so an organization must work with a partner to add chatbots if it needs them.

9. Twilio

Twilio Flex is cloud-based with omnichannel capabilities that support voice, chat, text, email and social media. It also offers Flex Insights, which provides call summaries, so agents don't have to replay an entire call to understand a conversation. Flex Insights also offers its Analytics Portal for custom dashboards, reporting and analytics capabilities.

Other features include the following:

  • answering machine detection;
  • call waiting, recording and reporting capabilities;
  • queued callbacks;
  • outbound dialing;
  • internal chat;
  • call routing;
  • WFO;
  • historical reporting; and
  • keyword spotting and live transcriptions.

Pros: Twilio Flex has a quick implementation time. It offers all services under one platform and integration partners.

Cons: Twilio Flex is highly priced, with plans starting at $1 per user hourly or $150 per user monthly. Its customization capabilities can create issues, such as bugs and integration challenges.

10. Zendesk

Zendesk Talk is a contact center platform integrated with the Zendesk Support ticketing system, which can integrate with Salesforce, SugarCRM and other third-party applications. Key features of Zendesk's platform include omnichannel support, knowledge management and support for internal service desks. That support enables businesses to use one tool for both internal and contact center support. It also offers Answer Bot, a Zendesk-specific AI chatbot that interacts with customers.

Pricing plans start at $49 per agent monthly in annual subscription plans. Zendesk's enterprise plans start at $150 per agent monthly in annual subscription plans.

Other features include the following:

  • community forums;
  • custom business rules, including triggers and automations, and custom roles and permissions based on business requirements;
  • cascading style sheets;
  • support for multiple time zones and languages;
  • performance dashboards;
  • reporting and analytics;
  • single sign-on;
  • screencasting; and
  • Web Widget for customer support.

Pros: Zendesk Talk integrates with Zendesk CRM and the Zendesk Suite, which can integrate with CRM technology.

Cons: Zendesk Talk lacks built-in reporting and other integrations that an organization must add. Thus, this platform increases costs and resources to deploy.

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