If you’re looking to set up a call center to support some aspect of your business, you’ll need to know which model best fits your needs. Inbound and outbound call centers use similar technologies, but each plays a different role in how a business functions.
“Inbound” and “outbound” are terms that are often tossed around when it comes to marketing, but how do they apply to customer service? Here’s what you need to know about the differences and similarities between inbound and outbound call centers.
Understanding inbound call centers
Inbound call centers handle calls to your business. These calls are often from customers or simply people who are interested in your products or services. In an inbound call center, agents usually handle requests to initiate services (such as an internet provider signing up a new customer) or troubleshoot customer issues (such as a call center handling the return of a laptop that was dead on arrival).
Inbound call agents may help customers make payments over the phone, start a return, or update customer details like a mailing address. In addition to helping customers resolve their problems, inbound call centers may also handle customer complaints, escalating an issue up to a chain of contact if necessary.
All of this is handled by agents using call center software, which helps complete these tasks by performing a few simple keystrokes and mouse clicks.
The role of the outbound call center
An outbound call center differs from an inbound call center because the agents are the ones making all the calls. Generally speaking, most outbound call centers spend the majority of their time conducting sales. In some cases, there are exceptions to this, such as research firms or institutions conducting political polls. Even so, it’s much more likely that an outbound call center will be conducting sales calls, whether they are cold or warm.
In sales, a cold call is a call to someone who isn’t anticipating your communication. A warm call is generally made to leads who have already shown some sort of interest in your product or service. Whether they filled out a form online or spoke with you a trade show, a warm call is much more likely to convert than a cold call.
That being said, cold calls can convert as well, particularly if you’re reaching out to an individual based on a specific demographic need, such as credit repair services for somebody with a low credit score. Just like with inbound call centers, agents often use outbound call center software to facilitate this work.
The best way to remember the difference is that an inbound call center is for receiving communications from customers, whereas an outbound call center involves the company initiating communication. Both inbound and outbound call centers have a role to play in any business, so it’s best to understand both if you’re aiming to create a robust customer service chain.
If it seems like members on your team are getting a lot of customer support requests, it may be worthwhile to invest in an inbound call center team. However, if your aim is to sell more of your inventory, then an outbound call center would be best. It’s wise to consider what the current strengths of your team are before choosing to hire a team of inbound or outbound call agents.
Doing so will ensure that you maximize your employees’ productivity and make the most of your call center staff.