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Why You Need a Contact Center, Rather Than a Call Center

The average consumer associates customer service with call centers, as for decades, consumers would call company representatives or agents in call centers for their customer service inquiries. Given the prevalence of telemarketing as a sales tactic, many consumers also associate sales departments with call centers. And many consumers don't have positive impressions of call centers. For many, the thought of call centers brings up frustrating memories of repeated transfers from rep to rep, overly scripted responses to answers that don't address their question, and a lack of follow-up, among other common complaints.

The Difference Between Call Centers and Contact Centers

Many consumers today contact companies online, whether through email, live chat, or social media channels. Whether they're reaching out online or calling a company, today's consumer is more likely to be reaching a contact center rather than a call center.

What's the difference?

A call center is a customer service or outbound sales operation specifically designed to manage inbound calls, generate outbound calls, or both. Historically, call centers have used Private Branch exchange (PBX) systems to power their calls. These systems are often challenging to support and usually rely on proprietary technology. However, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has been used more frequently in recent years as it is usually more cost-effective. VoIP can also be used to establish virtual call centers, allowing employees to work from home and saving employers the real estate costs associated with having an onsite call center.

A contact center (also sometimes referred to as an omnichannel call center) is a customer service or outbound sales operation established to handle multiple types of consumer contact. For example, a contact center may allow a customer service representative to engage a customer by email, text, live chat, social, or video calls, in addition to the traditional phone call. They typically utilize VoIP and cloud services to transmit text, audio, and videos to and receive them from consumers.

Why the need for multiple channels?

Today's consumer no longer primarily relies on the phone for corporate contact. People today want to connect with companies in a manner in which they feel comfortable, which may vary considerably based on their demographic and psychographic characteristics. Young consumers may reach out to you via Snapchat, while busy professionals may use live chat while multitasking. Many of the world's largest companies have adopted the contact center model, and consumers are now primed to expect this level of engagement with every business they encounter.

It's important to note that while they want to connect with a company online, most consumers prefer to connect with a human being rather than a chatbot or using a self-service option. Despite the range of online channels, a successful contact center is still driven by effective employee communication. And businesses, especially medium-sized and large ones, need them. By establishing a contact center or transforming your call center into one, you can communicate with more consumers and customers more effectively and cost-efficiently than you can with a call center operation.

The Vital Role of Customer Relationship Management Systems

Historically, call centers have also gotten a bad rap due to those whose companies haven't integrated their customer relationship management (CRM) system into their operations. A CRM system allows you to collect substantial amounts of data about each customer and utilize it for more effective action across the organization. Your CRM may collect each customer's purchase history, allowing your marketing and finance teams to evaluate the profitability of certain customers and customer segments more effectively. You can gather and aggregate information about how your online customers responded to your digital advertising efforts, allowing you to market more effectively. And you can capture each interaction every customer has had with your company, allowing you to communicate with them more effectively, among other applications.

Integrating your CRM with your contact center management software provides your customer service or sales reps with a wealth of information they can use to personalize their customer contacts. Consider a customer service agent for a sporting goods store who gets a call from a longtime customer about a broken tent they purchased. If the agent can see the customer's company contact history, they can personalize the conversation. Utilizing their purchase history, the agent may even be able to sell products to the customer once they've resolved the customer's problem.

But when you don't empower your customer service and sales agents with this information, they're left to provide generic answers, solutions, and sales pitches, which often don't land well with consumers. The call centers of old did not have the sophisticated CRM systems of today and often alienated the very customers they were trying to sell to or service. Even some companies today, especially small ones, don't provide their client-facing staff with enough information to handle customer inquiries effectively. Companies need to use a CRM - one that can be integrated with an effective contact center application.

What You Need in a Contact Center Solution

When you establish a contact center, you need a software application that provides your customer service and sales agents with an easy avenue to connect with customers via live chat, email, social media, video, and voice. Your system should allow agents and managers to route calls based on consumer or customer needs and help you manage the queue, no matter the channel your inquiries come from.

You also need monitoring capabilities to coach your employees as necessary without the customer hearing what you're saying. This feature is especially important to train new employees, but is also important when an agent's performance fluctuates or a caller is extremely agitated. Your ideal solution allows you to take over the call when needed. Advanced real-time analytics are also vital so that you can ensure customers aren't waiting too long for service. One study estimated that companies lose $75 billion a year due to poor customer service, including long wait times.

These features and more come standard in 3CX, the ideal contact center solution. With SIP trunking to save you money, integration with various CRMs, cloud service providers, and Microsoft 365, and on-prem or cloud-hosting options, 3CX provides you with the flexibility and options you need to connect with your customers in their preferred manner.

Are you located in Dallas or Fort Worth and looking to build or improve your contact center? Contact Velocity IT, a 3CX partner in Dallas, today and let's build the solution you need to improve your customer service or sales operation.

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