What Are the Different Types of Call Centers?

multichannel customer support | types of call center

Throughout their lifetime, most people will have at least one run-in with a call center. 

You may have called an airline sales agent to book a flight for a vacation. You may have had to call for technical assistance on a gadget you bought or call a company to complain about a return policy. You may have even received a telemarketing call out of the blue offering you a special deal on a product you’ve never heard of.

You likely know how they work and don’t need a call center’s definition. However, you may not be aware that they are not all the same. There are many different types of call centers, each with its distinct purposes and functions. 

As a business owner, it’s helpful to know about each type of call center so you can make an informed choice about which is best for your business.

What You Need to Know About the 8 Different Types of Call Centers

While call centers can offer a broader range of services to business owners and their customers, they are generally differentiated by either the type of services they provide or the location their agents work from. Here is a breakdown of the different features of each type of call center and the purpose each serves.

1. Inbound Call Centers

Inbound call centers take calls from customers. The purpose of these types of call centers is usually to help customers solve a problem, which may be in the form of complaint resolution, technical support, or taking orders. 

While some companies prefer to hire their own customer service agents, others outsource this work to a third party to save money on hiring and infrastructure costs.

2. Outbound Call Centers

Outbound call centers work oppositely from inbound operations. Instead of waiting for customers to call, the agents initiate contact. When it comes to the inbound versus outbound debate, know that one option is not better than the other. They simply offer different services.

These types of call centers are most commonly used for telemarketing and lead generation to help companies grow their brand awareness and get prospects into their sales funnel. However, organizations may also use outbound call centers to conduct market research, survey customers, or raise money.

3. Blended Call Centers

Blended call centers offer a mix of both inbound and outbound services. These call centers aim to offer a seamless customer experience from the time a customer buys a product until they are fully able to use and enjoy it. 

While these types of call centers can present an operational challenge, customers often enjoy and appreciate the comprehensive services.

4. Automated Call Centers

These types of call centers do not employ live agents to help customers. Instead, customers interact with voice technology that guides them through a series of prompts. Customers often navigate those prompts using telephone buttons or keywords. 

This type of call center is best suited for a customer base that prefers self-service options to solve their problem instead of having to wait to talk to a person over the phone.

5. Omni and Multichannel Call Centers

The terms omnichannel and multichannel call centers are often used interchangeably, but they are different. 

Omnichannel call centers use different modes of communication with customers, including phone, SMS text messaging, email, chat, and even social media. These channels are united in an omnichannel call center, meaning if the initial contact is made on one channel, agents can use another for follow-up.

Multichannel call centers also use the same channel mix to communicate with customers. However, each channel is kept separate. Follow-up is usually conducted via the same channel in which initial contact was made.

6. Virtual Call Centers

Virtual call centers are named as such because there is no central location from which all employees work. Employees at a virtual call center work from different locations in the world, often from their own homes. 

These call centers can still provide the same services as inbound, outbound, blended, omnichannel, or multichannel call centers, often in different languages since they can be located worldwide.

7. In-House Call Centers

In-house call centers are an extension of your brand, and agents often work on-site at your office or in another building near your location. In-house call centers can provide the same types of services as any other call center. However, you will be responsible for purchasing technology, hiring agents, and managing the entire operation. 

It’s a great option to ensure everything works the way you want but keep in mind that it can be an expensive undertaking.

8. Offshore Call Centers

Offshore call centers are usually located in a different country where operational costs are less. Business owners can experience significant challenges with this type of call center, meaning they may exchange less budget output for more operational frustrations. 

There can sometimes be a language barrier between agents and customers in these call centers, which you must overcome with meticulous hiring practices.

Consider Your Customers’ Needs to Choose the Best Option for You

As you consider inbound versus outbound or automated versus omnichannel, know that the best types of call centers for your business are the ones that best meet your customers’ needs. 

If your customers want more self-service options, an automated call center might be the way to go. If your customers complain about the inconvenience of phone conversations, omnichannel may be your best option. If you’re in sales and want to turn prospects into buyers, an outbound call center could be for you.

Think about your business and what you want to accomplish with your call center. By choosing a call center model that both ensures your customers are well taken care of and helps you meet your business goals, your brand is much more likely to experience the business growth you’re looking for.

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