Inbound and Outbound Call Centers: What’s the Difference?
What is an Inbound Call Center?
Just as the name implies, inbound call centers handle mainly inbound phone calls from customers and potential customers. Given the nature of these calls, this type of call center tends to be more customer service-based.
Inbound call centers focus on answering questions and resolving customers’ concerns. Inbound call centers also deal with complaints from customers. Since they are the only contact many customers will ever have with your business, it’s imperative that these representatives are polite, helpful, and well-versed in company policy.
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What is an Outbound Call Center?
In contrast to inbound call centers, outbound call centers tend to make more calls than they receive. Their main focus is reaching out to customers and potential customers, making sales, and publicizing the company.
Representatives in these call centers typically work from lists of current or potential customers. This allows them to make sales and cold calls, and spend time helping customers upgrade their services.
What Is the Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Call Centers?
Inbound and outbound call centers are effectively opposites. Inbound call centers are centers that receive calls, while outbound centers call out trying to make sales. The objectives of the two call centers differ. Inbound centers are typically addressing customer concerns in an attempt to build loyalty and retain clientele. Meanwhile, outbound centers are seeking to build interest among potential buyers.
Types of Inbound Calls
Inbound calls come in all shapes and sizes, but they tend to fall into one of three categories.
1) Customer Service
This is when a current customer calls with a question or concern, or to manage their account. These calls include:
- Customer feedback
- Over-the-phone payments
- Updates to mailing addresses
- Questions about policies, practices, and so forth
In many cases, these concerns can be addressed electronically, and many inbound call centers have begun playing recordings while customers are on hold, directing them to applicable online resources.
2) Technical Support
This is where customers call when something breaks on their end. When a product isn’t functioning properly, customers tend to call in to try and have the problem resolved. Whether it’s a cell phone that’s not receiving gifs, or a computer that won’t turn on, technical support tends to hear from customers that are less than happy with the current state of affairs.
Because of the disgruntled nature of most of the calls, inbound centers that handle technical support require staff with patience and level-headedness, capable of dealing with complaints and demands. With the right team, concerns can be answered and tempers cooled, restoring brand loyalty and encouraging repeat sales.
3) Inbound Sales
In some instances, inbound call centers will receive calls not from current clientele, but rather from prospective buyers who are looking for more information. When this happens, it’s called an “inbound sales” call, and talented staff can capitalize on the opportunity. Tact and salesmanship are key here, and presenting a polite and welcoming face for the company can turn a lead into a customer.
Some larger businesses have entire call centers devoted specifically to inbound sales, rather than combining several types of calls. When this happens, the center can be staffed specifically with sales in mind, allowing the company to put their best foot forward.
Types of Outbound Calls
While there are some outliers (such as political organizations conducting polls, and companies conducting surveys regarding service and product quality, or market research), outbound call centers tend to focus on sales, and the calls fall into one of two categories.
1) Cold Calls
Cold calls are made to potential customers who weren’t expecting the contact. Their first interaction with the company is this phone call, for better or worse. Depending on the individual receiving the call, this can create feelings of frustration and distrust on the part of the potential customer, making it harder to close the sale.
The staff of cold call outbound call centers needs a thick skin, as those who don’t appreciate the call often express their disapproval. For teams that can tough it out, though, there are some sales to be made.
2) Warm Calls
Warm calls, unlike cold calls, are the result of some previous interaction with the lead. Whether it’s a referral, an interaction at a convention or meetup, or a previous call. Because the lead is expecting the call, these calls are usually better received, and as a result, have better conversion rates.
Inbound and Outbound Call Center Services – What’s Right for You
Whether you need inbound or outbound call help depends on what your team is struggling to handle. If you can’t seem to keep up with the rate of customer service and tech support calls, then you could probably use the help of an inbound call center. If your team is having a hard time following up on a long list of leads, then an outbound call center might serve your business best.
Either way, if your business is growing and your team is stretched thin, you could likely benefit from call center services. Whether it’s a competent customer service team you need or some sales superstars who can get the word out about your incredible product or service, finding the right call center can make a world of difference.
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