The call center is far from a new concept, as sales representatives have relied on telephone communications as the main mode of contact between businesses and prospects or customers for nearly half a century. However, the form of the call center has changed in recent years as digital technology has continued to develop, with more customer demands to meet.
Innovative technologies such as VoIP have opened up new doors of customer-business communication, causing traditional call centers to evolve into contact centers. Here are some of the key differences between the two.
What Defines a Call Center?
Call centers are either branches of contact centers, or completely standalone. Unlike contemporary contact centers, call centers typically only utilize voice communication in their operations. The lingering necessity of telecommunications keeps call centers relevant and valuable for working with clients, particularly as VoIP continues to gain popularity.
Call centers can handle nearly every step of customer interaction, including customer support, technical support, billing, order placement, order status, and promotions and surveys. Call centers often manage both outbound and inbound communications, with different agents trained for each aspect of communication. However, call centers are best when supplemental to a complete contact center that takes advantage of all customer-business communication mediums.
How Is a Contact Center Different?
Unlike a call center that only relies on telephone communications, a contact center takes advantage of multiple contact channels, including web chat, email, social media, video communications, and more. While a call center covers telecommunications, a contact center is basically a hub that encompasses all available contact channels. This makes a contact center much more important in today’s businesses than a simple call center.
Pros and Cons of Call Centers
Taking advantage of a complete contact center provides many advantages, but in some cases businesses may want to stick with a call center alone. One of the reasons for this is the fact that telephone communication is still incredibly popular among consumers, and certain businesses may not be able to afford a comprehensive contact center. Utilizing a call center by itself can also save time and effort on training employees, only requiring them to contact customers through a single communication method.
On the other hand, certain downsides can also come with call centers. For instance, many businesses outsource their call centers to foreign countries where agents’ native language isn’t English. This potential language barrier can cause frustration among customers, to the point where companies lose business. Running call centers 24/7 can also result in accumulated costs over time. The best way for businesses to get the most out of a call center is to keep it in-house and manage their hours effectively.
Upsides and Downsides of Contact Centers
Unlike limited call centers, contact centers allow businesses to use multiple channels of communication to make customer contact as easy as possible. This allows companies to appeal to many types of customers with different contact preferences.
The only cons to a contact center would include the need to train employees on multiple channels of contact, which can take a lot of time and potentially confuse agents. However, the ROI of a contact center makes it worth the training efforts.
Businesses should consider their communication needs and weight the benefits and disadvantages to determine if they need a call center or contact center.