What is the difference between a Call Center and a Contact Center?
It is widely accepted that a Call Center is focused on phone calls while a Contact Center would connect with people across multiple channels. These additional channels may include text, email, webchat, WhatsApp, Social Media pages, or a simple webform collecting data. Today many Contact Centers are struggling because they are still using Call Center software.
The terms Call Center and Contact Center in today’s world are becoming interchangeable as there a very few, if any, Call Centers that only use the phone anymore. It has become a requirement for any Center to support additional channels beyond just phone calls. So, the use of Call Center vs Contact Center is often the result of personal choice or habit. In this post we will look at the important differences between Call Center (phone only) software and Contact Center (multiple channel supporting) software.
CCaaS: Call Center as a Solution or Contact Center as a Solution?
There are dozens of CCaaS options on the market today and it can be difficult to tell the difference between them. While most people assume CCaaS to mean Contact Center as a Solution the fact is that most CCaaS products on the market today are in fact Call Center as a Solution platforms.
Call Center platforms were built to handle inbound and outbound phone calls. As Call Centers evolved to become Contact Centers, these platforms have not kept up with the changes. Because of this, Contact Centers have had to find and use 3rd party solutions in order to add the ability to communicate with their customers across channels beyond the phone.
Using 3rd party solutions not only costs additional money but it also decreases the efficiency (and therefore the profit margin) of a Contact Center. Agents must keep track of multiple usernames and passwords while IT departments must support all the different products. Additionally, agents spend extra time logging in and out of different platforms and are not able to work across different channels at the same time. Most importantly, customers do not have the best possible experience provided to them.
Contact Center Software Solutions
With a true Contact Center software solution (like NGNCloudComm) agents login to a single platform where they can handle all the channels supported by their Call Center or Contact Center. All the channels should be treated as equals by the Contact Center software. This means that whether you are using phone, email, text, webchat, WhatsApp, or social media the agent user experience should be the same. Data tracking and reporting should be the same. Most importantly, the customer experience should be the same.
Call Center Software and Technical Debt
CCaaS companies have tried to keep up with the demands of modern Contact Centers in several ways. One common way has been to purchase or merge with additional software companies to add the ability to support new channels. Another option is to partner with other software companies and white label or integrate with their products to add new features and support.
These options are short term fixes with long term consequences because they create Technical Debt. This Technical Debt makes it difficult if not impossible for CCaaS companies to further develop and improve their product. We have worked with several customers who have complained about having simple feature requests or bug tickets sit open for months if not longer than a year.
Problems Created by Technical Debt
Another practical example of Technical Debt affecting Contact Centers is the fast and constant changing of TCPA and Contact Center focused laws. Take the Grupo NGN customer who was told by a competitor to stop making outbound calls into Florida because that competitor had no solution to ensure they could be compliant with Florida’s new law. Conversely, NGNCloudComm has been ahead of the game with its business rules and call tactics Contact Centers can customize to ensure automatic compliance for any number of different regulations across different States.
Most CCaaS solutions require a PBX or a UCaaS because they were built as a phone add on in the first place. This creates significant Technical Debt such as requiring Call Centers and Contact Centers to have separate systems for inbound and outbound dialing. These systems, because they were built as phone add on platforms, treat each new channel as a new add on meaning there is no consistency in user experience or data tracking and reporting. This Technical Debt costs Call Centers and Contact Centers time and money.
NGNCloudComm is and Always Has Been a Contact Center Software Solution
One of the first major decisions made when developing NGNCloudComm was to launch it with a built-in communication stack. This means that, unlike its major competitors, NGNCloudComm does not require users to have a PBX or UCaaS system. Eliminating this requirement doesn’t just save money, but it also ensured from the very beginning that NGNCloudComm could quickly add new channels (even ones we didn’t know would exist) and have those channels work the exact same way phone calls work in the platform.
Call Center vs Contact Center Inbound Features
Let’s look at practical differences between Call Center software that was built originally to support inbound phone calls vs Contact Center software that should support multiple inbound channels including phone, text, email, webchat, WhatsApp, social media, data forms, and more.
Call Center Inbound Queue and Campaign
A traditional call center typically has an inbound queue that manages incoming customer calls. The queue works on a first-come-first-serve basis and routes calls to available agents. Campaign features refer to outbound calls made by agents to promote or sell products/services. The calls are made in batches and target specific groups of customers. The campaign feature also includes automated dialing systems to increase efficiency. Both inbound and outbound calls are monitored and recorded for quality assurance and training purposes. Call center agents are provided with scripts and training to handle various types of customer interactions. The call center software also includes reporting and analytics features to track performance metrics such as average call handling time, call abandonment rates, and agent productivity. Overall, traditional call center inbound queue and campaign features aim to provide efficient and effective customer service while maximizing agent productivity.
Contact Center Inbound Queue and Campaign
A traditional contact center has similar inbound queue and campaign features as a call center. However, a contact center may also handle other channels of communication such as email, chat, and social media. Inbound calls are routed to agents based on specific skills or expertise, such as language fluency or technical knowledge. Contact centers also offer self-service options for customers, such as interactive voice response (IVR) systems, to reduce wait times and improve customer satisfaction. Outbound campaigns in contact centers may also include these other channels, such as email campaigns or social media advertising. Additionally, contact centers often have more advanced reporting and analytics features to track customer interactions across multiple channels. Overall, traditional contact center inbound queue and campaign features offer a more comprehensive approach to customer service, utilizing multiple channels of communication and advanced technology to improve customer experiences.
NGNCloudComm Inbound Features
NGNCloudComm starts with the traditional Contact Center inbound features and then supercharges them. Other CCaaS solutions limit the number of skills you can assign to an agent. NGNCloudComm gives users unlimited skill sets and allows users to combine skill routing with agent ability scores. For example, you can give agents a skill for “Spanish speaking” but then also score your Spanish speaking agents to ensure your best customers or hottest leads are routed to your most fluent agents. Several our customers have switched because of this feature alone.
Scheduled callbacks are another unique feature for NGNCloudComm. While most inbound CCaaS systems require agents to manually track any customers or leads they must call back. Agents must write down the information and then keep track of time to log out of their queue and login to a manual dialing system. With NGNCloudComm scheduled call backs are done the way you would expect a modern system to handle them. They are automatically scheduled with an option to be reassigned to the original agent on the first call or to be assigned to any available agent at the scheduled call back time. When the scheduled time comes, NGNCloudComm ensures that the assigned agent, or if applicable an available agent is out of any inbound queues and connects them to the scheduled callback.
Call Center vs Contact Center IVR Features
Call Center Inbound IVR
Call Center software built to handle inbound phone calls have brought several great features. The IVR or interactive voice response allows users to either type a number or speak different options to be routed to the correct agent or in some cases to automatically get the information they need without having to deal with an agent at all!
Contact Center Inbound IVR
Ideally Contact Center software solutions would allow the same functionality of an IVR for any additional channel and not just phone calls. Most CCaaS platforms only have the same kind of IVR features you get over the phone with text messaging and 3rd party integrated webchat. For both text and webchat the similar features you get over the phone with an IVR like selecting 1 for sales, 2 for support etc., searching for a specific name or keyword, or inputting an account number works through what is often referred to as a “bot” or “auto response”.
This is an example of how Technical Debt gets built up when companies take short cuts to meet requirements without taking a long-term view. While the end result is that customers have access to the same options using text message or chat as they have when using the phone – the Call Center or Agent and Call Center experience can be quite different and frustrating. What seems the same to the customer – type 1 for sales into your phone or type 1 for sales into a text message or webchat – is not the same for the agent or Call Center and Contact Center. Reporting on the number of people who chose 1 through a text message or webchat may be calculated differently (or worse – not calculated at all) than inbound Phone IVR reporting. How and where to route calls through an IVR may have different options and settings and use an entirely different platform than how text messages and webchat “bots” and “auto replies” work.
NGNCloudComm Inbound IVR
With NGNCloudComm’s Strategy Designer, users can quickly create IVR like flows for every supported channel – even data from a webform! This means that Call Centers and Contact Centers do not need to wait months for expensive consultants to build IVR systems. Agents login to NGNCloudComm and whether they are receiving an inbound phone call, text message, webchat, WhatsApp message, email, social media reply, or even a webform data submission, the user experience, data tracking, and reporting is consistent.
NGNCloudComm Outbound IVR
NGNCloudComm, a cutting-edge Contact Center Software Solution, is equipped with an Outbound IVR (Interactive Voice Response) feature. This feature allows for automated outbound communications, thereby streamlining the customer outreach process. In essence, Outbound IVR enables contact centers to proactively engage with customers through automated voice calls, which can include personalized messaging, survey queries, appointment reminders, and other pertinent information.
The Outbound IVR capability is a key value proposition of NGNCloudComm, demonstrating its advanced technological capabilities and its ability to enhance customer experience. It empowers contact centers to efficiently and effectively reach out to customers, while also freeing up valuable human resources.
NGNCloudComm Data IVR
Data IVR? What does that even mean? NGNCloudComm customers have the ability to use the same user friendly Strategy Designer for building inbound and outbound IVR systems to handle routing decisions based on data. An example is data from a webform. NGNCloudComm has one of the fastest “speed to lead” contact rates. An available agent can connect to a webform lead in less than a second from lead submission.
NGNCloudComm’s data IVR supports routing and connection decisions across all channels – not just voice. A customer or prospective lead can fill out a form and decide from a drop-down list to be contacted by phone, text message, email, WhatsApp, or a social media page. Users can build a combination of auto responses and advanced agent assignment, or routing trees based on collected data points.
Call Center vs Contact Center AI Features
In our blog post When is AI BS and What is ChatGPT we wrote about how AI is one of the most misused terms within the Call Center and Contact Center world today. The ability to automate a process is not in and of itself Artificial Intelligence.
NGNCloudComm: Using AI Since 1995
When the first version of NGNCloudComm was released in 1995, it came with a neural network AI feature to maximize the efficiency of predictive dialing. Today with our performance and gamification platform NGNInsights we use AI to generate real time automated benchmarks. Our most recent AI upgrade is the ability to do live transcription of voice calls.
Multi-Tenant vs Multi-Instance
When Grupo NGN made the decision to provide NGNCloudComm customers with a dedicated server it went against the grain of what all the major CCaaS competitors were doing. While other CCaaS providers cut costs by combining customers on a Multi-Tenant server, we continued to provide Multi-Instance installations. Time has proven us right as our uptime service and customer satisfaction numbers are the highest in the industry.
NGNCloudComm customers do not worry that a DDoS attack on any one customer will result in outages for all customers. EMEA customers are able to ensure GDPR compliance with European located servers. BPO’s have a marketing advantage in promoting a higher level of data security, reporting and tracking.
Customer Experience vs Total Experience
CX has become an overused marketing buzz term on par with AI. But no Call Center or Contact Center will ever provide a better level of Customer Experience than the sum of their Agent Experience and Management Experience or what we call Total Experience. If you have stressed out Managers and overworked Agents, you aren’t going to magically provide a great Customer Experience.
NGNCloudComm ensures a great Management Experience and Agent Experience which naturally promotes the best possible Customer Experience. Call Center vs Contact Center is an important topic to research when deciding the best software for your company.
If you are ready to move beyond the traditional Call Center or Contact Center software contact us today.