Employees at call centers

Call Centers vs Contact Centers: What’s the Difference?

Both call centers and contact centers are critical tools for customer service. Setting up a successful call or contact center is important for ensuring customer satisfaction and for building a brand’s value. Both of these kinds of centers involve the use of phone channels for communication. However, beyond those similarities, these two communication centers are quite different. In understanding the differences between these two centers, companies can discover which model best applies to their needs and use cases.

What are call centers?

Call centers are what many businesses classically see as the core of customer service. Concretely, it is a business operation center equipped to handle massive volumes of customer support calls. Call centers can be either on-site at a company or managed remotely. The purpose of call centers is to optimise the phone channels so they are as efficient as possible while the agents field inbound calls and make outbound calls.

Voice communication by phone is the main channel of communication in call centers. They are specifically designed to handle large volumes of customer service, technical support, and sales calls. The purpose of a call center is flexible, allowing companies to easily combine the competencies and roles of their agents to maximise efficiency.

One challenge for call centers is that customers increasingly are seeking a wider variety of communication channels. People hope that with several communication options, their questions and concerns will be able to be resolved faster and more easily. For more challenging questions, call center agents may feel limited that they are unable to escalate voice calls to another form of communication such as real-time video conferencing. However, video call solutions such as ViiBE can easily be integrated into a call center’s existing structure and processes.

People smiling and working in call centers

What are contact centers?

Contact centers differ from call centers in that their purpose is to cater to the growing preference for providing omnichannel customer support. Over 60% of people report that the most important aspect of a good customer service experience is being able to resolve an issue quickly. By increasing the ways that customers can contact a company, contact centers reduce wait times, leading to more positive support experiences. These hubs measure agent performance and customer satisfaction across the channels used in each center.

Due to the omnichannel support, there is a large amount of resulting data. With so much data and so many forms of support, it can be more complex to understand performance results in a contact center than a call center. This is why it is important to define specific KPIs that allow companies to measure and draw meaningful conclusions about their results.  

Contact centers may also experience difficulties due to a lack of interchannel communication. While all the agents are working towards a common goal, channel departments may become siloed. If customers are communicating with the company via multiple channels, and these channels do not have a transparent way to share information, then the customer may become frustrated and unsatisfied. 

Call centers vs contact centers
Source: Salesforce

However, despite the organisational challenges, contact centers are beneficial in their ability to be flexible in communicating with customers according to their preferences. While call centers are reliant on voice calls, contact centers can use phone, email, social media, chat boxes, and more to communicate based on whatever method is most comfortable and convenient for the customer.

As seen in the graphic above, many customer service organisations intend to implement new communication channels in the next 18 months. Among these, live support and video support tools, like ViiBE, are the communication channels that companies most plan to integrate in the near future. As a result, providing increased communication and collaboration options boosts customer satisfaction.

Why choose?

In comparing and contrasting the purposes and functions of these two customer service staples, companies can better explore their customer support options. It is important for them to understand how they can combine their channels for communicating with customers, their CRMs, and their organisational needs into these structures. Ultimately, a company’s choice between creating a contact center or a call center will depend on its business needs and goals, including its scale, activity type, and trajectory.

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