With focus on customer service and customer experience at an all-time high, the question of call centers versus omni-channel contact centers — what’s the difference? — is critical to answer correctly as it relates to what your customers need and want.
Customers want their questions answered and their problems solved … quickly and efficiently. That’s the bottom line.
And if you can’t give them what they want, they are likely to look elsewhere to find someone who can.
The ability to interact with customers quickly, efficiently, and in the manner that they prefer is the basic difference between traditional call centers and modern omni-channel contact centers.
It’s the difference between satisfied, loyal customers and unhappy ex-customers.
Call centers employ agents either to take incoming calls from customers with questions or to make outbound calls to customers with offers, requests for information, and/or to ask for money (for example, debt collection or fundraising).
Sometimes call centers handle both inbound and outbound calls.
But either way, they’re calls. As in voice-only phone calls.
Their single channel for communication is the telephone.
Omni-channel contact centers, on the other hand, employ agents to interact with customers across multiple channels. In addition to phone calls, this includes text messaging, apps, social media, email, live chat, and video.
The difference is more robust choice for the customer.
When you have an omni-channel contact center, you allow your customer to contact you in the manner that they prefer.
Omni-channel contact centers also allow for the integration of customer information and engagement among different internal departments (sales and marketing, fulfillment, service and support, etc.).
Think of it as the hub for customer interaction.
And this integration into a single hub can dramatically enhance the customer’s experience with your company.
Choice. One of the differences between call centers and omni-channel contact centers is allowing customers to choose how they interact with you … allowing them to direct their own customer experience.
Giving customers the power of choice when it comes to customer service — and giving them control over their customer service experience — can be a significant way to set your company apart from your competition.
It can make a considerable difference in what your customers think of you and how they feel about you.
Efficiency. Customer experience is also enhanced when their interactions with a company are efficient. And having all the interaction choices filter through a single, integrated hub is incredibly efficient.
Being able to access customer history data across various channels increases the speed of the transaction but also influences the customer’s perception of you as a company that cares about their history and honors their time.
Efficiency, of course, makes the customer happy. But it’s a win for your company, too. Increased efficiency almost always directly relates to increased employee morale, profits, and continued company growth.
Immediacy. The third aspect of customer experience that is different with omni-channel contact centers versus call centers is the immediacy of the response. Customers do not like call center wait times. They do not appreciate having to push buttons or wade through phone trees.
Omni-channel contact centers can offer an immediacy to response that call centers very rarely can.
And this speed definitely enhances the customer experience.
There are a lot of factors that go into choosing the right solution for you and your company. We’d love to discuss them, and your unique needs, with you to help you decide.