The two notions, a call center and contact center, seem interchangeable and used simply following a whim of a speaker or writer. But is it truly so? We’re figuring out in this article that these two are connected – not the same. That’s very similar to how you say ‘Coke’ referring to all sodas although the coke flavor and experience of the fluid on your tongue do not represent all the rest in the world of sodas. The same, when you say ‘Xerox’, you might mean the copying machine but just Xerox is not about the entire market of such machines.
Customer service call center definition
A call center is a place in a company or a department, which handles client issues and requests through inbound calls and does outbound calls to clients, prospects, and leads with the purpose of informing, selling, collecting, fundraising, surveying, or assisting.
A call center only uses a phone in its work and has KPIs connected specifically to the phone as a means of work and communication, such as the time of answer for an incoming call, average call time, quality score of an employee and a team, percentage of solved client issues during the first call, a number of missed calls, a number of callbacks or passes to other lines of support, a number of sales, idle agents per time, etc. There is actually no shortage in KPIs concerning call centers, as there exist dozens of them.
Contact center services definition
A contact center is a logical continuation of a call center, as it is adapted to the modern needs of consumers. So, it utilizes other channels of contact with customers:
- Chat (with or without conjunction with an AI-powered chatbot)
- Text messages (SMS)
- Social media
- Push notifications
- Private messaging through individual networking like messengers Viber, WeChat, Telegram
- Video support through a dedicated website or messengers like Skype.
In addition to a phone, this makes 8 channels of servicing clients. The same, inbound and outbound connections are broadly used (in every channel that provides a two-sided connection).
The reason for utilizing those channels is to meet modern client demands, which have gotten used to those channels for the past 20 years of the rapid development of telecom and Internet services.
In addition to the KPIs connected to call centers, contact centers have more, channel-specific KPIs, and those related to them, so the global number of KPIs of contact centers might easily swish over 100.
So, contact center vs call center: their real key differences
- A possibility of using multiple channels in a contact center creates something called ‘multichannel’ and ‘omnichannel’ compared to the absence of it in call center companies. Multichannel is servicing all and every customer through any channel available. However, omnichannel is a possibility of smooth transition amongst channels during the same session of serving in the case of technological integration. The history of service is saved and recorded to pick it up through some channel from any other channel for the best and most seamless customer experience.
- Agent skills. Putting an operator for a contact center to work requires more knowledge and skills from them than required in a call center service. Thus, in addition to conversations through the phone, there will be required skills of typing and fast reading, handling other means of communication, picking fast between them, and copy-pasting links from various databases, forms, and FAQs to help a client.
- More KPIs, channel-specific.
- Social media and online communication etiquette.
- More hours of training, especially when new technologies arrive.
- Better scheduling and forecasting.
- Different workplace demands (like a more complicated agent desktop, CRM, and workforce management software) and more routes in the contact routing system of a contact center.
- More complex compliance procedures to embrace all other channels and KPIs.
- Stricter demands for access rights of operators to various databases and client info than when working only over the phone.
- Bigger degree of automation of work of operators, which have 8 channels instead of 1 and need to have bigger and faster access (in many cases automated) to various databases, scripts, and processes.
Despite a large list of differences, you can see that these are mainly technical and connected to measuring the work indices across specific channels. But the essence of work in both cases, call center and contact center, remains the same – getting in touch with people and help them with their issues or offer various products and services.
The outcomes of both types of organizations are different hence the number of used channels. And in practice, due to the general societal development, today it becomes hard-to-impossible to find a pure call center, which wouldn’t be skewed towards a contact center.
Now you know the difference between the two notions and can tell which is better for your organization. However, classic call centers have become history (or very soon will be) since more and more people in the world open for themselves more than just a phone as a major means of interpersonal communication.