The phrases call center and contact center are frequently used interchangeably, but it’s a mistake to assume that they’re the same thing. The main difference between the two is that a call center only handles inbound and outbound phone calls for a variety of purposes, which may include sales or customer service. Meanwhile, a contact center can use digital communication means and provide additional services.
The earliest call centers can be traced to the 1960s and are largely defined by the earliest automatic call distributors (ACDs). An ACD is a call routing system that automatically takes incoming calls and distributes them to available agents. These systems have become more efficient over the decades, but there’s no denying they contributed to the bad rep these centers often get for long and frustrating wait times. A contact center is a more modern solution that allows customers and agents to use digital communication channels like email, text, and webchat. Contact centers are also more likely than call centers to handle activities outside of customer services, such as telemarketing and billing.
Is a Call Center or Contact Center Better for Your Business?
The answer to this will depend on the goals of your business, but it’s important to remember that, in general, the majority of customers prefer human interaction to artificial intelligence, IVR systems, or chatbots for customer support. A call center ensures customers will speak directly with one of your agents, and with modern solutions like Salesforce call center software, any customer’s relevant data (contact information, reasons for calling, purchased products, etc.) can be easily stored and retrieved to make for improved customer experience in the future.
Contact centers are generally becoming the more popular option in modern times due to the convenience of digital communication options. Customers have become used to being able to shop and find anything online, and if they can’t find the answers to their questions themselves, they expect to be helped immediately. Quick response and call resolution are essential for great customer experience.
Multichannel vs. Omnichannel
Contact center solutions are defined by allowing customer interactions across multiple digital communication channels, and this is known as multichannel capability. With this type of solution, a customer is locked into their selected channel when they connect with an agent, and agents are only able to monitor one communication channel at a time. True omnichannel routing takes things a step further.
With omnichannel routing, customers can actually switch communication channels during a conversation while staying connected to the same agent. This offers the ultimate convenience without the cost of progress. What’s more, agents can easily track conversation across all channels, so even if a customer needs to be transferred, a new agent can come in with the full context of the conversation. Data analysis tools make customer relationship management (CRM) easy, and a simple, unified desktop displaying all channels keeps agent productivity high.
Also Read: How to Block Robocalls and Spam Calls
Regardless of which type of center you’re using, you’ll have to adhere to FCC regulations when making telemarketing calls. Many rules were put in place with the creation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act that is meant to restrict the use of automatic dialers and prerecorded messages. Most notably, organizations must refrain from making telemarketing calls to numbers on the national Do Not Call registry. The Federal Trade Commission is the provider of this listing, and it’s also worth checking to see if your state has an additional registry. In recent years, some district courts have ruled that ringless voicemail constitutes a call, so you should always be conscientious of how you reach out to potential customers with your contact or call center solution.