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CX strategy
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What is a contact center?.

Jeanine Desirée Lund
Content Marketing Specialist
What is a contact center

Last updated: June 2024

Learn about contact center and cloud contact center software (CCaaS) and how organisations can utilise these solutions to build better customer experiences.

It’s actually not that long ago that the only way to get help from customer service was through a physical visit. But with technological advancements, including the internet and smartphones (with over five billion internet users worldwide), the way consumers contact businesses has evolved. And this has given rise to what we know today as contact centers. But what exactly is a contact center? (And what’s the difference between on-premises and cloud contact centers?) And how can CCaaS benefit organisations and their customers? 

Let’s explore what a contact center is and how it has evolved, the different types of contact center solutions, and the benefits of modern cloud contact center solutions.

What is a contact center?

A contact center is a department or software within an organisation where customer queries and interactions are managed across various communication channels. Unlike call centers, the interactions in a contact center include phone calls, emails, live chat, social media messages, and more. Contact centers play a crucial role in delivering exceptional customer experience (CX) by providing timely and efficient support to customers.  

Let’s take a closer look at the difference between call centers and contact centers.   

Call center vs. contact center copy

Call center vs. Contact center

The terms “contact center” and “call center” are often used interchangeably, but there are some differences.  

Call center: A call center primarily focuses on handling inbound and outbound phone calls. Traditionally, call centers were limited to voice interactions, with agents answering incoming calls and making outbound calls to customers for various purposes such as sales, support, and surveys. Call centers typically use interactive voice response (IVR) systems to route calls to the appropriate agents and manage call queues efficiently. 

Contact center: A contact center, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive customer service solution that goes beyond voice calls. In addition to handling phone calls, contact centers support a wide range of communication channels, including email, live chat, social media, SMS, and more. Contact centers are designed to provide a seamless omnichannel experience, allowing customers to interact with businesses through their preferred channels. This versatility enables contact centers to cater to the diverse communication preferences of modern consumers and deliver enhanced customer experiences.

What is a contact center software?

Contact center software, also known as contact center solution, refers to a suite of tools and applications designed to manage customer interactions across various channels. It's a comprehensive solution designed to facilitate communication between customers and businesses across multiple channels, including phone calls, emails, chats, social media, and more. At its core, contact center software serves as a centralised platform for handling inbound and outbound interactions, streamlining customer queries, issue resolution, and support processes.  

6 types of contact centers

Typically, you’ll hear about six different types of contact centers. Understanding the different types can help you choose the right solution to support your goals.  

6 types of contact centers

Let’s look at the six types of contact centers:  

Inbound: Inbound contact centers do exactly as the name suggests – they only handle inbound inquiries requests and support issues. Agents are trained to provide assistance, answer questions, and resolve issues promptly. These contact centers are essential for businesses receiving a high volume of inbound calls or messages. 

Outbound: Outbound contact centers specialise in – you guessed it – outbound calls or messages. This type of contact center often focuses on lead generation and telemarketing, making outbound calls to customers for purposes such as sales, marketing, surveys, and appointment reminders. It’s also more common to utilise e-mail and SMS to do so. Agents proactively reach out to customers to initiate interactions and achieve specific business objectives.  
Multichannel: Multichannel contact centers provide customers with multiple channels of communication, allowing customers to engage with businesses through their preferred channels such as voice calls, emails, live chat, social media, and SMS. While customers can reach out via their preferred channels, multichannel contact centers have their limitations as each interaction only exists within the chosen channel. This is where it differs from an omnichannel solution.   

Omnichannel: Omnichannel contact centers also provide customers with multiple communication channels, but here, these channels integrate and synchronise customer interactions across all channels, providing a unified and seamless experience. Customers can switch between channels without losing context, and agents have access to a complete view of customer interactions and preferences, enabling personalised and efficient service delivery. So, you can say that omnichannel is quite similar to multichannel, but with the benefit of enabling smoother customer journeys and more personalised interactions.  
On-premises: On-premises contact centers are hosted and managed within the organisation's premises, using dedicated hardware and software infrastructure. This also means that agents have to be located on those premises to handle customer inquiries. While offering businesses full control over their operations and data, on-premises solutions often require significant upfront investment and ongoing maintenance. Therefore, many contact centers are moving away from on-premises setups to cloud-based contact centers, also known as CCaaS.  
Cloud Contact Center (CCaaS): Cloud contact centers, also known as Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), are increasingly popular. These are hosted in the cloud and accessed over the internet, so there is no need for a physical installation. These contact center platforms offer scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness, allowing businesses to quickly deploy and scale their customer service operations without the need for extensive IT infrastructure. 

Let’s go a bit more in-depth and look at the difference between traditional on-premises contact centers and cloud contact centers.

On-premises vs. Cloud Contact Centers (CCaaS)

Unlike traditional on-premises contact center systems, which require substantial upfront investment in hardware, software, and infrastructure, cloud contact center solutions (CCaas) operate on a subscription-based model, offering pay-as-you-go pricing and scalability. This model eliminates the need for upfront capital investments and provides scalability, flexibility, and accessibility from anywhere with an internet connection. Let’s look at the key differences.

On-premises vs Cloud Contact Centers

Key differences:

  • Cost: On-premises contact center software requires significant upfront investments in hardware and infrastructure, as well as ongoing maintenance costs. Cloud contact centers, CCaaS, operate on a subscription-based model, offering pay-as-you-go pricing and eliminating the need for upfront capital expenditures.
  • Scalability: Cloud contact centers, known as CCaaS, provide greater scalability and flexibility compared to on-premises solutions. With cloud-based solutions, organisations can easily scale up or down to accommodate changing business needs and fluctuating call volumes without the need for hardware upgrades or additional infrastructure.
  • Accessibility: Cloud contact center solutions offer greater accessibility, allowing agents to work from anywhere with an internet connection. This is particularly beneficial for organisations with remote or distributed teams, as well as for providing disaster recovery and business continuity capabilities. 

Related resource: Unleashing Transformation: The Future of Contact Centres in 2024 and Beyond.  

Benefits of Cloud Contact Center (CCaaS)

Cloud technology is becoming increasingly popular. In fact, the contact center as a service (CCaaS) market is projected to grow from 5.15 billion USD to 16.43 billion USD by 2030. Cloud contact centers (CCaaS) are transforming the customer service industry by offering a range of benefits that traditional on-premise solutions simply cannot match.  

Let’s explore the main advantages of cloud contact centers, also known as CCaaS:

Increased scalability and flexibility 
CCaaS offer unparalleled scalability and flexibility, allowing organisations to easily scale up or down to meet fluctuating call volumes and business needs without the need for costly hardware upgrades or infrastructure investments. Whether it's adding new agents, expanding to new markets, or rolling out new features, cloud contact center software provides the agility and scalability required to stay competitive in a rapidly evolving landscape. 

Cloud contact center platforms, CCaaS, operate on a subscription-based pricing model, eliminating the need for upfront capital expenditures on hardware and infrastructure. Organisations pay only for the services they use, making cloud contact centers a cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes. Additionally, cloud contact centers reduce ongoing maintenance costs and provide predictable monthly expenses, enabling organisations to allocate resources more efficiently and invest in other areas of their business. 

Improved disaster recovery and uptime 
Another key advantage of CCaaS is improved disaster recovery and uptime. Cloud contact center solutions can quickly recover from outages and continue operations without significant downtime. This resilience ensures that customer service is not interrupted, even in the face of technical issues or natural disasters. 

Enhanced security features 
Cloud contact center software employs robust security measures to protect sensitive customer data and ensure compliance with industry regulations. With features such as encryption, access controls, and regular security audits, organisations can trust that their data is secure and protected against unauthorised access or breaches. CCaaS also offer advanced threat detection and mitigation capabilities, helping organisations stay ahead of emerging security threats and vulnerabilities. 

Quick deployment 
Implementing a cloud contact center (CCaaS solution) is generally faster and less complex compared to traditional on-premises contact centre systems. With cloud-based deployment, there’s no need to procure and set up hardware or software, resulting in faster implementation times and quicker time-to-value for organisations. 

Better integration capabilities  
Cloud contact center software and CCaaS often integrates with other business systems such as CRM platforms, help desk software, or workforce management tools. These integrations enable a unified view of customer data, streamline workflows, and provide agents with access to relevant information, leading to more personalised and efficient interactions. 

Advanced analytics and insights 
Cloud contact center platforms provide powerful analytics and reporting capabilities. These tools allow organisations to gain valuable insights into customer interactions, agent performance, and contact centre efficiency. By analysing data and metrics, businesses can identify areas for improvement, make data-driven decisions, and optimise their operations.  

Enhanced customer experience 
With features like intelligent routing, personalised interactions, and omnichannel support, CCaaS platforms help deliver exceptional customer experiences. Businesses can provide faster response times, personalised assistance, and consistent service across channels, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.  

Related resource: The importance of moving from on-premise to cloud-based tech 

How to choose the right Contact Center solution for your organisation

Choosing the right contact center solution for your organisation depends on several factors, including your goals, needs, customer demands, preferred communication channels, and more.

Here’s a brief recap of the six types of contact centers, and how they cater to different business requirements. 

  • Inbound: If your business receives a high volume of customer queries and requires robust support services, an inbound contact center can be ideal.  
  • Outbound: If proactive customer engagement is crucial for your strategy, consider an outbound contact center. These are great for lead generation, telemarketing, sales, marketing, and surveys. 
  • Multichannel: If your organisation uses multiple communication channels, this might be the right choice. However, interactions remain within the chosen channel without cross-channel integration. If your goal is to provide diverse communication options without needing integrated experiences, a multichannel contact center might be suitable. 
  • Omnichannel: If delivering personalised and efficient service across all touchpoints is a priority, an omnichannel contact center is the best choice. These centers are synchronising customer interactions across all channels, ensuring a seamless, unified customer experience, where agents have a complete view of customer interactions and preferences.  
  • On-premises: If your organisation values data control and has the resources for infrastructure, an on-premises contact center may be appropriate. However, they require significant upfront investment and ongoing maintenance, and many businesses are now transitioning to cloud-based solutions. 
  • CCaaS: A Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) provide scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness, making them a popular choice. CCaaS solutions allow for quick deployment and scaling of customer service operations without extensive IT infrastructure. If you seek a modern, agile, and budget-friendly contact center, CCaaS is an excellent option.
The role of cloud contact centers (CCaaS) in enhancing customer experience

Cloud contact centers play a pivotal role in shaping the overall customer experience and are integral to fostering customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. In today's digital age, where customers demand seamless and personalised interactions across multiple channels, CCaaS offer a flexible and scalable solution to meet these evolving expectations.  

Here's why cloud contact centers are pivotal in enhancing the CX: 

Omnichannel engagement: Cloud contact centers empower organisations to deliver seamless omnichannel support, enabling customers to interact via their preferred channels, including phone, email, chat, social media, and SMS. By providing a unified platform for managing customer interactions across multiple channels, cloud contact centers ensure consistent service delivery and enhance customer satisfaction. 

Scalability and flexibility: Unlike traditional on-premises contact center solutions, CCaaS offer scalability and flexibility to adapt to changing business needs and fluctuating customer demands. With cloud-based infrastructure, organisations can easily scale their contact center operations up or down as required, ensuring optimal resource utilisation and agility in responding to customer needs. 

Personalised interactions: Cloud contact centers leverage advanced analytics and AI-powered technologies to gather customer data and insights, enabling organisations to personalise interactions and anticipate customer needs effectively. By harnessing data-driven intelligence, contact center agents can deliver tailored solutions and recommendations that resonate with individual customers, thereby enhancing the overall customer experience. 

Efficient issue resolution: CCaaS facilitate efficient resolution of customer issues and inquiries through streamlined processes and real-time access to information. With cloud-based contact center software, agents can quickly access relevant customer data, collaborate with colleagues, and leverage automated workflows to resolve issues promptly, leading to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

Continuous improvement: CCaaS enable organisations to collect and analyse customer feedback in real time, providing valuable insights into customer preferences, pain points, and satisfaction levels. By leveraging these insights, organisations can identify areas for improvement, refine their processes, and implement proactive measures to enhance the customer experience continually. 

Enhanced agility and innovation: Cloud contact centers, also called CCaaS, provide organisations with the agility and innovation necessary to stay ahead in today's dynamic business landscape. With cloud-based solutions, organisations can easily adopt new technologies, such as AI-powered chatbots, speech analytics, and sentiment analysis, to enhance customer interactions and drive innovation in customer service delivery. 




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