This article is part of a larger series on Unified Communications.
Contact center as a service (CCaaS) and unified communications as a service (UCaaS) are both cloud-based platforms with voice, video, and messaging capabilities. The main difference between UCaaS and CCaaS is who they serve. UCaaS integrates all business communications, allowing teams to work and collaborate seamlessly and remotely. In comparison, CCaaS provides an all-in-one communications channel for sales and customer support.
Based on our comparison, the best use cases for UCaaS vs. CCaaS are as follows:
- UCaaS: Better for businesses that want a business phone system with a full suite of business communication and collaboration features and want a system suited for remote work or distributed teams
- CCaaS: Better for companies that need robust customer service and sales tools to manage higher volumes of external calls, and a system that integrates with its customer relationship management (CRM) software
UCaaS vs CCaaS at a Glance
Intended for Use By
Any size business that wants multichannel communications capabilities in a single platform, and companies with a distributed workforce
Any size company with dedicated customer and sales teams that needs call center capabilities
When to Use UCaaS
A unified communications, or UC platform’s main purpose is to provide various communication and collaboration methods in one tool. UCaaS is a good fit for companies wanting to replace their existing phone system with a voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) system that also has video and messaging capabilities.
If some or all of your team works remotely, UCaaS also doubles as a virtual workspace. Your staff can switch from collaborating on a document to a one-to-one or group video meeting in just one or two clicks.
UCaaS plans typically cost less than CCaaS plans, albeit with fewer customer-centric features like contact center analytics. Plus, some UC platforms scale into full-service contact centers at higher plan tiers. For example, 8×8’s small business phone system plans start at a cost of $12 per user, but this cost jumps to $95 per user per month for its lowest-priced plan when combined with its contact center.
UCaaS is a good solution for new employee onboarding, businesses with bring your own device (BYOD) policies, and those needing to route calls to several internal or external numbers. Because UCaaS puts various communication and collaboration methods on one platform, you also reduce the probability of missed messages.
With UCaaS, your team doesn’t need to open a new app or device to continue a conversation via voice or video from chat. Instead, tools like “call flip” let employees seamlessly switch devices mid-call.
UCaaS benefits businesses, employees, and customers by supporting real-time interactions and streamlining the transfer of information. As a result, companies improve staff and client experiences, which increases retention rates. UCaaS facilitates a flexible work environment, allowing your team to get work done without channel switching while using communication methods and devices they prefer.
When it comes to advantages created, UCaaS software enables your business to:
- Increase productivity: Every time your staff has to open a new program to continue a conversation or access documents, precious minutes are wasted. UCaaS lets your team share files and chat while answering incoming calls.
- Support remote work and distributed teams: With UCaaS, employees can join meetings and interact with co-workers from anywhere they have an internet connection. If remote workers run into a problem, you can offer assistance through screen sharing and remote desktop control.
- Reduce costs: Unified communications features available in the best business phone systems cost less than installing and maintaining on-site infrastructure. UCaaS vendors provide technical support for your team, and new features and updates roll out automatically to all users. Plus, they may be able to replace other software subscriptions, such as standalone video conferencing or collaboration tools.
- Improve employee onboarding: Adding new users to on-site systems and providing training can be difficult and costly. UCaaS practically eliminates these pain points with a centralized administration portal and virtual onboarding workflows. New workers can use the UCaaS interface to review written documents, watch video tutorials, and participate in real-time training sessions.
- Enhance customer experiences: UCaaS supports custom phone and voicemail greetings that deliver a personal touch and reduce call wait times by automatically and efficiently routing calls. It also lets clients choose their preferred communication method, whether that’s through text or a phone call.
Although UCaaS delivers plenty of benefits, there are challenges involved with moving to a new system for communication and collaboration, from getting employee buy-in to ensuring internet access. However, many disadvantages of UCaaS can be avoided or fixed by creating and following an implementation strategy.
Some drawbacks of UCaaS are:
- Employees may push back on new technology: A big change can be difficult for your staff. They may be unfamiliar with VoIP systems, be new to remote work, or simply like the old way of doing things. For your investment in a unified communications system to pay off, your employees need to fully embrace and use the new system.
- Requires reliable, fast internet: Unlike on-premise UC systems, cloud-based tools rely on the internet. Your team may miss calls or have poor video quality without a stable and speedy connection. This problem can be amplified for employees located in rural or remote areas without reliable internet.
- Learning curve: Your company’s managers, employees, and administrators may all need extra training. While making calls is pretty simple, employees may not understand how or when to use UC features. Administrators also need to learn how to configure the system, make changes, and optimize it, and managers need to know how to use UC tools to improve productivity and performance.
When to Use CCaaS
Companies use a contact center as a service, or CCaaS platform to create convenient, flexible, and personalized customer experiences. Whether you have a distributed or on-site customer support center or your business completes a high volume of sales calls, a CCaaS system is an excellent option. Many UC features come in CCaaS platforms, including multi-channel communication tools and automated call routing.
The main difference between UCaaS vs. CCaaS systems pertains to advanced features and functionality. Cloud-based call center software adds supervisor capabilities, such as monitoring calls, agents, and screens in real-time. It can support customer surveys and caller sentiment analytics using artificial intelligence (AI), natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning (ML).
In addition, advanced interactive voice response (IVR) systems often include skills-based routing, so that incoming callers connect to the best agent or self-service tool for their needs. CCaaS systems serve as a single source of customer data, giving every employee access to updated information about the caller before they pick up the phone.
Delivering outstanding customer service and support is crucial to today’s businesses. A CCaaS platform is customer-centric because it lets your clients communicate using their preferred method, from instant messaging on social media platforms to face-to-face conversations during a video call.
At the same time, CCaaS improves experiences for your team. It streamlines workflows by placing all customer communication into one space, so your staff doesn’t need to open multiple applications to check their messages.
CCaaS platforms deliver many advantages, giving your business the ability to:
- Satisfy a diverse customer base: Clients appreciate the flexibility of choosing how to contact customer service. Plus, AI-based call routing gets callers to the most appropriate agent based on skills, language, or geographic region, reducing call hold times.
- Support disaster recovery efforts: Any disruption to customer service can have long-lasting implications. With CCaaS, administrators and employees can forward calls to agents in unaffected areas and update IVR messaging to include the status of outages.
- Empower agents: When comparing UCaaS vs. CCaaS, contact center software stands out for having advanced tools for agents. CC systems provide detailed caller profiles and integrated content management system (CMS) software so that agents can personalize their approach. Also, employees can quickly request help or escalate calls–all without disrupting the customer experience.
- Reduce contact center costs: Installing and maintaining an on-premise public branch exchange (PBX) infrastructure is expensive. Cloud-hosted contact centers require a minimum initial investment, and CCaaS vendors are the ones responsible to update, fix, and maintain them.
- Optimize customer service: You can continually assess and improve customer service using CCaaS features like advanced analytics and real-time queue status. Call barge, whisper, and monitoring help supervisors train and oversee staff, and detailed reports provide key call center metrics and performance indicators.
- Enhance sales activities: Many CCaaS platforms offer tools for your sales team, such as an auto-dialer that allows agents to complete a high volume of calls in a shorter time. Most contact center solutions also integrate with sales-focused software, such as Salesforce and HubSpot so your sales team can flag accounts for follow-up and update a lead’s status.
Cloud-hosted call center software helps sales and service teams deliver excellent customer experiences, but you may run into some obstacles when implementing it. This is especially true if your agents don’t have a reliable internet connection or aren’t provided with adequate training.
A few disadvantages of CCaaS platforms are:
- May not work well with existing software: While many CCaaS provide integrations for popular systems, interoperability can be a problem for companies using legacy or proprietary software.
- Could change current workflows: Supervisors may need to adjust processes, such as how an agent escalates a call, or create new rules regarding when employees can use the don’t disturb (DND) function.
- Requires an investment in employee training: Supervisors and team leaders need to be trained on the ins and outs of your CCaaS system so that they can support agents. Likewise, your sales and customer service teams will need guidance on using VoIP and contact center features.
- Relies on an internet connection: Like UCaaS, CCaaS requires an internet connection to connect customers to employees. Without a fast, stable internet connection, your team won’t be able to use contact center tools.
RingCentral MVP is a feature-rich VoIP platform that unifies voice, video, and messaging in one tool. The all-in-one platform facilitates communication and collaboration between internal teams while letting external collaborators join as guests. From any internet-connected device, employees can use RingCentral MVP to share files, participate in video meetings, and chat with co-workers individually or as a group.
All RingCentral MVP packages include an automated attendant which greets customers and routes calls. The Standard and Premium plans add different integrations, allowing your team to make calls or update client accounts using existing tools like Slack, Salesforce, and Zendesk. Discover more features in our RingCentral review or check out RingCentral with a 15-day free trial.
Like RingCentral, Nextiva is a VoIP provider with a unified communications platform. However, Nextiva also features a built-in CRM and professionally recorded greetings, making it an excellent choice for many small businesses. Your team can access Nextiva’s UC tools on their mobile phone, desktop, or tablet, including joining video meetings, sharing screens and documents, and participating in group messages.
All Nextiva plans come with an auto attendant, unlimited internet fax, and hold music. Select the Professional or Enterprise versions to integrate your phone system with ServiceNow, Salesforce, and many other programs, depending on the plan. Read our Nextiva guide to explore more options or get started by signing up for a 30-day free trial.
Choosing the business phone system with UC features that is best for your business depends on factors like budget as well as differences in feature sets. See whether RingCentral vs. Nextiva is best for your business in our head-to-head comparison.
8×8 is a CCaaS that recently coined the term eXperience Communications as a Service, or XCaaS, which provides a single platform for UC and CCaaS. 8×8’s call center software offers intelligent IVR, a predictive dialer with patented answering machine detection, and a virtual assistant. Your team can record calls and screen and use customer feedback dashboards to improve caller experiences.
In addition, supervisors can use IVR journey maps to visualize the customer journey and adjust menus or call flows to improve interactions. Like other CCaaS tools, 8×8 has a native CRM and integrates with Freshdesk, Pipedrive, and HubSpot. Learn about 8×8 solutions on our 8×8 reviews page or request a quote from 8×8.
Five9 provides a customizable CCaaS where you select the technologies you need, such as intelligent virtual agents or automated follow-up communications, without paying for features your business won’t use. Five9’s cloud-hosted contact center software includes packages for voice-only global call centers and advanced plans with omnichannel capabilities and workforce optimization tools.
With Five9, your agents can use auto or predictive dialing solutions to reach leads quickly while reviewing customer information on their screens. While it has a built-in CRM, it also connects to popular CRMS, including Salesforce and Zendesk.
All Five9 packages come with an Agent Desktop Toolkit Plus (ADT+), allowing you to integrate the CCaaS into your current CRM. Learn why Five9 made our list for the best auto dialer software, or contact Five9 for a free trial.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does UCaaS include?
A UCaaS system comes with voice calling, audio and video conferencing, messaging features, like chat and short message service (SMS) and multimedia messaging service (MMS), and collaboration tools. Some unified communications tools also support messaging on social media platforms and email integrations.
What is the difference between UCaaS and CPaaS?
UCaaS is an out-of-the-box solution for unified communications (UC) with built-in integrations. In contrast, a communications platform as a service (CPaaS) provides a UC platform developers can customize to fit an organization’s needs. Some UCaaS vendors, including RingCentral, offer CPaaS services as well.
How do VoIP and UCaaS platforms differ?
VoIP is a standalone technology for voice calls, whereas UCaaS supports multiple communication channels, including VoIP calling, video conferencing, and messaging. Both services are cloud-based and require a good quality internet connection, and VoIP vendors often provide plans with unified communications features.
When comparing UCaaS vs. CCaaS systems, their similarities may make it hard to choose the right system for your company’s needs. Consider the differences between UCaaS and CCaaS and how the unique feature sets of each could improve your customer experiences and operations.
Fortunately, many of the best VoIP providers bundle unified communications and contact center features into advanced or UC plus CC combination plans. Therefore, you’ll find many options to suit your business, clients, and staff.