Whether you’re setting up a call center for the first time, upgrading from a standard phone system, or unhappy with your current provider, Nextiva is our favorite call center solution.
Are there other options out there? Absolutely.
However, most call center solutions are similar to one another, with the main differences being customer service, ease of use, and scalability–all areas in which Nextiva excels. It’s also one of the few that expertly balances functionality, easy setup, usability, and cost. Learn more about it or keep reading to see why we love it, what our other top picks are, and how they compare.
The Best Call Center Solutions: Our Top Picks
- Best for most: Nextiva
- Decent alternatives: Aircall and RingCentral
- Budget-friendly picks: LiveAgent, Channels, and CallHippo
Our Call Center Review Process
We started with 15 call center solutions—we looked at real user reviews to understand how people use them and reviewed each one against our core evaluation criteria.
That’s how we narrowed it down to the top six.
However, we know the term “call center” is fairly broad. So we dug a bit deeper, looking at specific use cases and how the remaining brands fit those needs.
While we evaluated dozens of different features, we looked closer at elements that matter the most to call centers, including call routing, dialers, collaboration tools, price structure, ease of use, implementation, and customer service. Agent coaching and training features were also an important part of our review process.
Nextiva: The Best Call Center Software for Most Businesses
The best part about using Nextiva is that you don’t have to stretch for an expensive call center plan to get your call center going. The cheapest plans includes unlimited voice and video calling, as well as an auto attendant for caller self-routing and the ability to use toll-free and local virtual numbers.
You’re also getting team chat, internet fax, and so much more.
It’s a true VoIP system, so your call center reps can be remote, distributed, in-house, or any combination of these.
If you need a bit more, you can upgrade to Nextiva’s call center solution to take things to the next level.
Either way, you get all the features you need at a predictable and reasonable price—all based on a powerful cloud-based VoIP system so you don’t have to worry about additional infrastructure.
That cheapest plan starts at $17.95 per user per month if you have more than 100 users.
If you want your call center reps to be able to access your company CRM, get call pop, and more, you can take one step up to the Professional plan, which starts at $21.95 per user per month.
Either way, it’s a steal compared to $50+ per user per month with most call center solutions.
These options should be more than enough for smaller businesses or anyone just getting started with a call center. But there’s plenty of room to grow.
Nextiva’s call center plan is based on a custom quote. Upgrading unlocks unlimited call queues, advanced call routing, AI-powered IVR, coaching, and powerful analytics.
It’s inexpensive enough to work for simple call center needs—but adaptable enough to flex to the demands of high-volume call centers.
Check out our full Nextiva review to learn more about it’s VoIP and call center features.
RingCentral: More Advanced, But Also More Expensive
As a global leader in business communications, RingCentral has one of the most powerful call center solutions on the market.
It’s focused on larger, higher-volume centers and offers custom packages based on what you need.
Compared side-by-side with Nextiva, you really can’t go wrong with either option. But Nextiva has the edge because it strikes a better balance between implementation, functionality, and price.
RingCentral has more advanced options, but it’s more expensive and much harder to deploy.
For most businesses, RingCentral’s advanced features aren’t worth the extra headaches or price tag. With that said, RingCentral delivers all the features you need for inbound and outbound agents, even at incredibly high volumes.
If you get incoming support inquiries from various channels, you can also use RingCentral’s call center software to centralize interactions into one dashboard.
Once you set it up, it can automatically route incoming calls to the right agent with the help of the software’s AI and machine learning capabilities. As a result, customers and leads save time, and your team does as well—there’s no switching a caller from one rep to the next until you finally get them to the right person.
Your team can also leverage predictive, proactive, and progressive dialers to save time and reduce errors while reaching more prospects.
Regardless of the plan and features you choose, you get internal collaboration functionality, including team messaging, faxing, video conferencing, and more. Keeping all of your agents on the same page is easier than ever, whether they work in the same office or remotely.
See our RingCentral review to learn more about it.
Aircall: Cheaper for Small Teams, Pricey at Scale
For small contact centers, Aircall has really attractive pricing. Plans start at just $30 per user per month, which comes with everything you need to get started.
There is a three-user minimum, so if you’re starting with just one or two people, Nextiva is the better choice (since there are no minimum requirements).
With Aircall’s entry-level plan, you actually get some features that don’t come with Nextiva’s base package. Aircall supports more integrations at this tier, plus IVR and smart flows.
But Aircall is missing some basic features, like internet fax (unlimited with Nextiva) and team chat (which comes with all Nextiva plans).
It’s plans are great if you’re starting out, but easy to outgrow. Small teams may need to upgrade to a higher plan tier faster than they realize. The next tier starts at $50 per user per month, which is on par with more scalable call center solutions.
Even at the highest Aircall level, you’d still have to pay an extra $9 per license for AI features and $15 per license for better analytics.
Before you know it, your $30 plan just turned into $60—and you’d still need separate communication tools for things like online faxing and team collaboration.
Aircall works just fine if the entry-level package has everything you need today, and you know you’ll never outgrow it. But Nextiva is a much better value overall, and easier to scale without breaking the bank.
Affordable and Lightweight Call Center Solutions
If you have a tight budget or just need a bare-bones call center solution, LiveAgent, Channels, and CallHippo all offer cheap entry-level plans for teams just getting started.
We still recommend Nextiva (if it’s in your budget), but these are solid alternatives if you can’t.
LiveAgent–Affordable Help Desk Software
LiveAgent starts at just $9 per agent per month–that’s 1/5th the price of most of the options above. There’s even a free forever plan with limited features.
But this low price comes at a tradeoff. You’re not really getting a call center or any VoIP phone features. Instead, it gives you the option to provide customer support through live chat, contact forms, and ticketing.
Call center features aren’t unlocked until you reach the Medium Business plan, which starts at $29 per month billed annually. This gets you call queueing, IVR, call routing, call recording, and reporting tools.
It’s still cheaper than other options, though. Plus, you get all the customer service tools too.
However, it’s lacking internal collaboration tools and other communication functions that you can get elsewhere for the same price.
Simply put, LiveAgent is a different type of software, built specifically for customer service with lightweight call center features built in. The others above are robust call center platforms first and foremost.
Neither is right or wrong–it depends on what you need.
Channels–Allows Visitors to Call from Your Website
Channels adds a call button directly to your site—allowing your customers to make calls with a single click. If they make a call using that button, your agents can instantly see relevant information about them so they’re equipped to help right away.
This works really well for ecommerce websites. Reps can see how callers have interacted with your pages and products, making it easier to provide support for new or previous orders.
It’s super easy to use and just as easy to set up on your website.
Plus, it’s really affordable. Channels start at just $24 per month which includes three users—meaning you’re really paying just $8 per user.
The problem with Channels is that it’s limited and more niche-specific than something like Nextiva. Channels also limits you to just 5,000 web calls on its entry-level plan, whereas Nextiva gives you unlimited calling on every plan.
You’ll also miss out on internal collaboration features like internal calling, team chat, faxing, video conferencing, and SMS.
If you’re not an ecommerce site with low call volume, it’s best to look elsewhere.
CallHippo–Best Free Forever Plan (Only Pay for Your Number)
CallHippo is one of the few (if only) providers that offers a free forever call center solution that actually supports calling features (unlike LiveAgent’s free plan).
All you have to pay for is your phone number–you can even add unlimited users, which is huge.
This gets you basic features like click-to-dial, voicemail, call muting, smart switching, and device forwarding. Pretty solid for something that’s free.
CallHippo also supports texting, but you’ll pay based on usage.
Paid plans start at $16 per user per month and go all the way up to $40. On higher tiers, you’ll unlock features like campaign management, skills-based routing, call recording, call queues, IVR, power dialing, predictive dialer, and more.
But if you’re willing to pay that price, you’re much better off going with a more comprehensive solution like Nextiva. You’ll get all of these call center features, plus other business communication tools like live chat, video conferencing, and faxing, better analytics, and a more scalable system.
It’s a great place to start to for free, but may not meet your needs long-term.
What Matters When Reviewing Call Center Software
There’s a lot to consider when evaluating call center software—from feature sets and implementation to automation capabilities, agent performance monitoring tools, and integration with the tools you’re already using.
When putting this guide together, we looked at all of those things and more. The following are the most critical considerations that impacted our choices the most.
Outbound vs. Inbound Calls
The types of calls you’re dealing with affect the features you need. Some businesses may only handle one type or the other, but some of you may regularly deal with both.
Outbound calls for sales, marketing, or outreach will be best served with features like predictive dialing, automatic dialing, and click-to-call. With these features, your team can reach more people and close more deals, generate more leads, or develop better relationships in less time.
For inbound customer support or sales, you’ll need a call center solution that helps to automate your processes, improve response times, and route calls.
At minimum, we recommend an auto attendant so callers can use their dialpad to route themselves to the right department. Even better, most let you set up an IVR (interactive voice response) that allows callers to speak their commands instead of pressing buttons.
Integrating your call center software with your CRM platform massively extends the capabilities of both tools. The best integrations let your team make and receive phone calls directly from your CRM rather than switching between various tools countless times a day.
With that said, not all call center tools integrate with CRM software at the same level. Some may automatically transfer data from one to the other–and that’s it.
Most call center solutions only integrate with specific CRMs. So, it’s crucial to choose software that plays well with your CRM, but you also need to understand how they work together before making your final decision.
Implementation and Onboarding
Robust training materials and onboarding assistance are critical while you’re getting everything up and running. You should carefully look through the provider’s website to see what types of training they offer and if it’s included with your subscription.
We recommend requesting a demo and asking questions about implementation to gauge their responsiveness before you invest.
You should also consider the onboarding steps for new hires whenever you expand your team.
After your initial implementation, what level of support will you get? What happens when you can’t figure something out or the system goes down? Furthermore, will you get guidance for new features or more advanced capabilities as you need them?
As your business grows and you add more agents, you’ll need training materials and ongoing support to ensure you continue getting the most out of your software.
Some providers even offer a dedicated account manager to assist you whenever you need help with anything. But this typically won’t be available on every plan.
Pricing Structure: Number of Users and Call Volume
There are two major pricing structures available—per-minute or per-user. The right one for your team depends on the number of calls you deal with every day.
For lower-volume call centers, per-minute pricing is the more economical choice.
For higher volumes, per-user pricing with unlimited minutes included makes more sense. If you’re not sure which option to go with, we recommend estimating your monthly costs. Alternatively, you can speak with a sales representative for a more accurate quote.
Do You Actually Need Call Center Software?
Most startups and small businesses can get away with a standard VoIP phone system at the beginning. These tools are powerful enough to support a high volume of both inbound and outbound calls for a wide range of use cases.
It’s actually fairly easy to set up a virtual call center without having to spend a fortune on expensive software. Then you can always upgrade to a more advanced plans when you need to.
Comprehensive call center software is a smart choice if you have a fully-staffed team of agents already, get or make countless phone calls throughout the day, struggle to keep up with demand, or your current system no longer works for you.
Either way, Nextiva offers everything you need to get started–whether you start with its standard VoIP plans or call center solution, you’ll appreciate its reliability, service, and quality.