What’s the Difference Between a “Warm Transfer” and a “Cold Transfer”?

warm transfer vs. cold transfer

Did you know that one in ten inbound support requests results in an escalated call? While call transfers are not unusual in the world of customer support, how you transfer those calls makes a huge impact on customer satisfaction. That’s where the concepts of “warm transfer” and “cold transfer” come into play. 

What Is a Warm Transfer?

A warm transfer occurs when the initial support agent takes the time to become familiar with the customer’s issue before connecting them to another agent. Before finalizing the call transfer, they will brief the other agent about the issue to save the customer from having to repeat their frustrating story. 

During a warm transfer, the customer only has to relay the problem once. The initial agent will fill in the second agent, which expedites the delivery of support and saves everyone time. 

What Is a Cold Transfer?

A cold transfer is more straightforward and blunt. Here’s how it typically goes.

First, a customer calls in and explains their issue to the receiving agent. The agent determines that another agent or department is better equipped to handle the customer’s issue. However, instead of filing the next agent in on the problem, they simply transfer the call. Cold transfers are easy for the initial agent but painful for everyone else.

Once the customer gets connected with the second agent, they will have to start their story from the beginning. With each sentence, they will experience growing frustration with your brand and its products or services. 

Warm Transfer vs. Cold Transfer: Key Differences

There are many differences between a warm transfer vs. cold transfer. When agents are pressed for time and calls are stacking up, cold transfers might seem like the most pragmatic option. However, you should think of cold transfers as the “easy” way to handle call transfers and warm transfers as the “right” way to handle them.

Cold transfers offer some immediate benefits for the initial agent in that they will be able to quickly take on the next call. But the customer will have to spend more time speaking to your support team, and the second agent will have to play catch up. The customer is also probably going to walk away with a diminished perception of your business. 

Some other notable distinctions include:


In a warm transfer, there’s direct communication between the two agents. This ensures that the second agent is already aware of the issue before they speak to the customer. In a cold transfer, this link is missing. 

Customer Experience 

With warm transfers, customers feel cared for and valued. Cold transfers, while efficient, can sometimes leave customers feeling a bit lost and frustrated, especially if they have to repeat their story.


Warm transfers are more efficient for everyone but the initial agent. They save the customer and the secondary agent time and frustration.

Are There Any Similarities Between a Warm Transfer vs. Cold Transfer?

Of course. You’ll find that there are a number of similarities between a cold transfer vs. warm transfer. They are both call transfers, after all. The three primary similarities are:

  1. Purpose: Both aim to transfer a call to another department or agent 
  2. Process: The process of transferring a call is the same 
  3. Desired Outcome: Both seek to solve a customer’s problem efficiently

Also, both types of transfers are documented in call detail records (CDRs). CDRs are a valuable resource for tracking customer interactions over time, detailing efforts to resolve recurring issues, and monitoring escalated calls. 

Cold Transfer vs. Warm Transfer: Which One Is Better?

So which one is better? The answer depends on the situation and what you are trying to achieve. One factor at play is efficiency. If time and quick resolutions are of the essence, cold transfers can be more efficient. They cut down on the time spent in the transfer process and get customers to the right department fast.

Another element to consider is the personalized experience you want to offer your customers. If the goal is to provide a personalized, empathetic customer experience, warm transfers are superior.

You must also account for your support staff’s availability at any given time. When calls are piling up and your team is doing their best to keep pace, cold transfers can save precious seconds. However, that time savings comes at a high cost.

And remember to factor in the complexity of the issue being discussed. If a customer has a relatively simple concern, like needing their account password reset, cold transfers may not be a bad thing. But complex issues should be handled with a warm transfer.

Ultimately, warm transfers are the better type of call transfer in most scenarios. When one of your customer support agents conducts a cold transfer, the receiving agent has to scramble to review the call detail records and play catch up to learn more about the issue the customer is facing. Inevitably, they will have to ask the custom to repeat at least part of the story (if not all of it), which creates unnecessary tension.

In contrast, warm transfers make a customer feel valued. They convey that your company values the customer’s time and experience. Cold transfers, while sometimes necessary, can come off as impersonal. Warm transfers can positively impact customer satisfaction and loyalty. While they take a bit longer to pull off, you’ll enjoy long-term efficiency benefits, as well as lower customer turnover. 

Improve Customer Satisfaction With Warm Transfers

Adding warm transfers to your customer service strategy is a great way to streamline inbound support processes and make your customers feel appreciated. However, both warm and cold transfers have their place in customer service. 

The key is to understand when to use each for the best customer experience. Using the right type of transfer at the right time can make a world of difference in how customers perceive your business.

As you navigate the nuances of a warm transfer vs. cold transfer, always keep customer satisfaction at the top of your priority list. When you use customer satisfaction as your North Star, you’ll be able to deliver an engaging, empathetic, and efficient support experience.  

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