What is the difference between a Call Center and a Contact Center?


Some people use these two titles as synonyms, but there is a difference between call center and contact centers.

Image of a customer service representative explaining the difference between a call center and a contact center

In the world of business process outsourcing, call centers and contact centers are a common way for companies to get a lot of things done in a cost effective manner. Rather than paying large sums to acquire equipment, invest in technology and hire staff, businesses outsource some elements of their operation in order to keep their costs low and streamline their processes.

Both off-shore and USA-based call centers and contact centers accomplish these goals, however, companies located in the United States are best off using BPO partners who also keep their operations in the U.S.

While some people use the terms call center and contact center interchangeably, that isn’t necessarily correct. That’s because the two are different and the differences lie within the services that each one offers. Let’s take a look at each to explain the difference between call centers and contact centers.

Call Centers

A traditional call center takes and makes phone calls. They offer inbound and outbound services for business. Included on the inbound side are answering services, message taking, appointment scheduling, order processing, call patching, tech support and more. Outbound call programs consist of things like telemarketing, surveys, membership renewal, welcome calls and other plans that require agents to dial out exclusively. So the key thing to remember about call centers is that they typically do all of their work on the phone.

Contact Centers

The thing about contact centers is that they can do all the things that a call center does and a whole lot more. Where call centers are generally restricted to handling the phone operations for companies, a contact center can include services like live chat, social media support, mail processing, email management, and other mediums people use to contact businesses. Not every contact center will offer all those services, but if they provide contact services beyond phone calls then they should be considered a contact center rather than a call center.

So why is it that people so often confuse call centers and contact centers? Well, that’s because it’s easy to do! It’s understandably confusing when most contact centers ARE call centers, but not every call center is a contact center. Some businesses use a contact center, but only for their phone handling operations. Other companies use a contact center for a couple of their service offerings or the full spectrum. And certain organizations partner with a call center, because that’s all they need.

Hopefully this has helped clarify the difference between a call center and a contact center rather than muck it up more. The important part is that your business teams up with a BPO that offers everything you need to be successful.

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