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Unified communications and contact center software have a lot in common: they both support business communication with VoIP phone, messaging, and other channels. They’re both cloud-based and becoming increasingly popular with business users.

But there are many key differences between these two types of communications software.

In this article, I’ll outline the differences between UCaaS and CCaaS to help you make the right choice for your company.


Compare UCaaS and CCaaS solutions from top providers



UCaaS vs CCaaS: What’s the Difference?

UCaaS focuses on internal team communication and collaboration, while CCaaS focuses on customer service. Unified communications platforms are cheaper and easier to use, while contact centers have more channels and features.

Unified communications platforms bundle a VoIP phone system with unique collaborative channels, like team chat and video meetings. Contact center solutions support customer-service agents with advanced features like real-time call transcription, AI assistance, advanced KPIs, and workforce management capabilities.

Put simply, UCaaS is a team-collaboration app while CCaaS is a customer-service solution.

Best For Internal team collaboration and a simple, low-cost business phone system Comprehensive multichannel customer service and agent support
Communication Channels
  • VoIP calling
  • SMS
  • Team chat
  • Video
  • VoIP calling
  • SMS
  • Web chat
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Chatbots
Essential Features
  • IVR
  • Call queues
  • Ring groups
  • File sharing
  • Chatbots and virtual agents
  • Live-agent support
  • AI-powered workflows
  • Workforce management
  • Advanced KPIs
Average Monthly Cost $20 to $40 monthly per user $75 to $200 monthly per user


What is UCaaS?

Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is a cloud-hosted software that supports team collaboration by combining VoIP calling, SMS texting, video conferencing, and team chat into one interface. Users access UCaaS features and channels through the provider’s desktop or mobile app.

UCaaS features center around a VoIP phone system with virtual phone numbers, call queueing, and routing tools like IVR menus, voicemail, and analytics. Staff use chat for 1:1 conversations, team-chat channels, and file share. Video conferencing supports interactive meetings with up to several hundred participants, with features like breakout rooms and whiteboards.


What is CCaaS?

Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) is a cloud-based software that supports customer service by unifying dozens of channels: VoIP, SMS, email, live chat, automated chatbots. CCaaS platforms also included automated bots and menus, including IVR menus and intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) that automate customer interactions on voice and digital channels.

Contact center apps are often omnichannel, which means they enable customers to reach your company through multiple touchpoints, and agents can respond to tasks across channels from a single dashboard.


UCaaS Pros and Cons

UCaaS is easy to set up, cost-effective, and promotes team collaboration. Unified Communications systems include useful routing tools like IVR and ring groups, plus analytics about call volume trends and staff usage. These tools are part of why the UCaaS industry is expected to keep a 13.9% annual growth rate through 2032.

However, unified communications apps can’t match the channel offerings and advanced customer-support and sales outreach tools that call centers offer.


UCaaS Pros

  • Promotes team collaboration: Team chat enables users to message, react with emojis, and share files from a central dashboard. Video conferencing enables interactive meetings with chat, screen sharing, breakout rooms, and whiteboarding.
  • Easy to set up and use: Add and remove users in minutes. Purchase and assign virtual phone numbers from around the globe. Set up routing, ring groups, and custom ring orders in minutes.
  • Cost-effective: Unified communications platforms offer business communications features, including call routing and queueing, for a fraction of what CCaaS systems cost
  • Flexible and convenient: Employees can access UCaaS platforms from desktop or mobile anywhere they have an internet connection. Users can handle business calls on the go, and remote teams can add users globally.

UCaaS Cons

  • Lack of certain channels: Unified communications platforms don’t enable you to communicate with customers via email or live chat, which limits their utility as a customer-service or sales platform
  • Limited automations and AI: Many UCaaS platforms don’t have any AI tools, like live-agent support or call transcription. UCaaS analytics also lack workflow automations and have limited insights without much depth
  • Only the basic sales and customer-support tools: While UCaaS offers call queues and auto attendants, they lack advanced customer-support and sales tools like automated queue callbacks and auto dialers
  • Minimal self-service features: While UCaaS has IVR menus, they don’t offer virtual agents or chatbots, which unlock a tremendous range of self-service capabilities for customers


CCaaS Pros and Cons

Contact center software improves customer service with dozens of communication channels, and hundreds of advanced features. CCaaS enables marketing and sales use cases with automated workflows and task management, reduces queue wait times with callbacks and self-service features, and supports supervisors with KPIs and workforce management tools. These features are part of why CCaaS is projected to have a 13.6% annual growth rate through 2030.

On the flip side, CCaaS software is expensive and has a steep learning curve. It may take agents and supervisors a while to get the hang of all the features.


CCaaS Pros

  • Many communication channels and features: Opt for a voice-only call center or choose an omnichannel contact center with dozens of communication channels
  • Customer self-service: Contact centers include IVR menus and chatbots, or intelligent virtual agents (IVA), which use natural language understanding and AI to power intelligent conversations and rich services
  • Advanced AI and analytics: Contact center software integrates AI extensively, with AI-powered chatbots, real-time call transcription, and live-agent insights. CCaaS software tracks advanced KPIs like customer sentiment, keyword usage, and more.
  • Supervisor and agent support: Call monitoring helps supervisors keep tabs on agent performance, and workforce management features help supervisors schedule shifts and provide feedback for agents. AI also gives agents real-time feedback.

CCaaS Cons

  • Expensive: CCaaS platforms usually cost at least $100 per seat, so they are only a good option for teams that really want to boost customer service, sales, or marketing
  • Steep learning curve: CCaaS platforms come with a lot of features and channels, many of which require a substantial setup process. It may take companies several weeks to get into the flow of using this software and its features.
  • Desktop only: While UCaaS platforms are accessible on desktop and mobile, many CCaaS providers only offer services on desktop–without a mobile app
  • Longer setup process: While a unified communications platform is up-and-running instantly, contact center software can require a few days. The setup process requires more time and effort.


How to Choose Between UCaaS and CCaaS

UCaaS is best for companies seeking a simple business phone system with built-in team collaboration via chat and video. It’s a good choice for small companies, or those looking to scale without needing too many customer-service features. Unified communications also makes sense for teams on a budget, looking for a low-cost communication system.

CCaaS is a good fit for companies looking to boost customer-service or sales use cases. Teams that handle large daily inbound and outbound call volumes, with complex routing needs, should choose CCaaS. Contact centers also make a good fit for teams that want to connect with customers across as many touch points as possible–including on email, self-service messaging, and through live chat on your website.


Who Should Use UCaaS

  • Companies that want a simple phone system: Unified communications systems are built around a VoIP phone system with simple features. Platforms usually include virtual phone numbers from many area codes, routing features like IVR and ring groups, and voicemail.
  • Those seeking team collaboration with video and chat: UCaaS platforms include team chat and video, which support internal team collaboration. You can also use video conferencing to meet with external users like clients or customers.
  • Small companies, or those looking to scale: Since UCaaS is easy to set up and accessible on any internet-connected device, it works well for teams looking to scale. The simple phone system makes a good fit for individuals, small teams, and Enterprises.
  • Businesses looking for low-cost communication: UCaaS platforms offer basic communication through voice, video, SMS, and team chat. While simple, they’re easy to use and cost roughly one-fourth as much as contact center systems.


Who Should Use CCaaS

  • Customer-support and sales teams: Contact center software includes advanced features specifically designed to improve call center functionality, improve routing, and makes sales efforts more efficient.
  • Those who want to provide multiple customer touch points: CCaaS platforms let you serve customers over the phone, SMS, email, social media, and live chat. Embed live chat into your website or app, which UCaaS doesn’t allow.
  • Businesses that want to provide self-service: Contact center self-service tools spread across multiple channels–not just IVR but virtual agents for live chat and SMS. These features use AI for rich services and more conversational interactions.
  • Those seeking deeper insights about customers: CCaaS software integrates AI more extensively, generating call transcripts and insights about agent performance, sales success rates, and customer satisfaction.


Top UCaaS and CCaaS Providers

I have tried many phone systems, UCaaS platforms, and CCaaS software systems to determine which ones are the best. Here are my picks for the top UCaaS and CCaaS platforms:


Top UCaaS Providers


Top CCaaS Providers

  • Five9: Best AI insights
  • NICE CXone: Best multichannel self-service
  • Genesys: Best for customer journey tracking
  • Talkdesk: Best digital-only contact center
  • Aircall: Most cost-effective call center
  • Twilio: Most customizable contact center dashboard


Frequently Asked Questions

Below, we’ve answered common UCaaS vs CCaaS FAQs.