What Is a Call Center?

A call center is a functional team within the service department that fields incoming and outgoing customer phone calls. They're operated by representatives who manage each call and keep track of open cases and transactions.

What Is a Call Center?

What Is a Call Center?

A call center is a functional team within the service department that fields incoming and outgoing customer phone calls. They're operated by representatives who manage each call and keep track of open cases and transactions.

To keep their teams organized, team leads use call center software to distribute inquiries and interact with customers all over the world.

In customer service, call centers can be proactive (outbound) or reactive (inbound). This means that they can either reach out to customers with service offers, or they can offer traditional support and respond to incoming calls. Many companies now offer proactive customer services to create stronger relationships with customers and capitalize on timely opportunities to upsell and cross-sell.

Additionally, call centers can be owned by the parent business or hired as a third-party provider. Depending on the organization's needs, both options provide pros and cons that influence the success of the customer service department. For example, third-party call centers are more efficient, however, they may not be as familiar with the brand's product, service, or reputation. If you're looking for a job in a call center, be sure to clarify whether it's a third-party provider or owned by the parent company.

Now that we've covered the fundamentals, let's break down the types of customer service call centers.

1. Virtual Call Centers

Virtual call centers have been adopted by businesses across the world.

These call centers use software that distributes calls to agents who are working in remote locations. Instead of all of the agents being positioned in one central office, virtual call centers employ reps from all over which creates a more diverse customer service team.

The benefit of working in a remote phone service role is that you can work from the comfort of your home. The company will send you all the tools you'll need to do your job effectively including a headset, a microphone, and even a computer. After that, you can take the company's online courses and training to prepare yourself for future customer interactions.

Companies benefit from this setup as it makes it easier for them to provide customer service across multiple time zones. Since the customer service team is working from various locations, businesses with remote call centers can provide coverage during off-hours without having to put employees on different shifts. This makes employee scheduling significantly easier for companies that provide 24/7 customer support.

2. Inbound Call Centers

When customers call into a business for assistance, there's an inbound customer service representative on the other side of the line waiting to assist them. In this type of role, a rep is skilled in technical support, communication, and problem-solving. Having expertise in each of these areas makes for a better customer experience.

In this type of call center, reps must be prepared for anything. Calls that come in could be unfiltered — meaning angry, emotional, or extremely confused customers could dial into your line. The best inbound call reps are patient and assume good intent from every customer.

For more insight into the inbound call center experience, take a look at this video from self-storage company CubeSmart. This showcases a day in the life of their inbound agents.