PBX vs Cloud-based Call Center Solution: What to Choose?

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Selecting the right software solution for your business is always a challenge. Most business owners feel trouble when picking the proper solution, as there is great competition across the market. The solutions are divided into niches and exact tools that offer numerous advantages for diverse types of businesses. Price policies, features list, model of payment, functionality, and integrations - all these factors vary from tool to tool, and it is not a surprise that people start doubting themselves about what offering is the most suitable.  To resolve this issue, we make articles such as this one. On the one hand, it is impossible to describe all available call center solutions in one post, but on the other hand, we can discuss them in pairs, comparing the popular features list, pricing, and suitability for various types of enterprises.  Today’s topic is related to two popular, but very dissimilar types of solutions. While cloud PBX solutions are known as the suitable choice for smaller or medium businesses, bigger organizations prefer to implement full-fledged сloud call centers. But what is the dissimilarity between these two software tools and why are they engaged in diametrically opposed positions on the market? They are both based on cloud computing!  To answer this question, and also to find out which of them is better for you and why, we have to go deeper into the topic, and that is exactly what we are going to do right now. Let’s begin.

What is the cloud PBX solution? 

In short, cloud PBX telephony software is the solution to perform phone calls or faxes and voicemails inside the exact organization, as internal calls - it is the option that has brought the name of PBX(Private Branch Exchange), but also to communicate with other contacts outside the internal environment. 

External contacts can be performed via landline, Voice over Internet Protocol (yes, like the cloud-hosted services), IP Desk Phones, virtual phone numbers, or just business phones. All calls are mostly performed from telephony instruments, like mobile phones, but calling via PC is also available, as well as international calls. 

As you could guess, a cloud PBX system stores all the data in the cloud, and it's the main difference between a classic PBX and a cloud one. As a consequence, PBX is just a cheaper and less universal type of cloud call center software, and this may sound like a huge advantage over those expensive cloud contact centers. 

Nonetheless, no pricing advantages exist without losses in other elements of the solution. If you make something cheaper, it can’t offer the same performance as its older and more powerful brother, whose name is all-in-one CCaaS. Finally, CCaaSS bears much more features that are unreachable for the PBX system, but anyhow, it still has its own pros and cons that differentiate it from the cloud call center software. 

Now it is time to move further to compare the telephony offering of two solutions.

What is a cloud-based contact center solution (CCaaS)?

Instead of a PBX solution, a cloud-based contact center solution bears massive advantages and offers numerous options, features, and functions that can’t be developed and used in a PBX call center. 

Such obvious options, such as third-party software integrations via AI(artificial intelligence), are almost always offered within CCaaS. On the other hand, the pricing policy can frustrate small businesses, as it is often based on the number of call center agents and features you use and starts at nearly 70$ per account. 

But let’s stop for a moment, and deal with the CCaaS definition. Contact Center as a Service is the model of purchasing the already developed and set up solution using a monthly subscription and without spending on IT maintenance, as all technical assistance is provided by the vendor who has developed and sold the solution. 

As you can see, CCaaS also offers personalization - the already developed software can be adapted for individual requirements of any enterprise before the final setup. The list of features also differs - some vendors offer the ability to choose or not to choose any features that are offered, for sample, if you don’t need outbound calls, you can evade purchasing auto dialers. 

Thanks to this flexibility, most companies look for contact center solutions. And this statement has enough arguments to be taken into consideration. But what is the purpose of the article, if everything is so evident? Maybe there is no need to discuss the PBX contact center if it can’t compete as equal?

As it is always in the real world, everything isn’t that clear. While CCaaS is still more universal, has more features, and can easily beat today's competitors in such fields as integrations or the omnichannel model of customer service, it costs much more. And some businesses just don’t need all those numerous options, as they don’t have many contact lists and call volumes to process. 

What about feature selection? Even though you can avoid some features, you still pay for a minimal set of them, and this price is still higher than some business owners are ready to pay.

As a consequence, this competition doesn’t end in this paragraph. To render a final verdict, we have to compare performance, productivity, available features, and customer evaluations of each of the solutions. 

So, let’s start the race.

PBX features


The little card with customer data arrives on the screen when a customer calls. It can contain such info as previous customer interactions, purchase history, and so on. This feature allows agents to personalize the service and understand the behavior model for every caller.


This feature allows small businesses to provide several phone numbers on a single line, without purchasing and maintaining the real, physical line to the office. As a result, customers can use up to fifty digits to get the service, while the real number of phone lines will be around ten. 

DID also allows the linking of various devices to get calls on distinct phones. For a sample, if the private telephone was left at home, the agent can easily get the call on another device.

One-click calling

This feature is great for outbound calling campaigns, where manual dialing after writing all the digits by hand can be unbearable. To resolve this problem, the click-to-call feature has been designed, and shifting from dial to dial is done by clicking one pad only. 

This feature can work paired with screen pop-ups, and provide call recording too for future real-time monitoring of agent level of performance. 

On Hold

A PBX system allows agents to put calls on hold, as it is in the CCaaS. Thus, they can ask callers to wait while the resolution of their issues will be found. 

PBX also bears additional features, which don’t need an introduction, such as call conferencing, call transfers, and voicemails. 

CCaaS features

As the contact center solution has much more options and much wider functionality, we want to present them as a list. 

  1. Auto dialers - Predictive, Progressive, and Preview algorithms to perform massive cold calls
  2. Automatic Call Distribution - the smart tool to route calls to agents based on their skill set, according to their skill set or experience, and the nature of customer requests. 
  3. Intelligent routing - another algorithm to route calls, that can get data from external databases and route calls in accordance with this data.
  4. Advanced analytics features and stats - up-to-minute dashboards with detailed info about performed calls, agent performance, main metrics, and stats.
  5. IVR - the self-service tool that helps clients solve their issues during navigating its menu sections.
  6. Call monitoring features - various modes of call control, such as whispering(only agent hears), hidden(nobody hears), and barging in(both parties hear).
  7. Third-party software integration - such tools as task managers, time trackers, and CRM software easily integrate with call center solutions.
  8. Call scripts building - a tool to import or build call scripts directly in the same interface.
  9. Call recording - recording of conversations for further analysis and use.
  10. Omnichannel approach - a tool to manage various communication channels from one interface, and switch between them in a second.
  11. Speech recognition - supporting instrument for IVR to better understand customer requests.
  12. Priority routing - accurate call routing in accordance with pre-set priorities.

As you can see, call center software offers a much wider list of options and has absolutely another level of flexibility, usability, and universality. It can cover numerous needs and perform many operations that are unreachable for the PBX system, and this can be easily explained if we take into consideration the fact that PBX software has been developed to serve as an internal communication system for one organization, and its use for business is just an option, not the main goal of the cloud PBX call center. Call center PBX solution can’t take even half of the responsibilities that are covered by the full-fledged solution, and even pricing policy can’t overplay the multifunctional and omnichannel platforms offered by CCaaS. To close the topic, let’s say that PBX starts at around 20 dollars per account, while an all-in-one solution costs around 70 dollars. 

So what is better? 

To answer this question, let’s look at what is offered by CCaaS and what can’t be used with PBX. Then, we’ll compare if it is worth paying more for cloud contact center software, or if a PBX call center is preferable in some cases - relying on the budget, number of users, and main business goals. 

Omnichannel approach

Just check this research to comprehend how the omnichannel approach boosts conversion rate, customer retention, customer satisfaction, and other vital rates which construct customer loyalty and bring you more outcomes than whatever. 

While PBX allows an agent to communicate only via phone calls, integrated call center solutions offer unbelievable flexibility in providing customer service via all available channels. Despite handling incoming calls and outbound calls, CCaaS can operate via email, messengers, social networks, live chats, and so on. 

Customers adore such an approach, and there is no argument in favor of the one-channel model. 

Smart routing for higher FCR rate

FCR is still one of the most crucial rates for any call center, and companies around the globe invest more in achieving FCR scores of at least 80%. While PBX can’t propose anything to improve the first-call resolution rate, CCaaS bears such options as ACD and sophisticated call routing, so all calls are guided directly to operators who have the most fitting skill set and experience. The sticky agent feature allows a caller to select the agent. 

On the other hand, call center software can integrate info from CRM, so the agent is equipped with a deep understanding of every caller even before he takes the inbound calls. 

Lower operational costs

While PBX is cheaper to buy, it still requires maintenance, setup, and a worker who would keep its processing. Call center solutions have a higher monthly fee, but they don’t need setup or maintenance, as all needed changes or fixes are done by the cloud contact center provider, and this service is included in the subscription’s cost.

Add here equipment for PBX, while some call centers can switch to hybrid or remote scheduling and agents will work from their laptops. Isn’t this called a cost-saving approach?

Advanced customer service options

Such options as IVR or intelligent escalating routing aren’t available for PBX, but they are vital, though. Even if call volume is unbeatable for the agents online, IVR with ACD can solve the issue by providing smart self-service and routing the issues to appropriate agents who will spend less time dealing with routine calls and will be able to focus on really important requests.

Escalating options are limited in PBX, and CCaaS can transfer the call in a few seconds, so even conflicts are resolved faster and with a better final for both parties. 

Smart outbound dialers

CCaaS is offered with three types of auto dialers, that make the cold calling campaigns faster, less effortful, and more efficient.

Predictive Dialer has an outstanding speed of processing cold bases, performing telemarketing, and updating old bases. It can start new calls even while previous ones are in progress, and avoid invalid or unsuccessful calls as well.

Progressive Dialer (sometimes called Power Dialer) can work with warm bases and is manually controlled by the agent, but still offers much longer talking time and higher conversion rates.

Preview Dialer is designed to process high-net-worth customers or VIP calls who require a personalized and special approach - it shows all the data from CRM to let agents research clients before the call starts.

More insights

While PBX can give you only a short report after each call, call center solution designs live dashboards with absolutely another level of data provided. You can control all needed call center metrics, such as  Average Handling Time or FCR, call dropout rate or call abandonment rate, shrinkage rate, agent productivity, volume of calls, queues, and all other call center operations.

It is a fact that measuring call center rates is the key to performance improvement - as you can’t improve something if you don’t know where to start. CCaaS gives this opportunity to you. 

Third-party software integrations

How to boost employee engagement and productivity? Furnish them with the proper tools. Such software as time trackers, CRMs, billing systems, helpdesk systems, and so on is easily integrated into call center solutions, and the capabilities of these integrations are much wider than PBX could ever offer. 

Such processes as agent performance monitoring, customer service personalization, and just better quality of customer assistance are achievable thanks to their flexibility. 

Easier scaling up

PBX can’t offer you any scaling-up opportunities, and when the business comes to the point where new tools and instruments become a must-have, PBX becomes outdated and useless. This is its main disadvantage, and if you know that you are going to grow the business, PBX can be chosen only as a temporary solution.

CCaaS, on the other hand, offers the easiest scaling up in comparison to its competitors. If you need more agents because of higher call volumes, or opening new lines or departments, you just purchase new seats directly from the vendor.

Telephony hardware requirements

To be honest, PBX destroys its only advantage - lower price - with the long list of hardware requirements, such as cables, furniture, stations for phones, and so on. These all things cost money, and the price isn’t low. 

CCaaS doesn’t need anything but a PC or laptop with access to the web and headphones. As you can see, there is nothing to discuss here anymore. 

Opportunities for remote work, 24/7 service, and repairability

All solutions can break down, and this will happen in one day. If the PBX crashes, the problem may lie in telephony infrastructure, and you will lose at least a day before the specialist will come and repair it, or even replace it - and here you get other costs.

Call center solutions can break down because of Internet connection issues only. All bugs and lags with it are fixed by the vendor, and you can write down his duty to do it in a few hours after identifying the problem - this option can be included in the SLA. 

What about the 24/7 service and remote scheduling? The call center solution requires only a computer to be all set, and your control and monitoring options work with remote agents too, while PBX agents have to sit in the office.

What’s in the summary

As follows from what is described above, the PBX solution has only one valuable advantage - low price. Nonetheless, it is eliminated by the long hardware requirements checklist and the inability to set it up for remote work. The number of features is much shorter than the CCaaS offers, so keep this in mind when selecting between these two.

In a summary, we must assume that PBX is acceptable, but only in one case - you own a small firm, and the volume of calls, as well as customer service requirements, are minor. In all other cases, a cloud call center solution is the undisputed leader.

Now we are done with picking up a solution, but how to choose between numerous vendors? The answer is simple: look at out VoIPTime Cloud Contact Center Solution that bears all the features described in this article, and offers an adorable price. 

Eugene Siuch

Content Manager and Copywriter

Focused on customer service measurement and improvement, SaaS marketing and industry insights, and researching different methods of staff motivation and performance management in the field of customer service providing.

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