When comparing UCaaS vs CCaaS, it’s important to understand both the similarities and differences. If you’re shopping for a new solution to replace your PBX, call center, or both, you’ll likely have found yourself in a world of new jargon.
In this post, we’ll explain what these new terms mean. And, in doing so, we’ll highlight the differences so you know exactly what tech you’re looking at.
Let’s start with UCaaS — unified communications as-a-service.
What is UCaaS?
UCaaS stands for unified communications as-a-service. Which is great if you already know what those terms mean. Let’s break them down for you:
Unified communications (often shortened to unified comms) is a suite of services that combines common communications tools. Think phone calls, instant messaging, etc.
The “as-a-service” element refers to the delivery method. You may have a physical phone system stored in your office or server room. This is called “on-premises” and is the common/legacy way to deliver phone services for your business.
Instead of buying a physical phone system, UCaaS is a software version that gets delivered via the cloud. This way, you can subscribe to the features and services that you need.
Instead of installing equipment you might one day use, you get access to everything you need. The option to add-on or upgrade is always possible as you can subscribe to a different pricing tier.
Think of it like the shift from videotapes and DVDs to Netflix and Disney+. That’s as-a-service.
When combined, you get UCaaS. Unified communications delivered like a subscription model.
For example, Nextiva’s UCaaS collaboration platform includes features like:
- Video calls
- Voice calls
- Screen sharing
- Group messages
- Direct messages (DMs)
- Team task tracking
- File sharing
- Call recording
- Audio conferencing
- Video conferencing
- Call reporting
It’s no single feature that makes UCaaS attractive. It’s when they all come together. That’s the unified part.
Examples of UCaaS
You may already be using unified communications solutions in the form of your on-site phone system. Common examples include:
These are all examples of phone systems that may have unified communications components. But they don’t all offer UCaaS services.
Some UCaaS vendors include those with a past in unified comms but others are cloud-first. It’s those who specialize in the as-a-service model.
Cloud-first UCaaS vendors include:
What are the benefits of UCaaS
The benefits of UCaaS involve increased productivity and a better way of communicating. This includes both internal and external communications.
From an internal point of view, everyone uses the same app to chat, call, and host meetings. Within this app, you get features (like screen sharing and call recording) that take your phone system from a call maker to a productivity enabler.
From an external point of view, UCaaS upgrades existing phone system functionality to include modern cloud features. Businesses are able to field more calls and have better visibility of their communications estate.
Benefits of cloud options for unified comms (UCaaS) include:
- Lower running costs than on-premises
- Flexibility for number of users
- Fast access to new features
- Flexibility between licenses
- No maintenance fees
- High scalability
What is CCaaS?
CCaaS, which stands for contact center as-a-service, is a subscription based software program that connects all customer contact channels into a single interface. CCaaS is the next step up from a call center, and allows you to communicate with customers via phone, SMS, or chat, all from one platform.
Much like call center software, your agents get an interface to make, receive, and manage calls. On top of this, they also get access to other contact channels like email, web chat, SMS, and social media. This is called multichannel.
This means you can service customers on the channels they use—rather than forcing them to call you.
Why is this important? People are busy. People have preferences. Ultimately, people want to get through to you in the most convenient and least resistant manner.
That may still be a traditional phone call. In fact, 51% of people still prefer a voice call over any other form of communication. But that’s not to say the current and next generations will agree.
68% of millennials admit to texting “a lot” on a daily basis. This includes SMS, WhatsApp, Telegram, and many more texting services. Generation Z prefers “face-to-face” communications including video calling.
It’s easy to come to a quick conclusion here. Diversifying your contact channels is a no-brainer.
And that is precisely what multichannel cloud contact centers do.
For example, Nextiva’s cloud contact center helps customer service agents serve more agents with higher quality.
There’s no compromise regardless of the channel a customer interacts on. There’s no extra hold time for an agent as smart routing technology combines with multi-channel contact handling.
Features to look for in a CCaaS software include:
- Skills-based routing
- Unified reporting
- Screen pops
- Speech-enabled IVR
- Click to call
- Workforce management
- Workforce optimization
- Quality monitoring
- CRM integration
- Multi-channel management
What are the benefits of CCaaS?
Much like the benefits of UCaaS, CCaaS introduces better and more productive ways to communicate. With CCaaS, there’s a focus on agent-to-customer communication.
Thanks to multi-channel contact options like email, web chat, SMS, and social media, you can serve customers wherever they are. There’s no more holding in long queues or having to repeat themselves when they get through to an agent who’s never spoken to them before.
As the cloud allows integration, you can share data between your agent desktop and your CRM or other line of business applications. This empowers agents to provide a customer experience like never before.
Agents provide a personalized experience and remove the need to repeat information.
This data also triggers analytics to predict actions and inform changes. There are no more gut feeling shots in the dark when trying to improve KPIs and metrics. You can make data-backed changes or have the technology look after that for you.
For example, intelligent virtual agents can handle high volume calls that are routine and don’t need a human touch. Things like opening hours only have one possible outcome so you can free up agents to add the human touch where it’s needed.
Plus, don’t forget CCaaS is a cloud subscription model. So there’s no on-site equipment (except for headsets).
What are the differences between UCaaS and CCaaS?
It’s important to distinguish the differences between UCaaS and CCaaS to ensure you make the right choice.
Here are five key differences to help make this clear:
#1 UCaaS focuses on internal communication services
While also including PSTN connectivity, UCaaS streamlines your internal communications processes.
Long gone are the days where you call a colleague, leave a voicemail, and not hear from them until you bump into them in the canteen. Instead of losing time trying to get hold of them, you can check their presence status (available, busy, DND, offline) before calling them.
Or if you don’t need their voice, send them an instant message. This might just be to check if they are available or it might be because you can get what you need without disrupting their workflow.
When real-time communication is needed, you can turn that instant message into an audio or video call.
#2 CCaaS focuses on communication with the customer & lets you serve customers where they hang out
CCaaS helps streamline workflows to move your customers down the path of least resistance.
While speed alone is not the goal of any customer service team, when you can solve problems efficiently, you provide a better customer experience.
In some cases, you can use UCaaS solutions to run a basic call center if all you need is a call queue. Callers can choose which option they need and get routed through to a user configured in that call group. But when you’re offering several inbound channels to contact you, CCaaS comes into its own.
Instead of only offering a phone number for your technical support team, CCaaS enables you to offer live chat on your website, emails into a skilled agent, and direct contact via the social media channels they use.
People are busy. Nobody wants to wait in a queue when they have an easier option.
#3 CCaaS can be omnichannel
We’ve mentioned multichannel a few times. So, what’s an omnichannel contact center?
Here, we’re talking about ensuring that cross-channel conversations get connected. No matter which channels your customers use, or whether they switch between several, all interactions and information gets shared between agents.
This means there’s no longer the scenario where someone chats on your website, emails to follow up, then calls the next day but the agent doesn’t have track of the previous conversation.
Some service providers only support multi-channel. And while multi-channel may be suitable for some businesses, serious CCaaS providers will offer both multichannel and omnichannel contact center options.
#4 UCaaS tends to be ready to use out of the box
Aside from putting phone numbers and names together, UCaaS is plug-and-play. Except there is rarely anything to plug in!
Unless you want a handset, you download your desktop or mobile app and your software is pre-loaded with call functionality and collaboration features.
CCaaS, on the other hand, sometimes needs custom configuration so you can tailor available channels and call routing to streamline your customers’ journeys. When you spend time finding the optimum path, customers have a better experience.
#5 CCaaS offers unlimited customization
When you first implement a CCaaS solution, it doesn’t have to be your final answer.
What you configure today might not be exactly how your customers want to access your teams.
And that’s okay. Each customer interaction provides data that helps you decide what to do next and what to change.
Included with the best CCaaS software are automations and integrations that can help agents serve customers better.
When you set specific KPIs, reports show what you need to change and where workflows are becoming congested.
The best customer experience is the one that is continuously improved.
“There will always be something else you can do to improve what you are doing in terms of customer experience and give your customers a continuously improved experience.”
- Philipp Ringgenberg, Director of Business Consulting at Orange Business Systems.
How are UCaaS and CCaaS similar?
As both are communication technologies and both get deployed via the cloud, there are many similarities between UCaaS and CCaaS.
Both UCaaS and CCaaS include the following:
- As-a-service deployment models
- Both improve external communication
- Ability to integrate both platforms and apps
- Ability to scale up and down users when needed
- A desktop/mobile app to control calls and collaboration
With those similarities in mind, the big question is whether you need UCaaS or CCaaS.
Should you pick UCaaS or CCaaS?
Choosing UCaaS or CCaaS isn’t quite like choosing red or blue. There are several factors that come into play.
While reading this blog post, you will have identified which components are most needed in your business.
Choose UCaaS when:
- Your focus is streamlining internal communications
- You want to collaborate with peers better
- You don’t field queries from customers
Choose CCaaS when:
- Your focus is improving your customer’s experience
- You need to upgrade your call center to multi-channel
- You don’t need to improve your internal communications
In all likelihood, it could be both you need.
So, does that mean you need a separate UCaaS and CCaaS solution?
It might. But, if you choose best of breed in each category, you may end up with disparate solutions that don’t talk to each other.
Nextiva is unique in that it offers a single source for both UCaaS and CCaaS.
When you integrate UCaaS and CCaaS, everyone benefits. By combining apps, your frontline agents have access to subject matter experts and all data gets passed between apps.
There’s no disconnect and both internal and external communications improve together.