For those of you working in and around call centers, you already know what a vital role it plays in running a business, big or small, smoothly. Call centers serve to bridge the gap between companies and customers. They are essential to providing good customer service. Call centers are what connects the heart of a business to the hearts of people.
They not enable customers to get any assistance they require but also empower businesses to take it up a notch. Call centers can be used to carry out an array of tasks from marketing and lead generation to customer service and satisfaction.
That being said, every business is different and has different requirements. To broadly meet the requirements of different types of businesses, there are two types of call center softwares available – inbound and outbound.
Inbound and outbound call center softwares are unique in their own abilities. However, it may be confusing for some of you to figure out the exact differences between the two. To help you out, here are a few pointers to look out for when you cannot decide which one of the two call center softwares to pick.
First, let us understand what is meant by an ‘inbound’ and ‘outbound’ call center.
What is an Inbound Call Center?
As the name suggests, inbound call centers are those which deal majorly with incoming calls, as opposed to outgoing calls. If more than 50% of a call centers calls are incoming, then the call center is classified as an inbound call center.
Essentially, an inbound call center is one which primarily attends to incoming calls from clients. When customers call businesses regarding any queries that they might have, they are routed to an inbound call center.
Thus, inbound call centers give priority to customer service over everything else.
What is an Outbound Call Center?
Outbound call centers are the exact opposite of inbound call centers. They rarely get incoming calls from customers. For major part of their day-to-day operations, these call centers make outgoing calls.
Thus, most outbound call centers are focused on marketing and sales activities. Agents in these call centers work towards generating new leads for the company by reaching out to potential customers.
Hence, outbound call centers are not focused more on contacting new customers rather than keeping in touch with old ones.
Difference between Inbound and Outbound Call Centers
From their basic definitions we can see that inbound and outbound call centers are not the same. They differ in their purpose, use of technology, agent training and daily operations.
Let us analyse these differences in more detail.
1. Differences in Purpose
As discussed above, the primary aim of inbound call centers is to cater to the needs of customers and provide them with good customer service.
On the other hand, the main motive of outbound call centers is to generate leads and bag new customers for the company. They are focused primarily on marketing and sales activities.
2. Differences in Softwares used
The two different types of call centers are focused on two completely different business activities. Hence, they require different types of softwares to help them out.
Inbound call centers aim to please their callers. Hence, they use softwares like the Customer Relationship Management or CRM software. They employ services like the Interactive Voice Response or IVR which serves as a virtual assistant.
Thus, they use any software that helps to manage and attend to incoming calls in an efficient and systematic manner. Features like voicemail, virtual menus, call queues and so on are the benchmarks of a good inbound call center.
On the other hand, outbound call centers use softwares that can enhance their marketing strategy. Softwares like a predictive dialer and outbound IVR are used. A predictive dialer significantly improves the performance of an outbound call center by allowing the agents to save time and maximising their on-call times.
Softwares which allow agents to keep track of hot and cold leads, track the public response to different strategies, draw up monthly performance reports and so on are widely used.
3. Differences in the Skillsets of Agents Required
As we already know, majority of the activities in an inbound call center are aimed at pleasing the customer. Everything is about the customer, even the agents.
Agents working in inbound call centers need to be flowing with ‘people skills’. They need to be polite and listen to the complaints of the customer patiently. They should be good listeners. Additionally, they should know the product well so that they can easily answer queries.
However, agents working in outbound call centers need to be excellent salesmen above everything. They must have the ability to charm the listener and convert him into a customer.
Coming to think of it, outbound call center agents essentially demand time from people who have no reason to give him any. Thus, he should be able to take control of the conversation and ensure that his listeners take something positive about the business away from the conversation.
An outbound call center agent is expected to have all the necessary skills required to grab attention, persuade and ultimately sell.
4. Differences in Methods of Performance Analysis
Inbound and outbound call centers are centred around two different aspects of a business. Thus, it is only fair to have different measures or parameters to determine their performances.
For inbound call centers, the performance is analysed based on resolution speed, waiting time, rate of answering queries correctly and above all, customer satisfaction. As I previously mentioned, the customer’s feedback is what matters the most for inbound call centers.
On the flip side, outbound call centers use conversion rates and lead generation as parameters for measuring performance. Outbound call centers are set up to promote the product. Thus, their performance is determined by how many people they could reach out to and impact.
Using these pointers, one can easily distinguish one type of call center from the other.
How to decide which type of call center is right for your business?
The role of both types of call centers are important while running a business. However, the fact still remains that depending on the business model, one type of call center proves to be more useful than the other. But the question still remains, which type of call center does your business need the most?
One can arrive at the answer to that question by doing a simple analysis of his business. Compare the differences listed above and see which category your business falls into – the customer pleasing one or the aggressive marketing one.
To help you out futher, let us consider a few hypothetical businesses and analyse their requirements.
For a business selling software or SaaS products, the scales would probably tip in the favour of an inbound call center. This is because many customers will require personal help in installing and running the software correctly. Additionally, they will require assistance in case of any bugs or errors. Some may even need assistance in determining what kind of software would be best suited to their needs.
On the other hand, a business selling, say, subscriptions to a magazine. Hardly any of their customers would require customer service once they purchase the product. However, the business will greatly benefit from an outbound call center in terms of increasing their circulation and expanding their customer base.
One should keep in mind that getting a call center always works in favour of your business. However, getting the correct one can work wonders!
Still confused about which type of call center to opt for? Our experts at CallHippo are at your service! Sign up to get in touch with us and we will answer all your queries.