what is a contact centre? Contact vs call centre

Contact Centres vs Call Centres: What Is A Contact Centre?

Contact centres lie at the heart of business-to-customer communications. In any contact centre setting, multiple agents attend to customer enquiries, ensuring effective dialog between brands and their patrons. It’s easy enough to understand the basic concept of what a contact centre is. However, as CX requirements become more demanding, modern contact centres are becoming increasingly complex. Understanding the difference between contact centres vs call centres is one important part of understanding modern business-to-customer communications.

Understanding the functionality of modern contact centre solutions allows for a better understanding of what a contact centre truly is in today’s world.

Contact Centres vs Call Centres: What’s the Difference?

Although contact centres vs call centres might sound like the same thing, there are some important differences.

Call centres, as the name implies, are customer service centres that operate mainly on voice communication. In a call centre setting, agents are focused on receiving inbound calls while making outbound calls. Call centres can be used to facilitate either sales or customer service. Regardless of the goals, however, there’s one common denominator between all call centres – voice.

Contact centres are like call centres in that voice is often a popular communication channel. However, unlike call centres, contact centres allow for communication via a variety of channels other than voice, such as text, social media and email.

Essentially, the main difference between contact centres vs call centres is simple. If communication is available on multiple channels other than voice – it’s a contact centre.

That said, there are other differences. Most contact centres are more advanced – allowing for improved functionality as opposed to call centres.

What Is A Contact Centre? The New Standard for CX

The current CX landscape is demanding. Now more than ever, customers expect to communicate with brands in a way that is highly accessible and more convenient than ever before. Contact centres are at the forefront of delivering stellar CX.

To keep up with customer demands, contact centre technology is constantly being improved to ensure a better, more streamlined customer experience.

Omnichannel Service Delivery

As mentioned, contact centres allow for communication across many different platforms. These platforms could include email, social media, instant messengers, text and web chat.

The ability to offer communications via multiple channels is called omnichannel service delivery. If a company uses an omnichannel contact centre solution, agents can easily receive customer communication via any channel.

With an omnichannel solution, companies can stay on top of customer communication, regardless of where customers choose to interact with them.

Comprehensive Customer Journey Tracking

In a traditional call centre setting, customer service agents had no way of tracking customer interactions with businesses. This led to unfavourable situations, where frustrated customers had to repeatedly explain their problems to oblivious service agents.

Customers that don’t feel understood aren’t usually satisfied. This is why modern contact centre solutions track each user’s interactions with a business. Whenever a customer connects with a company, service agents are able to view a comprehensive history of previous times that particular customer contacted the business.

Agents can view information regarding the customer’s previous enquiries on the same issue and even see if a customer used multiple channels to communicate in the past. This means customers no longer need to repeatedly explain their issues to service agents.

Improved Self-service Options

Self-service options can go a long way in decreasing contact centre load while also improving efficiency.

IVR is perhaps the most well-known self-service option, seeing as voice traditionally dominated customer service centres. An IVR, or interactive voice response, is an automated telephony system where an artificial assistant interacts with callers. Customers can react to prompts, leading them to the correct service agent or department for their particular enquiry.

However, IVR as a self-service option is limited, as it only automates the process of routing calls correctly.

Modern self-service options include fully automated options, such as AI web chatbots and FAQ interfaces that can respond to common queries.

Many contact centre solutions are also able to track customer interactions with self-service channels. If self-service options fail to resolve a customer enquiry and it’s escalated to an agent, the agent will have access to see what self-service options a customer used before escalation.

Analytics for Proactive Customer Service

With enhanced customer tracking across a variety of digital channels, another important aspect of modern contact centres is the ability to offer proactive service.

Advanced analytics allows for companies to gain better insight into common customer queries and complaints – as well as other behaviours. One way this can be used for proactive customer service, is by offering answers to common questions through self-service options such as FAQ interfaces.

Another potential benefit of implementing proactive service based on analytics, is the ability to predict demand for agent skills and upskilling contact centre staff accordingly.

Advanced Automated Routing

Routing is an important aspect of ensuring prompt resolution of queries. Quite simply, correct routing directs customer queries to service agents most competent in dealing with them.

Automations for routing can be specified based on a number of guidelines, such as customer language preferences, or the category of a query based on its nature.

Remote Work Capabilities

Though not a standard expectation for contact centres yet, the ability for staff to work remotely is becoming increasingly important. While interest in remote work peaked as a result of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, crisis management isn’t the only reason to enable remote work.

Remote work offers exciting benefits. For instance, not being constrained to physical locations can help companies expand their talent pool for potential staff when looking to hire new agents.

Workforce Management

Workforce management, or WFM, is a way in which businesses can optimise their contact centres. This is done by analysing and then predicting contact centre workload. Once businesses are able to accurately predict workload, it’s easier to predict how many agents need to be available at different times.

While this might sound like a simple process, there are many factors that must be considered for efficient workforce management.

Firstly, not all service agents have the same skillsets. In a contact centre environment where agents have different skillsets, predicting the demand for specific skills is important in ensuring customer satisfaction.

Furthermore, contact centre load can also increase based on certain events – such as product launches, for instance.

Workforce management software (which can be integrated into modern contact centre solutions) uses AI and machine learning to accurately predict workload and calculate staffing requirements.

This allows workload to be distributed among agents in the most efficient way possible and takes the guessing work out of managing staff schedules.

Choosing A Contact Centre Solution

When it comes to contact centre requirements, every company is unique. Customers drive contact centre requirements, and customer profiles vary widely from one company to another. For instance, customer preferences dictate what channels a company will use to communicate with its customers. A business with a youthful customer base might communicate via channels such as Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp, whereas an older customer base might prefer voice, email and Facebook, for instance.

Another important aspect of determining contact centre requirements is complexity. Some companies can require more complex contact centres, seeing as they have different departments to deal with a variety of customer queries.

The ‘right’ contact centre solution for one business, might be the wrong solution for another. That said, an important consideration in choosing a good solution is scoping both current and future requirements. Based on these requirements, every company will be able to most accurately choose solutions catered to their specific needs.

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