Call Centers vs. Contact Centers: What’s the Difference?
Did you know that most customers won’t wait on hold for more than two minutes when phoning a business with their concern?
Whether you’re selling clothes or cruises, when a customer needs to get in contact with your business, you want the experience to be as frictionless as possible. By allowing your customer to contact you through whichever channel they prefer and whenever is convenient for them, it creates an easy process for them to resolve their concern quickly and before it spirals into a bigger problem.
So how can you provide the most efficient and effective customer engagement support for your brand?
A call center or contact center is a must for customer-facing businesses. The terms contact center and call center are often used interchangeably, but there are some key differences between call centers and contact centers that should be considered. So which is right for your business?
Let’s take a look at call centers vs. contact centers.
|Call Centers||Contact Centers|
|Traditional customer service, focuses on voice calls||More holistic and robust customer support experience|
|Provides customer support via phone||Provides omnichannel support for a seamless customer experience|
|Can be both inbound and outbound, may provide some multi-channel support||Uses modern technology and processes to streamline systems, improve operational efficiency and strengthen customer engagement|
In short, a call center is more limited in what it can provide, and generally focuses on voice calls and providing general customer support via phone.
A contact center is more holistic and robust, providing voice call support alongside a seamless omnichannel customer engagement experience across all customer touchpoints.
For example, an omnichannel experience can include:
Why does a good contact center matter?
Your contact center is one of the biggest points of engagement with customers—and an experience they’ll remember much more vividly than an ad or an email!—so it’s important to get it right.
In fact—Microsoft’s Global State of Customer Service Report found that 90% of customers say their brand loyalty stems from good customer service experiences.
When done well, an on brand and customer-obsessed contact center can provide increased customer support and satisfaction, improved operational KPIs, and help measure performance from customer data. This provides the needed tools for business leaders to make decisions that will directly affect profitability and customer retention.
If you’re interested in learning more about the specifics of call centers vs contact centers, keep reading to learn which solution is best for your brand and customers.
What is a call center?
A traditional call center focuses primarily on voice calls. While some call centers may offer some multi-channel customer services, the setup of a call center is typically that of individual agents, sitting in a row, taking calls.
A common set back with call centers is that agents who are working on other channels may be on another team or working elsewhere instead of focusing on one customer. This usually results in the customer journey being siloed across different agents working on separate channels. Ultimately, this creates friction for the customer, who may eventually have to contact multiple agents across different channels to resolve their concern.
Nobody likes poor customer service. That’s why some of these call center options can be a huge issue for brands trying to build positive customer experiences.
Call centers are a traditional way to fulfill customer expectations. When a customer picks up the phone to contact your business with a problem or a question, there will be someone on the other end to speak for your brand, provide solutions and give them the resources they need.
However, in today’s world, customers are seeking more than just a one-way channel to contact your business. Customers who are waiting on hold, having to make time for a phone call and reaching an agent who may not know their full experience with the brand can all frustrate customers and leave them feeling dissatisfied.
Now that we understand more about call centers, let’s dive into more about contact centers.
What is a contact center?
A contact center is a more robust form of customer support for your business, providing a team to handle inbound and outbound customer communication and omnichannel support. Contact centers frequently operate over channels such as telephone, web, chat, email, messaging apps, social media, text, traditional mail and more.
In addition, contact centers typically have access to advanced technological systems and processes that allow their team members to find solutions to customer issues quickly, monitor customer engagements, track and measure performance and interaction data and more.
Contact centers can be operated either internally by your own team, or externally, by a customer-focused contact center.
Omnichannel contact centers
Not only can a contact center improve efficiency and data by providing optimized processes and a central customer-obsessed team, it also provides improved customer experiences.
Contact centers provide omnichannel support, which means the customer can reach out to you any way they prefer and have access to the same team supporting your brand. This is a major driver of customer satisfaction and gives your brand a competitive advantage to delight customers and provide a superior customer experience.
Customer satisfaction with call centers or contact centers—often abbreviated CSAT—measures how satisfied your customers are with their experience: specifically, with being able to have their question or issue resolved quickly, being able to find real-time support, and speaking with a friendly agent. A contact center provides increased CSAT through relationship management structures that streamline and simplify the customer journey.
Should I use an outsourced contact center?
Of course, providing a full-scale contact center can be a strain on your team’s resources, especially if you’re supporting the team internally. This is why outsourcing a contact center can be a great option for many brands. On the other hand, you know your customers best—when outsourcing, it’s essential to hire a team that cares about your customers as much as you do.
Look for a customer-centered contact center who can provide outstanding support to increase brand affinity and retention.
Working with an outsourced contact center like Global Response can be a great option to combine the best of what an omnichannel contact center can offer without straining your internal team’s resources. Our brand-obsessed specialists are trained specifically on and for your business and powered by leading-edge technology that translates customer experiences into meaningful data insights, reduces costs and improves business outcomes.
Now what are the key differences between call centers and contact centers?
When considering the best solutions for your brand, it’s important to consider the differences between call centers and contact centers.
A call center is a traditional solution that can provide excellent support for customers calling in to solve an urgent problem. However, their support often begins and ends with traditional phone services.
Unlike a call center, a modern contact center can handle both inbound and outbound customer communication across a variety of channels, at the convenience of the customer.
A supportive call center can take your customer’s calls and answer their questions—but is it really meeting all of your customer’s needs? What about increasing customer satisfaction? What if your customers could reach your brand wherever they are?
Improve customer engagement
One of the biggest differences between call centers vs. contact centers is that contact centers can function as a customer engagement center, where customer experiences across the entire business are connected within a single platform and team.
As a result, the customer experience is truly omnichannel, and all team members within the contact center team are able to see all customer data. This gives your business the opportunity to engage with customers anytime, anywhere, and improve customer satisfaction, loyalty, and overall profitability.
In the past, call centers made sense: it was a way to help as many customers as possible by routing through them an obvious resource—a telephone call.
However, now, customers will only pick up a phone to make a call as a last resort. In fact, almost 88% of Millennials today say they’d rather text than talk—so why rely solely on call support to reach your biggest audiences?
Personalized customer service
When considering call centers vs. contact centers, consider what your customers need and want from their favorite and most trusted brands. Today, many customers—especially Millennials and Gen Z audiences—expect instant, personalized service and experiences: something a contact center is well-designed to handle.
While a call center may still provide some multi-channel support, a contact center is specifically designed to provide a smooth customer experience across all channels, and to integrate people, processes and modern technology to create a central point where all communication can be managed. In addition, contact center agents are often trained across all channels, able to help customers wherever they reach out and at any point of the customer journey.
Further, a well-designed contact center will provide customer-obsessed brand specialists who care about your customers and support your brand as well as you do.
Why a contact center is (almost) always the better choice
So which is the best choice for your brand: a contact center or call center? The answer depends on your brand’s goals and needs, but for most modern brands, a contact center provides a higher level of support, brand excellence and positive customer resolution than a traditional call center.
With a contact center, your business can:
- Improve operational efficiency and KPIs
- Offer omnichannel customer support
- Personalize customer experience
- Deepen customer engagement
- Reduce average handle time and increase positive customer experiences
- Improve productivity through automation
Even more, modern contact centers improve operational efficiency, which is important for both in-house and external teams to improve operational KPIs and provide a smoother customer experience. With a contact center, associates are trained across channels and can provide omnichannel support, rather than a traditional call center, where metrics and training are focused on voice calls.
Omnichannel contact centers increase customer engagement
Contact centers also reduce average handle time by providing omnichannel access to team members who have the knowledge and capability to provide immediate resolutions to complaints or service problems.
Customers who reach out from their preferred channel often have the opportunity to get connected sooner, and team members who are trained in omnichannel support and best practices have a higher rate of first contact resolution.
In addition, allowing customers to reach out to your brand—and have a positive experience—from their preferred means of communication increases the potential for them to have a positive customer support experience and return to your brand in the future.
Can contact centers provide automated services?
Contact centers also have the opportunity to increase productivity through automation, reducing or eliminating repetitive tasks and allowing your brand specialists to make a stronger connection with customers and focus their time and energy on serving your customers first and foremost.
Global Response contact center teams incorporate all of the above but adds a more tailored, branded approach to engagement.
Whether it’s answering a phone call, responding to a Twitter DM, or tackling a text blast, our teams at Global Response know your customers (almost) as well as you do—and serve them with just as much enthusiasm.
Reach out to Global Response today for a free consultation and see how our contact center support can support your brand →
If you’re interested in learning more about how a contact center can benefit your brand, connect with a customer experience consultant to get started.