Contact Center vs. Call Center - Why Do You Need a Contact Center

Intermedia Contact Center

Does your business need a contact center or a call center? And what's the difference between the two? It's questions like these that business owners and executives ask often. To decide which option is best for your business, it's good to do a bit of analysis on your customers.

Think about all of the ways you communicate with your customers. There's email, telephone, text, live chat and mail, to name a few. Now think about how your customers like to receive communications. That answer differs based on each customer. There's the little mom-and-pop shop that still wants a paper invoice and to pay you by mailing a check. Then there's the large enterprise that would rather visit your website and pay with ACH. To create the best customer experience for ALL of your customers, you need to have multiple ways to communicate with them and reach them where THEY want to hear from you.

So just what is a call center?  What is a contact center? And do I need one or the other? Let's try to answer some of these questions so you can make an informed decision.

What is a Call Center?

In its simplest terms, a call center is a department of agents who receive incoming calls from customers and make outgoing calls to customers. In most instances, call centers are your customer service representatives who handle customer questions, but call centers can also provide other services like telemarketing, billing and collections and technical support. A call center can be physically located in your office or be outsourced to somewhere else. The main focus here is that call centers handle one thing: telephone calls.

What is a Contact Center?

Like a call center, a contact center is a department that handles customer communications. But, contact centers handle more than just calls. These agents can connect with customers across multiple channels, including messaging, phone, apps, text, email, social media and webchat. A contact center provides customers with a plethora of ways in which they can communicate with your business. They choose the style of interaction they like best, and agents can handle any of those types of communications. Ultimately, a contact center is about customer interactions, and it is the central point from which all customer contacts are managed.

Do I Need a Contact Center?

Whether or not you need a contact center is something only you can decide for your business. If you already have a customer service department taking phone calls on a full-time basis, then a contact center is definitely a smart move. Businesses in the following verticals greatly benefit from a move to a contact center:

  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Retail
  • Insurance and Financial Services
  • Public Sector
  • Hospitality

First and foremost, today's customers want to communicate with the most comfortable methods, and many customers don't want to pick up the telephone and have a conversation. If you struggle to communicate with customers across various channels, a contact center centralizes customer interactions in one location. Contact centers provide your customers with the best customer experience based on their likes and preferences, which helps your company grow. Happy customers are the ones who buy more products from you and recommend your business services to others, and word-of-mouth is still the BEST marketing tool out there.

Secondly, a contact center provides flexibility in operations. Contact Center Agents aren't tied to a telephone at their work desk. They can work remotely to conduct calls, chats and emails with customers from their own smartphones.  With today's remote and hybrid work styles, businesses can easily transition to remote operations with just a couple of clicks. This ensures your company stays running at all times. 

Finally, productivity increases exponentially with a contact center in place. You can analyze your team's performance by agent, team or queue with real-time dashboards that show you what's happening right now with your staff. You can also automate tasks to save time. For instance, in a healthcare setting, you can automate reminder calls to patients. An auto dealer can automate sales calls to save time and increase quotas. 

Contact Center Sounds Great! It Must Cost a Fortune!

Stop that train of thought because a contact center is likely not as expensive as you think. In most cases, you will pay for your contact center by the seat or license. Licenses vary in price based upon the level of sophistication you want from the service. On average, a seat or license can range from $20 to $150 per user. It is important to note that some contact center programs force companies to buy named seats, meaning only the person whose name is in the system can use the seat. Make sure you look for concurrent seats. These allow multiple users to have access to one seat, just not at the same time. For instance, if you have a 24-hour customer service team that works in 3 shifts with 10 people each shift, concurrent seat pricing will allow you to use the same 10 seats all day long instead of needing 30 named seats.

Typically, the more sophisticated your contact center is, the more your seats will cost. But sophistication brings in useful technologies that can really boost your business, including:

  • Multiple channel options for communicating with customers, including SMS and even social media chats.
  • Machine learning gives you true insights into customer interactions and the ability to add post-call surveys.
  • Automated campaigns that can save time for your employees - think automated school closing alerts for all parents or appointment reminders for a doctor's office.
  • Interactive Voice Response or IVR allows callers to access data through a series of voice commands - consider telephone banking, where you might say account balance to find out how much money you have in your checking account. IVR frees up the time of customer service reps to deal with more complex issues.
  • Integrations with third-party software allow information to flow easily from one system to another and keep everyone who touches the customer informed of interactions.

As a Contact Center provider, Fraser has multiple offerings for small, medium and large enterprises to help businesses be more efficient and save time and money with customer interactions. To learn more about Contact Centers or speak to someone about a demonstration of this technology, click the button below to get started.

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