Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Call Center or Contact Center: What's the Difference?

November 18, 2008

So often when we are discussing the industry where customer service agents work in an environment where calls are made or answered and interactions are managed, it is referred to as a contact center. This can be confusing as it is also often referred to as a call center. Is there really a difference between these two?
 
Call Center Helper conducted an online survey to find out whether its readers considered such centers to be call centers or contact centers. Out of 735 respondents, 53 percent reported that it was a contact center, while 47 percent opted for a call center. Not surprisingly, consumers are puzzled about the difference.

Responses to this survey indicated that individuals believed contact centers to be a call center that deals with e-mail or “snail mail,” or even deals with a combination of inbound or outbound calls. Survey participants were unable to truly distinguish between call centers and contact centers.
 
There did seem to be specific perceptions as to the difference in names. It also appears that there is a widespread perception that a call center is the lower end of the market, serving only those customers and industries that no one wants to serve. The contact center, on the other hand, is perceived to be the upper end of the market, a much more professional approach to customer service.

What is interesting is that Google search statistics show that the term “call center” is used ten times as much as the term “contact center.” If call centers are perceived as being the lower end of the spectrum, is it only consumers in this lower end that are searching for centers? Or, is something else completely driving these searches?

The real question that companies operating in this space need to consider is whether or not this confusion is causing a less than satisfying experience for their customers. And, if it is, should the company eliminate the problem altogether by defaulting to using “Customer Services” or “Customer Service Center” instead of call or contact center?

Such a consideration could be in the better interest of the customer as it creates a more specific customer-centric focus for the center. Sure, there is a standard within the industry as to what separates a call center from a contact center, but does a customer really know or understand that difference?

The likely answer is no, but at the end of the day, it is much more important that the center – no matter which one it is – delivers the optimal experience for the customer. If it fails to do so, it doesn’t really matter what it is called.
 
Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users. Today’s featured white paper is Fixed Service Strategies for Mobile Network Operators, brought to you by Comverse (News - Alert).

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Michelle Robart

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