Call Center Vs. Contact Center: The Similarities & Differences
- Last Updated: 14 Sep 23
- 9 min read
Call center and contact center are two common business communication models that are often used interchangeably. Although they do have certain similarities, they are not the same at their core. Understanding their differences is the vital step for providing a differentiated customer experience as per your business needs.
It’s no secret that customer expectations for customer service increase every year as compared to previous. Though communication models help businesses keep up with increasing customer demand, not all customer service software is created equal.
Call centers and contact centers differ mostly in their methods of communication and general experience. This article will comprehensively showcase the difference and similarities between these two business communication models and explore how identifying theirs’s features helps businesses to increase customer retention and customer satisfaction score.
Before drilling into the specifics, let’s first understand what these terms really mean.
What is Call Center?
A call center is a centralized office or a hub for customer conversations whose initial communication channels are primarily voice-based. So a call center essentially uses telephones as its main communication channel. Call centers handle inbound and outbound calls. They can either be housed in a company’s office or outsourced to a service provider that specializes in handling calls.
Businesses and organizations that employ the telephone to sell and provide services or enhance customer experiences utilize call centers. So call center is quite common with online merchants, banks and financial institutions, service providers, software help desks, mail-order organizations, credit card issuers, polling services, charities, and other large non-profit organizations, utilize call centers.
Since the primary focus of the call center is to provide support and assistance to the customers via telephone calls. For that purpose, some companies used to employ dedicated telephony hardware. But that trend is slowly turning obsolete these days. Nowadays, businesses are using call center software to handle calls more efficiently.
Call Center Technologies:
1. On-premise Call Centers
On-premise call centers are more traditional and rely on hardware. They require frequent updates every year, making it expensive call center technologies. On-premise call centers use servers installed within the office premises that run dedicated software, hardware, and infrastructure. The dedicated communication server generally found on such configuration is PBX (Private Branch Exchange).
2. Cloud-based Call Centers
A cloud-based phone system is the exact opposite of an on-premise setup because the server here is online, and you don’t need physical equipment within the premises. Since VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is used for both inbound and outbound calls, your customer service agents can place calls and receive calls via the internet rather than by telephone. They run using a cloud-hosted PBX where the specialized call center software provider is responsible for the whole service and infrastructure.
Benefits of a Call Center
As per a report by Forrester Research in 2013, customers choose the phone as their most common communication channel, with 73% using the phone to contact the company, which is way higher than other means of online channels. Call centers are often used for lead generation, lead nurturing, lead qualification, information gathering, cold calling, market research, outbound sales, and many more. Their benefits include:
- Decreased costs
- Advanced Call analytics
- Improved Security
- Team Collaboration
Also Read: Top Call Center Trends of 2023
What is Contact Center?
There are many ways to interact with customers these days rather than relying exclusively on the telephone. A contact center is a central point in an enterprise for handling customer communications and service across multiple channels, including phone, live chat, email, and social media.
Most companies integrate Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems with their contact centers. Such integrations help to track, manage, and coordinate all the interactions between the business and its customer base.
What industries use contact centers?
There is a vast scope and area of application of a contact center. But it didn’t quite come to mainstream use until recently. That’s because contact centers used to be exorbitant in the past. So only large enterprises could afford and implement them in their business. But with cloud-based contact centers on the rise, they have gotten really affordable. So these days, we can see it being implemented in several industries.
Following are some of the industries, where contact centers are used quite extensively.
- Banking and Financial Institutions (BFIs)
- Retail stores
- Energy and utilities
- Travel and Transportation Industry
- Food and hospitality Industry
Benefits of contact centers
Incorporating contact centers offers several advantages to the business. Here are some of the important ones.
- Superior customer engagement and satisfaction
- Task Automation
- Unified lead information
- Enhanced brand image
Call Center Vs Contact Center: Key differences
As mentioned earlier, that both communication centers are different in terms of their operation techniques. With this in mind, let’s have a detailed look at their differences.
1. Channel of communication
As mentioned earlier, the key difference is the communication channel they use to interact with the customers. While call centers use telecommunication system for handling customer calls, contact center provides a multitude of options from phone to email, live chat, and social media.
Compared to phone as the only communication channel, multiple channels result in more rapid solutions delivery and better overall customer service. Contact centers help to keep up with the increasing expectations of customers and provide customers an easy way of raising their issues and seeking support from any platform of their preference.
2. Support type
Call centers and contact centers differ when it comes to the support type. While the support type of call center is reactive, the contact center is more predictive and proactive. That means call centers predict the complications that customers might face and proactively offer solutions before they run into some kind of trouble rather than assisting in running into problems.
The procedure can be followed in a call center, but it rarely works in practice. Outbound voice calls are often ineffective, considering how cell phone users are increasingly cautious about answering unfamiliar calls. But in the case of contact centers, agents can track the sign of frustration.
In a contact center, tickets are automatically routed to the most relevant agent based on keywords, previous customer histories, agent skills, etc. In addition, you can classify tickets and update their properties to track and close the cycle.
Furthermore, in order for the call center agents to resolve the customer’s query, a lengthy questionnaire routine had to be completed with the customer. However, Live agents can focus on resolving issues rather than starting completely from the beginning, thereby enhancing productivity.
4. Self-service management
The communication process is automated in both call centers and contact centers through IVR systems; however, there is a difference when an agent isn’t on hand. In some cases, the call center’s IVR may not be able to transfer the customer to a live agent. Obviously, customers don’t want to wait on hold to reach agents.
Customers can quickly raise the issue with Chatbot in contact centers since it can be embedded in the self-service portal. An agent can follow up later and offer a solution. By using this method, you ensure excellent customer service while reducing costs.
5. Customer categorization
Customer data collection by call centers involves a voice call that may result in misquotes or incorrectly spelled data. Moreover, you may not get the complete picture of the customer journey or the experience you are delivering.
A contact center’s software, however, combines data from multiple channels to create a single comprehensive view. Additionally, you can integrate your contact center software with CRM software for better customer insight.
Call Center and Contact Center: The Similarities
Both call center and contact center serves as a tool for customer service and predominantly engage phone channels. By generating customer engagement and providing assistance, businesses can know about the customer pain points. So it can be helpful in making changes and improvements in services and some business operations.
Through customer engagements, businesses can also gain insights regarding the customers. So contact centers and call centers also come in handy in lead generation and lead nurturing.
Call centers and contact centers are crucial to the promotion of new services or products, discounts, offers, and schemes, in addition to customer satisfaction.
Making the choice
Customer engagement and communication are crucial for businesses to move forward. So to stay ahead in the game, businesses have to provide easy contact options to their customers managing maximum interactions possible. Using old-school methods will be really inefficient and expensive.
As you now know the key differences between contact centers and call centers, the next question could be: which one is best for your business? Additionally to the key differences outlined here, businesses need to consider various other factors when deciding whether a call center or contact center is right for them. The other factors may include automation, CRM integration, skill-based routing, and software consolidation.
However, there are so many service providers, so choosing one can be a difficult task. But KrispCall makes things easier for you. KrispCall is a cloud telephony platform, where you can get both the contact center and call center features in a single place.
It comes with an amazing set of features for conveniently handling customer interactions. There are also several options for automation to minimize efforts on repetitive tasks. And with CRM integrations, you can add more features and gain more comprehensive insights.
What makes KrispCall the most interesting of all is its pricing. KrispCall’s subscription plans are available at a super-affordable price. And as they are providing a free demo, you don’t have to spend a penny to get started.