Every one of us living in modern society had to call customer service at one time or another. Banks, stores, hospitals, and even the post offices no longer answer their calls: it is a third-party service that deals with their daily communications. As consumers, it makes no difference to us how the call is processed as long as we get adequate help. But as the owner or manager, what do you need to know if you want to hire a company to answer calls for your business?
There are three main types customer service providers: call centers, contact centers, and answering services. All three are similar in function and designed to provide communication between the company and its customers. However, there are a few differences between them that are important to understand before you make a final decision. Figuring out what service would include all your desired features might not be easy, but don’t worry: when it comes to hiring a company for assistance, there is a right fit for every business. So, let’s look at the similarities and differences between customer service providers.
Typical markets that would use call center services are companies that require live interactions with the customer, such as stores, magazines and newspapers, cable and internet companies, telemarketing services, collection agencies, or charities.
While businesses vary largely, the primary function of a call center is to take inbound calls, answer callers’ questions, and sometimes arrange for services. The call center’s information is scripted: all phone agents are equipped with a step-by-step guide, and every answer they get from the callers leads to another scripted question. They can also make outbound calls to collect information, advertise products, or get subscriptions.
Call centers can be rather large and employ up to 200 phone agents or more.
The call center representatives would service a few different accounts, and the matters are never urgent.
Similar to a call center, the contact center can handle inbound and outbound calls. However, the contact center’s interactions with the customers are conducted via multiple platforms, including phones, text messages, live chat, various apps, email, and social media, and may or may not include live answering. Contact center agents must be well trained on all platforms and have the skills to handle up to three calls simultaneously. Many of the contact center’s operations are automated. They include self-service options such as balance checks or credit card payments, with the efficiency and speed of response being two key factors. Contact center often provide services to online businesses or organizations.
In the case of answering service vs. call center or contact center, many features could be similar or the same: answering service is a live call service that can include customer support over the phone and other digital platforms. However, its primary function is slightly different from others. For example, medical facilities, property management, law firms, or other businesses that require human interaction often use an answering service. It is mainly an inbound operation, and the outbound calls made by an answering service would only deliver the information instead of collecting it.
In addition, the necessary skills for this type of job go beyond the ability to follow the script; it would require problem-solving and critical thinking, excellent comprehension and verbal abilities, good manners, and empathy since some calls are urgent and the callers are often in distress. Answering services’ clients usually include a wide variety of businesses which requires special training for the phone agents in the specifics of each company.
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If you are planning on hiring a company to answer your business phones and are wondering which service would suit your needs best, call us at 888-588-9800 for a free consultation. We are open 24/7 and will be happy to answer all your questions.