Communication between customers and businesses has transformed in the digital era. In a world of rapidly changing customer expectations, traditional call centers may no longer cut it.
Organizations need to adapt to meet customers where they’re at and offer exceptional customer service. In the new world, customers want to connect with businesses on their own terms, on their own schedules, and with their platform of choice.
Modern contact center solutions allow customers and businesses to communicate seamlessly across all channels, helping businesses provide an optimal and consistent customer experience.
Innovative contact center technology is paving the way for the future. But what is a contact center? How does it differ from a call center? And why does it matter to the customer journey? Let’s unpack some of the differences!
What is a Call Center?
Call centers use landline telephones to communicate with existing or prospective customers. Exchanges take place in real-time and are exclusively made through voice interactions.
Operations of call centers are typically old and outdated, which can create headaches for many teams. You’ll need to invest a lot of time and money to properly support your infrastructure. Set-up costs can be high, and let’s not forget upgrades and maintenance of hardware. You'll also need to make sure you have proper security and support measures in place.
Call center scalability can also be difficult as it may require adding more hardware on-site or more software features. Ultimately, call centers are limited when it comes to offering top-notch customer support. They can't keep up with the ever-growing demand for localized and personalized experiences.
What is a Contact Center?
Contact centers are not limited to one channel of communication like phone calls. Agents can respond to or reach out to customers through phone, email, social media, text messages, video calls, or even chatbots. This offers more flexibility and convenience for customers.
Modern contact center solutions are typically cloud-based, meaning they are hosted on the internet rather than using on-premise servers and landlines. Without the need for owning hardware, costs drop significantly. This means any company could run a contact center from anywhere in the world.
Cloud-based tools allow interactions to take place anytime, anywhere, giving agents more control of their workday. Contact centers allow businesses to increase productivity, optimize data collection processes, and provide an exceptional customer experience.
Types of Contact Centers
There are several different types of contact centers. We’ll start with the basics.
Inbound contact centers handle high volumes of incoming calls or communications from customers. Typically, customers are led through the company directory by an auto attendant that can direct their call to the appropriate person or into a call queue to wait to speak to one.
Outbound contact centers are tasked with client outreach, often to generate sales, obtain market research, or perform collections operations (think your cable or credit care company when you have a late payment).
Now let’s break it down even more. The following types of contact centers can be inbound, outbound, or even mixed.
Multichannel contact centers allow agents to contact customers through various methods like text messages, email, webchats, and more. The problem is that agents still have to pull up multiple different tabs and software to access information. Unsurprisingly, this process is time-consuming. This approach can also slow down computer functionality as systems are managed in multiple tabs.
Omnichannel contact centers go one step further and allow agents to access all of their channels on one screen rather than having to manually pull up multiple different tabs to access information. Every email, text message, social media interaction, phone call, or web chat is viewable on one dashboard.
With all of the information in one place, agents can get a single snapshot view of the customer journey and previous interactions across all channels. Integrations with CRM platforms give agents a single source of truth, allowing them to solve customer queries quickly.
What Does a Contact Center Do?
The bottom line is that while contact centers do offer voice interactions over the phone like traditional call centers, they go the extra mile with additional communication options to meet customers where they’re at.
For example, say a customer is looking to do a return. Depending on a customer’s preference, they can send you a message through social media, send an email, or call your customer service line. Contact centers allow for more personalized interactions. All in all, this provides your clients with an optimal customer experience, which can have a positive effect on things like retention rates, customer service scores, Google reviews, etc.
In fact, businesses that focus on improving customer experience can see an 80% increase in revenue. What’s more, 73% of customers say that a better customer experience helps drive buying decisions.
Contact center solutions allow agents to provide better and faster customer service and supervisors to build effective customer retention strategies. Multichannel or omnichannel contact center solutions in particular are ideal for businesses that use a variety of different methods to communicate with customers.
What is the Difference Between a Call Center Vs. a Contact Center?
Really, when it comes to technological considerations and advances, call centers are older and outdated while contact centers are the new, modern way for businesses to operate and connect with customers.
Consumer behaviors and expectations are changing. They want to be able to easily contact companies and expect fast and effective solutions to problems.
What’s more, 71% of consumers expect personalized experiences and 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen. They also personalize experiences by offering an array of options for customers to reach out to companies. Historical client information is just a click away.
What is an Example of a Contact Center?
Types of businesses that may have contact center solutions include (but aren’t limited to) the following:
Contact centers can help collection agencies recover debts faster. Collection agency employees encounter a number of repetitive tasks like following up with clients on upcoming, late, or missed payments. With contact center solutions, these reminders can all be delivered through automated phone calls or email, freeing up time for the agent.
Contact center solutions give healthcare providers quick access to patient information like their preferred method of contact or upcoming appointment times. In addition, solutions like voice broadcast or SMS text messages can optimize time for everyone with automatic and proactive patient outreach.
Financial services companies typically have a high call volume. These agents are typically on the phone from the start right to the finish of their workday as they field a variety of inquiries. With help from automated agents that are often provided by contact centers, customers get answers to common questions quickly, freeing agents up to solve more complex problems.
From phone calls to comments on social media and emails, agents that work in retail handle a lot of different customer interactions. And all too often, they have to change from one interface to another, which wastes time and energy. Software integrations can solve this problem with ease! For example, if a client sends a comment or direct message through social media, agents can access historical client data with a CRM integration, view all previous interactions with the customer, and respond to this request all in one tab. Can you say efficiency?
Final Thoughts: Contact Centers are the Ultimate Solution with Endless Potential
Now that you know the difference between a contact center and a call center, you can decide which option may be best for you. But with a single interface that can optimize time for your agents and offer unmatched customer service, it’s a no-brainer. Cloud-based, omnichannel contact centers are the way to go and are the way of the future for businesses who want to deliver an exceptional customer experience. You can increase agent productivity while also increasing client satisfaction and reducing churn.
Our game-changing contact center solution will introduce you to a better way to work and connect with your customers. Say goodbye to endless tabs. Book a demo today to find out how uContact can work for you!