Two hispanic call center agents working at the office.

Both answering services and inbound call centers answer phone calls from your customers.

So, are they the same thing? In fact, several factors set an inbound call center apart from an answering service.

You can review the facts about both call centers and answering services with our team at AnswerFirst. We provide comprehensive communication solutions to thousands of businesses around the globe.

Defining the Services Offered by an Answering Service

Answering services take care of a company’s communication needs. Each employee at an answering service receives incoming calls from existing customers and potential customers, and they can:

  • Dispatch service workers to an appointment
  • Transfer calls
  • Take messages
  • Schedule appointments
  • Make reservations
  • Act as a virtual receptionist
  • Provide security monitoring

Answering services provide extensive services. Some companies only request a few of these services, while other businesses request the full suite of communication services.

Industries That Use Answering Services

Some industries are more likely than others to want the services provided by an answering service. For example, companies in the following markets frequently hire answering services:

  • Healthcare
  • Veterinary care
  • Property management
  • Funeral homes
  • HVAC or property maintenance

These companies often receive phone calls from clients with complex questions. Customers generally need to speak with a real person, who must make company-specific decisions to handle their needs.

Generally, answering services provide more than just information to the clients who call in. The exact services offered vary based on the needs of the company.

Defining the Services Offered by an Inbound Call Center

An inbound call center provides different services than an answering service. Call centers also take calls, but they typically use scripts that assist with answering questions. Inbound call center agents look over the scripts if they:

  • Take orders from customers
  • Qualify leads
  • Handle email or web chat services

Generally, call center communication tends to be more straightforward than calls to an answering service. Most call center calls are not urgent, and they require minimal amounts of decision-making from call center operatives.

Industries That Use Call Centers

Many different industries make use of call centers. For example, large companies with many customers often funnel them through call centers to handle communication. These call centers can take both inbound and outbound calling.

Because of the different services offered by call centers and answering services, call centers usually employ far more people. They get training to answer questions about products and services and handle other company needs.

Consider the Services Offered by an Inbound Contact Center

You also can hire an inbound contact center for your business. Regular call centers often just handle telephone communication. A contact center delivers communication services across multiple channels, including:

  • Phones
  • Email and web chat
  • Text messages, SMS, and messaging apps

Contact centers even have the ability to handle faxes for you. The wide range of communication technology handled by inbound contact centers ensures all your customers can reach you easily.

Reasons to Work with an Inbound Contact Center

The employees at an inbound contact center can provide you with several services to meet the needs of your business.

Returns Processing

Do you sell products? If so, someone will likely want to make a return at some point. An inbound contact center can provide your customers with clear-cut instructions about the steps to handle the return.

Employee Contact

Your customers may call into a contact center, but the center can also field calls from your employees. Set up a line that allows your employees to call out for a shift or get answers to questions about their paycheck, for example.

Technical Support

Sometimes, your customers need help getting a product or service working correctly. Technical support numbers allow them to get professional advice about the best way to resolve their issue.

Order Processing

Your clients can place orders by calling an inbound contact center. The ability to place orders online or over the phone allows you to reach a more specific segment of your market.

Brand Ambassador Services

Finally, an inbound contact center serves as a brand ambassador for your company. Contact center employees often represent the first point of contact for your clients. Therefore, they focus on providing your customers with a great first impression.

Benefits of Working with a Call or Contact Center

Working with an inbound call center (or a contact center) provides many benefits for businesses around the country. These centers help you reduce the amount you pay to improve your business’ communication with your clients.

You may, of course, set up an in-house team to handle customer communication. However, getting this kind of department off the ground often requires an investment in:

  • Employee training
  • Equipment
  • Facilities

Working with a call center allows you to save money by outsourcing the labor. In addition, many call centers can charge you lower rates because they share agents working for multiple companies at the same time.

Contact centers also provide you with a high degree of flexibility. These centers can adjust to handle the volume of calls you get from customers or employees. They understand that you may be busier at certain times of the day or around specific seasons.

Save Money with Pay as You Go Pricing

Many answering services and inbound call centers offer you a variety of billing structures. Consider pay-as-you-go options to save money every billing cycle.

Pay as you go options allow you to pay a small set fee to begin getting the services you want. The company then bills you for each minute or call that comes in for your company.

Speak to Use About Answering Services and Call Centers

An answering service, inbound call center, and inbound contact center all offer you different benefits. You can learn more about the differences in these services from our team at AnswerFirst.

We provide affordable and reliable communication services, and we put you first when you work with us. Find out more about your options by contacting us at 800-645-2616.