Many people think these two terms are the same, but in reality, there are many differences. After reading this article, you’ll know the specifications of each solution and understand which one is better for your business.
What is a Call Center?
The call center is a specialized department within the company or an outsourced one, which handles inbound and outbound calls with customer service or sales purposes. Call centers receive thousands of calls per day and often handle multiple calls simultaneously. As technology developed, interactive voice response (IVR) was introduced as an innovative feature of call centers. It is a system that interacts with a caller and redirects them to a specialized call center agent. It accepts a voice input and touch-tone keypad selection, analyses it, and provides the appropriate response in voice, callback, email, or other form. IVR is great for call centers as it increases agent effectiveness and customer satisfaction rates.
What Can a Call Center Do?
Before we move on to call center functions, it’s important to talk about two main kinds of call centers, which are:
- On-premise call centers. Although this alternative is a bit outdated and expensive to maintain, it ensures a high level of efficiency. On-premise facilities require complete infrastructure installation, software configuration, and maintenance, which can be very expensive.
- Cloud-based call center. Such solutions are prevalent since they offer a fast, secure, and reliable platform without spending resources on installation and maintenance of infrastructure. One more interesting thing that distinguishes the cloud-based call centers from on-premise facilities is that the whole service and infrastructure are the responsibility of the specialized call center software provider. Businesses can completely focus on achieving desired business results and satisfying their customers while the technical side will be handled by the vendor.
Now that you know about different types of call centers, it’s important to understand what functions each of them performs. Below are some examples:
- Telemarketing. Cold calling potential prospects and selling products or services is one of the most common purposes of setting up a call center. The organization cost is relatively low if you choose a cloud-based call center platform.
- Customer service and technical support. Customers usually have many questions and complaints, and call centers serve as an effective way of solving problems and keeping your clients happy. Call center team can also dial existing customers in a form of follow-ups and check if a delivery process was satisfying and on time.
- Collecting valuable information & feedback. Calling to get feedback or sharing business information with potential customers is a powerful way to drive new customers and keep existing ones satisfied.
What is a Contact Center?
Contrary to a popular belief that call centers and contact centers are the same, these are two different solutions that share similar features. A contact center is an in-house or outsourced department that handles not only inbound and outbound calls but also requests received through other digital channels (such as emails, web chat, SMS, etc.). There are many contact center definitions, but in a nutshell, it’s an omnichannel call center, just more convenient, efficient and user-friendly.
What Can a Contact Center Do?
As we mentioned above, contact centers are very similar to call centers, but they are packed with additional services that drastically increase customer satisfaction. Contact center services are mostly used for telemarketing, collecting information (feedback) and keeping customers satisfied. Here are some useful features of contact centers:
- Interactive voice response (IVR) ‒ it’s a very important feature that helps customers solve their problems faster and keeps their satisfaction high. The service directs the user to the highest skilled agent without making them wait in a queue. IVR can also serve for self-service, when the caller can enter his ID code and receive information such as his mobile balance, etc.
- CRM system ‒ contact center agents use it to store customer information, and check interaction history This approach increases the level of flexibility and security, which is crucial for handling high volumes of calls.
- Call scripts ‒ this feature is extremely useful for many contact center operations. Call scripts can contain questionnaire, knowledge bases, text blocks etc., and even display the external system in Iframe. They can be used for closing sales, providing customer service, agent training, etc. This is one of the features that can dramatically increase sales and boost customer satisfaction.
- Real-time tracking & reporting ‒ reading and understanding data is key to business success. Contact centers allow complex reporting and analytics operations to provide you with meaningful data, which can take your business to another level. Thanks to detailed data representation, you can focus on the right KPIs and foster the highest results.
Contact Center vs. Call Center ‒ What are the Differences?
So what is the major difference between a call center and a contact center? Knowing the answer to this question will help you in deciding which solution would be better for your business.
The most important difference is the number of communication channels. The call center supports the voice only, whereas the contact center enables multichannel communication. The contact center gives more choices to your clients, which helps in increasing satisfaction.
Another difference is advanced call routing capabilities. Both contact and call centers have routing options, but contact centers use more advanced software, which pulls data from multiple channels, making the whole process more accurate.
Personalization is one of the most important features in a fast-paced and competitive business today. Contact centers provide a higher level of personalization since all data is saved and organized in the CRM system. With this feature, businesses can personalize the experience for each customer, suggest products or services based on the preferences, and more.
Both call and contact centers encourage self-service. IVR functions as a digital assistant, which redirects a call to the proper department. However, IVR can only recognize voice and keypad inputs, whereas live chatbots used in contact centers can solve customer’s problems without having to make any calls. Needless to say that it’s faster and more cost-effective.
Call Center or Contact Center ‒ Which One to Choose?
Now that you know the key differences between call centers and contact centers, the logical question arises ‒ which one to choose? There is no blueprint for making this choice, so you should pick between call and contact center based on your business needs and goals. A call center has its advantages, but a contact center provides you with centralized control and more flexibility, which is the biggest reason why many companies slowly transitioning to advanced contact center technology.