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From many perspectives, an inbound call center is more important to your business than the outbound one. That’s because incoming calls play a key role in customer satisfaction and customer experience. Therefore, selecting the proper inbound call center solution is crucial for your company’s future and success.

Read on to see how to choose the best inbound call center solution for your company.

What is an inbound call center?

An inbound call center is usually an integral part of a company's larger contact center infrastructure. What matters is that inbound call center agents are responsible only for answering incoming calls and queries. That’s the main difference between an inbound call center and an outbound call center, which is mostly for sales and marketing purposes (e.g., cold calls).

Inbound call center services usually deal with five major questions related to your company’s operation:

Routing and directing callers to the right person/department

First off, the inbound call center is responsible for routing callers to the right agents or departments. Nowadays, this part of the work is automated through the IVR (Interactive Voice Response) feature, which is typically based on selecting a specific option in the welcome menu.

Help desk (and technical support)

This aspect is essential in IT companies. Inbound call centers offer full customer support, including technical issues with the service or the product. When a customer calls with a specific problem, the help desk gets access to information about this particular person and the service they are using. This way, it’s much easier to help the caller solve their problem quickly. Needless to say, good tech support is indispensable in building customer satisfaction.

The help desk team can also be responsible for other customer interactions, e.g. those related to complaints or general product inquiries.

Payments and orders

If your company sells products online or over the phone, inbound reps are responsible for:

  • Taking orders from callers
  • Guiding potential customers to the right product on the website
  • Processing payments
  • Providing information about order status
  • Dealing with potential billing problems

Service renewals and upgrades

Granted, sometimes the sales team deals with this part of the business, but when the customer calls the company with the intent to renew or extend the service, the inbound call center representatives usually handle such a call. At this point, you have two options - you can redirect this call to your sales team or handle it within the inbound team. It all depends on your company's profile and strategy. What's crucial is to assist such a person as quickly as possible.

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Is an inbound call center a smart investment for your business?

The answer to this question depends primarily on your company’s profile. If your customers prefer to contact your business over the phone and incoming call volumes are high (at least several hundred calls per month) and stable every month, then the answer is obvious—you need an inbound call center with an effective phone system to handle all these calls effectively.

Here, you have two options. First off, you can create such a call center within your company’s structure and use your internal customer service representatives to handle incoming calls in real time. An inbound call center should also offer other forms of contact, including:

  • Text messages (SMS)
  • Chat
  • Email
  • Self-service options (e.g., a knowledge base or a customer portal)

This is especially important if you want to pursue the omnichannel model in your company, but even if you don’t, offering more than one communication channel is beneficial for your customers—and that’s the whole point, right?

If you decide to go with this option, you need to select the best call center software that’s integrated with other tools in your company (e.g., CRM or an e-commerce platform). To help you with this decision, I’ve made a list of ten of the best call center software solutions for your business.

The second option is based on outsourcing (BPO). Do some market research and see if there are any companies offering support in handling incoming calls from your customers in your region/country. Outsourcing of inbound call center operations is a complex question that I’ve discussed thoroughly in the article about the pros and cons of outsourcing customer service operations. I encourage you to read it before you make any decisions.

When shouldn’t you invest in an inbound call center?

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that an inbound call center is a prerequisite for exceptional customer service. It’s not, at least not always. It all depends on your company’s profile and customer expectations. Some companies simply don’t need such an option because their customers/clients prefer other forms of contact.

For instance, if you run a small SaaS platform for a younger audience, your clients may be used to communicating with your business via chat and email. In such a situation, creating an inbound contact center from scratch would be a waste of time and resources. It’s the same story with many B2B companies—they don’t have call centers because they don’t need them.

If your everyday operations run smoothly, customers are satisfied, and the company is growing without any major problems, perhaps you don’t need a fully-fledged contact center.

Either way:

Don’t overpay!

Let's talk pricing. Each inbound call center solution comes with a price tag, so make sure you pick the right pricing plan adjusted to your company’s needs. The number of calls per month, the number of call center agents working simultaneously, the number of additional features and communication channels...all these factors have an impact on how much you’ll have to pay for the service. Of course, if you decide to go with the outsourcing option, the cost will be even higher. After all, here, you pay for the whole package, including consultants answering calls.

Pick the solution that truly reflects your customers’ needs, the company’s needs, and a realistic workload per month. Don’t opt for an unnecessarily high plan “just in case”. This is where the cloud is your obvious choice - this technology allows you to adjust your plan flexibly to your current situation so that you don’t have to pay for solutions and the capacity you don’t need.

No matter which option you choose, it’s crucial to find an inbound call center solution that checks all the right boxes. Only with a fully-functional platform will your customer service team be able to assist calling customers effectively.

Features of inbound call centers (and the value they deliver)

My experience shows there are at least 12 must-have features of a good inbound call center. Thankfully, today, they are rather standard, and you can find them in the majority of call center platforms out there, but still, it is important to know what to expect from your call center provider.

Interactive voice response (IVR)

I’ve already mentioned this feature. IVR takes care of the caller from the first second. First, it plays the greeting and presents available welcome menu choices. After selecting the specific option, the IVR system transfers this phone call to a specific agent or department. IVRs can also provide some self-service options, e.g., providing an account balance based on the caller’s phone number or account number.

IVR helps your company save a lot of time and put every conversation on the right track.


This acronym stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It’s an advanced phone system enabling users to make and receive phone calls using an internet connection (not the traditional landline). Thanks to VoIP, you don’t need on-site reps; they can all work remotely all over the world (of course, provided they have access to a broadband internet connection).

An auto-dialer and the click-to-call feature

As I mentioned, an inbound call center usually doesn’t handle outbound calls. However, sometimes there is the necessity to call someone back. In such a situation, an autodialer helps your reps automatically dial outbound call numbers, so they don’t have to ask the customer to call again (which would be detrimental from a CX perspective). Autodialers are usually equipped with the click-to-call feature allowing your agents to place an outbound call with a single click (so they don’t have to dial the number manually).


“If you don’t want to wait, press 9, and we’ll call you back!” It is likely you’ve heard this formula at least once when you tried to get in touch with a given company. It’s called a callback feature. Together with an autodialer, it’s a very helpful tool enabling your call center team to call back anyone who requests the service. This feature is a big win for CX, as it saves customers the agony of endlessly looping hold music.

Ticketing system

This solution enables you to create a ticket (or a request) every time someone calls with a question, a problem, or a complaint. With a ticketing system, you can keep all customer interactions under control and stay on top of things, even when incoming call volumes are very high. A ticketing system also enables your reps to have a quick view of a given caller’s current situation.

Omnichannel support

In one of my previous articles, I showed you a Zendesk study confirming the growing ticket volume in seven different communication channels:

graph of ticket volume in different communication channels

That’s what omnichannel support is all about—providing your customers with various ways to get in touch with your company, including social media and mobile channels (e.g., WhatsApp). With omnichannel support, you can deliver top-notch customer service and win their satisfaction.

AI support

More and more often, call center platforms come with AI-powered solutions. They use artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate repetitive tasks, analyze data coming from your contact center, and even route calls. And yes, it’s not yet a standard option, but if your platform exploits AI to be more effective, that’s certainly a big plus for it!

Analytics and reporting features

There are many metrics you can track in an inbound call center. Ensure your future call center platform comes with an extensive analytics module so that you can track your call center’s performance, spot potential weak points, and draw conclusions for future improvements.

Call recording/monitoring

Every conversation with a customer can be useful for future training and onboarding purposes. That’s why the majority of call centers record their conversations. Recorded calls can help get new hires up to speed and show them how a well-executed script works in practice. If you want to monitor calls for whatever reason, you need to be sure your platform offers such an option. Also, don’t forget to check what its limitations are concerning call recording (perhaps the recorded phone calls are deleted automatically after some period of time).

Skills-based routing

It’s a solution enabling assigning specific callers to agents with the most relevant skills. Here’s an example: You run an international company, and your offer differs between countries. If you have a caller from the UK, you can use skills-based routing to direct them to an agent specialized in this particular market. Skills-based routing is crucial if you want to offer high-end CX in a large organization.

Queueing system

If your inbound call center cannot take all the incoming phone calls immediately, some of the people trying to reach your company have to be put on hold. That’s what queueing system is about. It’s a place where customers can wait to be assisted by the next available agent.

Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)

ACD keeps workflow in your company under control. It’s a distribution system that directs callers to different agents depending on their occupancy. Thanks to ACD, there is no risk that one agent will have to answer 50 calls in one day and the other - just five or ten.

Conclusion: Be smart about inbound call centers

To sum up, start with this basic question: Do I really need to set up a separate inbound call center? Analyze all the pros and cons and make an informed decision. And if you decide that you need it, do your research and analyze available options.

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