Looking to boost your customer satisfaction, but bewildered with all the options of call center types? Not to worry, we’ve got a breakdown for you right here.
Call center services can have an enormous impact on your customer’s happiness. In fact, customer service is one of the most important factors in a company’s success. Great customer service drives sales, improves customer lifetime value, and boosts brand reputation. Bad customer service can do the exact opposite – lose customers, harm the brand, and hurt sales.
That’s why outsourced call centers can be one of the most important business strategies for successful customer-facing brands. But here’s the rub – there are a lot of different types of call centers offering a broad range of services.
We’ll explain those services and how you can choose the call center type your company needs.
What is a Call Center?
A call center is a third-party company that manages customer communication for other businesses. In the digital age, “call center” is often changed to “contact center,” since most call centers don’t just handle calls, but manage the entire customer experience across phone, chat, email, and more.
An outsourced call center should help manage everything about your customer’s experience – from the first touch to a lifetime of loyalty. They typically cost less than hiring customer service in-house, and they provide a greater level of customer experience management (CX) expertise.
Call centers help companies across nearly every industry, from retail and e-commerce to healthcare, education, logistics, automotive, banking, and more.
Most call centers – or contact centers – offer a wide range of services to their clients. But for simplicity, we’ll break them down into separate categories. Here are nine of the most popular types of call centers.
Inbound Call Centers
When most of us think of call centers, we probably “call” this type to mind. Inbound call centers receive any calls coming into your company’s customer service line – or any calls you choose to route to them. Inbound call centers typically manage customer experience calls, but may also route staff inquiries, potential employee contacts, and more.
Inbound call centers offer customer support such as
- Help desk support: When customers call with issues with products or services, an inbound call center has agents ready to answer and resolve those issues. These agents should be trained in your brand voice and be thoroughly familiar with your product/services.
- Taking orders and purchases: Inbound call centers can process orders from customers who are calling in or having trouble placing orders online.
- Transferring or escalating calls: Inbound call center agents are trained in how to best transfer or escalate customer requests if they need to go to specific contacts or support teams. The goal is that each customer speaks to exactly who they need to resolve their issue.
- Dispatch services: Inbound call centers often handle dispatch calls and help organize communication around transfers, shipments, and deliveries.
- Live chat: Inbound call centers don’t just handle phone calls – they can also take live chat requests and emails.
Inbound contact centers also provide an excellent opportunity for building brand loyalty, cross-selling, up-selling, and driving sales. Inbound contacts are key to your customer satisfaction and growth.
Outbound Call Centers
Outbound contact centers provide customer service representatives to contact customers on your behalf. They help to drive sales leads and expand your business. Outbound CX is more proactive than inbound.
Services in this type of contact center can include
- Lead generation: Outbound CX strategy can help deliver vetted, qualified sales leads to your team at a fraction of the cost. Agents reach out to potential leads and help drive them to your products or services.
- Telemarketing: Telemarketing services can include things like B2B contacts, event registrations and signups, appointment scheduling, database management, and more.
- Up-selling and cross-selling: Up-selling and cross-selling can improve your sales by as much as 40%. With outbound call center agents, you can build these sales strategies through direct customer contact.
- Surveys and customer feedback: Outbound call centers can build market research surveys, customer satisfaction surveys, and more. Trained agents track analytics and results to deliver clear goals for your sales strategies.
These outbound channels help to deliver better growth and customer satisfaction, at a much lower cost than managing them from your in-house team.
Virtual Call Centers
Virtual call centers are an excellent way to reduce overhead costs like rent on office space. Virtual options have risen in popularity over the past few years, just like in every industry. A virtual call center is exactly what it sounds like – a CX option with agents working from home or from remote locations connected via technology.
Virtual CX management gives flexibility and ease of scaling up or down, along with decreased costs. Many outbound strategies can be done from virtual agents.
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Multichannel Call Centers
Multichannel contact centers respond to customers’ increasing desire to seek and receive help across different communication channels. Modern CX solutions go beyond voice calls and support customers in whatever way they choose to contact your company.
Most contact centers offer channels like live voice, chat, email, video, or even supporting your on-site team.
Omnichannel Call Centers
Omnichannel is similar to multichannel but takes it one step further with centralized coordination. Omnichannel strategies manage customer contacts across as many channels as you desire – voice, email, chat, in-person – and manage all the data and communication in a coordinated way.
Staff answering across different channels use one single data center to share information, so the customer experience is seamless. Omnichannel call centers allow for greater control and customization and generate higher customer satisfaction and results.
In-House Call Centers
In-house call centers are operated by the company itself. In-house offers the highest amount of direct control, but often is costly and requires a high level of added training, CX expertise, and equipment.
Essentially, in-house call centers require companies to develop a customer support department within their own operations.
Outsourced Call Centers
Outsourced call centers are widely used by some of the world’s largest brands. They allow companies to hire experts in customer experience management to handle their customer satisfaction – at a lower cost than doing it in-house. If you’ve ever wondered how to get an affordable option if you can’t hire in-house customer service staff – outsourcing is the answer.
The first type of outsourced call center is an onshore call center. That means the offices and staff are located in the same region or country as your primary business operations or customer base.
But other options come with their own benefits and value: offshore call centers and nearshore call centers.
Offshore Call Centers
Offshore call centers are customer support offices located in a different country from your main operations. Typically when we say “offshore,” it means a country that’s far from your main HQ – likely in a different time zone and part of the world.
Offshore call centers are a popular solution because they save so much money. If proximity isn’t an issue, a contact center can seek the most affordable labor across the world. Employees and agents are highly trained and skilled, but they typically live in a place where a fair living wage is much lower than in the U.S., EU, etc.
The downside of an offshore contact center is the inconvenience of the distance with staff working in different time zones with reduced flexibility and efficiency. Travel is more costly, and language or cultural differences may pose an issue for customers.
Nearshore Call Centers
Nearshore call centers or contact centers aim to take the benefits of onshore and offshore and minimize some of the downsides.
Nearshoring is the practice of hiring customer service representatives in a country near your main base of operations – usually, one that shares a border and even time zones. Nearshoring can still see some of the cost-saving benefits of offshoring but doesn’t add the downsides of costly travel and cultural and language barriers. Nearshoring retains valuable flexibility and collaboration without the added cost of onshoring.
Many call centers are beginning to offer more nearshore options.
Which Call Center Type is Right For Your Organization?
Of course, choosing the perfect call center type depends on your business needs and goals. But the best way to choose a contact center is to find one that can offer any of the above services – or give you a customized package based on your needs.
The best CX services are nimble enough to manage nearly every type of customer contact and customer engagement strategy. At ROI CX Solutions, we offer our customers a choice of any or every type of contact center solution. They can customize or scale services to their needs in any given season, and our representatives are trained to be deeply knowledgeable about their brand and their customers.
Learn more about how you can save money and boost customer satisfaction with the right type of contact center.