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The Difference Between Call and Contact Center

Demystifying the difference between call and contact centers can be likened to mapping out the distinction between biking and cycling. Call and contact centers are closely related entities with so many obvious distinctions that need to be established. 

There are various mediums that we can use to outline the differences between call and contact centers. Going by the channels employed by the call and contact center. Call centers are more inclined to handle phone calls from customers about the company's product or service. 

In contrast, contact centers handle customer queries through multichannel approaches such as web chat, SMS, social media, and also phone calls. Call centers have an empathetic mode of customer experience with a more personalized touch of customer conversation that includes listening with patience, acknowledging customers' issues, and respecting customers' time. 

Contact Center offers a tech-inclined omnichannel experience to cater to individual preferences through a well-diverse multichannel form of engagement with a chatbot, AI-powered self-service tools, and many others. 

The distinction between call and contact center is a testament to the evolving landscape of customer service. This article explores the exciting bright spot that gives business owners and decision makers a clear insight into the right channel that can deliver exceptional customer service experience.       

What Is a Call Center

A call center is an all-inclusive centralized office where agents handle a large volume of customers' incoming and outgoing phone calls. Although the call center's primary focus revolves around voice calls to provide assistance and resolve issues and inquiries, there are a series of other statutory functions. 

Call centers can be found in industries like banking and finance, healthcare, E-commerce, travel agencies, insurance, etc, where they play an important role in maintaining positive customer experience and relationships. 

For exemplary call center operations, it is essential to have mid-level cutting-edge technologies and trained agents who will handle different calls, such as customer support, technical support, billing inquiries, and so on. 

Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in the use of technology software such as Customer Relationship Management in call center, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), Automatic Call Distribution (ACD), etc, together with legacy phone systems. These arrangements have been revelations that effectively manage the customer relationship that fosters personalized experience. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Call Center Services 

Call center services are laden with many advantages for businesses and customers. For instance, call center provides respinse when customers need a faster resolution to their issues or need to make inquiries about products and services. 

Also, call centers are advantageous to businesses in the sense that they can have a direct approach when dealing with customers, streamline communication processes, enable quick response, and more efficient problem solutions. 

1. Advantage

Increase Customer Retention

Customer loyalty can be a complex one and is influenced by various factors. In most cases, customers always gravitate towards the business that offers them not only what they want but also what solves their problems. 

The call center is one important tool that businesses have used to navigate this behavior by providing them with quick responses, personalized product recommendations, and building strong relationships. These strategies can be a surefire approach that can be likened to a ticket to buy their loyalty and retain them for as long as you want.

Seamless Scalability and Global Expansion

There is no way you can scale to meet your diverse customer needs without having a robust and 24/7 customer service operation. The call center provides you with 24/7 customer service that caters to customers in different time zones. 

Not only that, there is the flexibility of extended support hours that allow customers to get in touch with your business even outside work hours.

Enhanced Business Decision Making

Your business will be exposed to significant growth when you get all your decisions right and offer your customers what they want. The call center is an effective means of gathering customer data during the interaction. 

These data can provide you with valuable insights into the best product you need to recommend to your customers and identify and provide resolutions to their pain points. 

Effective Means of Building Relationships

No one can underestimate the power of the human voice and the feeling of being heard. Customers are like every other human who craves attention. Call centers enable businesses to build a good rapport with their customer through helpful advice, emotional intelligence, and a calming presence that is exhibited by agents when answering customer questions.  

2. Disadvantage

Despite being a mainstay of customer service, call centers are not without drawbacks. There are possibilities of encountering long waits, agent incompetency, poor internet connection, or expensive setup and maintenance cost that can be dreadful for small businesses. Below are a few other disadvantages of call centers

Language Barrier

There are bound to be language barriers when call centers serve a diverse Customer base. For instance, it would be impossible for an English-speaking customer agent to converse with Chinese or French-speaking customers. This barrier leads to hindrances in effective communication.

Expensive Cost of Set Up and Maintenace 

Setting up a call center operation involves high-end equipment such as computers, call recording software, headsets, and others. The cost of purchasing this equipment can be quite expensive for most businesses.

Less Suitable for Proactive Outreach 

Not every customer is a fan of voice calls, especially those who are seeking quick answers or clarity on the next step regarding an update. Call centers are less suitable for this kind of customer service, forcing those types of customers to explore other channels. 

      Call Centre Application

      Call centers focus on customer satisfaction and offer comprehensive support. They have different applications that revolve around playing essential roles in providing effective voice call interaction between businesses and their customers. 

      Call center applications include customer support, Telemarketing, and Order Processing. Beyond these functions, call centers are also responsible for market research, appointment scheduling, and hotlines.  

      Additionally, call centers can be specifically designed to meet the needs of different hubs for communication and ensure effective customer interaction and relationships. They lead surveys, product retrieval, tracking, and fundraising campaigns. The flexibility of call centers makes them invaluable to a wide range of applications.

      What Is a Contact Center

      Contact Centers are similar to call centers, but in this case, it is more than just handling phone calls. They specialize in offering customers efficient and effective technical support that is wrapped in the fabric of conventional customer service. 

      The contact center is a centralized hub that manages all incoming and outgoing calls through multiple channels such as email, live chat, social media, web chat, and even video calls. 

      The contact center's sole focus is to enable smooth, integrated, and unified customer experience across multiple platforms of communication. This will allow customers to reach any industry with any method of communication of their choice and still receive support and information without any drop in customer service delivery. 

      Not only do we need to understand the differences between contact centers and call centers, but we also encounter specific platforms like 8x8 Contact Center and Ruby Call Center in our daily operations. It's beneficial to study and learn about them in greater depth.

      Advantages and Disadvantages of Contact Center

      Like many other systems, the contact center has advantages and disadvantages that provide business owners with a complete understanding of what they are dealing with and serve as another basis for decision-making. Let's look at contact center advantages.  

      1. Benefits

      Improve Customer Satisfaction 

      A satisfied customer is a testament to an effective customer service strategy. Contact center plays a crucial role in ensuring customer satisfaction through the provision of omnichannel possibilities, faster resolution time, personalized interactions, and proactive engagement that allows customers to receive support in such a way that pleases them. 

      Competitive Advantage over Your Contemporaries. 

      The analysis and inference from customer data through technologies like CRM, call reporting, and other analytics tools is a game-changing strategy that can boost customer retention, foster efficient and personalized customer services, provide upselling and cross-selling possibilities, etc. These are recipes for market differentiation that businesses can wield as a competitive advantage that solidifies their market position. 

      Enhance Operational Efficiency

      Most businesses dream of an efficient business operation. The call center is filled with high-level features that aid businesses in realizing such dreams. Example is the possibility of improving agent productivity through call routing, automated tasks, etc. Operational efficiency is a pathway to business scalability and flexibility because an efficient contact center operation is important for handling fluctuating customer demands.

      2. Disadvantages

      Limited Personalization and Human Touch

      There is an obvious feeling of discontent from customers who require the important human feeling against the tech-oriented customer services being offered by the contact center. Personalization is also a concern because of the scripted interactions that can lead to frustration and negative brand perceptions

      Over-Reliance on Technology

      Technological reliance is such a beautiful thing, but there is a high chance of operational disruption due to technical issues. Imagine a situation where you are in the middle of a conversation with a potential customer, and there is a technical issue that results in a break in communication. This type of instances can leave the customer frustrated while the company also loses revenue. 

      Difficulties in Agent Training 

      Training agents for contact centers is a trickery endeavor that, if care is not taken, might become a slippery slope for businesses. This is a complex task for contact centers that, if gotten wrong, can lead to overall incompetency and a despicable customer experience.

      Difference Between Call Center and Contact Center

      Feature

      Call Center

      Contact Center

      Channels

      Primarily voice calls (traditional phone lines or VoIP)

      Multiple channels: phone, email, SMS, chat, social media, web forms, etc.

      Technology

      Legacy phone systems

      Omnichannel platforms, AI-powered tools, self-service options

      Agent Skills

      Excellent verbal communication, empathy, problem-solving

      Diverse skills: written communication, multitasking, technical knowledge, social media savvy

      Customer Experience

      Personalized, real-time interaction

      Flexible, convenient, option to switch channels

      Focus

      Resolving complex issues, building relationships

      Offering efficient support, improving accessibility

      Examples

      Technical support hotlines, order inquiries

      Retail customer service, social media engagement

      Limitations

      Less accessible for customers who prefer non-verbal channels, limited information sharing

      Requires robust technology infrastructure, managing complexity of multiple channels

      Conclusion

      It won't be an overstatement to classify call and contact centers as Siamese twins because of their obvious similarities. However, understanding the difference between these brothers is important for businesses to thrive and deliver brilliant customer experience. The call center focus is on voice-based interaction with a touch of a personalized approach to customer service. 

      In contrast, the contact center is a multichannel service provider that engenders omnichannel customer engagement. However, Both contact and call centers have their benefits and disadvantages that can be used to form the basis for choosing the right choice that fits your business needs. 

      Related reading: Call Center Vs BPO

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