What Is the Difference Between Contact Center and Call Center?
Customer experience is the heart of every business. The important aspects of customer experience include customer service and support.
How do customers reach you for service and support?
It is either through a call center or a contact center. People often interchangeably use the terms contact center and call center. However, they are vastly different from each other.
Initially, we began with call centers, which relied on telephone support as the main contact method – both inbound and outbound. Then the call centers started interacting with customers through a variety of channels – email, SMS, chat, website, mobile apps, and social media. Thus, the call center evolved into a contact center.
In this article, we will attempt to figure out the difference between a contact center and a call center.
What Is a Call Center?
A call center is a department that handles inbound and outbound calls from current and potential customers.
The call center’s primary mode of communication is the telephone. The three common types of call centers are inbound, outbound, and blended.
Inbound Call Centers
They receive calls for customer support, which can include technical support, billing questions, account management, scheduling, technical support, complaints, queries, and intent to purchase.
Their main focus is on resolving customer queries in the first call itself, and they plan to do them in the fastest possible times.
The inbound call centers handle a considerable volume of calls. They screen, forward, and log the calls. They bring automation through Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and Speech Recognition technology.
They can directly address queries or forward them to the appropriate agents through intelligent routing using automatic call distribution (ACD). Routing can be skill-based, time-based, or location-based.
Outbound Call Centers
In the outbound call centers, agents make calls to sell products or services, or market offers, provide surveys, fundraising requests, debt collections, lead generation, appointment setting, and surveying.
Multiple forms of dialing are possible with outbound call centers – predictive, progressive, preview, and manual.
They must comply with the Do Not Call Registry, DoT, and TRAI regulations.
Blended Call Centers
Blended call centers are equipped to handle both incoming and outgoing calls, allowing agents to make and receive calls as demand and strategy dictate.
Very few platforms offer this feature where the agent can switch between inbound and outbound options.
Let me give you a scenario where this would be applicable. Let us assume that your inbound agents get only a handful of calls per day, and they are free and awaiting calls for 80% of their time. Then, they can be used to handle outbound calls as well.
What Is a Contact Center?
Nowadays, contact centers have become the lifeline of customer experience. It is the central platform from which organizations manage all customer interactions across all channels.
With contact centers, customers can reach your organization across many channels – calls, email, chat, SMS, IVR, website, mobile apps, and social media channels.
Contact centers are typically integrated with customer relationship management (CRM), helpdesks, and other best-of-breed IT solutions. This allows agents to have a single view of customer interactions across all channels.
Besides, the agents would be able to access relevant information quickly and resolve customer queries at the quickest possible times.
With contact centers, you have multichannel as well as omnichannel.
Multichannel contact centers are those that have multiple channels for customers and prospects to interact with your brand, but the channels exist in silos.
Omnichannel contact centers are those that have multiple channels for customers and prospects to interact with your brand, but the channels are integrated with each other. So, a customer will never have to repeat themselves as all their interactions are captured, and it is available for the agents across all channels.
Difference Between Call Center and Contact Center
Let us list the differences between a call center and a contact center across multiple feature points.
|S. No.||Feature||Call Center||Contact Center|
|1||Definition and scope||A call center primarily focuses on managing telephone-based interactions Its scope of operations revolves around inbound and outbound calls, often within a specific domain, such as customer service or telemarketing.||A contact center encompasses a broader range of communication channels, including phone calls, emails, chats, SMS, website, mobile apps, and social media platforms. Its operations extend beyond traditional telephone-based interactions, encompassing various customer touchpoints and channels.|
|2||Communication channels||Call centers predominantly rely on telephone calls as the primary mode of communication. Agents handle incoming and outgoing calls to address customer queries, provide assistance, or conduct telemarketing activities.||Contact centers leverage multiple channels, such as phone calls, emails, chats, and social media platforms, to engage with customers. Agents have the flexibility to switch between channels based on customer preferences or the nature of the inquiry.|
|3||Range of interactions||Call centers typically handle simpler and shorter interactions that can be resolved during the phone call. They excel at providing immediate assistance or addressing straightforward customer queries.||Contact centers are equipped to handle more complex interactions that may require extended conversations or follow-up actions. They cater to a wide range of inquiries, including technical support, customer service, sales, and more.|
|4||Performance metrics||Call centers often measure their success based on metrics such as call volume, average handling time (AHT), and call resolution time. These metrics gauge the efficiency and productivity of agents in handling phone calls.||Contact centers employ a broader set of performance metrics to evaluate their operations. First contact resolution (FCR), customer satisfaction ratings (CSAT), net promoter score (NPS), customer effort score (CES), and response time across multiple channels are commonly used to assess their effectiveness.|
|5||Agent training and skill set||Call center agents receive specialized training in telephone etiquette, active listening, and resolving customer issues efficiently during phone conversations. Their expertise lies in managing voice-based interactions effectively.||Contact center agents undergo training that encompasses various communication channels, including phone calls, emails, chats, and social media. They possess a broader skill to adapt to different channels and handle multichannel conversations seamlessly.|
|6||Focus and objectives||Call centers focus on resolving immediate customer issues or providing information quickly. Their main objective is to handle incoming calls efficiently and ensure customer satisfaction during the call.||Contact centers emphasize building relationships, providing ongoing support, and engaging customers proactively. They aim to offer comprehensive assistance and personalized experiences across various channels to enhance customer loyalty and satisfaction.|
|7||Scripted responses Vs. personalized interactions||Call centers often rely on scripted responses to ensure consistency and accuracy during customer interactions. Agents follow predefined scripts to address common inquiries and maintain a standard approach.||Contact centers prioritize personalized interactions, allowing agents to tailor responses based on individual customer needs. Agents have more freedom to deviate from scripts, fostering a more natural and empathetic conversation.|
|8||Integration and collaboration||Call centers typically operate as standalone entities, handling their designated tasks independently. They may have limited integration with other departments or systems within the organization.||Contact centers often have a high degree of interaction with various departments, systems, and tools. They collaborate with other teams like marketing, sales, and IT to provide comprehensive customer support and gather valuable insights.|
|9||Reactive vs. proactive||Call centers are associated with reactive customer service. Call center agents wait for their phones to ring to offer customer support.||Contact centers emphasize proactive customer engagement and outreach. Contact center agents communicate proactively with customers to improve the overall customer experience.|
Similarities Between Call Centers and Contact Centers
While contact centers and call centers have distinct differences, they have a lot of similarities too. The similarities include the following:
Both call centers and contact centers are dedicated to handling customer interactions and inquiries. They address customer needs and provide support and resolutions.
Focus On Customer Service
Both call centers and contact centers aim to assist customers, resolve issues, and ensure customer satisfaction. Both centers prioritize delivering satisfactory customer service experiences.
Agents in both call centers and contact centers undergo training to enhance their communication and problem-solving skills. They receive guidance on how to handle customer interactions effectively and provide appropriate assistance.
Both call centers and contact centers leverage technology to manage and track customer interactions. They use CRM systems, intelligent call-routing software, and other tools to streamline operations and improve efficiency.
Both call centers and contact centers monitor agent performance and key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate their effectiveness. Metrics such as average handling time, customer satisfaction, and resolution rates are commonly measured to assess performance.
Both call centers and contact centers employ processes to manage customer inquiries and workflows. They prioritize and assign tasks, track progress, and ensure timely responses to customer requests.
Quality assurance measures are used in both call centers and contact centers to maintain service standards. Supervisors or quality assurance teams monitor interactions, provide feedback, and ensure adherence to service protocols.
Both call centers and contact centers emphasize continuous improvement to enhance customer service. They gather customer feedback, analyze trends, and adjust to optimize processes and increase customer satisfaction.
Customer Feedback Management
Both call centers and contact centers gather and analyze customer feedback to identify areas for improvement. They use customer feedback as a valuable resource for enhancing service delivery and addressing customer needs.
Both call centers and contact centers generate performance reports to track key metrics, identify trends, and assess overall performance. These reports help in decision-making and identifying areas that require attention and improvement.
There is no such thing as call centers are better than contact centers or vice versa. In fact, call centers are always a part of the contact center infrastructure. The basic infrastructure in a contact center platform is the voice channel, where you have the dialers and the telephony. This infrastructure is what is called the call center.
Call centers, over time, have evolved into contact centers. This is an era of customer experience where the entire customer journey is mapped, and every customer touchpoint is proactively seen as the way to enhance the relationship with them.
While there are similarities and differences, call and contact centers are important parts of the customer experience puzzle.