5 Types of Call Centers for Customer Service Teams

A contact center agent supporting a customer through texting

Here are the five most common types of call centers — or contact centers — organizations rely on to provide customer support and conduct customer outreach.

At a high level, all call centers or contact centers share one common function — handling customer interactions for an organization. However, where call centers differ is in how the team handles these interactions and the purpose of these interactions, both of which depend on the type of call center a business has in place.

Call center organizations typically fall into one of five different categories. Here’s an overview of the most common types of call centers and how organizations leverage these teams to field either inbound customer service outreach or outbound customer communications. 

Top 5 Types of Call Centers

#1: Inbound Call Centers

This type of call center team is responsible for answering any incoming calls to a company’s main customer service number. Inbound call centers are usually staffed by customer service representatives, also known as call center agents, who have been trained to address customer questions and issues. Key expectations for call center representatives include providing an excellent customer experience, resolving customer issues quickly and efficiently, and ensuring high customer satisfaction

#2: Outbound Call Centers

While inbound call center teams are responsible for fielding incoming calls and interactions, outbound call centers are staffed by agents who are trained to place outgoing calls to customers for sales or customer relationship management (CRM) purposes. 

This type of call center often operates during regular business hours. However, agents may also work early in the morning or during the evening to provide extended or 24/7 coverage. To speed up the outreach process, some outbound call centers use auto-dialers to initiate calls on behalf of agents, but doing so can be perceived as “spammy” to customers. Call centers that utilize auto-dialers should make sure to give customers the option of opting out of receiving these types of calls in the future.

#3: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Call Centers

As the name suggests, BPOs are outsourced call centers — they aren’t run in-house but are instead operated by a third party. Depending on a company’s specific needs, BPOs can handle inbound or outbound or both inbound and outbound customer communications via the phone, email, social media, and other channels. This type of call center team consists of specially trained agents who learn the particulars of their clients’ company policies and procedures and act as the front lines of the brands they work for. BPOs fill in as needed to handle customer service inquiries, telemarketing outreach and market research efforts.

#4: Multichannel Contact Centers

While call centers typically focus on communicating with customers via the phone, contact centers offer broader outreach and support across a variety of channels. In addition to handling customer communications via the phone, these agents also engage with customers via touchpoints such as email, live chat, SMS, social media, and messaging apps. Multichannel contact centers are designed to make it as convenient as possible for customers to seek out inbound customer service and increase the team’s chances of connecting with customers for outbound outreach. 

#5: Omnichannel Contact Centers

While multichannel contact centers are designed to enable agents and customers to communicate and connect via a range of channels, omnichannel contact centers take things to the next level. With this type of contact center, the goal is to offer a seamless customer service experience, regardless of which channel a customer is using to get in touch with a business. 

Given the fact that most customers (76%) expect consistent experiences across departments, but much fewer (54%) feel like that’s happening, providing a thoughtful and connected omnichannel contact center experience is a strategic move that can pay off in the form of increased customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty. 

Improving the Contact Center Experience

Organizations with the best contact center customer experience analyze every customer interaction across channels to understand what’s driving customer inquiries, how customers feel during each conversation, whether individuals’ issues have been successfully resolved, and how agents are performing. Not only do top-performing organizations thoroughly review each and every touchpoint, they optimize in the moment based on these insights to strengthen agent training and scripts, intervene when customers are at risk of churn while there’s still time to act, and personalize the experience going forward. 

Looking to build out a modern contact center that offers a competitive advantage for your company? Meet with a Medallia expert to create a world-class contact center experience.