The Difference Between Answering Services and Call Center Services


Call centers and answering services both look the same as each are located in offices filled with computers, phones, and operators. So what is the difference between answering services and call center services?

Image of a female statue wearing a mask and headset

When it comes to the difference between an answering service and a call center, the physical look or location has nothing to do with it. In fact, an answering service could be set up within an call center. Confused yet? Don’t be, because what differentiates answering services and call centers is the type of work they do and sorts of calls they handle. Let’s break it down…

Answering Services: A telephone answering service is generally set up to take a large number of different calls. Many even operate on a 24/7/365 basis. Agents are trained to handle anywhere from 1 to 3 calls at a time (one at a time promises a more satisfied caller). The calls that an answering service takes are typically pretty short in duration; usually 1 or 2 minutes. Agents collect important information from callers (name, number, reason for call) and then either quickly pass the message along to the business, or transfer the call to the right person if they are playing the role of a Virtual Receptionist. Answering services can handle hundreds and thousands of different clients across various industries. The types of calls taken range from inquiries about available apartments and messages for attorneys, to calls for doctors and emergency situations.

Call Center Services: One of the main things that is different about call centers is the duration of the calls they handle. Usually, these calls are between 5 and 15 minutes in length and sometimes longer. Call center operators are trained to be customer service representatives who take care of everything from billing issues and tech support calls, to taking orders for products and signing people up for courses or subscriptions. Typically a call that falls under Call Center Services is more complex than an Answering Service call as it requires a large number of details and a resolution is expected. Some call centers even do more than just field incoming calls. There are certain call centers that handle email support, online chat, and sometimes outbound calls (telemarketing).

Do Answering Services and Call Center Services have anything in common besides looking similar? Sure! Both types of operators work off of a script that has been customized to suit the company that the caller is trying to get in touch with. Enhancing the customer experience is always the focus in both environments as well. The main difference between answering services and call center services is the duration and complexity of the calls they process.


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