Inbound vs outbound call centers: definition and differences

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With the rise in omnichannel popularity, most of the organizations have adopted the way of providing a large range of communication channels to customers so that they can reach out to businesses the way they want. With all these advancements, there is still one form of communication that remains close to person-to-person customer service, and that is voice.

Call centers provide that personalized experience to customers like the traditional way which still remains preferred by most of the customers. Organizations can have inbound call center service or outbound call center service. Depending on your company’s needs, you can choose either of them provided you have full knowledge of how both of them work. 

If not, we are here with this article to differentiate inbound call centers and outbound call centers for you, so when you have to come to a decision to make a choice, you make the right one.

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What is an inbound call center?

Inbound call center is the one that receives the calls from the customers. Customers might call in to solve some queries and issues with the agents. Call center agents will then handle the query in a right manner according to company policies.

Organizations with inbound call centers wait for the customers to call them first rather than the organization reaching out to the customers. Such organizations work to provide efficient customer service by solving the issues and queries that customers might have. 

Such organizations treat inbound call centers as their primary channel of customer interaction. In order to provide technical support and hence providing a good customer experience, every company should have an inbound call center which merely focuses on customer queries and problems.

How does an inbound call center work?

  • Customer dials the call center number.
  • Inbound call centers answer incoming calls. 
  • The agent or machine at the call center understands the purpose of the incoming call and routes to a concerning agent.
  • Inbound call center ends the incoming call at disposition.

What is an outbound call center?

In opposition to inbound call centers, outbound call centers make more calls to the customers. The primary motive of an outbound call center is to reach out to the customers, get to know their experience with your business, promote your business or a routine checkup.

Outbound call center agents call the customers whose data is stored in the company database. Outbound call center software helps them make cold calls or sales calls and educate the customers about business’s new product/services and advancements. Agents also tend to help customers upgrade their products and services through outbound calls. 

Unlike inbound calls, outbound call center agents are not waiting for the customers to call them and start the interaction. Agents instead call the customers and start the conversation with a motive to help the customers out. This practice makes customers feel important and cared for.

How does an outbound call center work?

  • An agent or machine from an outbound call center dials a call to a particular customer from the database.
  • This outgoing call may hit an end with a busy line, incorrect number, unavailability or customer answer. 
  • Machine-based outgoing calls will initiate the conversation when the customer answers the call. Human agents will have to wait and figure out whether the call is being answered by the customer or not. 
  • Agents have a conversation with the customer about a topic of interest and end the call at disposition.

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What is the difference between inbound and outbound call centers?

In this section, we will clear out the difference between inbound call center and outbound all center and how they do things differently. Now that you know the basic difference, let’s dive deeper into them.

  • Type of service 

Inbound call center 

  • Customer service – customer service team takes help of inbound calls to support customers through product and technical support. 
  • Inbound service – customers do their research to reach out to businesses. Inbound sales teams count on those incoming calls and closed deals. 
  • Inquiry – new customers can call in to know about new products and services and existing customers can call in to solve product queries and complaints. 

Outbound call center

  • Research – outbound calls allow you to do market or customer research.
  • Customer feedback – agents do outbound calls to see what customers have to say about products they purchased and what new updates they would like in the existing ones. 
  • Software and technology 

Inbound call center 

  • IVR systems – IVR systems help you interact with customers through voice and keypad. It makes handling incoming calls easy and the company management process easier. IVR makes use of automated voice messages to know the customer query. 
  • Call tracking  – call tracking helps you track the incoming calls to the marketing campaign so that the marketing teams know how to attract customers in.
  • Automatic call distribution – ACD has predefined routing rules that when a call comes in, it connects it to the best available agents who is a best fit to answer that call. 

Outbound call center 

  • Automatic dialer – automatic dialer automatically dials the customer numbers from a list which saves the tedious task of manually typing in the numbers, thus saving time and effort.
  • Predictive dialer – a predictive dialer will do the same as an automatic dialer, it will dial the numbers automatically for you. But more than that, it will rule out the incorrect numbers and unanswered calls for you so you get connected to the calls with only the customer on the other end. 
  • Purpose 

Inbound call center 

In an inbound call center, prospects and customers themselves call the company with their issues and complaints about products and services. The agents then have a conversation with them to know the problem and then act upon it to resolve them.

Outbound call center 

In the outbound call center the agents themselves call the customer. The topic of their conversation is decided by the calling agent and it can be feedback on the newly launched product, suggestions on the existing one, survey to get new trends and market ideas, etc. 

  • Training the agent 

Well, in this case it doesn’t matter if it is an inbound call center or an outbound call center. In both the cases, it all comes down to agents having conversations with the customer. Inbound calls, agents should be trained to be patient and humble to the customer irrespective of their conduct. The customer has a complaint and they are obviously frustrated, and agents should calmly handle the matter and try to help them with everything.

In outbound calls, the agents should have proper soft skills to market the brand to prospects and customers. They should be able to get the maximum out of the interaction which can be helpful for the betterment of the business.

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