Contact Center Vs Call Center – Key Differences Between The Two

Published on June 3, 2022

So, you’ve been asked to decide whether your organization should choose a contact center software or a call center software solution. And as all decisions go, Google has been involved.

But that’s a good thing because Google has led you to the right place. As an organization dealing with communication software, we have the answers. In this article, we help you explore– 

  • The choice of contact center vs. call center, 
  • Their respective benefits, and 
  • How to choose the right solution. 

Read on.

What is a call center?

A call center, as the name goes, is a service platform that uses phone calls to–

  • Help customers with their queries.
  • Troubleshoot customer issues.
  • Improve customer relations.

Call center agents trained in communication skills and customer service handle inbound calls and/or outbound calls for the organization. Call center software helps with 

  • Sales operations
  • Customer surveys
  • Customer service
  • Grievance redressal and 
  • Management.

Read Also: How To Set Up Survey Phone Calls For The Best Insights 

What is a contact center?

A contact center uses multiple channels, including phone calls, to provide support. It is a central point through which an organization manages all its interactions across different platforms, delivering an omnichannel experience. Channels used by contact centers could include:

  • Email
  • Text messages
  • Social media
  • Chatbots/Live chat
  • Video calls, etc.

Now that you know, in essence, what a call center and contact center do, respectively, let’s explore critical differences between the two.

Read Next: The Complete Call Center Software Buyer’s Guide: What to Look Out For

Contact center vs. call center: Key differences

We have identified the key difference between contact centers and call centers and explained them in 6 main points–

  1. Mode of communication
  2. Reliability on agents
  3. Interactions
  4. Use cases
  5. Queue management
  6. Support type

We explore each point in detail below, summarized in the image below–


1. Mode of communication

While call centers primarily use phone calls, contact centers use a variety of channels listed in the section above. There are numerous advantages to using a variety of channels, including catering to the needs of different demographics. 

75% of millennials prefer texting over calling, and the availability of different channels caters to this need. However, some studies suggest that nearly 90% of customers prefer the human touch and the convenience of speaking with an agent when it comes to customer service.  Your choice between communication channels will depend on the demographics of your target market and how they prefer to communicate.

Contact centers tend to lead the pack with powerful software integrations and assistive technology in communication, but call centers have not been left behind. Most call centers incorporate sophisticated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems alongside standard phones and monitor to analyze a slew of metrics to improve service quality progressively.

You May Also Like: The Complete Guide to Text Messaging for Customer Service (With SMS Templates)

2. Reliability on agents.

As a business grows, the customer support team needs to expand to accommodate a larger volume of inquiries, complaints, support requests, and concerns. 

A contact center has an advantage in this area because it can quickly scale to accommodate more customer requests due to its multi-channel approach. Self-service is leveraged in a contact center, where customers often interact with a software to address their issues initially. Only if a problem requires an expert solution is it escalated to customer support agents.

On the other hand, call centers rely heavily on calling agents to scale their support teams. Whenever a business wants to expand its customer support, it will have to hire more call agents.

The advantage that call centers have in this scenario is that with excellent call center communication skills and a good knowledge of the product, they are equipped to solve almost all problems or transfer the issue to an expert agent. 

For contact centers, if customers need to talk to an agent, it means the problem is complex and needs agents with high skill capacity and knowledge. Agents need to be highly knowledgable and need multichannel training such as writing skills and social media etiquette to deal with multiple channels.

3. Interactions

If their calling software allows, a call center agent can make notes to save what happened in the phone conversation. Managers can assign call dispositions to contact lists for easy segmentation and viewing, so agents have a few pointers about the contact guiding them while making a call. 

In a contact center, interactions from multiple channels are routed through a central system and made available to agents. Data is aggregated from all channels and made available on a single, unified platform. This helps agents swiftly resolve issues, and they do not miss out on any valuable information during customer interactions.

4. Use Cases

There is also a slight difference in contact centers vs. call centers’ use cases. 

Contact centers are preferred by organizations that want to leverage multiple channels, cater to different demographics, and have a target market that understands these other platforms. 49% of consumers prefer using 4-5 communication channels to communicate with customer support executive agents. They find their use in schools, political campaigns, hospitality, healthcare, etc.

Call centers cater to more traditional industries where the target market prefers a telephone conversation. They are great additions to organizations that are into financial services such as insurance, debt collection, etc., or manufacturing.

Some use cases for these software are–

Call CenterContact Center
Technical supportCustomer service
TelemarketingTechnical support
SalesCustomer relationship management

5. Queue management

When customers are in a queue, waiting to get connected to agents, contact centers and call centers handle each differently. 

Customer queues are managed through call distribution between agents in a call center. Customers are kept on hold for a few seconds until an agent is available to speak with them.

A contact center, on the other hand, uses omnichannel distribution. If agents are held up on a call, customers are redirected to another agent who can interact with them on a different channel. It is also easier for agents because they do not have to deal with chat if they are on call. 

6. Support type

The type of support offered by contact center vs. call center is perhaps one of the most significant differentiating factors in customer experience.

A call center offers a more reactive customer service, where customer concerns are addressed when the customer approaches the support center. The agents then assist the customer in the best manner possible.

In a contact center, customers are afforded both proactive and reactive support. Proactive support includes–

  1. Detecting frantic clicks on a website and assisting the customer.
  2. Tracking if a customer is stuck on your platform and reaching out to them for support. 
  3. Offering support on social media platforms when customers complain.
  4. Sending messages on live chat offering assistance to the customer.

These are the key differences between a contact center and a call center. However, differences between the two do not inherently imply that one is better than the other. Choosing one over the other purely depends on your organization’s unique needs. We can explore this thought further in the next section.

Which should you choose – contact center vs. call center?

Your choice between a contact center and a call center depends on several decision points, including–

  1. Critical priorities of performance – what you want to achieve from this support team. This could include increased customer engagement, improved customer satisfaction, and opportunities to contact your team through multiple channels.
  2. Profitability – how much maintaining a call or contact center costs you and their return on investment. You need to consider if the amount you invest in your support team adds to your profit margins. Calculate costs such as maintenance, hiring agents, training agents, and investing in relevant software.
  3. Customer experience – The kind of service your customers demand and whether you can satisfy it through your platform. For example, if your customers are primarily happy with a phone call, you may not want to invest in a contact center, even if it offers more features.

What’s next?

The choice between a contact center and a call center is not easy to make. However, while you are making that choice, you can still take many measures to improve your customer service. CallHub has several resources that can help you. To begin with, read our article 5 Call Center Communication Skills To Train Your Agents On Today to train your team on essential customer support skills.