13 min read
One of the many false assumptions business owners make when thinking of call centers is… they’re dead! While that may be true for a lazy, outdated call center, it’s not at all the case for modern call centers.
Did you know that the call centers market size surpassed 300 billion USD, and it’s projected to surpass 400 billion USD by 2027?
If this statistic could speak, it would probably say: “call centers are not dead!”
In this article, we’ll give you an overview of what is a call center, call center types, and their benefits to businesses.
What is a Call Center?
Before we dive deeper, let’s define what a call center is.
A call center is an office or a department consisting of specialized customer service representatives. Their job is to answer customer inquiries and solve those customers’ issues. Call center customer service representatives are also called call center agents. It’s called a “call center” because it handles inbound and outbound telephone calls.
It’s typical for massive established companies and organizations, such as banks and healthcare organizations, to have their own dedicated call center. However, many businesses, regardless of their size, use outsourced call centers, which are also known as external call centers. Simply, outsourced call centers are call centers that you, the business, hire to handle your customer service calls.
In the past, the telephone was the primary communication channel between a business and its customers. However, technological sophistication altered how we do business. Therefore, the term “contact center” has emerged, and now it’s used interchangeably with the term “call center.” Nowadays, a call center does not just handle your calls only! They perform numerous tasks such as:
- Managing your MMS/SMS marketing
- Doing live chat with customers
- Conducting emails
- Handling customer support tickets
- Booking appointments
- Providing technical support
- Doing surveys
- Conducting market research
- And even processing payments
By now, you can see the potential of call centers. They’re an invaluable way to ensure customer satisfaction.
Types of Call Centers
Now you know what call centers are, and you’ve seen some examples of their capabilities for your business. It’s time to see the different types of call centers.
There are three main types of call centers: inbound call centers, outbound call centers, and blended call centers.
Inbound call centers
Like its name, an inbound call center manages inbound calls i.e. incoming customer calls. This type of call center is oriented towards customer support and it’s widely used to assist existing customers of a company’s product or service. Also, they can handle a tremendous amount of calls in one go.
Here are some of their responsibilities:
- Providing technical support for customers regarding a particular product or service.
- Answering customers questions and walking them through a step-by-step plan to overcome their issues.
- Boosting sales, especially for e-commerce, since customers can ask questions about a specific product and place orders through the phone.
- Helping customers resolve their payment processing issues.
- Managing inbound sales.
Let’s consider a real-life example.
If you use, say, PayPal as your main payment method, you can call them to resolve an issue that’s bothering you. That’s an inbound call because you’re already using their service. Simple, right?
Outbound call centers
Outbound call centers differ from inbound call centers in several ways.
An outbound call center deals with outbound calls. These types of call centers call clients instead of receiving customers’ calls. This is the prominent difference between inbound and outbound call centers.
Here are some examples of what this type of call center can do for your business:
- Lead generation
- Market research
- Follow-up on previous customer service calls
- Reaching out to existing clients or potential prospects
- Conducting surveys based on your needs
- Debt collection and fundraising
Blended call centers
This leads us to the third type of call centers: blended call centers
Blended call centers are a powerful combination of inbound and outbound call centers. Imagine having the power to receive and make outgoing calls at the same time! All in one place, this ensures a happy marriage between your business and your customers’ satisfaction.
Agents who work in these types of call centers are proficient in both inbound and outbound calls. Call centers with agents skilled in this way can have an even greater positive impact on your business success, because they’re very customer service oriented.
Call center services are flexible, and they can help your business, whether it’s a small plumbing shop or a bank!
More Call Center Types
Along with the types above, more contact center types are worth mentioning:
Virtual call centers
A virtual call center is a flexible call center type in which their agents work from home or across several offices. Usually, a virtual call center doesn’t have a physical location. All agents use the same technology to process your customer service needs — just like a traditional call center.
Outsourced call centers
We’ve already tackled this previously, but let’s shed some light on it once again.
In most cases, a business doesn’t have enough resources, or the will, to make and run its own call center. So instead of wasting large amounts of money to make this infrastructure, an outsourced call center — as part of what is also known as business process outsourcing (BPO) — steps in. Simply, it’s a separate call center that deals with a business’ customer service needs.
In-house call centers
Historically, it was uncommon to see massive businesses, companies, and banks hire call centers. Instead, they had their own call centers with their own trained agents. These agents deal only with their company’s products and customers. Call centers like these are known as in-house call centers.
Multichannel contact centers
Just like its name suggests, a multichannel contact center enables agents to handle customer service via multiple channels including phone, SMS, MMS, messaging, and even social media.
Omnichannel contact centers
These types of call centers ensure an outstanding customer service experience for your customers. It lets the customers interact with your business whenever they need to. And because they typically use advanced cloud technology, all customers’ interactions are synced into one place — even if they’re spread across multiple channels. This makes the agents’ duty easier — which, therefore, results in a top-notch user experience.
Call Centers Benefits to Business
Now you know what a call center is, and what its main types are. Great! Let’s see what are the direct benefits that call center services provide.
Call center services are ideal for small businesses, and big ones too, to optimize their growth, maximize their potential, and eventually make more revenue. Pretty exciting!
Here are the top six benefits of call centers that will boom and bloom your business’s performance:
It saves time
Lost time is a major issue that not only a business faces, but we also face in our personal lives. Putting our personal lives aside, lost time can be brutal for any business.
Instead of wasting time handling calls and solving customers’ inquiries one by one, call centers offer an all-in-one solution that saves your precious time as a business owner, and gives you more opportunities to work on other things.
Also, handling phone calls and customers’ inquiries can become super annoying! Especially if you’re dealing with an angry client. So if you don’t like this aspect of the business, you can skip it and focus on developing your business, which is the truly fun part anyway, right?
It generates more revenue
Let’s say you have a small law firm where it’s just you and your legal assistant. Both of you are busy dealing with your existing clients, or even taking a nap! (Lawyers nap too, right?) Imagine if someone, namely a potential client, calls you while you’re both busy and you didn’t pick up the phone. Or maybe he left a voicemail instead, but by the time you call back or reply to the voicemail, he’s probably gone to the next lawyer.
So, you’ve likely lost a lead.
This scenario can vary from business to business; however, it occurs in all industries — all businesses lose leads. But what makes the difference between a winning business and a losing business is the number of leads they gain.
The equation is simple: more leads equals more revenue.
A call center doesn’t only prevent you from losing leads, but it also provides supreme customer service along with the other types of services that we’ve covered earlier.
Also, the call center agent can also save you and your staff substantial time, for example by pre-screening clients, gathering basic information, and so on.
In the end, interacting with an actual person in real-time is way better than interacting with, say, a chatbot — or even worse, not interacting at all!
Managing your leads that way can make them convert easily because they’re in a more responsive buying stage.
It disconnects your personal life from your business
Having to deal with calls at midnight is a pain. Therefore, a 24/7 answering service is an optimal way to free your personal life from your business.
Remember that call centers handle not only calls, but they manage your customers in multiple channels. They also nurture your relationship with your existing customers. You’ll be perceived as a business that doesn’t let its customers down even when you’re sleeping.
Removes extra expenses (it makes you save more money!)
A call center gives you the luxury to skip hiring extra staff such as a receptionist, for example. Why hire more people when you can hire an entire call center for a relatively affordable price?
Operate around the clock
Did you ever need some kind of service after business hours? Maybe you have a question regarding a product you’ve seen in an eCommerce store while shopping at midnight?
Well, that often happens in most industries. And it’s often overlooked by small businesses in particular.
So, by having an “around the clock” solution you’re presenting yourself in front of endless opportunities. Whether you’re a plumber or a law firm, you never know when your next lead will knock on your door (or phone!) nor when your next interaction with an existing customer will take place. Hence, being prepared is an obligation.
It makes your interactions more personal
Interacting with both of your existing and potential customers in the most personal way possible is crucial, especially in recent years. What’s better than having a call and talking to a real person instead of filling a contact form, for example? Call centers services are an affordable way to do that.
Your Small Business May Need a Call Center Service
By now you know a myriad of things about call centers and what benefits they provide. But how do you know hiring a call center is good for you?
Well, every business that receives calls and interacts with its customers in multiple channels can benefit from hiring a call center. It depends on your needs and preferences. Let’s say you’re flooded with customers’ calls, messages, or even live chat requests. That’s superb only if you can serve them and give them what they’re craving for: information and guidance.
If you can’t manage all of that; however, or you don’t want to deal with it personally, a call center can be the right choice for you.
We have a surprise for you — it depends on your definition of surprise but it’s helpful! Here’s a list of 40 industries that need a call center or can benefit from having a 24/7 answering service:
- Financial Services such as Banks
- Savings & Loan Associations
- Lawyers & Law Firms
- Real Estate Agents, Brokers & Realtors
- Equipment repair services
- Plumbing & Sewer Repair
- Computer repair services
- Electric Motor Repairing & Service
- Industrial Equipment Repair Services
- Instrument Repair Services
- Laboratory Equipment Repair & Service
- Machine Shop & Tool Repair Services
- Pressure Washing & Restoration
- Safe, Lock & Key Repair Services
- Fire Protection Services
- Guard & Patrol Services
- Security & Surveillance Services
- Home Security Service
- Security Equipment & Supplies
- Security Investigative Services
- Process Serving Services
- Repossession Services
- Service Contracts & Agreements
- Small Claims Service
- Tax Grievance Service
- Bail Bond Services
- Eviction Services
- Legal & Tax Services
- Legal Clinics
- Notaries Public
- Legal Forms Preparation Service
- Legal Information Service
- Home Finding Service
- Legal Marketing Service
- Housing Providers
- Billing Services
- Business Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Insurance Brokers
- Healthcare services
Note that this list is not exhaustive.
These industries are only a petite sample because call centers can serve almost any business out there (even a video gaming business!)
Are Call Centers Expensive? The #1 Nasty Call Center Myth
Let me ask you a question, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking of hiring a call center?
“Well, it’s going to be expensive!” often is the answer.
However, that’s not the truth. What is true, though, is building your own call center from scratch can break the bank in a blink of an eye. Just think of all that infrastructure! The computers, the software, the staff, the training, etc.
Most call centers charge per hour, per performance, or a mix between the two.
Per hour or per agent
Good call centers offer substantial call savings to smaller businesses by utilizing a “shared” environment. This means that one set of agents will be responsible for calls for a number of different businesses. The advantage here is that if you just have a small volume of calls per month, you can still have the benefits of a call center, but do not need to pay for dedicated agents. In these scenarios, you pay per minute of call time.
Higher volume and more specialized scenarios sometimes need dedicated agents. This is more traditional in one way, where you generally pay a fixed price for a fixed number of agents at a fixed hourly rate per agent. While this may seem a bit like hiring an employee, it’s not — the call center is still handling all the complexity including hiring, recruitment, training, coaching, supervision, technology infrastructure, and software both for the agents and often to integrate into your existing business software.
This method is less common. Simply, the amount of money you have to pay is tied with performance in some way; e.g. if a sale is completed by the call center agent, you pay a fixed amount of money.
Call center services are still a valuable piece of the pie in the business world — especially for small businesses. They help you provide superior customer service, capture new leads, and snowball your business into the massive enterprise you’re dreaming about. Along with receiving and making calls, they help with a multitude of tasks, such as SMS marketing and managing your relationship with your customers.