By Danny Wong
Customer needs and touchpoints are increasingly complex. To thrive, brands must adopt the channels their customers actively use and go above and beyond in delivering memorable experiences. As a result, customer service departments have evolved beyond the traditional call centre. These days contact centres are the norm, and they make it easier for companies to be available and accessible for customers.
In this article, we define what a call centre is, what a contact centre is, and we explore the pros and cons of each to help you determine which one to invest in for your business.
What Is a Call Centre?
A call centre is a unit within most companies that manages inbound and outbound customer calls. Agents mostly provide on-the-phone support for customer inquiries and aim to deliver one-call resolutions. Most small and midsize organizations house a handful to a couple dozen call centre agents, whereas corporations can employ hundreds.
Among many companies, typical call centre agents cover 40 to 50 calls a day. Their calls consist of general inquiries, billing questions, sales, order status updates, and technical support. Often, they use software that features a CRM system to surface important buyer data that helps give context to the customer’s call. Another benefit of call centre solutions include the ability for customer service reps to instantly jump into a conversation with the next caller to minimize downtime.
Call centre reps are also trained to prompt opportunities for cross-sells and upsells, enabling them to generate more revenue per user. They are often trained to be articulate, empathetic, and patient, especially when dealing with more emotional customers.
Call Centers and Contact Centers: Which Better Serves Customers?
- A call center, as its name suggests, focuses on customer service over the phone.
- A contact center handles a variety of channels for customer service.
- For many companies, a contact center may be a better option.
- The average customer now uses 10 different channels to communicate with companies.
- 66% of service professionals say their organization is seeing increased case volume through digital channels.
What Is a Contact Centre?
A contact centre consists of customer experience specialists who cover a wide variety of digital service channels. These specialists are adept at providing exceptional customer experiences through inbound and outbound calls, email, live chat, screen sharing, social media, text messaging, video conferencing, and more.
Contact centres are designed to facilitate conversations with customers in any manner they prefer, which allows agents to be more accessible so that customers can reach a resolution faster. Rather than dial a toll-free customer service line and wait on hold for the next representative, users can instant message a brand through their website or on their preferred social media platform and multitask while they wait for a reply. This is known as asynchronous messaging, and it is becoming more popular among consumers. Alternatively, for non-urgent requests, customers can send an email or schedule a video conferencing call. Through contact centres, companies add convenience to their list of competitive advantages.
Automation and tools including chatbots are also common among contact centres. These tools allow brands to take a more proactive role in delivering important user information, enable them to cut down on wait times, and save the organization money and time.
Given the different formats and channels for customers to interact with a brand, contact centres collect important data points from each user. This helps ensure customers have a seamless experience when they toggle between channels.
The Differences Between a Call Centre and Contact Centre
Although some people use the terms call centre and contact centre interchangeably, there are distinct differences with each approach.
Call centres have a singular focus, which is to provide quality customer service through the phone. As a result, call centre agents often know how to detect subtle cues to help them guide the conversation to a positive resolution, are quick to think on their feet given the real-time nature of the conversation, and have the ability to de-escalate situations if the person on the other line loses their composure. Call centres are an important part of many customer service departments.
Contact centres have a broader mandate spanning a number of different channels. They still, however, maintain one core mission, which is to deliver an extraordinary customer experience. Contact centre reps regularly toggle between the phone, live chat, email, and other communication mediums to assist customers by any means possible. This often allows them to provide more comprehensive service faster.
7 Customer Service Channels and Their Future Use
- A number of service organizations use a wide variety of channels for customer service, but plan to use more in the future.
- 95% currently use
- 3% plan to use within 18 months
- 95% currently use
- 4% plan to use within 18 months
- Social media
- 72% currently use
- 13% plan to use within 18 months
- Text or SMS
- 63% currently use
- 13% plan to use within 18 months
- Messenger apps
- 55% currently use
- 18% plan to use within 18 months
- Online chat or live support
- 52% currently use
- 23% plan to use within 18 months
- Video support
- 33% currently use
- 32% plan to use within 18 months
Due to the personal nature of phone calls, call centres are limited in their ability to follow up with customers after reaching a resolution. This makes it harder for call centres to gather user feedback and help customers re-engage with the brand. Contact centres, on the other hand, can schedule email drip campaigns, automated text message follow-ups, and instant messages to check in on customer satisfaction rates after their issue has been resolved. This is especially useful since contact centres can then use this as an opportunity to collect customer reviews to post publicly.
Since call centres strictly take and deliver phone calls to customers, they may only collect data around phone interactions. Contact centres, with their wide array of user touchpoints, collect exponentially more data that enables reps to better personalize the customer experience.
The real-time nature of phone calls requires that many call centres operate on fixed hours so customers know when they can dial in with their questions. Contact centres help to solve this limitation by offering alternative means of sharing their issues and questions, such as through email and social media, where they are accustomed to waiting for a response a few hours later or even the next day.
Why Contact Centres May Be the Best Option for Your Business — And Your Customers
Businesses that are looking to build their first customer service department or are eager to update the way they interact with customers may find themselves choosing between creating a traditional call centre or a more modern contact centre.
Call centres are straightforward to operate and are relatively cost-effective, since all you need is a script, a telephone, and call centre software. Their simplicity can be attractive for some business owners who might want to avoid overcomplicating their customer service approach.
What Canadian Customer Service Professionals Say About Their Work
- Their top service priorities
- Improving processes and workflows
- Improving workforce skills
- Improving service technologies
- Their top service challenges
- Keeping up with changing customer expectations
- Budgetary constraints
- Ineffective or inefficient processes
- 73% of service decision makers say emerging technology is transforming customers’ expectations of their service organization.
- 52% of service professionals say their organization is seeing increased case volume through digital channels
However, contact centres do make it more seamless for customers to get in touch with your business and have a positive experience. Often, this means customers are less frustrated about the issues they face and are more likely to walk away delighted and happy. Contact centres can come with higher ongoing costs. They require various software licenses for tools such as live chat, text messaging, and video conferencing. Many companies justify the cost when those additional features help them increase customer happiness, drive more client referrals, and curb user churn.
As technology evolves, so do consumer preferences. In the coming years, we will likely see a bigger shift away from phones as a primary means of communication between customers and service departments. Instead, other channels will increase in popularity. Companies that acknowledge this progressive shift and act on it may opt to build contact centres. In doing so, they improve their chances of long-term success as they prepare themselves for a world when the phone is one of the least-used means to relay customer inquiries.
Overall, contact centres offer a powerful solution for a company’s customer service needs. Organizations that opt to form a call centre first are still able to convert their customer service operations into a contact centre later. Among businesses that have neither a call centre nor a contact centre, the most important thing is simply getting started with an available and reliable customer service process and team. Later, as users request to interact with your brand on social media, over text message, and more, then you can consider transitioning from a basic call centre to a sophisticated contact centre.
Embed this infographic onto your site:
<strong>Click To Enlarge</strong><br /><br /> <a href=" https://www.salesforce.com/ca/hub/service/whats-the-difference-between-a-call-centre-and-a-contact-centre" target="_blank"> <img src="https://c1.sfdcstatic.com/content/dam/web/en_ca/www/images/hub/service/Whats-the-Difference-Between-a-Call-Centre-and-a-Contact-Centre/whats-the-difference-between-a-call-centre-and-a-contact-centre-embed.png" alt="What’s the Difference Between a Call Centre and a Contact Centre?" width="600px" border="0" /></a></p><p>Via <a href="https://www.salesforce.com/hub/service/whats-the-difference-between-a-call-centre-and-a-contact-centre" target="_blank">Salesforce</a> </p>
What is the difference between contact centre and call center? ›
Call centers and contact centers both provide customer service and outreach, but they differ in the communication channels they use. Call centers use one channel -- the phone -- while contact centers use several channels. Call centers emerged in a time before digital channels.What are the 2 types of call centers? ›
In-House vs Outsourced. All call centers fall under one of two categories: in-house or outsourced. A company can own and operate a call center themselves, which is called in-house. The purpose may be to provide service to existing customers and/or make calls to acquire new ones.Does Salesforce have a call center? ›
Call Center integrates Salesforce with third-party computer-telephony integration (CTI) systems. Call center users can see Salesforce information for incoming calls, make out-going calls directly from Salesforce, and report on call outcome, duration, and more.What is a CX contact centre? ›
The terms “CX” (Customer Experience) and “contact centre” go hand-in-hand. Though there are many factors that can influence your customer's perception of your brand, few are more important than the contact centre. The right contact centre environment acts as the essential connection point between you and your clients.What is another name for contact center? ›
Another Name for a Call Centre
Contact Centre. Customer Centre. Customer Support Centre. Customer Service Centre.
Contact centers typically include one or more call centers but may also include other types of customer contact channels, including emails, webchats and social media interactions. Also, organizations often integrate contact centers with their customer relationship management (CRM) strategies.What are the three types of contact centre? ›
- Inbound contact center. ...
- Outbound contact center. ...
- Multichannel contact center. ...
- Omnichannel contact center. ...
- On-premises contact center. ...
- Cloud contact center.
- The passive-aggressive. These are the customers who may not necessarily call often, but when they do, you'll be in for a surprise. ...
- The jokesters. These customers are great. ...
- The ones who need a chill pill. ...
- The ones who jabber. ...
- The straightforward ones. ...
- The nice guys.
Organization. As mentioned earlier, call center agents take up to 50 calls a day, and every inquiry isn't resolved immediately. Some calls will require a follow-up that may last days or weeks after the first interaction.Is CRM and call center same? ›
Call centre customer relationship management (CRM) is a call centre technology solution that provides employees with access to account information and history instantly, which allows them to help customers with up-to-date and relevant information during support.
Is call center part of CRM? ›
Call center customer relationship management (CRM) refers to a software tool that call center agents use to enhance the customer experience and increase efficiency. Call center CRM systems store records about customers, such as account information and contact history.What is the difference between call center and open CTI? ›
1What is the difference between Call Center and Open CTI? A. Call Center has a setup node and Open CTI has user licenses.What are the 4 key features of a contact center? ›
- 4 Features of a Contact Center. December 1, 2021. ...
- Telephone. ...
- Messaging and Mobile Apps. ...
- Web Conference/Video Calls. ...
- Customer Data Analytics.
What is CX? Whereas the CRM system focuses on the management of information about customers, CX, or Customer Experience Management drills down deeper into customers' experience, to get an overview of their unique perspective.What are the five pillars of contact Centre? ›
- Omnichannel Capabilities that Makes Customer Service Seamless. Today's customers communicate across channels and platforms. ...
- On-Demand Self-Service Model for Customers. ...
- Advanced Tools for Agents to Provide Better Support. ...
- AI & Predictive Analytics. ...
- Scalable Infrastructure.
- Handle customer complaints or enquiries via telephone, emails or text messages.
- Exhibiting competent product Knowledge.
- Promote good listening skills.
- Manage length of calls.
- Provide customers with needed information and support.
- Make outbound calls.
- Receive inbound calls.
A call centre is a specialist, centralised facility that handles phone calls between organisations and customers or prospective customers. Call centres can handle inbound calls, outbound calls, or both types of calls.What is call center in simple words? ›
: an office equipped to handle a large volume of telephone calls for an organization (such as a retailer, bank, or marketing firm) especially for taking orders or for providing customer service.How do you structure a contact center? ›
Typically, contact centers have a hierarchy that includes executives, managers, supervisors, and staff positions such as center representatives or agents. The positions that you offer depend on the size of the call center; the bigger the center, the more roles you will need to support your customers.What is the most important aspect of a contact center? ›
Communication skills: Agents need to not only understand customers and the company's offerings, but also have the ability to convey that information in an effective manner. Efficiency: Contact centers are fast-moving places, and agents can only thrive if they are efficient in their customer interactions.
What are the 3 A's in customer service? ›
A - Acknowledge that their concerns are valid. A - Align with the customer, agreeing that you would feel the same were you in their shoes. A - Assure the customer that you will be able to solve their problem to their satisfaction.What type of industry is call center? ›
A call center is a part of the broader outsourcing industry, which can also cover business process outsourcing (BPO), shared services, seat leasing firms, as well as home-based outsourcing, and even virtual assistants and freelancers.How would you handle an angry customer interview question answer? ›
- Think carefully about the question. ...
- Demonstrate your listening skills to the interviewer. ...
- Display a calm and composed countenance. ...
- Reiterate and confirm that you understand the question. ...
- Draw from your past experience.
An 80/20 service level in a call center simply means that 80 percent of the calls will be answered within 20 seconds.What are the 3 most difficult things about working in a call center? ›
- Employee Dissatisfaction and Agent Attrition. Stop for a moment and picture the daily life and challenges of one of your call agents. ...
- Low Customer Satisfaction Rates. ...
- Excessive Tools and Technology.
We don't allow mobile phones to be used during a shift, mainly because they are a distraction and a security risk. However, we trust our agents to keep them out of sight – and most just leave them in their bags or pockets, turned off.What does call centre fall under? ›
Call centres, as the name implies, are customer service centres that operate mainly on voice communication. In a call centre setting, agents are focused on receiving inbound calls while making outbound calls. Call centres can be used to facilitate either sales or customer service.What does CTI mean in Salesforce? ›
Computer Telephony Integration or CTI is a term that is used to describe the practice of tying your phone system together with your computer systems.How does CTI work in Salesforce? ›
CTI allows data to be used and sent between computers, phones, and other core service and sales systems, such as CRM. CTI for Salesforce allows phone conversations and calls to be made into data. For customer-facing teams, Salesforce CTI enables them with: Automatic transcriptions of phone conversations.How many types of call centers are there? ›
The three most common types of call centers are inbound, outbound and blended call centers.
What is contact center job? ›
By definition, call centers are places where agents work to answer customers' questions and solve their problems over the phone or via other means of communication. Agents may ask customers questions, take orders, or arrange things like insurance.Is a contact centre a good job? ›
The great thing about starting your career in a Contact Centre is that most employers value soft skills, such as good communication and teamwork, over any previous experience. For a job that doesn't require any formal qualifications, you can earn a good salary – usually more than most entry-level positions.What are the 3 types of call center? ›
The three most common types of call centers are inbound, outbound and blended call centers.What is the difference between CSR and TSR? ›
Many people are unsure of the difference between Technical Service Representatives (TSRs) and Customer Service Representatives (CSRs). Do you need to hire TSRs or CSR for your company? In short, TSRs work on technical issues with customers, while CSRs handle customer service problems.What is the best position in a call center? ›
- #1: Customer Service Representative. ...
- #2: Customer Experience Associate (CX Associates) or Customer Experience Agent (CX Agent) ...
- #3: Call Center Representative or Contact Center Representative. ...
- #4: Support Specialist. ...
- #5: Social Media Customer Care Associate.
Call centers and contact centers are notorious for high staff turnover rates. On a daily basis, call center agents deal with stressful situations, high call volumes, and very often, emotional and frustrated customers. The repetition of work is high, and pay levels are low.What are the disadvantages of working in a call center? ›
Call centers are notorious for high turnover rates, which has a huge negative impact on agent engagement. According to a study conducted by DailyPay, large-sized call centers experience an average turnover of 44%. This is extremely costly, not just for your bottom line, but for your call center service quality.What are the 5 P's of customer service? ›
The 5 areas you need to make decisions about are: PRODUCT, PRICE, PROMOTION, PLACE AND PEOPLE. Although the 5 Ps are somewhat controllable, they are always subject to your internal and external marketing environments. Read on to find out more about each of the Ps.