The main purpose of a call center is to simply be available. Today’s customers have many different options for finding answers to questions and getting solutions to service inquiries. Websites, chatbots, social media, email, and even online self-service portals offer a range of opportunities for connecting. But even with so many options, telephones are still the most widely used channel for reaching out to service teams.
After all, the telephone is a well-known, comfortable technology, and many customers and prospects feel as though their concerns are more likely to be resolved satisfactorily if there is a living service agent on the other end of the line. It’s direct. It’s easy. And it doesn’t require as much effort as meeting in person. As such, an effective call center plays to those customer needs while also optimizing the various processes and tasks associated with managing calls.
In terms of in-bound calls, service and support agents can directly communicate with customers in real time to understand the purpose of the call and offer information and guidance to help them resolve their problems. Call centers are also used in outbound strategies, soliciting direct feedback regarding the customer experience, and allowing for a more meaningful connection with sales prospects.
Of course, in small businesses these basic tasks can be accomplished with little more than a single employee and a telephone. A true call center makes the entire operation more efficient, making it possible for a finite number of trained call center agents to handle the entire customer-call volume of their organization as it grows, and to do so in a way that provides the best possible service at the lowest possible cost.
Call centers have existed since the 1960s and continue to play a leading role in the customer service and support infrastructure of businesses across every industry. But not every call center exists to fulfill the exact same functions. Call centers may offer many different services, working closely with other departments and fulfilling responsibilities unique to the organization. With this in mind, it can be difficult to draw a definitive dividing line for classifying the different kinds of call centers.
Call centers are categorized based on how they are structured and what kinds of calls they are designed to handle. And although there may be some overlap between these categories, most call centers can be grouped into one or more of the following types: