Call Center FAQs

MAP Communications answers the most frequently asked questions about call centers. Find the answers to your questions here!

inside of a call center with agents taking phone calls

Curious about call centers, their role in business, or the services they provide? You’ve come to the right place! We’re happy to answer all of your most burning questions about call centers. After more than 30 years in the call center industry, we like to think of ourselves as experts! Here, you’ll find a collection of frequently asked questions about call centers along with answers to those questions.

What is a Call Center?

A call center is a centralized department or office where people work to handle phone calls. Call centers are located all over the world. Some may have only a few people working in them while others may have hundreds of call center agents. The people who talk on the phones in call centers are often referred to as agents. They are trained to perform different business tasks associated with phone calls and interacting with people they talk to on the phone.

What Do Call Centers Do?

Call centers provide a channel for communication via telephone. Some call centers are located within an organization and are considered “in-house.” However, many call centers actually handle phone calls on the behalf of many different businesses as third party companies. Sometimes call centers specialize in outbound or inbound calls, while others will perform both.

What is an Outbound Call?

Outbound calls occur when a business or organization initiates a call with a customer or client. For instance, a cable company might dial up a customer who is late on their monthly bill to request payment. Telemarketing is also a common type of outbound calling. These are examples of an outbound calls since the call center is taking the initiative to reach out to the consumer.

What is an Inbound Call?

Inbound calls happen when a customer, client, or other individual calls into an organization. For instance, these are examples of inbound calls – if you call a customer service department for help, dial a phone number to place an order after seeing an offer on TV, or make a call to a business to schedule an appointment. These are considered inbound calls, because the phone rings in the call center to initiate the conversation. Basically, an inbound call is when a company receives a phone call from a customer.

What is an Inbound Call Center?

Inbound call centers answer phones, but don’t typically dial them. Rather than dialing customers themselves, agents answer calls as they are placed by consumers. Telemarketing does not occur at an inbound call center. Common types of calls at an inbound call center include customer support, order taking, IT support, and answering questions for callers. MAP Communications is an example of an inbound call center.

What is the Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Call Center Services?

The key difference between outbound and inbound call center services is who is initiating the call. An inbound call center handles calls made by consumers. In an outbound call center, agents are the ones dialing the consumers. Types of inbound call center services include traditional telephone answering services, appointment scheduling, customer service, order taking, technical support, and hotline services. Types of outbound call center services include telemarketing, surveys, and reminders.

There are plenty of call centers that are a hybrid, conducting both inbound and outbound call center services. However, many call center businesses choose to be an outbound or an inbound call center and focus on that specialty.

What Type of Business is a Call Center?

Call center businesses are primarily categorized as business-to-business or B2B companies. They also fit into the telecommunications industry. Another type of industry call centers fall under is the business process outsourcing, or BPO category.

What Services are Provided by Call Centers?

When it comes to call center services, the sky’s the limit. Call center workers can capture and qualify leads, take orders, collect information from callers, and assist with customer service inquiries, among many other things. Some call centers are even available 24 hours a day to provide callers with round-the-clock support. Bilingual call center service options are also available in some call centers. For example, MAP Communications provides call center services in English, Spanish, and French.

Customer-facing call center services are only the beginning. Some companies use call centers to provide hotlines for their own employees to call for a number of different reasons.

Why Do Companies Use Call Centers?

Companies use call centers, because they provide services that are vital to businesses. Organizations outsource to call center businesses, because it is cheaper than building out their own facilities, buying equipment, and hiring employees to be call center agents. It also allows businesses to focus on their core competencies without having to invest the time and energy in a business function that is not their specialty. In short, companies use call centers to save time and money so they can focus on what they do best.

Businesses frequently turn to call centers for help with customer support. Call centers help companies manage existing customers and assist with acquiring new ones. 24-hour call centers ensure there is always a friendly, helpful voice on the end of the line to assist with questions and concerns. Outsourcing call center aspects of business allows companies of all sizes across different industries to focus more on their daily operations while maintaining high standards for phone interactions with consumers.

What Types of Companies Use Call Centers?

Pretty much every type of company imaginable uses call centers. From the biggest businesses and Fortune 500 companies of the world down to small businesses and solopreneurs, all sizes of businesses use call centers too. Companies of all sizes and industries rely on call center services to accomplish their goals. And virtually every industry uses call centers to support their clients and employees.

Here are some examples: Large companies like banks, airlines, and well-known retailers often have their own in-house call center. Organizations of all sizes are known to outsource their phone calls to a call center. Small businesses eager for administrative support can benefit from call center services when there’s no room in the budget for hiring additional staff. Medical facilities like hospitals and doctors’ offices often rely on such call centers to help support patients. Universities and colleges sometimes partner with a call center to field their calls, answer basic questions, and route callers to the right departments. Almost any business you can think of can benefit from call center services.

Why are Call Centers Important?

Call centers are important, because they are a link between people and businesses. Not only do call centers help people who call businesses by providing good customer experiences, but call centers also help companies accomplish their goals to be successful.

What are the Benefits of Outsourcing Call Center Services?

Businesses that outsource call center services benefit in a number of ways. One of the most common reasons to outsource to a call center is to save money. It is very expensive to build an in-house call center and fill it with all the hardware, software, and employees required to run smoothly. By outsourcing to a call center partner, companies can keep their costs low and controlled while still accomplishing their goals.

Another benefit of outsourcing call center services is the amount of time it saves. Rather than taking all the time to plan, build, operate and manage an in-house call center, all a business has to do is explain to a third party call center what they want to accomplish and the call center takes care of the rest.

One more primary benefit of call center outsourcing is the ability to focus on core competencies. Every business has something they are good at, which is usually their reason for being a company in the first place. It is hard to focus on that primary business function when attention must go towards providing your own call center services. Instead, businesses outsource those tasks to a call center whose sole purpose it is to provide those services (that’s what they are good at) so they can focus on what they do best.

Outsourcing call center services also allows organizations to increase their availability to callers, provide better customer service, and keep their own employees focused, happy, and productive.

How Much Do Call Center Services Cost?

The cost of call center services can vary widely. The two main factors in determining how much call center services cost are the average duration of calls and the volume of calls. Generally, the more calls you receive, the cheaper the rate becomes. It is most common for call centers to charge by the minute. Call center pricing often falls between $0.80 and $1.20 per minute of agent time.

What’s the Difference Between a Call Center and an Answering Service?

The terms are often used interchangeably, but they do have their differences. All answering services are call center services, but not all call center services are answering services. To clarify, phone answering services are one of the many types of services provided by call centers. All answering service companies are staffed by call centers agents or receptionists. Some call centers only provide answering services. Others don’t provide answering services at all, because they focus on a different call center service specialty.

To learn more about answering services, read about our call answering services, or check out the most frequently asked questions about answering services.

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