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The top differences between call centers and contact centers


The Team at CallMiner

July 02, 2024

Top Differences Between Call Center and Contact Center
Top Differences Between Call Center and Contact Center

Your customers are your business's number one priority, but how can you ensure they get the support they need when they have questions or concerns? Using a call center or contact center to address customer needs is key, but you should be aware of the different features these two customer service hubs offer to find the best solution for your business. 

In this article, we’ll uncover important differences between call centers and contact centers, including:  

  • What is a call center? 
  • What is a contact center? 
  • Call centers vs. contact centers: 4 important considerations 
  • Your customers depend on you to choose wisely 
  • Frequently asked questions 

What is a call center? 

A call center is a group of agents that answer inbound calls or make outbound calls for a business or multiple businesses. Some large organizations have a dedicated in-house call center, while smaller businesses may outsource their customer service needs to a remote call center.  

Call centers are for phone calls only. Agents answer phones and assist customers throughout the call, sometimes escalating calls to higher-level representatives for additional help.  

Call centers can also offer extra services, such as customer callbacks, answering services, and Interactive voice response (IVR) systems to route customers to the right department at the start of the call. 

What is a contact center? 

A contact center is similar to a call center as it’s a centralized service for addressing customer needs. However, contact centers deal with multiple modes of contact in addition to phone calls, like email, live chat, text, social media, or ticketing. 

As a result, contact centers allow customers to contact a company in ways convenient to them, often with more flexible hours. Contact centers also usually incorporate performance management technology, such as conversation analytics and compliance monitoring, to improve the customer experience and ensure best practices for agents are being followed. 


Call centers vs. contact centers: 4 important considerations 

Although call centers and contact centers have similar purposes, they don’t operate the same or meet the same needs for businesses. Here’s what to consider if you’re deciding between the two.  

Small vs. large business customer service needs  

Small businesses may find that a call center can meet the needs of their customers, especially if those customers primarily contact the companies by phone. These businesses may outsource calls to a call center and handle other not-as-frequent customer contacts, like emails and social media messages, themselves. 

However, large companies with customers in multiple time zones might find that a contact center with several contact pathways better fits their customers. If customers routinely use phone, email, and a website ticketing system to contact a company, a contact center can help manage correspondence from all avenues without interfering with the customer journey

Agent skill level 

For a call center or contact center to succeed, agents need to have a few key skills, like the ability to use a computer, problem-solving skills, and adaptability. 

However, contact center agents may need to be a little more tech-savvy than call center agents. Because they might need to move between ticketing, live chats, phone conversations, and emails in a single hour, contact center agents must know how to transition between applications, make notes on customer profiles, use automation tools, and easily handle other digitized tasks. Multi-tasking is an absolute must for a contact center agent. 


Contact centers can generally grow with a company better than a call center. You can start off using a call center, but as your customer base grows, transitioning to a contact center might become unavoidable.  

If you choose a contact center from the start, you’ll already have access to the tools you need as you grow, like omnichannel customer support, speech analytics for sales conversations, and real-time agent assistance

Self-service capabilities  

You can free up a lot of time answering questions or addressing concerns by offering self-service options, like text bots or live chatbots, which are available through omnichannel contact centers. With these resources, customers can get answers to basic questions about their accounts, pricing, or a product or service without needing to contact an agent. 

Your customers depend on you to choose wisely 

The avenues you build into your business to provide customer support become the bridge that anchors you to your customers. Those customers expect to get quick help conveniently. Your business size and its customer base can help you decide whether a call center or contact center is your best option. 

To sum up, call centers can be more affordable for smaller businesses, especially if their customer base primarily contacts support via the phone. 

Contact centers generally help mid-size to large businesses with customers who prefer various contact methods, from social media to live chats. However, these solutions can be more expensive as they involve more software and technology, like conversational intelligence and data redaction for privacy

Check out the video below to learn more about how the CallMiner platform can help with real-time redaction and call monitoring, or contact us today to request a demo. 

Frequently asked questions 

Is there much of a difference between call centers and contact centers? 

Call centers and contact centers both have the primary function of providing customer support to one or multiple companies. However, they differ in how they provide that support. Call centers only provide phone support, but contact centers provide omnichannel support, meaning they assist companies using multiple methods, like phone, social media, and email. 

What’s the difference between a phone system and a contact center? 

Some smaller companies use an automated phone system to direct callers to the appropriate department or agent. Meanwhile, a contact center usually integrates a phone system into its operations in addition to other contact systems, like a ticketing system and a live chat system.  

What should I look for in a call center or contact center? 

Whether your business decides to use a call center or contact center, you should consider features like pricing, scalability, integrations, and learning curves. The right solution will be straightforward to implement, have excellent growth potential, connect to your other tools, and offer value in its pricing model. 

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