Since the invention of call centers in the 1960s, a ton of different types of call centers have emerged, each with unique features and specialties.
However, not all call centers are created equal. Some are more important or relevant than others. There may be dozens of call center types out there, but in the long run, there are only seven that actually matter.
7 Types of Call Centers
These are the best call center service types to consider when looking for an effective and efficient way to handle your customer service needs. They take your VoIP phone services to the next level by providing a seamless experience for both your agents and customers.
Some of these options may be better for your business than others, so make sure to carefully review the pros and cons of each to find the perfect fit.
1. Automated Call Centers
Want to embrace powerful algorithms and AI features, thereby reducing downtime and maximizing your efficiency? Then you may want to opt for an automated call center, one of the more sophisticated types of call center options out there today.
The automated call center streamlines simple tasks and is helpful for high-volume organizations where minutes or seconds can mean the difference between success and failure. It’s best for businesses with clear, repeatable processes such as customer service, debt collectors, tech support, or billing departments.
Here are the common responsibilities that an automated call center is built to handle:
- Easy online scheduling, eliminating the need for back-and-forth emails
- Automatic meeting and appointment reminders for customers and call agents
- Chatbots integrated into text, chat, calls, and social media
- Scheduled greetings and well wishes for occasions such as membership anniversaries, birthdays, or holidays
- Streamlined and automated SMS message delivery
- Powerful locator tools that can help customers find the nearest store or service center
Benefits of Automated Call Centers
The automated call center is a lifesaver for companies that need to reduce wait times and optimize their processes. Here’s an example of how the time can compound: a high-volume call center that saves 10 seconds on every 100 calls will save just shy of 3 hours of work.
Your customers can receive 24/7 support from programs and automation trained on your brand without having to wait for a specific shift or day.
You may think that customers may shy away from call center automation, but the reality is that 86% of B2B customers prefer self-service options for routine tasks such as managing billing or checking order statuses.
Automated ticket routing, technology that directs a call to the right party based on their inquiry type, location, or language, is a relief for agents as well. It reduces the need to redirect a call or connect a customer to another person, creating conditions for more helpful customer service.
Drawbacks of Automated Call Centers
Fully automated call center services have not yet been perfected, and they still require the human touch for accurate and personable experiences. There’s lots of room for AI’s natural language processing and smart responses to improve, where it can better recognize slang, figures of speech, and idiomatic expressions.
Communication errors such as these can make customers feel frustrated and disconnected, which leads to poor customer satisfaction and a potential loss of business.
Even more problematic, you may run into compliance issues if these errors impact necessary communications such as medical or financial information.
Different automated AI models have different training, making it challenging to find a one-size-fits-all solution. You may need to adjust the automation settings to cater to a specific demographic, which can significantly increase the cost of your call center strategy.
2. Inbound Call Centers
Inbound call centers are designed for all types of incoming calls. A customer (or potential customer) may call with a complaint, question, order request, or need for support. An inbound call center provides value by offering an informed, friendly, and efficient staff of agents that help callers clarify and solve any issues that may arise.
Inbound call centers are best for businesses that need dedicated phone support for customer or service-related inquiries, such as tech startups, retail stores, law firms, and healthcare providers.
Since they usually field warm leads such as interested or returning customers, inbound call center agents can use their natural charisma and persuasive skills to close sales or upsell products and services.
You can establish an in-house inbound call center or outsource this task with one of the best inbound call center services on the market. Some key responsibilities this team will handle include:
- Handling and responding to common questions about a company’s services, products, or policies
- Taking and processing orders, payments, and shipping details
- Customizing a service for a client
- Offering technical support for products as well as website navigation
- Fielding any emergencies related to a product or service
- Resolving complaints with effective and fair solutions
Benefits of Inbound Call Centers
There are plenty of benefits that come alongside enlisting an inbound call center. Primarily, it’s the most direct way to let your customers know that you’re always available when they need you. This creates a sense of security and loyalty to your brand, which may increase the length or volume of sales.
Inbound call centers are also non-invasive since the call is initiated by the customer. This means that there is a lower likelihood of dropped calls, reaching voicemails, or other frustrating issues that may happen with outbound calls.
Drawbacks of Inbound Call Centers
Since inbound calls put an agent in direct contact with current valuable customers and potential customers, it’s important that they’re well-trained and informed. Unlike outbound calling, there’s very little room for error. Even one bad interaction can lose hundreds if not thousands of dollars for your company.
This means that your inbound team needs to be properly trained on your organization’s policies, processes, and best practices, which can get quite pricey. For a small business just starting out, the cost may outweigh the benefits.
3. Outbound Call Centers
Outbound call centers are a common and effective way to generate leads. They tend to follow marketing and sales strategies, where the team targets potential customers through telemarketing or cold calling.
For example, a startup selling a new software program may use an outbound call center to reach out to businesses that could benefit from their product.
Outbound call centers are best for businesses that need to reach out to a large volume of potential customers to increase sales or retain current customers.
However, outbound call centers aren’t only for sales. An outbound call center is additionally responsible for:
- Verifying leads and vetting potential customers
- Setting up client appointments
- Providing timely reminders for customers
- Offering complimentary consultations
- Collecting outstanding payments
- Providing regular notifications for current customers
- Conducting regular research for market trends and customer satisfaction
Large corporate entities such as insurance companies, real estate agencies, and subscription-based services receive the most value from the outbound call model.
Benefits of Outbound Call Centers
The main benefit of an outbound call center is that you have a proactive strategy that helps to expand and cement your customer base. It’s a great approach for high-volume businesses with a focus on creating awareness and driving sales.
You may see quicker results with an outbound call center, which can mean more reclaimed late payments, access to detailed marketing research, or increased earnings.
Drawbacks of Outbound Call Centers
It’s very important to familiarize yourself with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act if you plan on investing in an outbound call center. This organization makes sure that call centers follow thoroughly defined rules and regulations when it comes to placing unsolicited calls.
It’s easy to accidentally violate these rules, which can result in legal actions and hefty fines. This is why it’s essential to have a well-trained team who understands the guidelines, as well as proper systems and software that adhere to compliance laws.
It’s also important to consider that outbound calls can be seen as intrusive, especially if they come at an inconvenient time.
This is especially true if you’re using predictive dialers, a technology that aggressively dials multiple numbers at once and connects the first answered call to the available agent.
4. Omnichannel Call Centers
Omnichannel call centers are a modern solution for communicating with your customer base. It works on cloud-based software that can align all of your client communications across multiple channels.
This type of call center works best for businesses that need to quickly recall detailed and personal information about their clients such as account information, history of interactions, and purchase patterns.
An example could be a utility company or a bank where long-term customers expect to be able to access their account information without any issues.
Ecommerce platforms also appreciate the advantages of omnichannel call centers since they can manage customer support inquiries and sales on all of their channels and lead funnels.
Not only does this enable customer support continuity, but it also extends an opportunity for customers to choose their preferred method of contact. This includes:
- Voice calls
- Text messages
- Live chats
- Social media
Omnichannel services offer specialized services that include:
- Interactive history tracking that stores transcripts of calls and text
- The ability to track customer touchpoints like product purchases or recent inquiries
- An ability for any agent to retrieve detailed notes and information on a customer from any agent, regardless of who initially interacted with them
- Robust data insights into your business performance
These features offer a seamless experience for customers and agents alike without compromising the quality of service, a win-win for achieving business goals.
Benefits of Omnichannel Call Centers
The main benefit of an omnichannel call center is that you can give your most loyal and valuable customers a completely personalized experience. Since there are several points of contact such as chat and email in addition to direct calls, the person reaching out can be taken care of quickly, no matter their means of communication.
It also helps to create continuity between different support agents you work with, so they have the most up-to-date info on the call.
Drawbacks of Omnichannel Call Centers
The main limitation of the omnichannel call center is its high investment costs. Not only can these setups get quite pricey, but they can also take a lot of training and planning when it comes to company operations as well as technology upgrades.
Smaller businesses with a limited budget may not see the same ROI as larger companies, so it’s important to evaluate whether the investment is worth it for your specific business needs.
5. Blended Call Centers
If you’re looking for a combination of both inbound and outbound capabilities, a blended call center may be right for your organization. From either a central or outsourced location, a blended call center handles both inbound and outbound calls simultaneously.
Organizations that could benefit from this model include medical offices, retail stores, and ecommerce platforms.
This type of call center works by offering the following services:
- Automatic calls auto-routed to agents based on caller intent, availability, and your agent’s knowledge base
- Interactive voice response (IVR) systems that can direct calls to the right departments or agents
- Easy CRM (customer relationship management) systems for tracking customer inquiries, needs, and purchases
- Integrated predictive or progressive dialing that can scale your communications
- Analytics to track performance, average call times, and customer feedback
A blended call center is ideal for businesses with varied purposes, whether you need to contact existing customers about their accounts or products and services.
Benefits of Blended Call Centers
The main advantage of the blended call center is its versatility. Rather than building out two different teams or learning two different technologies, a blended call center can handle both inbound and outbound calls under one software.
This not only minimizes costs but also allows for a more efficient agent workflow since they can switch between calls. This flexibility means less idle time between, leading to increased productivity.
Drawbacks of Blended Call Centers
Depending on the expertise your blended call center has, it may be more complex to handle both inbound and outbound calls at the same time. Especially if you plan on training your own agents for the task, there may be a steep learning curve.
These challenges could potentially lead to poor customer service and decreased efficiency if not managed properly. It’s important to consider the resources and capabilities of your organization before implementing a blended call center.
6. Virtual Call Centers
These days, teams can be assembled globally from multiple locations. A virtual call center allows businesses to outsource their customer support or use a distributed team of remote workers.
It’s a great option for a startup with a limited budget. Learning how to set up a virtual call center isn’t too challenging, especially when investing in a software like RingCentral.
A virtual call center may be in a dedicated office space, or it might be a remote team with agents working from home.
Virtual cell centers specialize in:
- Providing customer service through a variety of channels
- Making outbound sales calls
- Offering troubleshooting and technical support
- Quality assurance and call monitoring services
There’s a wide variety of virtual call centers to choose from that meet different business needs. And if you want a highly customized team, you can assemble your own to your liking.
Benefits of Virtual Call Centers
Virtual call centers can be notably more affordable than other options. This is because there isn’t a need to rent out an office space and purchase equipment.
Another advantage is virtual call centers can operate 24/7 without any additional costs. Agents in different locations can cover shifts and keep your business running all day, every day. This is important to platforms that cater to customers from all over the world.
Drawbacks of Virtual Call Centers
Virtual call centers may not always be the most reliable option if you don’t have the necessary systems in place. Training on your company’s technical and cultural values can be difficult when your agents are scattered and come from different backgrounds.
Moreover, you may have to deal with language barriers and time zone differences if outsourcing globally. These challenges can affect the quality of customer service and potentially lead to negative customer experiences.
7. Offshore Call Centers
With an offshore call center, your business can outsource sales, support, and other key tasks to services in countries outside of the United States.
This is usually done at a lower overall operational cost, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to low-value. In fact, plenty of offshore call centers are known for hiring highly qualified agents with years of experience.
Specific responsibilities that offshore call centers typically handle include:
- Customer service and support
- Inbound sales and order processing
- Technical support and troubleshooting
- Outbound telemarketing or lead generation
- Virtual receptionist services for business inquiries
Companies in the fields of telecommunications, retail, healthcare, and finance may find it beneficial to outsource their customer service to offshore call centers. But the affordability of these services makes them an option for businesses of all sizes.
Benefits of Offshore Call Centers
Offshore call centers are known for their cost-effectiveness, providing businesses with a low-cost alternative to handling customer support and sales. This is especially beneficial for small businesses or startups with limited budgets.
Outsourcing to an offshore call center also allows companies to tap into a diverse pool of talented agents with various skill sets and language abilities. This can be advantageous for companies looking to expand globally and cater to a diverse customer base.
Drawbacks of Offshore Call Centers
A major concern is the potential lack of data privacy and security measures in certain countries. This can lead to compliance issues and put sensitive customer information at risk.
Moreover, cultural and language barriers can also be a challenge for offshore call centers.
When deciding on the right call center for your business, it’s important to weigh out the many factors that come into play. Consider your budget, the nature of your business, the level of expertise needed, and the availability of your current team.
Utilizing call center services can vastly improve customer satisfaction acting as a bridge between you and your customer base. With the right type of call center, you can expect increased efficiency and productivity, along with higher quality customer service.