What’s the difference? Call Center vs Contact Center.

 

Traditionally many companies, especially telecommunications companies and service organizations, have used call center agent companies. As the name implies, call centers handle calls. You may also have heard about contact centers, but what are they? Which one is best? Let’s look at call center vs contact center and see what the difference is between them.

Difference Between Call vs Contact

 

The main difference between a call center and a contact center is that they offer different services.

These services have been used for many years and only deal with phone calls. The calls are both inbound and outbound as they are known in the trade, or incoming and outgoing to you and I. When you phone up your bank or your phone provider, you are almost certainly speaking to an employee in a call center. The call center could be owned and operated by the company, or an external organization. The emphasis within a call center is on the calls, and their success is monitored through their call statistics like how quickly are calls answered or how many calls are dealt with per hour.

In customer service terms, a ‘contact’ is somebody who has contacted the organization through any means. Therefore a contact center deals with communication in all types whether it be the phone, email, coupon or social media. If you enter a competition to win a box of chocolates, your entry whether on a torn out coupon from a magazine, email, or website, the entry goes to the contact center. They pass the details to the chocolate company and you are now a contact so you will receive information or marketing from that company. Contact centers monitor their success on statistics around the number of contacts and the channels used i.e. phone, coupon, web etc.

Although the terms are used interchangeably, you can clearly see that there are differences between the two. So which one should you use?

 

 Offer the Following Services:

 

  • Telephone Customer service for incoming calls.
  • Telephone Customer service through outgoing calls.
  • Handle heavy volumes of telephone contact.
  • Telephone technical support i.e. a helpdesk.
  • Telephone support for order placement and status.
  • Telephone surveys of customers and potential customers to provide better service.
  • Can be on-site, off-site, or virtual.
  • Agents often adhere to a specific customized script.

 Benefits of Using a Phone Center.

Very large companies often have a phone center service as part of their business. If you are a company dealing with a large number of incoming and outgoing phone calls, then a call center is vital. Call centers are particularly beneficial to businesses, as it means they can concentrate on their business while the time intensive phone queries and interactions are handled by someone else.

 

  • Handle large numbers of incoming calls.
  • Deal with large numbers of outgoing calls.
  • Tend to be experts at what they do as they concentrate on one thing.

Contact Centers Offer These Services:

 Incoming customer service for all contacts in multiple formats; mail, email, social media, phone, web queries, live chats.

  • Outgoing customer contact through multiple formats; mail, email, social media, phone, live chats.
  • Contact centers are normally operated by an external company like KPI Connect specializing in being a contact center, not a specific business.

 Benefits of Using a Contact Center.

Contact centers handle large numbers of queries through all types of media. Contact center agents require good people skills due to the social media transactions they carry out. A thoughtless comment on social media can easily go viral.

  • Handle queries on different communication channels.
  • Deal with heavy volumes of mixed media contact.
  • Generally available 24/7.
  • Works well for businesses in different countries and time zones.
  • Other forms of media usually are more cost effective than phone calls.
  • Live chat is growing in use and customer satisfaction as it becomes more successful.

 Contact Center, or Call Center, or Both?

Both call centers and contact centers provide customer service, but as you can see, both perform different functions and there are benefits to both. Depending on your business needs, you might require specific services from one or the other, or possibly even both.

The 4P’s of Social Media Marketing

Social media and social networking have taken the world by storm. From the individual frequently updating details of their daily activities, to companies using it as a promotion tool for winning new business and maintaining healthy relationships with their customers, we see this form of engagement catapulting its way to the forefront of our daily lives. As businesses continue to evolve and adapt to the trends and changes within the environment, social media and social networking blazes its way into organisations, becoming a key functional area, embedded into corporate strategies.

-Target, America’s third largest retailer and fast-growing social brand, uses social media to send customized posts based on users’ locations as well as a digital coupon dispenser.

-Global telecommunications provider Sprint, has two Facebook pages: 1 page which provides special offers and discussion boards and another which offers free ringtones.

All companies should keep the following in mind when embarking on a social media/networking strategy:

-What goal does my company’s social networking page and content aim for?
-What tone should be conveyed in each post?
-Who am I trying to attract?
-Remember the principles of good grammar and punctuation.

So how do you effectively tailor your content to ensure optimal exposure across the various social networks your company employs? Let’s explore the topic by looking at what we’ve termed as the 4P’s of SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING.

Be PUNCHY:

One must have an immediate impact with the content being delivered. Posting content on social networking sites has as its biggest limitation; the number of characters allotted in a single post. Twitter is a prime example, where bloggers are restricted to a maximum of 140 characters to convey a single thought or message to the audience. This means that there is no room for the ‘flowery’ language and fillers that we have become accustomed to in our everyday writing. Content needs to be precise and straight to the point. Facebook in recent years became more lenient with its character limitations. From its inception, users were allotted character limits of 160 to 420 (in 2009) to 500 (in 2011) to 5,000 (in 2011) and finally over 60,000 (late 2011). Though content bloggers or ‘facebookers’ enjoy this increase, businesses need to bear in mind that only a brief portion of this high-character content appears within the news feed update of the reader/subscriber. This means that within at least 100 characters (spaces included), you need to be precise and punchy, inspiring the reader to perform the call to action of clicking the continue to read more option, be it on the same network or through the provision of a back-link to an article or blog site, where there is more freedom with your discourse.

Be PERSONABLE:

When implementing a social media/networking strategy, keep in mind that this is your company’s opportunity to get deeply involved with its clients and community on a level that inspires high round-the-clock engagement as well as the possibility of positive consumer/buyer actions. That being the case, one must present the company as being personable. After-all, its social media; ‘let’s get social’.

One’s approach should be to have a pleasant online appearance and manner, adopting a soft sell strategy rather than a hard sell, where readers/followers/fans are engaged by asking thought provoking questions, guaranteed to spark interesting page or forum discussions. Be an available resource for any questions or queries posed by your online community, always willing to offer help when it is needed and if you are unable to provide an immediate solution or answer directly, be eagerly willing to seek the information or refer to a relevant third party.

It is okay to share the content of others on your page. Your business like its followers will have varying interests. Part of adopting a personable approach would be to show your community that you both have similar interests. Provide interesting links to blogs or media about topics that are related to your company’s operations. A department store distributor like PC Richard & Sons carrying a wide range of computer or electronic brands maybe likely to share content from a software developer’s page for example Apple or Microsoft because of the hand-in-hand complement that one lends to the other’s operations.

Highlight your page’s achievements. When your company page has reached a milestone in the number of followers, likes/shares, make mention of the achievement. Also highlight accomplishments of your company as well as staff. Take the opportunity through this platform to showcase your company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

PENETRATE:

Offer engaging, compelling, relevant, conversation provoking content”.

Any content posted is done under the objectives of attaining the following actions:

-Like your page/post/blog
-Follow company
-Leave a comment
-Share the content
-Learn more
-Visit a website

The bottom line of it all is that your social media/networking strategy will only be successful if the information being shared is compelling and interesting enough to drive positive as well as profitable consumer action. That said, you should know your community. What topics best attract the type of follower you will be catering to? How regular do you intend to offer content to these persons?

Wherever possible, write content in the active voice rather than the passive voice. Adopting this type of style makes your content a lot stronger by giving credit to an action, plus you use fewer words to convey messages.

PUNCTUATION & Grammar

While you adapt a personal somewhat informal approach, this becomes no excuse for obvious use of incorrect punctuation and grammar. As mentioned before, the issue of character limits may restrict an individual from fully punctuating a post as needed. To remedy this, use abbreviations:

-Contractions: Abbreviated versions of a word or words. For example: replacing missing letters with an apostrophe:- don’t, can’t, shouldn’t, he’s
-Compressing words: Mr., Dr., Prof., Rev.
-Initialism: abbreviations that are pronounced one letter at a time. Example: FBI, HTML, IBM, DVD
-Acronyms: these are abbreviations that are pronounced as words

Remember, when using acronyms and abbreviations only use those that are highly recognized by your community. No one wants to read a post and not understand what they are reading. In addition, let’s not overuse abbreviations in one single post. Can you imagine reading a single thought written fully in an abbreviated form? I can’t either.

However, there maybe instances where standard punctuation and incorrect use of grammar could be accepted. In countries or communities where there is a strong national language or dialect, it may work in a company’s favour to post content using local languages or vernacular to appeal to nationalistic senses of your community. This works only in cases where the community spans over a relatively small geographic area as opposed to global companies with global brands. Be that as it may, whether you write using the standard form of English or a dialect, there are fundamentals that guide its use.

 

Author: Dexter R. Norville, Director Marketing (KPI Connect)

infographic discussing 4 P's of social media marketing

The Nearshore Experience

Map_Blog_Nearshore_Outsourcing

What do you get when you combine the cost advantages of outsourcing offshore services with the quality and control achieved from outsourcing onshore? "A Nearshore Experience”. The term first introduced by Softtek (a global provider of process driven IT solutions and global nearshore operator) in 1997, is defined simply as a form of outsourcing that refers to services delivered from a nearby location, very close in geographical proximity.  Businesses willing to venture into such strategic partnerships do so with the mindset of gaining access to World Class Capabilities. However, the achievement of world class capabilities and competitive advantages in some instances isn’t met without challenges and concerns that operators (both vendors and clients) must seek to address before engaging in any form of exchange.  These concerns include (but are not limited to):

  • Infrastructural challenges
  • Cultural differences
  • Accents
  • Language ability
  • Contractual constraints
  • Possibility of reductions in service levels

The Nearshore model seeks to address and remedy these concerns as a strategic alternative to achieving business excellence through process outsourcing. Nearshoring primarily allows business consumers gains in the following three main areas:

  • Proximity: close geographical locations
  • Close cultural affinity
  • Cost savings

While additional benefits of this type of engagement include:

  • On par hourly rates with offshore labour
  • Lower travel expenses
  • Time-zone advantages
  • Highly skilled & talented workforce
  • Lower political risks
  • Comparable IT skills & infrastructures
  • Considerably lower attrition rates

 

Let’s take the experience a step further. Nearshore operators enjoy the added benefit of having a lower Total Cost of Engagement (TCE) than offshore operators. What is this? TCE evaluates the total expenditures of offshore engagements. It is easy for an offshore vendor to advertise or boast lowest costs and lowest hourly rates in comparison to onshore based vendors. But what about the additional costs they incur making them essentially more expensive than a nearshore choice? Hence, the term TCE was coined, highlighting the competitiveness of opting for a nearshore vendor.

Additional costs include:

[photo credit: www.sciodev.com]

graphEngagement Managers: These managers are tasked with the responsibility of liaising with the outsourced vendor ensuring programs are run in alignment with the organization’s goals. This more than likely includes travel to the remote locations at least twice a year, or as the client sees fit given the program’s duration.

Team Leads: The bigger the contact center the more team leads are required. It is recommended that there be a team lead for every 6-10 center agents. These leads primarily connect directly with the client (Engagement Manager), where all reporting is done. This being the case, team leads need to be highly competent and proficient to ensure constant effective and relevant communication to the engagement managers. Not having the right employee fit in the role may result in time wastage, deviation from functional and operational goals and a slow-down in the decision-making processes. Thus it is expected that a team lead is hired at a higher pay grade than your agent seats.

Staff Turnover: The monetary costs as well as time cost invested to recruit and select a skilled competent workforce adds its weight to the concept of TCE. High staff turnovers usually seen in offshore operations increase the overall costs incurred by a company. When training is constantly repeated as a result of high attrition, it frustrates the productivity of a company when benefits to be gained from the learning curve effect cannot be fully realized.

Travel: Increases in global fuel prices, have caused travel to become an expensive luxury, especially to locations not within a close geographic proximity.

Where's the focus at for 2014?

Industry professionals report that one of the growing trends for 2014 is that increasingly more businesses currently outsourcing their customer contact operations will shift focus from cost savings to realizing higher quality in the delivery of customer service. Companies are now willing to pay more to have their process outsourcing services onshore or nearshore.

KPI Connect has recognized the industry’s need for the provision of world class capabilities and has thus aligned operations with this trend. We exist to provide world class support that seamlessly integrates with our clients, enabling growth through enhancement of the experience of their customers.

 

Author: Dexter R. Norville, Director Marketing (KPI Connect)