It is no longer even the case that call centres all appear the same to the customer. With innovations such as the virtual call centre, whereby all operations take place over the internet, “smart” features such as personalised services and interactive voice responses make using them a far cry from waiting endlessly on hold while a harassed operative gets around to you. However, even before such technological advances there were different kinds of call centre, as this guide will make clear…
Virtual Call Centres. Starting with the first type mentioned, these are often coordinated by just one person, and run by a variety of high-tech applications from the cloud – otherwise known as the internet! These are characterised by their high level of interactivity and automated processes, some of which have already been mentioned. Other features include billing and payment over the phone. This sort of call centre is perfect for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that don’t have the budget or the inclination to build or lease their own dedicated call centre office with all the infrastructure, easy analytics and seamless integration with the rest of a business’s computerised operations.
Inbound Call Centres. This is one of the earliest kinds of call centre and is perhaps the kind that most people associate with the term. An inbound call centre exists to take calls from outside customers or clients, usually in regard to customer service enquiries. Although all calls are considered “incoming” to the call centre itself, they are actually routed via an Automated Call Distribution system to specific agents within the building to be dealt with. This means that customers only need a single number for the centre as a whole and calls don’t take so long to be answered. At an average incoming call centre, an agent can answer between 100 and 120 calls per day.
Outbound Call Centres. The opposite of an incoming centre, this facility is set up for agents to call up customers – or potential customers using a Dialer, a computerised system that auto-dials groups of numbers. Such call centres exist primarily for such business activities as telesales, customer retention, polls or surveys, as well as for chasing up payments. These centres are not as easy to outsource to foreign countries as incoming call centres, because different countries often have robust policies on Do not Disturb lists (DND) and forbid unsolicited sales calls at certain times of the day.