What is the best phone system for a contact centre?

Contact centres (sometimes called call centres) come in many shapes and sizes – but usually have one thing in common. A lot of phone usage.

Some of the sectors that typically house contact centres are telemarketing companies, banks and insurance companies. But sometimes charities and council departments can have call centres too.

 The types of calls tend to vary. Some companies such as insurance claims and banks tend to have more incoming calls, dealing with customer enquiries. Meanwhile telemarketing companies tend to make more calls – looking to contact customers. Telemarketing is still a popular way to win customers – and build relationships with potential clients, and servicing customers on the phone remains one of the most efficient ways.

 According to ContactBabel there are 734,000 call agent positions in the UK – meaning the sector offers a lot of employment opportunities in the UK – and contributes much to the economy. Whether you have an operation of fewer than 20 people, or more than 200, choosing the right phone system is an important part of your business strategy.

The evolution of the telephone system

There was a time when having a phone meant you have a handset, which then could be used to make outbound calls and receive calls via a phone line. Phones evolved into fax machines in the 21st Century, and later digitalisation has improved their usability. Now you can receive voicemail to a specific phone, or to a group of phones within a department or as a series of departments.

There have been other evolutions too. From strictly 01 and 02 numbers, to 08 and 03 numbers. Some of these are premium rate, meaning you can cover the costs of servicing the calls by billing the caller. Others (such as the 03 numbers) are local rate, depending on the service provider of the person calling.

One of the more recent major improvements has been VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) – which involves running your phone lines through the internet. The big advantage is that you can have many phones running through a line, and it’s a lot more affordable. A word of warning though. Some low-cost providers will hook up a lot of phones to one line – and that affects call quality. You may have experienced calls that are quiet or with broken quality – these are good examples of this practice. It never sounds professional – and so you need to balance cost with quality.

What is the right type of system for my call centre?

That depends on how many people you have working for you, and across how many sites. Before briefing companies on your needs – you should consider:


How many calls you typically male

How many sites you have

How many people need a handset

Would you prefer a PC based solution?

How many outgoing calls per day how many incoming calls per day are there some times that are busier than others?

Will there be an element of international calls being made?


In general most call centres find that a VoIP connection, with digital handsets is the way forward – you can manage the number of calls, transfer calls easily and reduce the cost of having so many lines. As mentioned, just be careful to not go too cheap – as this can prove a false economy. Be sure to speak to lots of suppliers and cross-check the advice they give you.