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February 11, 2022

Contact Center vs. Call Center: What’s the Difference?

Are you wondering if your business needs a contact center or a call center? They may seem the same, as they are often used interchangeably, but there are key differences you should know about. 

Outsourcing customer support has improved efficiency, increased productivity, and delivered a better customer experience. So, should you outsource to a contact center or a call center? Which would provide a more streamlined process and satisfy your customer’s needs more effectively?

Here we’ll go over the differences between a contact center and a call center so you can determine which is best for your business. 

What Is a Call Center?

Traditional call centers take incoming calls and make outbound calls. So, their focus is on voice calls. Some call centers have branched out and offered other communication channels, but the interactions typically stick with the one channel. It doesn’t provide the full spectrum of the customer’s journey.

Call center agents commonly take incoming calls from customers that need support. Some call centers make outbound calls to customers for debt collection or other transaction-related issues. There are call centers that make outbound telemarketing calls to general sales. Some call centers are in-office, while others are outsourced to a professional call center. 

What is a Contact Center?

Contact centers offer a more omnichannel approach to customer service. While they still take incoming customer service calls like call centers. However, they also communicate with customers through many of the standard methods used today, such as:

  • Email 
  • SMS 
  • Online chat 
  • Social media platforms
  • In-app chat 

Contact centers have a more modern process with a deeper focus on the customer’s experience. They have the tools and technology for customers to contact for support through whichever channel they prefer, which improves their experience with a brand. 

Contact centers are either in-office and handled directly or outsourced to a third-party provider. Some call centers have top-of-the-line technology that can streamline the processes. 

Top contact centers utilize intelligent routing systems across multiple channels to ensure a smooth process for both the customer and agents. 

Key Differences Between Contact Center and Call Center

Below are the primary differences between a contact center and a call center.

1. Communication Channels 

The most significant difference between contact centers and call centers is their communication channels. Contact centers are on the up and up when delivering a great customer experience. 

Contact centers make getting customer support a breeze by using a range of communication channels based on what consumers want today. 

Contact centers go for a more data-driven approach with communication and the channels used and most effective at solving customers’ needs quickly and efficiently. 

By offering customer support through phone, email, SMS, online chat, and social media, customers can receive support through the channel they want at that time. 

Consumers today have higher expectations for customer service than ever before. They demand personalized service through the channel they want. If not, they might churn. 

With so many options of companies to buy from, consumers call the shots. So, businesses must deliver, so many utilize contact centers to win their customers’ loyalty. 

Call centers fall short by sticking to phone calls to communicate with customers, which most consumers today prefer. Even if they offer multichannel communication, it’s typically not omnichannel to create a consistently positive customer experience. 

2. Service Provided

Contact centers have a more customer-centric focus and strategically plan and implement the best practices for delivering a great customer experience. Contact centers typically engage more with customers and provide personalized service to create strong relationships. 

Call centers commonly handle inbound and outbound sales or technical support calls. It’s more of a transaction-based model to get a specific task done.

3. Workforce vs. Self-Service

Contact centers customize their services as consumer needs evolve. Many consumers like a self-service option when possible to get their needs met. Contact centers offer self-service channels for those customers that don’t want to communicate with anyone but need help.

Self-service options cut down on the workforce needed while maintaining efficiency and customer satisfaction. Less workforce means less overhead costs. It’s pretty awesome. 

Chatbots are available for customers to find answers to common questions or issues, and if it doesn’t solve their problem, an agent is ready to step in and help.

Call centers use the “pick up the phone and call for help” approach to customer service, which doesn’t work for all consumers today. Some modern call centers offer interactive voice responses in which customers can get answers to questions, but if they can’t find the information they need, it can be a lengthy wait to get through to an agent to help. 

4. Automation 

Contact centers use modern automation systems to keep everything running smoothly. The automation system routes tickets and allows agents to update them easily, including marking them for follow-up or completion. It helps agents be super-efficient and work quickly to maximize production.

Call center software automates outbound calls with options to personalize voicemails. These power dialers maximize outbound contacts without causing agent burnout. 

5. Customer Journey View 

Contact center software provides a full view of the customer’s journey with the company all on one screen for the agents to view. It allows service agents to quickly identify the client and their purchase history to provide more personalized support. Contact center software can often easily integrate with a company’s CRM to streamline processes. 

Since call centers typically work over the phone, the agents often collect customer info through that channel, which takes time and often doesn’t provide the customer’s entire history. It cripples the agents from providing the level of personalized service consumers expect. 

6. Agent Skills

Call center agents use the phone and make sales or route calls. These don’t require the skills contact center agents need. Since contact center agents utilize multiple digital channels, they have to have more technical skills to handle tickets effectively. 

Communicating through email, SMS, online chat, and social media requires excellent written communication skills. Contact center agents represent a company, so it’s imperative they can address customers’ concerns and satisfy their needs through verbal and written communication effectively. 

Poor written communication skills result in a lot of back and forth with customers. Bad communication often upsets customers, which causes more issues than any agent wants. So, contact center agents need to have excellent verbal and written communication skills. 

Contact center agents often need to multitask through multiple channels and software to route tickets and handle customer inquiries. The ability to handle all processes effectively requires a specific skill set. 

Is a Contact Center or Call Center Better for Business?

In short, a contact center is better for businesses as they offer more personalized service with a more significant emphasis on the customer experience. Call centers can take calls from your customers and provide support, but contact centers go above and beyond to ensure that the customer service is fast and efficient. 

Contact centers provide an omnichannel support approach to ensure customers’ needs are satisfied through the channel they choose to add to a positive buying experience. Essentially, contact centers help build stronger relationships with customers to retain more of them.  

Contact center software often has the feature to send customer surveys after a transaction to track how well agents are satisfying customers’ needs. It’s critical to ensure that every transaction goes well to gain a large following of happy and loyal customers. 

Contact centers are more mindful of what consumers want and offer a customer service approach that’s: engaging and focuses on the customer’s overall experience by:

  • Offering communication through multiple channels 
  • Proactively ensuring a fast and smooth process
  • Engaging with customers
  • Adapting to the evolving needs of customers 
  • Strategically plan and implement the best practices for a positive customer experience 

So, if you’re looking for a center that focuses on customer experience, a contact center is the way to go. If you’re strictly looking for telemarketing, a call center will suffice. 

All in All

Contact centers and call centers have some similarities but are very different. Contact centers offer a more modern approach to customer service. In today’s highly competitive market, it’s critical to deliver what consumers want, including how they want it. Contact centers offer multichannel communication allowing customers to contact a business however they wish. 

Call centers typically only offer communication through the phone, which just doesn’t cut it when providing customer service. Call centers often focus on inbound and outbound calls for things like telemarketing and tech support.

Are you ready to get your contact center set up to deliver the awesome support your customers need? If so, contact Awesome OS today!

 

Sources:

American Express Study Shows Rising Consumer Expectations for Good Customer Service | Inc.com

50 Stats Showing The Power Of Personalization | Forbes

When The Best Customer Service Is Self-Service: 5 Customer Experience Design Best Practices | Forbes

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