Many people think that call center and contact center are synonyms. The terms are often used interchangeably when, in fact, many differences separate the two customer support systems. Understanding these differences is the first step to providing a remarkable customer experience.
In this post, we’ll look at what makes a call center and a contact center. We’ll also dive into the benefits of both models and what makes them different. This guide can help you decide if the best option for your company is a call center or a contact center.
What is a call center?
Call centers enable customers to speak directly to a company representative. The center can be inbound or outbound. This means agents respond to incoming calls and offer resolutions to customer queries or contact customers to inform them of offers.
Agents are ready to pick up the phones and solve any issues for callers. This can be anything from processing a pending payment to guiding customers through the company website. Call centers are in high demand. 76% of Americans prefer phone service over any other channel.
Companies maintain call quality thanks to call center quality monitoring. The Quality Assurance team is responsible for identifying areas for improvement in a call and coaching the agent. Training is also provided to new agents to ensure they feel confident when discussing company and product-specific information.
As for the phone system call centers use, companies typically go for a VoIP PBX or a VoIP/ UCaaS solution as the most feature-rich and efficient options.
Call center benefits
Uncertainty is one of the biggest side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Right now, human connections are more important than ever, and this makes call centers more necessary than ever. Solving complicated queries over the phone provides an effortless point of contact for customers.
Nowadays, call centers are even more efficient thanks to Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology. This works by receiving calls with an automated system that displays several options for callers to choose from. By selecting a specific topic or query, the caller can speak to a specialized agent trained to help in the selected area.
Another benefit is that call centers usually have lower costs as you don’t need expensive infrastructure to set it up. One of the main expenses is the VoIP cost, as it’s the most important part of a call center.
What is a contact center?
Just like in a call center, agents in a contact center also handle inbound and outbound calls. But, the main difference is that they also serve customers over other channels. Support can be offered via email, texts, webchat, or other digital platforms.
A characteristic of this omnichannel strategy is that all support channels are connected. This makes it easier for customers to move from one platform to another without disrupting the service. All the support systems are integrated, making it easy for consumers to choose the one they prefer.
As our world becomes increasingly digital, people expect to have various options to contact a company. Whether it’s a millennial who wants support via social media or an old-school customer calling the support line, people want to have options. Recent research shows that 9 out of 10 consumers want an omnichannel service.
Contact center benefits
A contact center is all about empowering customers to interact with companies exactly the way they need to. By displaying the same information across all channels and keeping a cohesive brand personality, they can perfect the customer experience.
Another benefit of being a consistent and integrated contact center is that customer data is accessible from all platforms. This speeds up customer interactions and ensures agents can easily track any information they need. This can save you some valuable time.
One of the advantages of having various communication channels is that queries are distributed among all channels. This can speed up the average handle time and average response time.
Agents who answer queries via webchat, texts, or social media can also save a lot of time by using automated responses. This is a clear advantage over call centers, which spend more time resolving every query over the phone.
The main difference between a call center and a contact center is the channels used. In a call center, agents only speak to customers on the phone. Though it offers a sense of trust and proximity, it limits the customer experience. Contact center agents can resolve queries and issues via many different channels, adapting to different customer needs.
The equipment needed for both centers is also quite different. The only hardware needed for both centers is a computer and a VoIP phone headset. However, contact centers need different programs and applications installed to serve customers across all channels.
Training for call centers and contact centers is also distinct. Contact center agents need to learn to answer queries via webchat, email, and even social media. Though it may seem quite straightforward, each company will have different protocols for each channel. This can include specific templates for emails or automated social media responses.
Independence and proactivity are also very important for any customer support center. Contact centers are great at giving control to customers. Having a choice that adapts to their needs is an effective way of increasing loyalty and satisfaction. While call centers have IVR systems, which can serve as a self-serve tool, they’re not quite as effective.
Choosing between a contact center and a call center is a decision that involves some planning and analysis. Both support systems have their pros and cons, so the choice should be based on your company’s needs.
If you have a smaller business that may not require that much customer support and you don’t have much money or time to invest in it, a call center might be the best option for you. However, if you want to be seen as an avant-garde company that adapts to customer needs, you may want to set up a contact center.