What is a call center? Here’s what it can do for your business

19 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 While that may be true for a lazy, outdated call center, it’s not at all the case for modern call centers.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.

Here’s what you’re going to learn

    What is a Call Center?

    what is a call center, call center definition

    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

    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
    • Sales
    • Follow-up on previous customer service calls
    • Reaching out to existing clients or potential prospects
    • Telemarketing
    • 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.

    Related: Types of call centers infographic (plus their pros & cons)


    Why do you need a customer service call center?

    Why do you need a customer service call center?

    In a world where customers demand instant gratification and impeccable service, businesses need call centers more than ever.

    These bustling hubs of communication serve as the frontline warriors in the battle for customer satisfaction. Call centers are superheroes that can turn disgruntled customers into brand loyalists with a single phone call.

    They possess the power to soothe frustrated souls, provide quick resolutions, and leave customers with a sense of trust and confidence in the brand.

    But it’s not just big corporations that can benefit from this power-packed solution. Even small businesses can level the playing field by leveraging call centers to provide a personal touch, address customer concerns, and foster meaningful connections.

    While small businesses may not have the same resources as larger organizations, they can still provide exceptional customer service by outsourcing their calls to a call center.

    By partnering with a call center, small businesses can access a team of skilled agents who specialize in handling customer inquiries and resolving issues promptly. Enhancing customer experience doesn’t only benefit customers, but also lets small business owners allocate their time and resources to other critical aspects of their operations.

    Moreover, call centers can serve as valuable market research tools for small businesses. Through customer interactions, agents can gather valuable feedback, identify patterns and trends, and uncover insights about customer preferences and pain points.

    With this knowledge, you can make spot-on decisions to enhance your products, services, and overall business processes.

    You, a multinational corporation or a small startup, cannot afford to overlook the importance of call centers. They are the secret sauce that ensures customer satisfaction, builds brand loyalty, and fuels business growth.

    Call Centers Benefits to Business

    call centers benefits for 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.

    Related: Here’s What No One Tells You About Lead Validation

    Your Small Business May Need a Call Center Service

    your business may need them

    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:

    1. Financial Services such as Banks
    2. Savings & Loan Associations
    3. Lawyers & Law Firms
    4. Real Estate Agents, Brokers & Realtors
    5. Equipment repair services
    6. Plumbing & Sewer Repair
    7. Computer repair services
    8. Electric Motor Repairing & Service
    9. Industrial Equipment Repair Services
    10. Instrument Repair Services
    11.  Laboratory Equipment Repair & Service
    12.  Machine Shop & Tool Repair Services
    13. Pressure Washing & Restoration
    14. Safe, Lock & Key Repair Services
    15. Fire Protection Services
    16. Guard & Patrol Services
    17. Security & Surveillance Services
    18. Home Security Service
    19. Security Equipment & Supplies
    20. Security Investigative Services
    21. Process Serving Services
    22. Repossession Services
    23. Service Contracts & Agreements
    24. Small Claims Service
    25. Tax Grievance Service
    26. Bail Bond Services
    27. Eviction Services
    28. Legal & Tax Services
    29. Legal Clinics
    30. Notaries Public
    31. Legal Forms Preparation Service
    32. Legal Information Service
    33. Home Finding Service
    34. Legal Marketing Service
    35. Housing Providers
    36. Billing Services
    37. Business Insurance
    38. Health Insurance
    39. Insurance Brokers
    40. 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

    are they expensive

    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.

    Per performance

    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.


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