What is a Customer Contact Center?

In a digital world with new tech touching people's lives every day, companies and businesses have access to extensive knowledge and tools, which enhances their perception of the needs of their customers and understanding of their organizational environment.

The utilization of the knowledge and expertise accumulated by the companies to communicate with their customers is vital to progress successfully. The capability to interact with customers positively is what defines a competent and profitable organization. There has undoubtedly been a revolution in the transparency of communication with customers, and the consumer-brand relationship has accelerated to a greater level, which brings us to the formation of ‘Consumer Contact Center'.

Defining a Customer Contact Center

The customer contact center is the central point from which all customer interactions are controlled over various channels with the help of coordination, the unification of people, and the latest tech across the firm. Contact centers have become a crucial component of a successful business strategy; their ultimate focus is to provide customers with impactful customer care, technical assistance, and sales support on diverse media platforms.

Contact centers are typically operated by an internal unit of the company or outsourced to a third-party customer support service provider. A contact center manages all modes of inbound and outbound communication channels, like:

  • Voice calls (incoming and outgoing)
  • Emails
  • SMS
  • Live chat/text
  • Messaging apps
  • Social media
  • Fax

The contact centers' significance has grown tremendously over the years due to technological advancements, as customers expect the companies to be always available on varied channels. It has become necessary for companies to provide outstanding customer experience (CX), which can only be achieved from an organization-wide approach. While living in an age of growing technology, contact centers have become central to these approaches. Working with utmost dedication, building the right mindset consisting of diligent attitude and resourcefulness, while ensuring effective services and productive communication to the customers, contact centers have today become immensely advantageous.

The fiercely competitive nature of the present market has formed an atmosphere where countless businesses and companies are relentlessly vying to achieve customer loyalty. To achieve that goal, the assistance provided by customer contact services plays an essential role in the vast majority of companies and businesses across many industries to deliver efficient solutions to their customers. According to the American Express 2017 survey, effective customer service has played an essential role in attracting customers back to the business.

Call Centers VS. Contact Centers

The terms "Customer Contact Center" and "Call Center" are used interchangeably. But it's essential to be aware of the fact that these are two discrete business communication models. With the growing customer expectations and the drastic progression of technology, contact centers have emerged to offer additional modern services and facilities in contrast to a call center.

  • Contact centers recognize the increasing value of providing omnichannel or multichannel services, making it possible for customers to interact on various channels. In contrast, call centers only manage one channel: voice calls (Inbound and Outbound). In a digitally equipped world where everyone has access to various communication and media platforms, it's crucial to observe the shift from traditional call centers to evolutionary customer contact centers.

  • With new innovative techniques and analytics, reactive support is just not enough, and customer service has become much more than just answering inbound calls. Today, companies also focus on providing their customers with reactive and proactive solutions before the issue escalates. Contact centers offer versatile, proactive support to customers as digital solutions improve the CX, while call centers do not provide this advantage.

  • The call center model lacks the unified customer view as call center agents only manage phone channels, and the customer data collection is solely done through telephonic conversations. They don't have immediate access to the customer history or repository of data about the customer's experience while working with the company. On the other hand, contact centers use software that connects all supporting channels into one platform, giving the agents a 360-degree view of their customers by looking at the collected data.

  • When it comes down to choosing between a call center and contact center, it depends on what suits your company's best or business and what your customers prefer the most. The size, objectives, growth, and customer count of your company play a critical role in this decision.

The following are some key features and differences present in a customer contact center:

1. Multichannel Support VS. Omni-channel Support

It's the priority of each company to make it convenient for their customers to get in touch with them. To make this experience delightful for the customers, the firms must provide support on several different channels. The study says that 52% of customers with poor customer service experience avoid purchasing from the brand.

  • Multi-channel Support - A multichannel support center helps customers on more than two different channels, such as phone calls, email, and webchat. Each channel in this model is separate. A different agent will serve the customer at each interaction without the customer data being saved or shared across various channels.

  • Omni-channel Support - 'Omni' means all, and as the name suggests, with omnichannel support centers offer many ways to interact with the firms like— VoIP calls, emails, webchat, text chat, fax, social media platforms, other messaging apps, and so on. Omni-channel integrates the interactions throughout the channels, ensuring the customer's experience to be seamless and consistent.

2. Inbound VS. Outbound VS. Blended Contact Center

Customers prefer calling companies to get an immediate response. It's always beneficial for companies and businesses to have professional inbound, outbound, or blended customer contact centers.

  • Inbound Contact Centers - An inbound contact center manages the incoming calls from varied customers. Generally, support teams supervise the inbound centers as the calls usually come with complaints or issues from existing customers who require assistance. Inbound call contact center agents are trained and qualified to respond swiftly to customer concerns and requests. Instant call resolutions and agent productivity are the significant determinants of performance.

  • Outbound Contact Centers - This division of center makes calls to potential customers about their products and services. Most outbound contact centers concentrate on sales and marketing and are controlled by sales teams. The interaction with customers is often managed and analyzed by using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Outbound contact agent's goals consist of making sales and achieving other targets by calling potential buyers. Commitment and skillful communication are the key metrics of success for these agents in outbound call contact centers.

  • Blended Contact Centers - As obvious as it sounds, a blended contact center makes outgoing calls to potential customers, as well as handles incoming calls from customers. This center is capable of managing both inbound and outbound call operations. The center is divided between inbound and outbound agents that use automatic call distribution (ACD) and a predictive dialer system to increase productivity.

3. On-site Center VS. Virtual Center

One of the most important choices when launching your company is to either deploy an on-site or a virtual center to manage customer interactions as both offer excellent facilities.

  • On-site Center - On-site centers are more prevalent in the United States. Agent training and performance evaluation are more productive when all agents are in one facility. On-site centers can implement functional improvements and tool enhancements immediately.

  • Virtual Center - Virtual centers modify technology so the agents can handle operations while functioning remotely or from satellite offices away from the central location. Agents connect with customers and function adequately using the internet, advanced software, and sophisticated phone systems. VC agents are often available 24/7 and a better choice for small businesses.

Benefits Of Contact Center For Small Business

  • Increased Productivity - High professionalism makes it possible for small businesses to make their mark in a competitive marketplace. A team of multi-skilled contact center agents is always equipped to manage vast amounts of inbound and outbound communication from customers. This enables the staff to handle their tasks without having to stress about working as a customer service representative.

  • Enhanced Customer Data Management - Tracking and monitoring customer data becomes easy with the availability of the multichannel or omnichannel system and efficient software. Having quick access to the customer's personal information and history allows agents to communicate with clients in a more timely, detailed, and customized way.

  • Improved Customer Experience (CX) - Customers expect quick responses and accurate results in today's customer-centric world. Customer experience is strengthened when agents deliver relevant and credible information with a personalized touch. Contact center automation simplifies data management and thereby ensures customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. Remember, a good experience brings back more customers.

  • Increased Sales and Business Growth - A resourceful contact center helps increase customer count, resulting in increased sales of the company's product and services. With the services offered by a multifaceted contact center, small businesses gain tremendous advantages to boost their company growth and get the opportunity to connect with each client.

Today, customer support has become a primary force behind the improved performance of any business or company. A contact center has now gained a central position in each enterprise that manages customers and clients. A robust organizational environment creates a higher degree of workforce engagement, contributing to better results and providing customers with valuable experiences.

Tripti Bhandari