Directing Your Customers: The Difference Between a Call Center, a Contact Center, and a Help Desk

The terms “call center,” â€œcontact center,” and “help desk,” get thrown around a lot when companies want to send their customer to the right place of assistance. Sometimes they get used so much that the three of them seem interchangeable. Although a case could be made for the similarities of these items and their interconnectivity, the differences between them are important to bear in mind.

A contact center is basically a small city of customer care necessities. You’ll find call centers, messaging centers, and departments for e-mail, live chat, and postal mail support all inside the “city” limits. Companies will often use a contact center as the home base of customer relationship management (CRM). Contact centers have to have a solid, reliable system of customer interaction, organizing incoming/outgoing contacts, storing customer information, and tracking and gathering customer-related intel. While contact center is the most broadly used term, these locations are also called customer interaction centers or e-contact centers.

A call center is, as mentioned, one of the subsets of a contact center. This branch deals with customer service scenarios being played out over the phone, only. Because phone-based customer support remains the highest rated, most-used channel, companies will often have different call centers for different areas of the customer service required, from returns, to product questions, to sales. Call centers often wind up as an outsourced service, as it’s an easy and effective way to manage cost. The backlash from having non-domestic call centers has led a lot of companies to pull their centers back to the U.S., as language barriers began to pose a problem with customer satisfaction.

A help desk, although very similar to a call center, is typically focused on internal IT and employee support more so than customer related incident management. The responsibilities of the help desk trouble ticket software can have a fairly broad range, from simple, quick-fix issues like password resets, to complicated network or software issues. The help desk support arena is not limited to purely internal issues, but because of the nature of their expertise it is often the case that they are more effective in that way. 

The three of these make up some of the core pillars of a well-rounded customer service and support department for your company. The customer may not be aware of the differences and may use all the terms across the board, but it’s important that you ensure your company is able to provide all of the key services involved with these areas so that incoming customers don’t have to worry about the specifics!

PhaseWare believes a fully functional customer service department will have everything your customer could want or need. Contact us today to check out all the great features you could be enjoying!


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