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Customer service is not an option for businesses anymore as every business, regardless of its size, needs to have a dedicated team of people who can handle customer requests. A survey has found that customers are expecting better customer service today than before and they are looking for reliable services along with less waiting times. It is important for businesses to meet customer expectations as this can lead to customer loyalty, better sales, enhanced business reputation, and competitive advantage. Call centers and contact centers can be used for this purpose.

Many people often confuse the terms contact center and call center and use it interchangeably. While the two terms may seem alike at a glance as they provide customer support and customer service, there are major differences between the two that set them apart. This guide will help you understand the difference between contact center and call center, the advantages, and disadvantages of each. By the end of this article, you will find it easier to choose which center is better suited for your business.

What is a Contact Center?

A contact center is not focused on only providing assistance to customers through calls. It is often called an omnichannel contact center because customers can contact your business in more than one way; i.e. using different channels. A contact center uses various mediums through which communication takes place. The most popular channels used by a contact center include phone calls, SMS, live chat, support tickets, and email.

What is a Call Center?

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Now let us talk in some depth about what is a call center. A call center provides services whereby inbound and outbound calls are handled by a business for assisting customers. A call center provides communication only through voice. People who handle calls in a call center are known as representatives or agents. A business can rely on either of two types of technologies for powering their call centers. It can rely on VoIP which stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol or on-premises PBX which stands for Private Branch Exchange.

Understanding VOIP and PBX

VoIP is often called a cloud phone system because it uses an active internet connection for inbound and outbound calls. The calls made using this system have better voice quality in general. It is easier to use this technology because the devices currently being used by a business can be used to install the software. On-premises PBX is often what traditional call centers use and it consists of phone lines and desk phones. A call center can be divided into two types based on how the type of calls it handles. It can be divided into inbound and outbound call centers.

Types of Call Centers

An inbound call center is where a business receives calls from its customers. When a customer calls, the call is sent to an agent who is available based on the policy set by your business. The call center agent can view all the customer information when the customer calls such as their email and user ID or he can verify the customer details by simply asking. Inbound call centers are used for technical support, inquiries, troubleshooting and billing assistance. In an outbound call center, calls are made to customers by the call center representatives related to marketing, sales, subscription offers, upselling and cross-selling purposes.

Benefits Of A Contact Center

The following are some of the key benefits of a contact center:

  • As contact centers have more data because of omnichannel models, they can store more customer data. This enables contact center representatives to take a look at the customer information including prior communication with the center. Although the information may not be in-depth especially when regarding previous communication, it can still provide sufficient information in terms of user behaviour, customer trends, etc.
  • A contact center has the benefit of improving marketing campaigns by your business if a CRM is used. When this is the case, then whenever customers call regarding a campaign, it becomes easier to route the customer query to the correct person or system. This can help save time and can improve the response rate.

Disadvantages Of A Contact Center

Although contact centers might seem like a good option for your business, it is important to know about their many disadvantages.

  • Contact centers generally have long wait times even in the case when they provide different channels of communication. This is because contact centers have a queuing system that can make the waiting time much longer. If a customer is trying to communicate with an agent then he won’t be willing to wait for a long time which can lead to the customer getting increasingly frustrated and dissatisfied. Contact centers suffer from longer hold times too which can make the business suffer as customers are generally unwilling to wait for so long.
  • There can be language barriers in contact centers which can lead to customers feeling annoyed. Let us say your business has an outsourced contact center. When a customer makes contacts via a channel, it can be routed to an agent who is working from another country. If the agent is not fluent or able to communicate properly due to a language barrier, then the customer will be left upset as effective communication won’t be able to take place. This can cause problems for a business with a contact center.
  • As contact centers offer services through different channels to customers it can be a challenge to meet the common goal of the business which is to provide customer satisfaction. This is because of the gap in interdepartmental communication. Agents who are in charge of speaking to customers via phone are not communicating with agents who are in charge of speaking to customers via live chat. When the same customer communicates using different channels it is often impossible for the different agents to know everything. This can lead to customer dissatisfaction.

Benefits Of A Call Center

Call center applications are wide. Here are some of the topmost benefits of a call center.

  • A call center carries a lower risk when compared to a contact center. Specifically, with VoIP, the calls can be routed to representatives without fuss and this can make a business’s job easier. Due to its sole focus on handling calls, the risk of anything going wrong is extremely less and rare which makes it a much safer option than a contact center.
  • A call center can handle loads of calls. VoIP technology that is now used by most businesses provides reliable connection than traditional on-premises PBX and the call quality is much better too. As a call center has one purpose, it consists of dedicated hardware and software that is used to manage and handle a large volume of calls.
  • Call centers can be flexible as solutions such as VoIP can be used in various scenarios such as a coworking space, at the office, and at home. Your call center agents can work from where they wish and this can help boost remote work that is increasingly becoming a norm. Your call center agents can work from another continent and handle calls from there with ease through a hosted PBX system.
  • You will find that a call center is comparatively cheaper than a contact center. As more businesses choose VoIP, they are cutting their costs even more than ever before. VoIP is great for all businesses including startups and small businesses because of their convenience, reliability, and lower cost. It cuts down unnecessary costs of several channels that may not be extensively used.
  • Call centers generally have in-depth analysis features because only voice calls are being handled by them. It is easier for your representatives to get access to information regarding calls. For example, it is simpler to know how well the agents are handling their calls and which calling trends are working. These analytics can help make the call center more efficient.

What Is Right For Your Business?

Now that you understand the key differences between a contact center vs call center, you might be wondering which center is best for your business. If you have lots of agents then you might want to set up a contact center but this should only be the case if you can handle all customer requests. If you set up an omnichannel and are unable to process the requests then all your efforts will be wasted. If your business relies on calls then you should set up a call center as it is cheaper, provides dedicated service, and has a lower risk. 

Don’t want to risk setting up a call center in-house because of space/financial/experience constraints? Try inbound call center outsourcing or outbound call center outsourcing from Expert Callers.

Expert Callers has provided a range of call center outsourcing services to numerous industries across the globe. We can help your business snatch customers right under the nose of your competitors thanks to our unmatched customer support service available at affordable pricing. Talk to us today to know more about our customized services and success stories that have empowered businesses worldwide.