For small businesses, answering the phones while trying to keep day-to-day operations running can be burdensome. However, ignoring incoming phone calls is simply not an option. Poor customer service is a major way to lose business, so what can you possibly do to keep the ringing phones from disrupting your work?
Call centers offer outsourced phone management solutions that take the burden of answering the phones and managing customer service off your shoulder. From simple answering services and message taking to comprehensive customer service, call centers have offers that suit the needs of any business. Want to outsource your entire customer service department? That’s possible. Or you can simply make sure a friendly agent answers every call and passes the message on to you.
Most call centers offer both inbound and outbound services, which means they not only take calls, but could make calls on your behalf as well. The best services will boost customer satisfaction and retention and help generate new leads that will eventually become customers.
To find the call center services you can trust with your business, we reviewed about 50 companies that offer inbound and outbound calling services. Here is a roundup of our best picks and an explanation of how we chose them.
Best Call Center Services
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Call Center Trends to Watch in 2019
Like every other industry, call centers are undergoing rapid technological development. One of the biggest steps in call center evolution is the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into operations. While this trend has been ongoing for some years now, it’s starting to reach a stage of development beyond the mere automation of mundane tasks and contextualization of previously captured data.
AI today is making the shift toward what is known as “predictive analytics.” Traditionally, machine learning algorithms have been used for contextualizing the massive amounts of data captured by call centers, but predictive analytics is much more advanced. The term describes AI’s ability to leverage data to develop insights that anticipate a customer’s actions or critique a call center agents performance. It can be used to flag the most lucrative potential leads or identify agents that require additional training to make them more effective.
The driving force behind predictive analytics is developments to natural language processing (NLP.) NLP allows machine learning algorithms to actually understand human speech, including intonation and pauses, to determine the most likely scenarios. If a customer is hesitant, for example, AI can pick up on that and identify the customer as less likely to buy. This process previously relied heavily on the variable of human intuition, but now takes significantly less time with more accurate results. AI is aimed at one clear end for call centers: to make services more effective for customers and clients alike and to drive more favorable results. To that end, look for further evolution of AI systems in call centers through 2019.
Best Call Center Service for Small Business: TeleDirect
We selected TeleDirect as the best overall call center service for small businesses primarily because it boasts a complete selection of both inbound and outbound services, including some of the harder-to-find services like cold calling. TeleDirect's services are also available 24/7/365, meaning your customers will always have someone to speak with, even on weekends and holidays.
Depending on your particular needs, you can select shared agents, who conduct multiple campaigns, or dedicated agents, who focus solely on your business. TeleDirect also supports English and Spanish, as well as a number of other languages depending on the requirements of your clientele. Find out more about TeleDirect on the call center service's website or see our full review for more information.
Best Inbound Call Center Service for Small Business: 1-888-GO-ANSWER
1-888-GO-ANSWER offers a wide range of services and multiple plans that are suitable for all call volume levels. It is a transparent company that posts its pricing plans online, which isn't a given in the industry. There is no minimum call volume or monthly invoice minimum, nor any long-term contracts. If your volume goes up or down from month to month, you can upgrade or downgrade your plan as needed for no extra charge. There are no cancellation fees if you choose to close out your account.
1-888-GO-ANSWER is available 24/7/365 and claims its agents will answer every call within the first three rings. Inbound services include helpdesk services, order taking, a customer hotline and simple answering services. Custom plans are also available for businesses with unique needs or fluctuating call volumes. Find out more about 1-888-GO-ANSWER on the call center service's website or see our full review for more information.
Best Outbound Call Center Service for Small Business: Five Star Call Centers
If you're looking for comprehensive outbound calling solutions, Five Star Call Centers offers a complete service to target your ideal customer. With services including upselling, cross-selling, market research, cold calling and direct follow-ups, Five Star is one of the most effective companies we reviewed for reaching your audience through the phone. The company also helps you craft your campaigns, from script design to organization.
Five Star maintains a high minimum of $3,000 per month, because outbound campaigns require more expensive dedicated agents. However, it customizes its services to meet the needs of your unique campaign and doesn't demand a long-term contract. In addition to a strong slate of services, Five Star's customer service was friendly, informative and patient when we called to discuss the company in detail. Find out more about Five Star Call Centers on the call center service's website or see our full review for more information.
Best Call Center Service for Low-Volume Businesses: Signius Communications
Many businesses simply don't get a lot of calls, but that doesn't mean outsourcing call center services couldn't still benefit them. Signius Communications makes it cost-effective for low-volume businesses to outsource their inbound call center services, such as customer support and order entry, without sacrificing quality. Signius does not offer outbound services or manage any other channel besides the phone lines, so it's fully focused on handling your incoming calls. To learn more about Signius Communications call center services, see our full review.
Best Flexible Call Center Service: Xact Telesolutions
For scaling companies, flexibility and versatility are important. Xact Telesolutions has packages with low monthly invoice requirements or call minimums, but also larger plans that accommodate the needs of enterprise and growing businesses. Xact's agents are prepared to answer calls 24/7/365, and the company enables you to monitor any phone call in real time using a supervisory tool.
Xact also offers one of the most comprehensive language services, with agents fluent in English and Spanish, and a third-party translation partner that can support more than 100 additional languages. Find out more about Xact Telesolutions on the call center service's website or see our full review for more information.
Best Answering Service for Medical Practices: Specialty Answering Services
Not only do medical practices have to ensure security in their communications, but they also have to do so in accordance with the federal HIPAA standards. Specialty Answering Service offers a HIPAA-compliant answering service at affordable rates. There are various plans to choose from based on your expected call volume, from the pay-as-you-go economy plan all the way up to the massive 10,000-minute plan.
Specialty Answering Service also offers an extremely effective appointment scheduler, complete with follow-ups, which adds a layer of redundancy to your practice management system's scheduler. Find out more about Specialty Answering Service on the answering service's website, or see our full review for more information.
We take the process of recommending vendors seriously, so we invested substantial time in researching various call center services and their features. We gave each company equal consideration.
We started the process by coming up with a comprehensive list of vendors that offer call center services. To do this, we searched the web and consulted other lists and reviews of the most popular vendors. We ended up with a list of about 50 call center services to examine further.
From there, we visited the websites of each vendor to compare pricing and features. We looked at all the details, including inbound services, outbound services, invoice requirements, call minimums and additional features. We used this information to narrow down our field of candidates to 15 finalists.
Next, we contacted all the services we were considering, posing as a customer. We wanted to go beyond the marketing rhetoric and get a feel for how the companies handle actual customer interactions. We asked each customer service rep the same set of questions about features, options and pricing, and we noted our reactions to the experience. Company representatives who were friendly and forthcoming got higher marks, and those who were less than helpful or too pushy scored lower.
For our overall best picks, the decision came down to which company offered the best balance of affordability, useful features and effectiveness of call center agents.
Here is a list of call center services we reviewed and a summary of what each company claims to offer. The alphabetical list also includes our best picks.
1-888-GO-ANSWER – 1-888-GO-ANSWER call centers offer both inbound and outbound services, as well as an internet answering service that completes the same functions as the call center. It offers order processing, customer service, helpdesk services and appointment scheduling. https://1888goanswer.com
24-7 Intouch – 24-7 Intouch offers both dedicated and shared call center agents, as well as an option for social media management. As the name suggests, 24-7 Intouch's call centers are open 24/7/365. The company can also integrate a live chat option into your business's website. http://www.24-7intouch.com/
Abby Connect – Abby Connect, formerly TelAssistant, is an inbound and outbound call center service that provides dedicated agents who understand the nuances of your business. It is available 24/7/365 to support your customers on holidays and weekends. http://www.abbyconnect.com/
Advanced Marketing Solutions – AMS is a Massachusetts-based domestic call center offering both inbound and outbound services within the U.S. In addition to these services, AMS offers consulting and brand loyalty programming, as well as other ongoing marketing campaigns. http://amsperforms.com/
Ambs Call Center – Ambs Call Center tailors a plan to fit your specific requirements. The service is accessible 24/7/365 and can include an answering service, virtual receptionist, appointment reminders, secure text messaging and automated attendants. http://www.ambscallcenter.com/
AmeriCall – AmeriCall has been in the call center business for 75 years and offers both inbound and outbound services. Its offerings include conducting surveys, processing orders and providing answering services for specific industries. http://www.americall.com/
Ansafone Contact Centers – Ansafone is a domestic call center service provider offering 24/7/365 live support. It maintains a staff of specialists with experience in a number of industries and includes multichannel services such as phone, email management, live chat, social media monitoring, and interactive voice response (IVR). http://www.ansafone.com/
Answer1 – Answer1 provides virtual receptionists and technology-enabled answer services. The company offers these to business of varying sizes. The answering service also allows you to set customized greetings. https://www.answer1.com/
AnswerConnect – AnswerConnect offers a 24/7/365 call center service and specialized answering services for a number of industries, including e-commerce, finance and healthcare. In addition to its inbound call center services, AnswerConnect can design websites for your business. http://www.answerconnect.com/
AnswerForce – AnswerForce bills itself as a "scalable call center solution," particularly for midsize businesses looking to expand. AnswerForce engages in customer service functions, order processing, appointment setting and virtual office functions. https://www.answerforce.com/call-center-solutions/
AnswerNet – AnswerNet call centers offer both inbound and outbound services, including order processing, customer support, telemarketing and lead generation. It also offers delegation services for "virtually any business process that can be done by phone, fax or email." http://www.answernet.com/
ARC Pointe – ARC Pointe offers both inbound and outbound call center services, including customer service, tech support and telemarketing. http://www.apcallcenters.com/
BPO American – BPO American is a full-service contact center that offers services surrounding customer retention and satisfaction, brand loyalty, lead nurturing and company reputation. BPO includes a simple answering service, inbound call center, outbound call center, and chat and email services. http://www.bpoamerican.com/
Call Center Pros – Call Center Pros boasts a strong selection of both inbound and outbound services, including lead generation and customer support, and can also embed a live chat support system on your website. It also offers email support. http://callcenterpros.com/services/
Call Center Sales Pro – Call Center Sales Pros offers a full slate of answering, inbound call center and outbound call center services. It also provides call center consulting and IT/programming support services, vendor management, and support for mergers and acquisitions, making it a versatile solution. http://www.callcenter-salespro.com/
Call Experts – Call Experts is a customizable service designed to scale with your business. The company's 24/7/365 service includes encrypted messaging, order processing, lead generation, helpdesk services and appointment setting. http://www.callexperts.com/
CallNet – CallNet offers general call center services as well as industry-specific answering services. Some of the major functions it performs are order processing, lead generation, appointment setting and application services. Services operate 24/7/365. http://callnetservices.com/services/call-center-services/
Callsbo – Managed by A1 Small Business Marketing, Callsbo is a call center that offers telemarketing, appointment scheduling, answering services and more. Callsbo features some of the more expensive pricing plans we reviewed and also charges a setup fee. http://www.callsbo.com/
Callzilla – Callzilla is a "nearshore" call center based in Colombia that focuses on customer satisfaction and first-call resolution. Callzilla also offers talent acquisition and retention services, voice, email, and chat-to-social services. Full selections of both inbound and outbound services are available. https://www.callzilla.net/
Continental Message Solution – CMS Call Center focuses on inbound call services and supports over 200 languages, the most out of any call center we reviewed. It also operates 24/7/365. https://www.continentalmessage.com/
Contact One – Contact One call centers accommodate large and small businesses alike. The 24/7/365 call center includes a 24-hour helpdesk, appointment scheduling, order processing, surveys and dedicated agents, to name a few of its features. http://www.contactonecallcenter.com/
Enablx – Enablx is a customizable call center that primarily engages in tech support, order processing, customer follow-ups and helpdesk services. It supports both English and Spanish and also offers text and email services. http://www.enablx.com/
Executive Boutique – Executive Boutique is a call center based in the Philippines that focuses on both inbound and outbound services, including customer service, helpdesk, tech support and sales calls. https://ebcallcenter.com/
Five Star Call Centers – Five Star Call Centers is one of the most comprehensive outbound services we reviewed and demonstrated exemplary customer service. Its prices are competitive within the industry, and the company offers both shared and dedicated agents. http://fivestarcallcenters.com/
Global Response – Global Response partners with a lot of large brands, including Toyota, Lane Bryant and Anthropologie. In addition to inbound and outbound services, the call center offers social media management and a branded customer care program. http://www.globalresponse.com/
Infinit Contact – Infinit Contact offers inbound, outbound and social media services, including customer service, tech support, order processing, surveys, lead generation and customer retention. The company also offers back-office data management services in addition to its call center. http://www.infinitcontact.com/
Liveops – Liveops is a cloud-based call center with exceptional reporting quality and analytics. The company provides both inbound and outbound services, including lead generation, customer service and inbound sales. http://www.liveops.com/agents-on-demand
NexGen – NexGen offers both inbound and outbound services, including customer service, tech support, customer outreach and follow-ups. The company also offers email and live chat support, bringing additional channels into your service plan. www.nexgenagency.com
NotifyMD – NotifyMD specializes in the healthcare industry, meeting HIPAA regulations and offering the major functions a medical practice requires, such as patient scheduling and follow-up. The company offers a 30-day free trial. However, NotifyMD has no outbound services. http://www.notifymd.com/
OnBrand24 – OnBrand24 provides both inbound and outbound call center services, including customer and helpdesk service,, order processing, and live chat support. OnBrand24 also offers lead generation, appointment setting, customer win-back and database scrubbing. http://www.onbrand24.com/outbound-call-center
PATLive – PATLive offers 24/7 answering services with over 150 virtual receptionists. Message taking, lead collection, appointment scheduling and order processing are four areas the business focuses on. The company has nearly 30 years of experience in the industry. https://www.patlive.com/
Premiere Response – Premiere Response offers basic inbound services, as well as customer data collection and verification. This is a useful service for companies that deal with consumer data and want to outsource the management of the process. http://www.premiereresponse.com/
PT Infomedia Nusantara – An Indonesia-based call center, PT Infomedia Nusantara offers customer and helpdesk service, as well as telemarketing and data entry. https://www.infomedia.co.id/
Q2 Serves Infotech – Q2 Serves Infotech is based in India and offers customer service, order taking and helpdesk services, as well as outbound services like lead generation, survey taking and database scrubbing. www.q2serves.com
Reps Direct – Reps Direct is a unique solution for your contact center needs. It provides dedicated customer support reps who only work for your company, which provides a higher level of inbound and outbound phone, live chat, and email support. http://repsdirect.com
Signius Communications – Signius Communications offers 24/7/365 answering and call center services with both live agents and a virtual receptionist. The U.S.-based call center also offers medical answering services and technology solutions. https://signius.com/
Specialty Answering Service – Specialty Answering Service is our best pick for answering services for medical practices. This secure inbound and outbound call center service provides 24/7/365 coverage for your business. Features especially useful for a medical practice are appointment setting, patient follow-up, emergency hotlines and solicitation of customer feedback. However, Specialty Answering Service does not offer lead generation or cold calling. Read our full review here. http://www.specialtyansweringservice.net/
Stafford Communications – Stafford Communications offers both inbound and outbound services, as well as email and live web chat support services. http://staffcom.com/
Stenocall – Stenocall is an inbound and outbound call center that offers a number of services, including customer support, order processing, helpdesk, appointment scheduling and lead generation. The company also can help you screen job candidates before hiring. http://www.stenocall.com/
Solid Cactus – Solid Cactus is a customizable call center service that allows you to create a plan based on your business's needs and budget. You can choose from features like inbound sales, return management, after-hours support, customer service and live chat. http://www.solidcactus.com/call-center-services
TeleContact Resource Services – TeleContact Resource Services is a multilingual telemarketing service with a strong selection of both inbound and outbound services. The company will work with you to create a custom campaign that suits your needs. https://www.econtactlive.com/
TeleDirect – TeleDirect is our pick for best overall call center service for small business, thanks to its wide range of both inbound and outbound services, exceptional customer service, and availability of dedicated agents. TeleDirect also supports a variety of different languages, making this company a versatile option for small business owners in any industry. Read our full review here. http://www.teledirect.com/
The Jay Group – The Jay Group offers 24/7/365 live support for a full array of services, both inbound and outbound. These include call center services for specific industries, including e-commerce, healthcare and insurance, government, higher education, and equipment manufacturing. https://www.jaygroup.com/contact-center/
Transcosmos America Inc. – Transcosmos America offers call center and answering services, and it supports both inbound and outbound needs. It also offers back-office and social CRM support. http://www.transcosmos.net/
USA800 – USA800 call centers, recently acquired by The Results Companies, operate in a number of different industries, including healthcare, insurance, government and education. In addition to inbound and outbound solutions, USA800 offers disaster recovery services, live web chat support, email engagement and automated services. http://www.theresultscompanies.com
Xact Telesolutions – Xact Telesolutions is our best pick for call center services for small businesses whose first consideration is affordability. Because Xact has low monthly calling requirements, it is a great flexible service for small businesses. Xact offers most of the core inbound and outbound services, as well as support for more than 100 languages. The company also offers a supervisory tool, so you can monitor calls in real time to ensure you're receiving quality service. Read our full review here. http://www.myxact.com/
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Editor's note: If you're looking for information to help you choose the call center that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site BuyerZone provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free.