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Call Centers vs Contact Centers: A Comparison of the Two

December 5th, 2022 | 4 min. read

By Jordan Pioth

Cubicles inside of office building

If you are looking to improve your organization’s customer service, you may want to look into a call center or contact center.

However, if you do not understand the difference between the two, you could end up contracting with the wrong type of center that fails to meet the needs of your organization.

Contracting with the wrong type of center could lead to missed opportunities or underperformance if you make your selection without doing thorough research.

Educating yourself on the differences between a call center and a contact center will allow you to make a better-informed decision on which of these alternatives best meets your needs.

Coeo understands how important good customer service is for an organization.

We want to make sure you have all of the information on the differences between call centers and contact centers so you can determine which center is the best fit for your organization.

By the end of this article, you will know what a call center is, what a contact center is, the different types of each, and the main differences between the two. This information will help you determine which of these is best for your organization.

What is a call center?

A call center is a department that contains agents tasked with making and answering calls.

Agents who take inbound calls help with account information, technical support, and questions about products and services that customers or prospects may have.

Call centers can be operated in-house meaning they are located within an organization, or they can be outsourced to another organization that specializes in handling customer service calls.

There are three common types of call centers: inbound, outbound, and blended.

Inbound call center

Inbound call centers handle all inbound calls whether it be from or prospective customers.

These call centers provide customers with account information, handle complaints, or provide technical support. This type of call center typically receives a very high volume of calls daily.

The call centers screen each call and then log them to keep track of every call that is received. An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system is an automated telephone system that many inbound call centers use to make the process more efficient.

The IVR system can answer calls with an automated voice and uses speech recognition technology to act on the information given by the caller.

This allows the IVR system to route them to the call center agent that is most knowledgeable to address their needs.

Outbound call center

Outbound call centers are centers that strictly make calls to customers and prospects.

These calls can be made by agents who work as employees of the customer organization, or by agents employed directly by the firm hired to provide the outsourced service.

Outbound calls are usually made to customers or prospects regarding account information, telemarketing, fundraising, or conducting surveys. Most outbound call centers make thousands of calls a day.

Some outbound call centers use an automated dialer to automatically make calls to customers and then transfer them to an available agent using an IVR system once a call connects.

This can improve the efficiency and productivity of a call center allowing them to make more calls throughout the day.

Blended call centers

A blended call center is a combination of an outbound and an inbound call center. Agents in these call centers are equipped to make outbound calls and handle inbound calls.

What is a contact center?

A contact center is similar to a call center, only it allows for a customer and organization to communicate by phone as well as through other communication solutions.

Contact centers allow customers and businesses to communicate via phone calls, text messaging, social media, or a chatbot on the company’s website.

In addition to inbound and outbound contact centers, which are similar to inbound and outbound call centers, there are four other types of contact centers. The four types of contact centers include multichannel, omnichannel, on-premise, and cloud.

Multichannel contact center

A multichannel contact center handles customer requests through multiple forms of communication such as phone calls, text, or social media. A multichannel contact center may however only integrate with a few channels and not every outlet.

Omnichannel contact center

An omnichannel contact center allows an agent to access every conversation with a customer no matter what communication type it may be.

Unlike a multichannel contact center where agents may only access a few forms of communication forms, an omnichannel center can access all forms of communication.

This enables the agent to take care of a larger number of customers.

On-premise contact center

An on-premise contact center is built and managed by an organization and its IT team.

Hardware, software, and infrastructure need to be established in order for the on-premise contact center to work which usually requires an upfront investment from the customer.

Cloud contact center

Unlike an on-premise contact center that is built and managed by the organization, a cloud contact center outsources the contact center from an organization through the internet.

This allows an organization to leverage the contact center software regardless of the location of the agent.

The main difference between a call center and a contact center

The difference between a call center and a contact center is that a call center is strictly limited to phone calls as its form of communication.

Contact centers, on the other hand, can use a variety of different ways to communicate with customers like text messages, social media, or chatbots in addition to a regular voice call.

Which center is best for you?

Call centers are quickly becoming outdated as more organizations look for a broader set of tools to interact with the customer or prospect.

However, they are still in use and can help your organization if they need nothing more than telephone communication with the customer.

However, if you want other resources like texting, emailing, communicating through social media, or chatbots on your organization’s site, contact centers may be a better fit for your organization.

Next steps to investing in a call center or contact center

Now you know what a call center is, what a contact center is, the different types of each, and how they differ. This will help you on your journey to improving your customer service.

If you are having trouble reviewing your customer’s questions or queries, you may want to invest in a call center or a contact center.

No one wants their organization to have a poor customer service reputation and investing in a call center or contact center can eliminate that problem.

We know the importance of a brand’s communication with its customers. We want to make sure you have all of the information on call centers and contact centers so you can make the best decision for your company.

If you would like to speak with our team to learn more about call centers and contact centers or ask any questions you may have you can schedule an appointment. TALK TO AN EXPERT

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Jordan Pioth

When he's not creating content for Coeo, Jordan loves to watch sports, hang out with friends and family, and anything sneaker-related.