The difference between call centers, contact centers and IP contact centers

* Customer centers that can manage multiple forms of voice and data communications

Following up from our last newsletter on the basic definition of a traditional call center, today we’d like to highlight the differences between a call center, a contact center, and an IP contact center.

The main difference between a call center and a contact center is that while a call center is focused on incoming and outgoing voice calls, a contact center is able to manage customers with both voice calls and data applications like e-mail, Web-based chat/instant messaging, and in some cases will include the capability to share Web pages sent to and from the customer. The fully functional contact center takes advantage of customer needs for text and visual communications in addition to phone calls; typically a contact center also uses a “blended agent” who can manage multiple forms of voice and data-centric customer communications.

The IP contact center takes advantage of the inherent benefits of IP communications including the fact that both voice and data communications can be efficiently routed to any agent who has access to a (broadband) IP connection — hence the elimination of the need for a centralized call center as a widely distributed agent pool across multiple locations can be achieved.

By using session initiated protocol (SIP), IP contact centers can detect and route customer communications based on SIP-controlled presence management in place of the traditional automatic call director (ACD).

Since most IP contact centers and IP-PBXs also have native XML and Voice XML (VXML) interfaces the IP contact center systems offer much cheaper and faster integration of interactive voice response (IVR) systems, speech engines, and back-office applications.

Next week, we’ll take a look at the difference between a hosted and premises-based IP contact center, and offer a few online resources for readers who might want to know more on the subject.

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