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Cloud contact center

Cloud contact center software enables you to rapidly scale customer service operations up or down according to demand. Try it today.

A guide to the best cloud contact center

Última atualização em February 23, 2024

Customer satisfaction begins with providing effortless customer interactions. But one obstacle often gets in the way: detangling your web of communication channels. When your calls, chats, and social media conversations exist in disconnected systems, you’re fighting an uphill battle to streamline the customer experience (CX).

Cloud contact center software acts like your company’s skeleton key, consolidating communication into a single system so your team can stay organized and focused on what matters most—the customer. Position your business as an industry leader in customer experience by embracing the best cloud contact center solution. Our guide has all the details you need to choose the right one for your business.

More in this guide:

What is a cloud contact center?

A cloud contact center is a virtual solution that manages customer and employee interactions across various channels. In addition to tackling inbound and outbound calls, contact center agents handle communications through email, chat, messaging, and social media.

The right cloud contact center software unifies customer conversations and context across channels and systems, allowing your team to deliver the highest levels of customer service while ensuring agents have all the tools they need.

What is the difference between a cloud contact center and a cloud call center?

On the surface, a cloud call center and a cloud contact center might appear the same thing. Many people even use the terms interchangeably. The truth is, there are subtle yet significant differences that set them apart:

  • Call centers primarily manage phone calls. Generally, call centers come in two forms:

    • Inbound call centers help queue calls before routing them to live agents.

    • Outbound call centers enable agents to contact customers using software with productivity tools and integrations that boost efficiency.

  • Cloud contact centers can do everything call centers can and offer support over many other digital communication channels, including email, live chat, messaging apps, and self-service.

Note: Your cloud contact center can—and should—evolve as new communication methods hit the market and your customer’s preferred communication channels change. A cloud contact center can provide support options beyond the phone to satisfy your customers and simplify your teams’ jobs.

How does a cloud contact center work?

A cloud contact center uses cloud computing infrastructure to manage customer interactions across multiple communication channels. Organizations subscribe to a cloud-based service that hosts the necessary contact center functionality. Customer interactions, whether through phone calls, emails, chats, or social media, are handled and routed through the cloud platform.

Cloud contact center software allows for greater scalability because you can easily adjust resources to accommodate fluctuating needs, like adding more channels or employees. Agents can access the contact center tools remotely, ensuring flexibility and accessibility. Automatic updates and maintenance from the software provider contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness of the cloud contact center, making it a modern and adaptable solution for customer service needs.

Benefits of a cloud-based contact center solution vs. on-premise contact centers

Cloud-based and on-premise contact centers differ in several core criteria, each with advantages and considerations. Here's a quick comparison:

CriteriaCloud-based contact centerOn-premise contact center
InfrastructureThis type relies on cloud computing infrastructure provided by third-party vendors. No physical servers or equipment are maintained on site.Organizations must invest in and maintain their physical infrastructure, including servers, networking, and other hardware.
ScalabilityOrganizations can easily scale resources up or down based on demand.Scalability is limited to the organization's existing infrastructure, making it less flexible in adapting to sudden changes in volume.
Cost structureIt typically follows a pay-as-you-go or subscription model, with costs based on actual usage. It avoids large upfront capital expenditures.This type involves significant upfront costs for hardware, software licenses, and ongoing maintenance.
MaintenanceVendors are responsible for handling maintenance, updates, and security. This reduces the burden on organizations.Organizations are responsible for maintaining and updating their systems.
AccessibilityIt offers remote accessibility, allowing agents to work from different locations. It also provides greater flexibility in managing a distributed workforce.Agents typically need on-site access to the contact center infrastructure, limiting flexibility in remote work scenarios.
IntegrationThis type integrates easily with other cloud services and APIs, providing a seamless connection to external tools and applications.Integrating tools with on-premise contact centers may require more effort and resources, and compatibility with other systems may vary.
SecurityCloud providers implement robust security measures, storing data in secure data centers. Security compliance is a shared responsibility between the organization and the vendor.Organizations have more direct control over their security measures but bear full responsibility for implementing and maintaining them.

Features of a cloud contact center

To handle high volumes of customer interactions, you’ll need a cloud contact center that helps your agents stay organized and efficiently handle issues while creating a great customer experience. Here are some key features that can help your team thrive.

Key cloud contact center features include omnichannel support, advanced routing and IVR, unified customer profiles, real-time monitoring and historical reporting, workforce optimization, apps and integrations, and security.

Omnichannel support

Traditional communication tools exist in a disconnected workspace, with channels siloed in individual systems or windows. Cloud contact center software enables omnichannel experiences by integrating your communication channels into a unified platform.

Agents can view and respond to customer inquiries across phone calls, emails, chats, and social media interactions from a single dashboard, providing a holistic and real-time view of customer interactions. Agents can easily switch between channels, access customer history, and maintain context, fostering more cohesive and personalized engagement throughout the customer journey.

Advanced routing and IVR

Cloud contact center software enhances customer interaction management through advanced routing and interactive voice response (IVR) features. With sophisticated routing capabilities, incoming interactions are intelligently directed to the most suitable agent based on predetermined criteria such as skills, availability, and customer interaction history.

Additionally, cloud contact centers leverage IVR systems that allow customers to interact with automated voice menus to route their inquiries or complete self-service tasks. You can customize these IVR systems to guide callers through options, gather information, and route them to the appropriate department or agent.

Unified customer profiles

Cloud contact center software excels in creating unified customer profiles by connecting data from different channels and key business systems. Unlike traditional setups where data gets siloed across different systems, a cloud-based solution gathers information from multiple sources such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, billing tools, and more. This holistic view of interaction history can lead to greater customer satisfaction.

Real-time monitoring and historical reporting

Cloud contact center software can offer real-time monitoring and historical reporting, which gives organizations valuable insights into their contact center operations. A cloud contact center with built-in call monitoring software lets managers oversee ongoing interactions, track agent performance, and identify potential issues using live dashboards, allowing them to make immediate adjustments to optimize efficiency and customer service.

On the other hand, historical reporting features enable in-depth analysis of past performance trends and customer interactions. By collecting data over time, organizations can identify patterns, measure the effectiveness of strategies, and make data-driven decisions to enhance overall contact center performance.

Workforce optimization tools

Look for a cloud contact center solution with workforce optimization tools designed to enhance agent productivity, performance, and overall operational efficiency. Call center workforce management features, like the Tymeshift tool from Zendesk, can assist in forecasting and scheduling, ensuring the appropriate number of agents with the right skills are ready to handle anticipated call volumes.

Quality monitoring tools can also enable supervisors to assess agent interactions, providing valuable feedback for improvement. With a solution like Zendesk, businesses can use the Klaus tool to automate quality assurance tasks, like performance and conversation analysis, to identify areas for optimization. Additionally, coaching features allow managers to provide targeted training and support to agents while agents interact with customers.

Apps and integrations

The digital nature of cloud contact centers makes it easy to extend their capabilities by integrating them with external systems and tools. Some solutions are ready-made with pre-built integrations to supercharge your current system and enhance customer and agent experiences.

Businesses commonly choose to integrate their contact centers with:

It’s also important to look for a solution that offers a robust selection of integrations, too. The Zendesk Marketplace, for instance, provides access to over 1,500 pre-built apps and integrations that businesses can use to extend the functionality of their contact center.

Security

Cloud contact center software delivers comprehensive customer data privacy and security measures to safeguard sensitive information and maintain the integrity of communication channels. Cloud providers implement robust security protocols, including data encryption, secure access controls, and regular security audits to ensure compliance with industry standards. Multi-factor authentication can add an extra layer of protection, preventing unauthorized access.

Additionally, cloud contact center solutions often include features like real-time monitoring for suspicious activity and automatic security updates to address potential vulnerabilities promptly. It stores information in secure data centers with redundancy and disaster recovery measures to ensure business continuity.

The 6 best cloud contact center software

Our list of the top six cloud contact center solutions provides an overview of key features and pricing to help you better understand your options.

1. Zendesk

A screenshot displays the user interface of the Zendesk cloud contact center software.

Zendesk offers an agile cloud contact center solution that helps you provide a great customer experience while setting your teams up for success and keeping your business in sync. Our Zendesk Agent Workspace enables you to track, manage, and respond to customer inquiries over the phone alongside all your other channels. Agents receive a unified view of the customer, with easily accessible profiles that add context to each customer’s history with the company.

Zendesk also delivers a fast time to value: Most teams are operational in three days or less, and you can integrate the software with your current systems with code and no-code functionality. Armed with ready-to-use tools, like pre-trained AI chatbots, your team can hit the ground running so you can start seeing your return on investment (ROI) faster. On average, teams experience a 20 percent drop in operating costs and a 27 percent increase in productivity with Zendesk.

We continually invest in our cloud contact center to empower your teams and agents to deliver exceptional CX. Cutting-edge advancements include voice AI that enables call transcription and summaries, intelligent triage that detects customer sentiment and intent, and seamless handoffs between chatbots and live agents to provide the rich, personalized conversations customers expect. With access to advanced analytics, your team can also discover actionable insights to optimize the customer journey.

Features:

  • Omnichannel communication

  • Advanced routing and IVR

  • Unified customer profiles

  • Real-time monitoring and historical reporting

  • Workforce optimization

  • Apps and integrations

  • Security

  • AI-powered chatbots

  • Advanced reporting and analytics

  • Call recording

  • Agent workspace

  • Outbound dialer

  • Call button for website

  • Voicemail transcription

Pricing:

  • Suite Team: $55 per agent/month

  • Suite Growth: $89 per agent/month

  • Suite Professional: $115 per agent/month

  • Suite Enterprise: Talk to sales

    *Plans are billed annually.

Explore more Zendesk pricing plans.

Free trial:

14 days

Take 30 seconds to start a free Zendesk trial or request a Zendesk demo.

2. RingCentral Contact Center

A screenshot displays the user interface of RingCentral’s cloud contact center software.
Image source

Businesses can use the RingCentral Contact Center to corral over 30 communication channels in one place. Its skills-based routing feature helps direct incoming calls to the most qualified agents based on their skills, expertise, and availability. When customers can’t immediately connect with an agent, they can request a callback without losing their spot in the queue.

Additionally, the contact center includes pre-built reports, letting teams track resolution rates and queue times, among other metrics. Users can customize reports to track what matters most to the company and schedule the software to pull data at regular intervals.

Features:

  • Omnichannel communication

  • Advanced routing and IVR

  • Unified customer profiles

  • Real-time monitoring and historical reporting

  • Workforce optimization

  • Apps and integrations

  • Security

  • Automatic callback

Pricing:

  • Contact RingCentral

Free trial:

Unavailable

Learn about the RingCentral integration for Zendesk.

3. Nextiva

A screenshot displays the reporting dashboard of Nextiva’s cloud contact center software.
Image source

Nextiva's cloud contact center solutions provide omnichannel communication tools. The speech-enabled IVR uses voice recognition technology that allows callers to interact with the system using spoken language to route calls more accurately than with a number system.

Companies also have the option to add a call button to their website so visitors can contact support without switching to a new device or application. On the agent side, the outbound dialer automates the outbound calling process so teams can contact customers and leads without repetitively punching numbers.

Features:

  • Omnichannel communication

  • Advanced routing and IVR

  • Real-time monitoring and historical reporting

  • Workforce optimization

  • Apps and integrations

  • Security

  • Call button for website

  • Outbound dialer

Pricing:

  • Essential: $18.95 per user/month

  • Professional: $22.95 per user/month

  • Enterprise: $32.95 per user/month

    *Plans are billed annually and based on pricing for 20–99 users.

Free trial:

Unavailable

4. CloudTalk

A screenshot displays the user interface of CloudTalk’s cloud contact center software.
Image source

CloudTalk is a cloud-based contact center solution that offers tools for inbound and outbound communication. Teams can use it to forecast call volumes and align staff schedules to match anticipated customer needs.

CloudTalk also offers a call recording feature, which can automatically record and store customer interactions for review, training, and auditing purposes. Additionally, the software offers a call transcription capability that can instantly transcribe conversations.

Features:

  • Omnichannel communication

  • Advanced routing and IVR

  • Unified customer profiles

  • Real-time monitoring and historical reporting

  • Workforce optimization

  • Apps and integrations

  • Security

  • Call recording

Pricing:

  • Starter: $25 per user/month

  • Essential: $30 per user/month

  • Expert: $50 per user/month

  • Custom: Contact CloudTalk

    *Plans are billed annually.

Free trial:

14 days

Learn about the CloudTalk integration for Zendesk.

5. Talkdesk

A screenshot displays a customer profile in Talkdesk’s cloud contact center software.
Image source

Talkdesk provides a cloud-based contact center to manage customer interactions and agent performance. Managers can use interactive data visualization tools to measure agent conduct against established benchmarks, providing insights into key performance metrics, team productivity, and customer satisfaction.

The solution’s knowledge base lets customers locate answers to common questions and features a 24/7 virtual agent to field customer questions. The virtual agent is powered by AI and can also handle routine tasks.

Features:

  • Omnichannel communication

  • Advanced routing and IVR

  • Unified customer profiles

  • Real-time monitoring and historical reporting

  • Workforce optimization

  • Apps and integrations

  • Security

  • Virtual agent

Pricing:

  • CX Cloud Essentials: $75 per user/month

  • CX Cloud Elevate: $95 per user/month

  • CX Cloud Elite: $125 per user/month

  • Experience Clouds: Contact Talkdesk

Free trial:

Unavailable

Learn about the Talkdesk integration for Zendesk.

6. 8x8

A screenshot displays the dashboard features of 8x8’s cloud contact center software.
Image source

8×8 offers a cloud-based contact center solution enabling omnichannel customer communication. Real-time monitoring allows supervisors and managers to oversee ongoing interactions and agent performance. This functionality provides live dashboards displaying metrics such as call volume, wait times, and agent availability.

The software also lets businesses customize post-call surveys to collect insights on the quality of interactions, agent performance, and overall customer satisfaction. 8x8 also includes voicemail transcription, converting voicemail messages into text for review and analysis.

Features:

  • Omnichannel communication

  • Advanced routing and IVR

  • Real-time monitoring and historical reporting

  • Apps and integrations

  • Security

  • Post-call surveys

  • Voicemail transcription

Pricing:

  • Contact 8x8

Free trial:

Unavailable

Learn about the 8x8 integration for Zendesk.

How to choose the right cloud contact center

The right cloud contact center solution will align with your business's specific needs and goals. Follow these steps to make an informed decision.

Alt text: Choose a cloud contact center that offers a free trial, creates great agent experiences, and has a low total cost of ownership.

Try before you buy

Trying a cloud contact center software before making a purchase is crucial as it allows you to assess the system's compatibility with your specific needs and operational requirements. With the Zendesk free trial, for example, you can explore the software's features, user interface, and functionality in a real-world context for up to 14 days, gaining hands-on experience with its capabilities.

A trial period enables you to evaluate how well the software aligns with your workflow, integrates with existing systems, and meets the unique demands of your customer service operations. It also provides an opportunity to identify potential challenges or limitations before committing to a long-term contract.

Look for tools that create great agent experiences

When you make things easier for your employees, your business will experience better results. Judge the software based on the range of tools it provides and how easy it is for your agents to use. In addition to the key features laid out in this guide, look out for:

Evaluate the total cost of ownership

Beyond the initial licensing costs, factor in additional expenses such as implementation, customization, training, ongoing support, and potential scalability costs. Assessing the total cost of ownership (TCO) involves considering the software's long-term operational and maintenance expenses.

Cloud solutions often provide cost savings by eliminating on-premise hardware and reducing IT infrastructure management, but you should carefully analyze subscription models, potential overage charges, and hidden costs. For instance, Zendesk users can easily set up and customize their cloud contact center tools without hiring an army of developers, contributing to the software’s low TCO.

Frequently asked questions

Try the best cloud contact center software today

Zendesk cloud contact center software allows you to ditch disjointed communication systems by integrating all the tools you need into a unified workspace. Agents work more efficiently with access to advanced features like AI, rich customer profiles, real-time analytics, and integrations with other business systems. See what Zendesk can do for you by starting a free trial today.

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