4 Key Differences Between a Contact Center and a Call Center

contact center vs. call center

If you’re a business that handles considerable inbound or outbound call volumes, it’s important for you to understand the differences between a contact center vs. call center. Both can be a critical part of a customer service strategy, but they serve distinct roles, and understanding these differences can better inform your customer service strategies, ensuring that you make stronger and more worthwhile investments.

Below are some key differences between the two to help you decide which is more suitable for your business.

What Is a Contact Center?

A contact center is designed to be a comprehensive customer interaction hub that customers reach out to when they have questions, issues, or concerns. Contact centers aren’t just about traditional phone calls, however; instead, they frequently extend their services across multiple channels for modern conveniences, such as:

  • Social media
  • SMS
  • Emails
  • Online chats

The goal of contact center services is to provide a superior customer experience by seamlessly integrating excellent service across various communication methods. Contact centers allow your brand to be represented uniformly, no matter the platform, ensuring consistency and enhancing your brand’s reputation.

What Is a Call Center?

Call centers, in contrast, primarily handle voice interactions via phone calls. Call centers can manage both inbound and outbound needs, which means they handle aspects such as:

  • Customer service
  • Technical support
  • Sales calls
  • Marketing campaigns

Call centers have evolved over the years to the point where some include limited digital channels, but their primary focus remains set on voice-based interactions.

4 Key Differences Between Contact Center vs. Call Center

Here are four of the main differences that stand between contact centers and call centers:

1. Channel Coverage

The contact center vs. call center differences lie heavily in channel coverage. Given the many modern advancements in technology in the years leading up to 2023, customers now expect service on various preferred platforms. Call centers continue to be heavily voice-centric, hence the name “call centers,” whereas contact centers tend to better integrate various channels, including SMS, email, and online chats. 

2. Superior Customer Experience

The multi-channel approach of a customer service contact center tends to deliver a superior contact center experience and more comprehensive reporting compared to just traditional voice-based communications. The center can report on interactions and responses across all channels, allowing for more efficient and accurate tracking of customer interactions and customer behavior.

Having a more comprehensive understanding of customers’ behaviors and needs allows brands to deliver highly targeted and personalized services, which can further enhance the customer experience.

3. Knowledge Sharing for Help Centers

Since contact centers frequently leverage an omnichannel approach, they’re able to share important knowledge that brands can use in their help centers.

For example, if your brand has a help center filled with educational webinars and troubleshooting guides, you’ll have more material at your fingertips than you would from phone calls alone, given the number of customers reached through various channels. That knowledge and information can help strengthen your brand’s help center, which in turn can enhance the customer experience and solidify your brand’s positive reputation.

4. Level of Customer Engagement

Another noteworthy difference between call center and contact center operations involves the level of customer engagement they offer. Contact centers are designed to be proactive in their customer service approach by using advanced analytics, CRM systems, and AI to predict customer needs and provide solutions before they even initiate contact.

On the other hand (especially inbound call centers) typically provide a more reactive version of customer service, responding to customer inquiries and complaints only after the customer reaches out first. While call centers certainly provide excellent service within that context, they may not be able to provide the same predictive services to address customer needs the way contact centers do.

Contact Center vs. Call Center: Which Is Right for You?

Deciding whether to move forward with a contact center vs. call center depends heavily on your business needs and customer expectations.

If your customer base primarily makes use of voice-based communications and you have limited resources, a call center may very well be an ideal solution. That said, if you have customers spread across various platforms or a particularly younger audience, you will likely want to move forward with the seamless, integrated services a comprehensive contact center provides.

Choosing between a contact center or a call center is about choosing the solution that meets your current needs and your future ones. Both options offer excellent solutions, but the one you choose heavily depends on your specific needs.

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