If you’re researching contact center solutions, you’ll probably see references to inbound and outbound contact centers.
What’s the difference between inbound and outbound, and why does it matter? In a nutshell, you need to know what each kind does to see the full potential of modern, cloud-based contact center solutions.
How do inbound and outbound contact centers differ?
Let’s start with the basics. An inbound contact center receives phone calls, texts, chats, and social media messages. An outbound contact center manages messaging going in the opposite direction.
Traditionally, inbound contact centers handled issues like customer support, while outbound contact centers orchestrated direct sales and market research. Not so long ago, both kinds of contact centers required elaborate technology solutions: data centers, video monitors, phone headsets, and rows of people taking and delivering calls.
These days, however, businesses can strike up a deal with a provider of cloud-based contact center as a service (CCaaS) technology and get everything they need for inbound and outbound calls in a single software package accessible by any internet-connected device.
This underscores the value of knowing the traditional functions of inbound and outbound contact centers: If you’re mostly familiar with one kind of contact center solution, knowing more about the other kind might reveal opportunities you haven’t thought about.
Example of inbound and outbound contact centers
Inbound contact centers typically handle:
- Customer service. Travel agencies book vacation plans. Ecommerce sites handle returns and complaints. Booking services sell tickets to concerts and Broadway shows. Home-shopping channels take toll-free calls. Insurance companies take damage claims.
- Product support. Software companies answer questions about their products. Manufacturers handle warranty claims. Consumer brands share advice on getting the best use of their products.
Outbound contact centers typically handle:
- Direct sales. Sales professionals make cold calls. Indoor-sales experts contact likely prospects. Telemarketing firms conduct massive, nationwide campaigns.
- Research and polling. Marketing agencies, research organizations and political parties mount sophisticated campaigns, segmenting calls strategically to reach likely buyers and voters. Outbound contact centers help companies understand the nuances of their customers’ preferences and tastes.
Calls can come or go in any format — voice, text, video — and on any channel, including social media platforms and ecommerce sites. A cloud-based contact center solution can enhance the inbound and outbound call experience for agents and managers.
How does CCaaS improve inbound and outbound calls?
Contact center as a service puts all your calling operations in a single, unified platform that can be viewed as a dashboard. CCaaS platforms vary widely, but the best ones help you:
- Organize. Inbound calls can be routed to agents with specific experience and interests. Outbound calls can target specific audiences and do things like leave voicemails if the call goes unanswered.
- Measure. Managers can quantify the length of inbound calls, the time of day when they arrive, and the topics that generate the most interest. They also can learn which kinds of outbound calls are more likely to be answered. Analytics tools note the length of people’s calls and validate their ability to satisfy customers.
- Monitor. The performance of agents and salespeople can be tracked in real time. Managers can listen in on calls to keep everybody’s work on track and intervene to de-escalate conflicts.
- Respond. Abandoned calls and hang-ups can be tracked and put on lists for callbacks to see why people gave up.
- Train. The most experienced agents can listen in on the calls of trainees to help them learn the ropes. Most CCaaS platforms include “listen, whisper, and barge” modes to help trainers and trainees get better at their work.
Inbound or outbound: The opportunities abound
Outbound and inbound are labels that may create a false division. All that really matters is being able to use your communication skills to improve business outcomes, whether by reeling in new customers or pleasing the ones you’ve already won over.
GoTo’s Contact Center solution gives you the tools to make that happen, no matter which way the calls come or go.