Contact Center vs. Call Center: Choosing One for Your Business
Call centers and Contact centers (including cloud contact centers) are often used interchangeably to help businesses handle customer communications and deliver customer service. However, they have their distinct differences.
This article will explore the differences between a contact center and a call center and help you determine which best suits your business needs.
What is a Contact Center?
A contact center is an omnichannel contact center that offers more communication channels than a call center. These channels of communication include:
- Live chat
- Support tickets
- SMS/Text Messages
- Phone calls
- Social media
With a contact center, you can streamline and improve customer communication. Customers can reach you through more than one channel, and your customer support agents can respond to them across multiple channels—all in one solution.
What is a Call Center?
A call center is a customer service operation that provides support only through inbound and outbound calls. Call centers only offer phone support and do not offer support via email, chat, and social media channels. This is the fundamental difference between call centers and contact centers.
Call centers have specially trained inbound and outbound customer service agents who may work in the office or remotely. Inbound agents accept incoming calls and assist with customer issues, while outbound agents focus on sales and outreach.
Contact Center vs. Call Center
Call centers and contact centers operate within the same field of customer support. However, below are some areas showing the two are not the same.
Contact centers provide omnichannel support and therefore use omnichannel routing. Omnichannel routing directs incoming calls and real-time chats to the best agents according to user-defined rules; this is handled by an automatic contact distributor (ACD).
In contrast to call centers, contact centers also use workforce management software for omnichannel planning. This helps handle multiple channels and schedule suitable agents to the appropriate contact.
For contact center as a service, an integrated desktop brings everything in one place for agents. This unified dashboard ensures that no customer information is missed and for cloud contact centers, they are backed up in the cloud. They also have access to reporting and analytics that inform the business for better decision-making.
Call centers assist with handling the telephone inquiries/interactions and they have low service costs compared to a full contact center. They handle a high volume of calls simultaneously and customer queries according to their position in a call queue.
Contact centers help customers by providing multiple channels for communication from phone calls to chats, social messaging, emails, and more. According to the 2019 NICE CX Benchmark, 90% of consumers said they are more likely to do business with companies that provide more communication methods. In addition, 93% of consumers expect organizations to provide a seamless omnichannel experience.
Industries that use Call centers include Banks, Credit card issuers, Electronics manufacturers, Non-profit organizations, Service providers, and Utility companies.
Industries that use Contact centers include Banking, Energy & Utilities, Government, Healthcare, Insurance, Retail, Resources, Telecommunications, and Travel & Hospitality.
Call centers offer your agents only one means of communication – by voice. With a contact center, your agents can help multiple customers from multi-channel options from voice to email, texts, online chats, and web interfaces.
Some people do not enjoy being on the phone, while others may have a situation that does not allow them to talk. In this case, they desire other channels of communication.
Below are some skills where call center and contact center agents differ:
- Speaking: Call center agents need more speaking skills as call centers are phone-focused, whereas contact center agents can accommodate customers through chat.
- Writing: Contact center agents need more writing skills since they write responses to customers’ queries and concerns. Therefore, everything they write needs to be professional, concise, grammatically sound, and completely understandable responses.
- Social media etiquette: Contact center agents need to know what they should say on social media and how. The world sees whatever you post out there, and a public blunder can have terrible consequences for your business.
- Multi-tasking: As a contact center agent, multi-tasking across multiple channels and responding concisely to conversations is critical.
Choosing the best customer service solution for your business
Understanding your customers ‘ needs and expectations is key when it comes to contact center vs. call center. Call centers serve an essential need of inbound and outbound phone calls, while contact centers offer a more robust customer service with seamless omnichannel support across all customer touchpoints.