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A Comparison: PBX Phone Systems vs. Contact Center Software

Before you build your contact center, there’s one crucial decision to make.

Will you need a PBX phone system or contact center software?

Both systems allow you to make and receive phone calls, but that’s where most of the similarities end.

Here are the key things to consider when determining which system will work best for your business' needs:

Features, Functionality & Performance Needs

If you’re looking for a way for your employees to communicate with each other, make occasional outbound phone calls, and answer inbound phone calls, then a PBX phone system will suffice.

It is, after all, the traditional analog style of phone systems used by companies for many years.

Features of PBX phone systems include:

  • Directory of employee extensions
  • Placing callers on hold (with music or custom messages while they are holding)
  • Employee or departmental voicemail
  • Call Transfer and Conference Calling

If your goal is more customer service or sales/productivity oriented, then contact center software will provide a dynamic range of features that will keep your customers satisfied and your team at peak efficiency.

Contact center software allows companies to handle customer inquiries from any communication channel (e.g. chat, email, phone, social), be more efficient with outbound campaigns, improve agent performance, analyze data, achieve customer experience and meet sales goals.

The Five9 contact center software, for example, is designed to optimize your business performance, with features including:

  • Automated call distribution (ACD)
  • Intelligent routing
  • Smart dialers
  • List management
  • Campaign and list management
  • Call recording & quality monitoring
  • Text-to-speech & speech recognition
  • Agent scripting
  • Real-time, historical & custom reporting
  • Contact history database
  • Data import

Cost & Savings

PBX  systems may save money when it comes to phone bills, but when it comes to daily operation, that’s where the costs can pile up.

Normally, the up-front costs of starting a contact center through a PBX system costs about $1,000 per user, not including setup and installation costs.

In addition, there’s the cost of purchasing the equipment along with monthly service and maintenance fees.

With contact center software, there’s no large, long-term investment or start-up fee, and businesses often find that contact center software reduces costs in several areas.

A survey of large and medium enterprises who use Five9 Contact Center Software found several key areas where contact center software helps reduce costs for organizations:


Scalability Needs

As your business continues to grow, you’ll no doubt be adding new agents.

PBX systems are built to only allow a certain number of phones and lines with a central box (with prices ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars) that supports a large (but limited) number of lines, typically anywhere from 8 to 32.

If you outgrow the system you currently have, you’ll have to pay for the extra capacity.

With contact center software, you can scale up or down instantly, without needing to purchase additional equipment, or requiring a major time commitment from your IT team.

Equipment Needs

When it comes to setting up a PBX system, there’s a laundry list of equipment required to start even the most basic system.

This list includes:

  • Cabinets and other housing
  • Console or switchboard (to control incoming calls)
  • Wires and cables
  • Stations or telephone sets per user

Conversely, the list of equipment required to use contact center software is dramatically shorter.

All your agents need is:

  • A computer with internet connection
  • A headset

It’s also worth noting that the flexibility and minimal equipment requirements of cloud contact center software provide an ideal environment for employing at-home agents, which is a proven way to attract good talent, increase agent retention rates by 30% and save on costs.

24/7 Support

You need a reliable system, but inevitably, there will be issues along the way.

PBX systems often require a dedicated employee to maintain the system, which may lead to all the costs of hiring someone new.

And if a piece of hardware breaks down, it means scheduling an appointment to have a service technician come on-site to inspect and fix the problem.   

Using contact center software means that your provider will handle any updates or system maintenance so your agents will always be using the latest software. You should also expect your provider to offer 24/7/265 customer support to assist you with any questions or concerns.

For more information about building a contact center specifically for your needs and budget, contact us today 1-800-553-8159


About Five9

Five9 Contact Center Software enables agents to be more effective on the phone - so they can sell more and service better. Smart Dialers give agents more time with live prospects. Intelligent Routing gets calls to the right agent. On-Screen Caller Info puts customer information at their fingertips. Contact us today to learn why 2,000+ customers trust Five9.