What’s The Difference Between A Call Center And A Contact Center?
Call centers generally handle inbound and outbound voice calls exclusively, while contact centers are able to manage customer communications through voice as well as digital means such as web chat, SMS, email, and more. Contact centers typically manage their communication channels through an integrated system that allows customers to switch from one channel to another if the need arises. Whether the switch is seamless or not will depend on if the contact center is multichannel or omnichannel. While contact centers have several notable advantages over call centers in the digital age, which one is better will depend on an organization’s goals.
Evolution of call centers
The concept of the call center can be traced back to when the first ACD (automatic call distribution) systems were put into use. These systems automatically answer incoming calls and transfer them to the appropriate agents. They generally handle calls on a first come, first serve basis, but they can be programmed to prioritize preset numbers. While early systems were technically available in the 50s, they wouldn’t achieve widespread popularity until the early 70s.
These days, ACD systems are generally part of software packages that are used in modern call centers. Today’s call centers can automate many more tasks than taking incoming calls, including making outbound calls. Outbound call software solutions, such as those offered by Bright Pattern, are great for marketing or other call campaigns where agents are primarily calling out rather than receiving calls. Agent productivity is greatly increased thanks to automatic dialing, and most software is automatically updated and equipped with safeguards to ensure compliance with all FCC regulations. Modern software solutions also allow supervisors to keep track of call campaigns in real time and evaluate agent performance.
While call centers can still be great for specific tasks, contact centers are much more versatile overall, and many organizations are upgrading their call centers to contact centers as they pursue digital transformations.
Contact center advantages
There are many reasons why contact centers are becoming more desirable for many organizations, and most of these have to do with improved experiences for customers and employees, as well as more options for analytics. The following are some key advantages of a contact center.
Customer experience: Contact centers are ultimately there to serve customers, so customer experience is naturally a top priority. The contact center allows customers to use their communication method of choice, immediately making for a more positive experience. The popularity of voice is dropping, especially in favor of text and web chat, so offering these options through integrated software is much more convenient for customers.
Agent experience: Advanced software in contact centers can also offer a better experience for agents, which will keep them more engaged with customers. Having the best tools can also help reduce the high turnover rate in contact centers. These solutions allow agents to cut wait times and create more enjoyable experiences, which helps make it feel like their jobs matter. Contact center software can also route customers to the most appropriate agents for their channel, or even send a customer to a specific agent who has helped them in the past, which saves everyone’s time.
Predictive service: Contact center software also allows organizations to take steps beyond simply addressing customers’ questions and concerns as they arise. With analytics tools, it’s possible to create individual customer profiles to better address their needs in the future. This way, agents can be alerted to a customer’s past conversations with the company when they call in, and customers can receive special offers or other services based on their profiles.
With these points in favor of contact centers, it may seem as if they’re always the better choice, but it will ultimately depend on the goals of the center and their customers. Additional channels won’t do much good if the vast majority of customers call on voice lines anyway, after all.