Depending on the industry you’re in, whether your organization is B2B, B2C, and other factors, you’ll probably need to provide a variety of ways to communicate with your user base, customers, partners, vendors, etc. When shopping options, you’ll come across terms that sound very much alike, but are in fact quite different. Such is the case with a call center versus a contact center. What’s the difference? More to the point, which does your service desk need?
What is a Call Center?
As the name would imply, a call center is focused primarily on voice communications, via telephone calls. A call center typically offers both inbound and outbound calling services. For example, inbound calls would include customers calling in response to a marketing campaign or perhaps to ask questions about a new product or service. Outbound calls might include calling customers to conduct a survey or to contact leads generated by a recent marketing campaign.
Sometimes, additional voice services are also offered, such as voicemail services, a phone menu (press 1 if you had a freckle on your right elbow between the years 1982 and 1996), and answering services for after hours callers. Call center services can also be handled in-house, but require no small amount of resources, including personnel, equipment, and software.
What is a Contact Center?
A generation ago, customers were annoyed if they couldn’t get a human to answer the phone. In the digital era, however, most people trying to contact your organization prefer the simple, straightforward digital user interface. This is where a contact center comes in. Though most contact center services offer voice services (like inbound and outbound call handling), they also provide chat services, email, instant messaging, and web interfaces.
These services make it possible for customers, vendors, and others to contact you however they prefer. If your users and customers are primarily working folks, they need the convenience and ease of digital communications. They can answer emails between other work, which is far preferable to having to stop everything when a live phone agent finally gets on the line (usually after no less than half an hour of the Muzak version of “Achy Breaky Heart,”).
Another Option for the Service Desk
There is another option for the IT help desk, however, which is an inclusive ITSM solution that offers users a variety of ways to both ask questions and seek help, as well as search for their own answers at their own pace via a self-service portal or knowledge base. You can provide them with an IT services catalog where they can select what they need, and even create a social type knowledge base where users can share answers and solutions, relieving much of the burden on IT staff while simultaneously building a repertoire of knowledge that is useful across the organization, and often outside of the organization as well.
With these solutions, you can provide services, answer questions, and solve issues any way your customers and users prefer to contact you. It’s a win-win for both the help desk and those who need to contact you, because it streamlines and automates what used to be a cumbersome task of calling in, waiting in line, and having to handle each caller separately. Best of all, the ITSM solution is customizable, so that you can set it up, generate reports, and monitor situations how you see fit.
About Nathan Riley
Nathan Riley is a Sales Director, ITSM at SolarWinds. He has nine years experience in the industry, and has had a front row seat for the evolution of service management as a platform for the entire organization. He helps organizations ranging from SMB to Fortune 500 bring customized service to employees. Nathan proudly served the United States Armed Forces in the United States Marine Corps.
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