If you are facing challenges in your business, such as handling a surge of customer service calls, scaling up your customer team at a low cost, or following up with a backlog of leads, you may benefit from hiring a contact center. A contact center can help you improve customer service and sales performance and reduce overhead expenses. But how do you choose the right type of call center for your business? There are different types of call centers, but the main distinction is between inbound and outbound call centers. This article will explain the differences between inbound and outbound contact centers, their services, and how to use them to add value to your business.
What is an Inbound Contact Center?
Customers or prospects reach an inbound contact center when they call a company. An inbound contact center is a call center that specializes in answering and managing incoming calls. The calls may have different purposes, such as asking for product assistance, requesting service information, giving feedback, or making a purchase.
Inbound contact center agents are prepared to handle various situations and challenges that may cause customers to call the company. For instance, they may assist customers with installing or fixing their products, address customer complaints, and try to solve them. The contact center agents have excellent customer service and communication skills and often work 24/7 to serve different time zones and preferences.
What is an Outbound Contact Center?
An outbound contact center is a type of call center that makes outgoing calls for the company. These calls usually aim to sell products or services to customers or prospects. For example, they may follow up with leads to convert them into buyers, offer subscription renewals, upsells, and cross-sells, or introduce new products and services. But outbound call centers are for more than just sales calls.
They can also provide a personal touch to customers, such as conducting live customer feedback surveys and questions, giving free services and appointments, or doing market research. Since they need to reach out to customers, outbound call centers work during business hours when they can contact leads and customers at reasonable times.
Inbound vs. Outbound Contact Centers: In-Depth Comparison
There are several factors between inbound and outbound contact centers based on which you can decide which type of contact center is the right choice for your business. Let us have a look at some of the key points:
#1 Types of Services
Inbound Contact Center: Inbound contact centers can receive and handle contacts from customers or potential customers. They can help you offer customer service, provide technical support, close inbound sales, and process incoming orders.+
Outbound Contact Center: Outbound contact centers focus on reaching out to customers or prospects. They can help you generate leads for telemarketing, set up reminders and appointments, and collect customer payments and dues.
#2 Customer Interaction
Since these two types of contact centers have different functions, the way they interact with customers also varies.
Inbound Contact Center: Customers initiate the interactions, and inbound contact center agents take and manage customers who contact your business. Some agents may have special training to deal with complex technical support issues and complaints.
Outbound Contact Center: Outbound contact centers start the interactions with customers. They contact customers first for any activities like cold calls, pitches, and reminders.
#3 Key Metrics
Inbound contact center:
- First contact resolution (FCR): This measures whether or not a customer’s issue was resolved or answered in their first contact. This is important because if customers have to contact the company multiple times to get their questions or problems solved, that may lead to lower satisfaction rates and increased costs.
- Average contact time (ACT): Productivity is key for contact center agents, so measuring average contact time tells you how fast an agent can finish their contact with each customer. The longer the contact time, the more likely agents cannot handle more contacts daily, which may result in missed opportunities or unhappy customers.
- Abandoned contact rate: When customers wait too long, whether for an agent to address their issue or to be transferred to the right department, they may end the contact altogether. This is why the answer’s average speed and contact time are important metrics. Are agents taking too long with each customer or not responding to the contact on time — thus leading to abandoned contacts?
- Customer satisfaction score (CSAT): You usually can see customer satisfaction scores in follow-up surveys or contacts. When at optimal rates, all other metrics above contribute to better customer satisfaction overall.
Outbound Contact Center
- Conversion rate: This shows the percentage of contacts that resulted in a successful sale for your business.
- Contacts per agent: How many contacts can agents make in a day? This metric is not very useful unless you compare it with the other metrics above.
- Average contact length: Just like with inbound contact center agents, productivity is often measured by how many effective contacts they can make. The longer they spend on the phone with a prospect or customer, the fewer people they can reach or target per day.
- Average hold time: If an outbound contact center uses automated dialing to increase efficiency, hold time may occur if potential customers are willing to wait before speaking with an agent. When prospects and customers wait long, they may end the contact altogether.
Advantages of Inbound and Outbound Contact Center Outsourcing
Outsourcing your inbound and outbound contact center operations can benefit your business in many ways. Here are some of the main advantages of outsourcing your customer support services.
Focus on Core Competencies
Dealing with customer queries and providing them with smooth solutions requires significant investments in terms of staff and infrastructure. However, when you outsource your non-core business functions to a BPO partner, you can focus on your core business needs, such as doing R&D, maximizing productivity, developing marketing strategies, and more.
24×7 Customer Support
Providing 24×7 customer support services is usually costly and very hard to manage. However, professional contact center outsourcing companies operate efficiently round the clock, ensuring continuous service for your brand.
Outsourcing your inbound and outbound contact center operations can drastically cut down operating costs. You do not need to hire internal staff, onboard, or train them at your premises. Instead, the outsourced partner will take care of the necessary functions while you can enjoy their quality services.
Improved Customer Satisfaction
Responding to consumer inquiries by internal departments can often take hours or even days. Outsourcing to a top-notch contact center partner can reduce that response time to a few minutes. As a result, this creates more satisfied customers, which is essential for growing your business.
Now that you have learned the difference between inbound and outbound call centers, you need to choose the one that suits your business goals and needs. Consider what we discussed in this article, such as measuring metrics and evaluating factors when selecting a call center. Remember that outsourcing to a reputed contact center like a USA-based call center should bring more benefits than costs, so monitor your chosen call center, communicate with them regularly, and watch your business grow together.