At its most fundamental, a call center is nothing more than a workflow. The main distinction in call center specialization is the direction of that workflow: inbound or outbound.
In one scenario, inbound, customers call in, the system prompts them for information, the call is routed to an appropriate person, and the call is handled. Specialized programs can help your company save and manage information about the interactions you have with customers.
On the other hand, a call center employee initiates the contact from a client or customer list and may track the customer interaction in a specialized software program; this is outbound.
In the inbound category, you have the types of interactions that are initiated by the customer:
- Customer service (customers call with questions about accounts)
- Sales (customers call in response to direct mail or other advertising to purchase items)
- Technical support (customers call with questions about how to use a product or a service)
You already know whether customer service or sales work is integral to your business. The questions will be whether to expand the options for interacting with your customers by setting up a contact center and whether you invest in a complete in-house system or outsource all or part of the service.
With outbound call centers, the company initiates the call. This includes the following:
- Telemarketing (salespeople call customers or prospects)
- Collections (agents call customers regarding overdue bills)
Telemarketing can be an on-again-off-again project. You may only be interested in the outsourcing options for handling a special marketing project or improving your collections efforts.