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Freshcaller - Review 2021 - PCMag India

While it fits into the general category of business voice over IP (VoIP) providers, Freshcaller is heavily slanted towards call center operations rather than general business use. That means either an internal IT help desk for companies with lots of employees or a customer-facing service desk for product-oriented companies. For customers solving those needs, Freshcaller comes with a wide range of features, a key one being that its primary focus is on a softphone experience (though since we last tested the service, Freshworks has added the ability to use a SIP-compliant handset).

Softphones are popular with call center and sales operations because they make for easier high-volume call handling, easier call intervention by service desk managers, and better integration between the softphone and back-end apps. They’re also good now that remote work models are popular, because they let the employee move to any Internet-enabled network (like their home network) and access the service with the same extension and features.

While you can probably make Freshcaller work for a small business, you’ll be paying for a lot of call center features you don’t need, like help desk ticket-to-customer relationship management (CRM) conversion and integration with a variety of e-commerce platforms. Freshcaller’s pricing (below) is low enough that perhaps you don’t care, but why add the extra learning curve for users? If you’re shopping for a call center, Freshcaller is worth very close attention; but if you’re looking for an all-purpose cloud PBX, you’re likely better off with one of our Editors’ Choices in the VoIP category, including RingCentral Office for larger organizations and Intermedia Unite for smaller businesses.

Freshcaller Pricing and Plans

Freshworks is Freshcaller’s parent company, and it’s known for several other cloud services, such as Freshdesk (help desk) and Freshsales (CRM). Both of these apps and the rest of Freshworks’ portfolio are known for their solid feature sets and very competitive pricing, and Freshcaller is no exception.

All tiers require you to pay by the minute for outbound calls although Freshworks does offer a free tier, dubbed Sprout, where you can add an unlimited number of agents (not “users,” another nod to call centers). That’s a nice perk, but the rest of Sprout is a very small subset of the features in the paid tiers.

The lowest paid tier, called Blossom, comes in at $15 per agent per month when billed annually and includes 1,000 incoming minutes per month. Features for this tier are somewhat limited as you’d expect for an entry level offering. Next up is the Garden tier, which runs $29 per agent per month and supports the same number of incoming minutes as Blossom. But the Garden tier expands its feature set enough that it’s likely the one most will choose if they’re attempting to use Freshcaller as a general business cloud PBX, including things like call conferencing, call monitoring and tagging, an interactive voice response (IVR) system, and voicemail.

The two higher-end tiers are Estate and Forest. Estate runs to $45 per agent per month and raises the incoming minutes per month to 3,000. It supports all the features of the Garden tier but adds yet more features meant mainly for call centers, such as advanced call metrics, agent status, routing automation, and virtual hold to name a few. Finally, the Forest tier costs $69 per agent per month, and includes 5,000 incoming minutes per month. It also supports all the features of the other tiers and adds Freshcaller’s most advanced capabilities, like omnichannel call routing, a speech-capable IVR, and service level monitoring. All tiers can be purchased and configured through the web, and they all support a free, three-week trial.

A Softphone User Experience

Initial setup consists of testing your internet connection to make sure it supports the necessary bandwidth. Unfortunately, that should include all those new home networks so many users are employing these days, which can cause some difficulty for your company’s IT pros. However, that’s hardly unique to Freshcaller, and you can get help here from the company’s professional service arm at the higher-end pay tiers.

Freshworks uses the Twilio APIs under the covers to add security for all communications, which is a nice feature these days. However, added security can affect overall performance. Since Freshcaller is meant as a customer-facing help desk tool, it’s a good idea to test how it works on your network before implementing or you might get garbled speech or drop the call of an already irate customer.

Next, you’ll need to enter your credit card information for minutes and purchase a phone number, though this is negligible, running to only $1 per number. Once that’s complete, you should be ready to make and receive calls.

A nice feature for general business VoIP users (though we question its wisdom for call center users) is that Freshcaller’s softphone works entirely through a web browser. No need to download an Apple macOS or Microsoft Windows application as the only downloadable clients are for the mobile apps. The web client works well, however, and offers a responsive interface to all functionality, including administration tools.

Making a call consists of either selecting a contact or typing in a number. We did have a bit of an issue on a system that had multiple audio devices, but we were able to resolve the problem by switching to a wired headset and disabling Bluetooth. Call quality was reasonable for the short duration of our calls.

The above-mentioned mobile apps are available for both Apple iOS and Google Android. They do allow you to conduct business from your mobile device, but these apps don’t have total feature parity with the full web client. At the time of this review, only the Android app provided a Contacts tab allowing you to create, edit, and view contacts. According to the company, an iOS update is on Freshworks’ list and promised soon. When you close a call on the Android app, you immediately get a dialog popup allowing you to enter any call notes at that time, again a call center-oriented feature, though it could also work for many sales applications.

Freshcaller admin settings screen shot

Administering Freshcaller

Freshcaller’s dashboard screen presents a list of call metrics, including all calls In Queue or In Conversation. This same screen presents service-level metrics that include average and longest wait time, average handle and talk time, and average time to answer. Again, these aren’t metrics that would be overly useful to any business other than a service desk. The My Performance tab shows information about personal calls, including a list of the most recent calls. A call metrics tab gives details on specific calls along with quick access to a recording and what Freshcaller refers to as the “call lifecycle.” This is a detailed breakdown of the different phases of a particular call, including routing and cost.

Probably because of its help desk orientation, Freshcaller’s reporting stands out above many of the other products we’ve reviewed with both out-of-the-box reports plus the ability to modify or create a totally new report. You can do this through the report editor, which lets you easily create a custom report by modifying an existing template. These templates include basic textual reports and visual charts. You can mix and match the chart types and also add custom data filters to meet whatever reporting criteria you need.

Freshcaller reporting screen shot

Call Routing and Integrations

For applications where agents make instead of receive calls, there’s a feature named Voicemail Drop. This allows an agent to record a message that will be played automatically if a call goes to voicemail. This lets agents quickly move on to the next call. You’ve probably experienced this with many robocall services, and the feature usually kicks in automatically if the preceding IVR menu indicates that the prospect is best handled automatically or by a specialized agent.

Freshcaller offers several integrations primarily focused on supporting customer and call center management. Salesforce integration leads the way on the CRM front along with Agile CRM and, of course, Freshworks’ own CRM, Freshsales. There is also support for several ecommerce platforms, and some team collaboration apps, too, including Microsoft Teams and Slack.

You can integrate custom apps using the Freshworks REST API and developer portal. The Freshworks Developer Forum provides a website where other developers and platform experts offer help to anyone looking to build or integrate their own custom application with any Freshworks service.

Good Features If You Run a Call Center

This product is obviously aimed at call center applications and appears to cover that niche quite well. While we only tested the softphone capability, that’s how most customers will use the service, especially now that many employees, especially help desk staff, are working from home. In our testing experience, call quality was more than adequate for this use case. The reporting tools, while very good, also reflect the call center focus and deliver more information and flexibility than other products, for example Mitel MiCloud, which has a more general business focus.

The only other downside to Freshcaller, and it’s something that call centers probably don’t like either, is that the pay-by-the-minute plans could get expensive for operations with high call volumes.

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