What is a call center? Everything you need to know

What is a call center? A call center is a centralized department that handles incoming and outgoing calls from current and potential customers. A call center is located within an organization or outsourced to another company that specializes in call handling.

What is the difference between a call center and a contact center?

The call center focuses on one line of communication: the telephone. The call center offers support from additional channels such as email, chat, websites, and apps. The call center may include one or more call centers.

Call centers provide omnichannel support to provide support for channels or devices used by customers. Whether or not your organization chooses a call center depends on the products and services, the channels that provide customer support, and the structure of your organization’s support team.

How does a call center work?

Online merchants, telemarketing companies, help desks, mail-order organizations, voting services, charities, and large organizations that use the phone to sell or serve products using call centers. These organizations also use call centers to improve CX.

The three most common types of call centers are incoming, outgoing, and mixed call centers.

The call center came in

Typically, these call centers handle a significant amount of calls simultaneously, and then filter, forward, and log the calls. An interactive voice answering (IVR) system can answer calls and use speech recognition technology to handle customer inquiries with automatic messages, or route calls to the appropriate call center agents or recipients through an automated call distribution machine (ACD).

Agents in the incoming call center may handle calls from current or potential customers regarding account management, schedules, technical support, complaints, questions about products or services, or your organization’s intention to make a purchase.

Outgoing call center

In these call centers, agents call on behalf of the organization or customer for tasks such as lead generation, telemarketing, customer retention, fundraising, surveys, debt collection, or scheduling appointments. To maximize efficiency, the autodialer can make a call, connect the caller, and then use the IVR system to send it to an available agent. Outbound call centers must comply with the National Do Not Call Registry, a list where citizens can add phone numbers to avoid unwanted solicitation calls.

Mixed call center

This type of call center handles both incoming and outgoing calls.

The Importance of Call Centers

Customers have high expectations for customer service. They want their problems to be resolved and dealt with quickly and efficiently. Organizations must have representatives available to customers when they request service or support, and those with a call center can better serve customers in need. A call center can make your organization available 24/7 or during a period that meets customer expectations.

Customer phone calls are more than customer service. For some products or services, a phone call is the only interaction that an organization has with its customers, and therefore the only opportunity to connect with customers personally.

Types of Call Centers

In addition to entry and bending, additional call center classifications include:

  1. Built-in call center: The organization owns and operates a call center and employs agents.
  2. Outsourcing call centers: Organizations typically hire third parties to invest in and update call center technology, which eliminates the burden of hiring and training call center agents, and can invest in and update call center technology to reduce operational costs.
  3. Overseas Call Centers: These organizations often outsource their operations to companies in other countries in order to save money on wages and provide services throughout the week. The disadvantages of offshore call centers include a decrease in customer satisfaction due to language issues and a lack of knowledge of the organization, product or service due to distance.
  4. Virtual call center: The organization employs geographically dispersed agents who respond to calls using cloud call center technology. Call center agents work in small groups in other offices or in their own homes.

Call Center Team and Structure

A variety of roles, including agents, team leaders, and IT staff, make up the call center team.

  1. Call center agents: Agents are the primary point of contact between your organization and your customers because agents talk directly to and handle the call. Depending on the type of call center, agents may be able to handle incoming or outgoing calls. Call center agents are typically creative problem solvers, with customer service skills, knowledge of the organization.
  2. Team leader: Divide agents into smaller groups to make it easier for many call centers to manage. Team leaders help call center agents unescalate conversations, resolve issues, and answer customer or agent questions. Team leaders also need to ensure that call center agents are satisfied and satisfied with their role.
  3. I am the head of the call center: While the team leader was running a small team, the call center director ran the work and made sure everything went smoothly. The director or manager sets metrics and expectations for agent performance to ensure that the standards for customer expectations are met and the center runs smoothly.
  4. Quality assurance (QA): is the practice of ensuring that a product or service meets certain requirements, and the QA team does so. These teams can monitor and evaluate agents’ phone calls in the call center to ensure that call quality and CX are in line with central standards. In some cases, the person in charge of the call center runs a QA inspection.
  5. IT staff: IT professionals are essential to call centers, especially those with remote operations. IT staff aren’t limited to call centers, but update agent skills and tools to keep your call center running smoothly.

Call Center Technology

At the heart of a call center requires two main technologies: a computer and a headset. Call center agents need access to trusted computers and headsets to make and receive calls, so customers can clearly and easily understand their voice.

Remote call center agents may need enhanced Internet access to reliably access their organization’s call center software, allowing organizations to invest in home network equipment for remote agents.

Other important call center technologies and software include:

  1. call management software, including ACD technology;
  2. call monitoring software;
  3. speech analysis tools;
  4. labor management software;
  5. customer relationship management software;
  6. IVR software;
  7. dialer out; and
  8. Chatbot or virtual assistant technology.

Industry wide call center examples

A call center can benefit any industry where customers interact over the phone. For example:

  1. Airline: Customers can call the airline’s toll-free number to participate in the IVR menu or consult with a customer service representative. Customers can check the status of their flights, receive flight details, and check their frequent flyer mileage balance. Flyers can also consult with a customer service representative to rebook your flight. In the event of a flight being delayed or cancelled due to weather conditions such as major winter storms, airlines can respond quickly to customer needs.
  2. Health: Customers call their health care providers to make, change, or confirm an appointment and ask their doctor questions. In the event of a medical emergency outside of working hours, the health care provider can use an outsourced call center to pick up the phone and instruct the doctor to answer the phone.
  3. Sleeve: The customer asks the retailer for help before, during, or after the purchase. Before or during purchase, the customer may contact a customer service representative for shipping details or the retailer’s return policy. After purchasing, the customer can call to report the lost item or request a return.

How is call center success measured?

Organizations need to track key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success rate and efficiency of their call centers and agents. KPIs can vary depending on the central function: outbound call centers can measure cost per call, revenue earned, total number of calls, and completed work, among other metrics. Inbound call center metrics can include first call confirmation (FCR), average latency, and interrupted call rate.

Organizations can also use speech analytics software to monitor and analyze the performance of call center agents. Identify areas that may require more knowledge and training to improve call handling and FCR times.