How do contact centers differ from call centers?

All of today’s companies offer their clients support over the phone, though many have begun to take that to a new level using IP telephony. New technology is driving change in how call centers work: they have added functionality to morph into contact centers. Let’s look at the difference.

What is a call center?

A call center’s main job is to provide support by phone, or, in other words, using a voice connection. Of course, receiving calls isn’t all they do; they also make calls, offer tech support, send bills, confirm orders, clarify order details, and conduct surveys. The load is shared between employees working in tech support, marketing, sales, and other departments.

While that is the most popular format, it is far from the only one. Call centers can work as their own standalone department, and they can operate as part of a contact center.

What is a contact center?

Contact centers use a variety of communication channels: voice, web chat, email, online fax, and social networks, among others. They use those channels to process incoming contacts, answering them or getting in touch with clients to solve their problems. And so, contact centers are the larger, more expansive organism of which the call center is the heart. The call center is where communication with clients originates and is the basis for multi-channel marketing.

The call center: benefits

Regardless of limitations, call centers have their upside. For example, many clients prefer speaking with a live representative to holding a chat conversation — they know their contact or complaint was received and heard. That’s why companies continue to work with call centers, combining traditional voice communication with new technology like smart calling.

Call centers are cheaper: you can get by with just teaching operators how to work their phones and delegate everything else to different departments and representatives.

The call center: drawbacks

Many companies pushed to streamline expenses by outsourcing their call centers to other, cheaper countries. Clients, however, often react negatively to that move: a language barrier is thrown up, and they no longer trust companies that don’t give them personal attention. And so, momentum is now shifting toward bringing call centers back into companies, and compromising by limiting their hours (rather than being available 24/7).

Call centers and contact centers alike are also vulnerable to outside hacking attacks.

The contact center: benefits

Contact centers are multi-channel multi-tools. They simplify client contacts, ease the load placed on phone networks, and let operators work non-stop (using email and online chat).

As a rule, contact centers assign different operators to different contact channels. That means that each is the domain of a well-trained specialist who handles every stage of the process. Of course, it’s possible to train representatives to cover a variety of channels, though that is more difficult and more expensive.

What’s right for you?

Contact centers represent a new stage in the development of call centers, as they do more in the way they communicate with clients. Call centers still have their role, though they are more vulnerable, their equipment goes out of date faster, and they have limitations that have already been seen. With that said, the final choice has everything to do with the industry as well as the company’s revenue level and needs.

Price is a critical factor: modernizing support channels isn’t cheap, though
IP telephony cuts maintenance costs and allows for more contacts to be processed.


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