While technology has changed much about the business world, there is one axiom that Sam Walton lived by which is still true today: “There is only one boss. The customer.”
In that statement, Walton spoke the hard truth that with a single decision, a customer has the ability to fire the entire company. One of the most important ways to avoid being fired by your customers is with good communication.
For many businesses, their customer base is too large to field every call effectively. To this end, companies employ call centers and contact centers. While the two are very similar in their goals, their means of achieving those goals are pretty different. Continue reading to learn the differences, and which is the better solution for you.
What is a call center?
Call centers are really the first system of their kind, as far as providing outsourced communication with customers. In essence, call centers are only concerned with outgoing and incoming calls. They are housed at centralized locations, and they may handle the calls for multiple businesses.
Call centers allow a company to have multiple “office assistants”, so to speak. At call centers where they handle more than one client or product, there are teams assigned to different companies and products.
The members of those teams familiarize themselves with their assignment’s pertinent customer related information and practices. This allows them to engage in troubleshooting problems as well as sell and add services to customers’ existing accounts. Often times, they even make cold calls to prospective customers to inform them about their client.
What is a contact center
With all of that being said, contact centers are more comprehensive than call centers. In a nutshell, if a call center was a cellphone, then a contact center would be a smartphone. The difference is that profound.
One way to look at it is that call centers only manage incoming and outgoing voice calls. Contact centers, especially cloud contact centers, are the most cost-efficient solution for small businesses and startup companies. They make contact with extant customers and potential customers across any platform where contact can be made — both incoming and outgoing. This includes over the phone, on the company’s website, and even through email.
A cloud-based contact center is one where you get the contact center software from a vendor, and the vendor manages the software for you. The software is stored on the vending company’s server, and you access it via the cloud (which is just another name for the internet).
Have you ever visited a website and been prompted to sign up for their email or newsletter list? Have you ever gone to a website and a chatbot popped up offering support via live chat over the internet? Those are both examples of ways that cloud contact centers allow you to reach out to customers.
Voice calls are handled via voice over internet protocol (VOIP), which is very cost efficient and sometimes free. They also allow you flexibility with more than one location being able to handle calls over the same network. In addition to VOIP — also known as internet calling — these systems allow you to contact people where they spend much of their time searching for solutions: the internet.
If you’re a small business person and you’re looking to create or improve upon customer relationships, then consider using a virtual call center. They are the best and most cost-efficient way to keep in both contact with current and future customers.