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Call center vs contact center

Part 1: Terminology

Where customer service was once limited to face-to-face interactions, modern businesses operate within global markets, serving potentially millions of buyers across the world. Supported by advanced digital technologies, these businesses maintain entire departments or sub-organizations created specifically for handling the high volume of customer calls. But with this capability come certain issues and responsibilities. With today’s customer expectations being higher than ever, effective call center operations demand more than just pre-recorded responses.

In part one of this three-part blog series we’ll provide definitions of common call center and contact center terminology. In parts two and three, we will share how to improve call center operations by providing the kind of knowledgeable, friendly, personalized experience that turns customer concerns into positive customer stories. 

What is a call center?

A call center is any department tasked with the responsibility of handling a company’s inbound product- or service-related phone calls. Those organizations that include call centers typically experience a large number of customer calls, well beyond the capacity of a single agent or team to address. 

Nearly all call centers exist to provide improved customer service. Offering technical assistance, fielding questions, resolving problems, or simply sharing product or service details, call-center agents function as their company’s primary points of contact (POC) with their current and potential customers. 

What is a call center vs. a contact center?

A call center—as the name suggests—primarily handles telephone calls. But in the age of omnichannel communication, customers and businesses have many other options when it comes to connecting. Call centers that are capable of addressing non-telephone queries are often referred to as contact centers

Contact centers may operate within a range of digital and analog channels, including (but not limited to):

  • Email
  • Online chat
  • Post
  • Social media
  • Telephone
  • Text (SMS)
  • Video chat
  • Web calling
  • Web forms

What are call center operations?

Call center operations (also referred to as call center management) is a term that collectively describes everything from employee hiring and training to data analysis and regulatory compliance tasks. Your approach to call-center operations will directly impact how your employees interact with your customers and how effectively your department supports company goals and values. 

Call center operation and management is an essential part of productivity and success and may make or break a company’s ability to provide for its customers.

Call center leadership

Individual organizations may choose to structure their call centers differently to better address specific needs or concerns. That said, most call centers are built around a manager (or team of managers) often referred to as call center supervisors

What are the supervisor’s roles and responsibilities?

The call center supervisor is the person most directly responsible for managing the call center and directing their agents in establishing effective processes and expectations. Their roles and responsibilities include:

Managing agents
Supervisors take the lead in essentially every aspect of agent management, including hiring, onboarding, training, conducting performance reviews, and promoting engagement and retention. The supervisor works with agents to set goals that support larger company objectives. They are also instrumental in establishing a positive call center culture. Supervisors are likewise responsible for identifying and resolving any issues that may be negatively impacting call center efficiency.

Ensuring compliance
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991 is just one of many sets of laws governing how and when an outbound call center may legally solicit potential customers. Call center supervisors must be familiar with the regulatory requirements that apply to their operations, and establish effective processes for reviewing, identifying, and eliminating possible call center compliance issues.

Overseeing and facilitating strategic management
Balancing daily agent activities with operational processes requires clear organizational skills and the effective application of relevant technologies. Strategic call center management ensures that company goals are at the heart of every administrative decision and that agents are contributing positively toward company success.

Establishing metrics
Also known as key performance indicators (KPIs), call center metrics are used to measure the effectiveness of the call center and its agents. Supervisors work with other company leaders to determine which metrics they will focus on and how those KPIs relate to the call center’s ability to achieve its goals. Key metrics may include the Net promoter score (NPS), customer satisfaction score (CSAT), average talk time, and others.


Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3, where we’ll cover tips and considerations for improving call center management.

Author Hiya Team