It's a no-brainer that customers are a company’s most crucial stakeholder since without them there's no business to begin with. For this reason it's essential to offer the best customer experience possible, regardless of how small or big the organization is. However, small and medium companies in particular may feel a bit overwhelmed by the need to answer all their customers' requests on time. To overcome this, it's necessary for them to get some help by using a call center or contact center. It's important though to understand that these are not the same thing: each offers a distinct model for business communication, and failing to consider this can lead to a damaging business mistake.
What Is a Call Center?
Call centers are where agents handle inbound, outbound, and blended phone calls. They appeared in the 1960's with the invention of the first automatic call distribution system, which allocates calls to several agents based on their availability or expertise. This type of service is most often geared toward taking orders and providing customer service where agents are pushed to resolve calls fast, resulting in more calls per day and reduced costs. In some cases, there's an IVR system in place to guide customers through the many customer service options until they actually speak with a live person.
What Is a Contact Center?
On the other hand, contact centers are a more recent service incorporating various modes of communication such as email, social media, live chat, etc. They offer the same benefits as a call center, but they're more likely to use cloud services and VoIP. Furthermore, all channels can be integrated into a CRM system, enabling clients to change channels throughout their customer journey without feeling any brand image inconsistences or customer service disruptions. It's easy to understand why companies are slowly but surely shifting to contact centers – customers are more digital than ever, and therefore look for answers through digital channels instead of phone lines.
Call Center vs Contact Center
While contact and call center agents may both use headsets, it's easy to understand the main distinction between them after reading each service’s definition. That’s just the surface however, and there are five main differences to consider:
1. Channels of Communication
As already discussed, the main difference between call centers and contact centers is how they communicate with customers. While the former only speaks with clients through the phone, the latter is able to get in touch with consumers through all digital channels.
2. Proactive vs Reactive Support
With the number of tools and analytics that contact centers can employ, it's possible for them to understand buyers' behavior, anticipate questions, and reach out before the customer initiates contact. Conversely, call centers have greater difficulty doing so. Even if they're able to anticipate problems, clients are always cautious about answering calls from unknown numbers.
3. Self-Service Management
Besides improving customer interaction, contact centers also offer self-service help through keyword-driven text messaging and chatbots, among others. This way, small issues can be resolved without the need for a customer agent, which decreases costs and wait time. Although call centers usually have an IVR in place, this system is usually time-consuming, and there are still long wait times.
4. 360-Degree View
A perk that's only available from contact centers is the ability to get a 360-degree view of the customer's journey. All information gathered throughout all the support channels can be integrated into CRM software, giving a full overview of the customer’s history at all times.
5. Customer Experience
Considering all the perks contact centers offer, it's easy to see that they provide a better customer experience. In fact, due to the integration of all the information in one place, customer agents will have an easier time providing high-quality support consistently.
Why a Contact Center Is the Best Option for Your Business
There's no question that nowadays more than ever, companies need to go above and beyond for their customers. It only takes one bad customer experience to have a brand's name smeared all over the internet. Therefore, having stellar customer support is essential, and this is more easily accomplished with a contact center.
However, building such a system might be a little pricey, especially for small and medium companies. Fortunately, there are VoIP providers such as RingCentral offering more affordable options that integrate contact center features seamlessly with the VoIP system itself. By taking advantage of the cloud, companies like RingCentral can provide lower call prices and almost no entry investment costs. Therefore, we highly advise companies that are considering implementing a contact center to explore options like the RingCentral Contact Center.
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