Customer communication has evolved leaps and bounds over the years into something that is more reliable and ubiquitous. Nowadays, customers can get in touch with any business instantly with multiple platforms now available to reach these businesses.
Two of these popular platforms happen to be the contact center and the call center. Oftentimes they are used interchangeably as many thought they both mean the same thing. However, there are a number of differences between the two that need to be highlighted here.
The first difference is with regards to the method of communication. A call center handles only voice calls, whereas a contact center is omnichannel, which means it handles not only phone calls, but also text, email, live chat, and social media interactions. And given that most customers are utilizing technologies other than the phone to connect to others, contact centers are considered as the next step in the evolution of the call center.
This leads to the second difference between call center and contact center. The call center is designed to be on-premises, which means that the infrastructure needed to operate it are located within the office premises. Contact centers on the other hand are designed to be both on-premises and cloud-based, which means the infrastructure is located in the cloud, with few to no physical infrastructure set up. Thus, contact centers can be set up more easily and with less resources to be spent on the part of the business.
The third difference is related to data gathering. In the call center environment, data is collected solely from voice interactions with customers. By contrast, the multichannel nature of contact center allows for greater data gathering activities via email, chat, and social media, in some cases data is automatically generated through a customer’s social media information.
Finally, there is the matter of accessibility. Call centers only provide a single channel that customers are able to reach the business, and more often than not, that channel tends to be clogged with calls from other customers, thus causing longer wait times that are inconvenient to the customer while the agents are overwhelmed by the number of calls coming in. Meanwhile, contact centers offer different communication channels, providing customers the ability to reach businesses through different channels and, in some cases, be able to communicate in real time. This also mean agents will not be overwhelmed with calls, allowing them to do other important tasks or be able to interact with customers in a more meaningful way.
What contact centers can offer
Given their capabilities and the technologies they employ, contact centers can be tapped for tasks beyond addressing customer complaints and technical support. They offer a number of services including:
Billing concerns – Agents not only can interact with customers over billing matters but also gather billing information easily through interconnected channels.
Sales and marketing activities - Outbound call centers, email or social media marketers can reach out to existing or potential customers to sell goods or services or to invite them to participation in promos the business may be offering.
Fundraising efforts - Nonprofits may reach out to communities through phone, email, chat, or social to gain their support for different causes or activities.
Surveys – Polling firms can take advantage of the contact center’s omnichannel capabilities to gather insights, especially via digital options, making it easier and more efficient to conduct surveys.
Supply chain and logistics - Contact centers can provide visibility and transparency in logistic operations, from order placement to shipping to delivery.
Given the benefits and features they provide, the contact center is the optimal setup for businesses that not only value customer relationships but in maintaining these relations across different channels and platforms. Even for businesses that do not have the resources to set a fully-featured contact center operations, the contact center itself is a scalable solution that fit the present needs of the business and can be scaled as the business grows.