Call Center vs. Contact Center: What's the Difference?

Updated September 30, 2022

If you're a customer service professional or are interested in entering this field, you may benefit from understanding the professional environments in which you can work. Professionals in both call centers and contact centers offer an organization's customers assistance and information and may make inbound and outbound calls when resolving a client's concerns. Reviewing what these work environments entail can help you decide which may be the right fit for you and your skills.

In this article, we define what call centers and contact centers are and review the primary differences and similarities between these offices.

Related: 6 Types of Call Centers and Their Purposes

What is a call center?

A call center is an office that serves as a telecommunication hub for a company. Businesses typically employ a large number of customer service representatives to answer calls and assist clients from within their call centers. This office allows customers to stay connected to businesses and feel confident that they can find answers to their questions regarding a product or service they purchased.

Here, professionals may be responsible for making outgoing calls to clients or receiving incoming calls to assist customers with their concerns regarding a service or product. The fundamental purpose of a call center is to streamline communication between a company and consumers who purchase its goods, increasing efficiency and customer satisfaction. Call center employees may be responsible for the following tasks:

  • Handling dispatch services: Professionals in a call center may field incoming calls and transfer them when clients require specified assistance. This may also involve overseeing shipment and delivery processes for customers to ensure they receive their orders.

  • Providing technical support: Many call center employees handle customer support concerns and provide clients with guidance to repair or reboot their products. If they're unable to identify an issue or offer an adequate solution, these professionals may also put in a service request.

  • Transferring client calls to relevant departments: Professionals in a call center may also be responsible for handling incoming calls and transferring them to relevant internal departments, such as service and maintenance or sales.

Related: How To Become a Call Center Agent (With Skills and Salary)

What is a contact center?

A contact center is an office similar to a call center, where customer service professionals communicate with clients and handle their requests, questions and concerns. However, a contact center differs because its primary function is to make companies' interactions with customers more efficient, and it uses a variety of technological tools, including AI bots and live chat features, to streamline communication and service processes.

Contact centers typically offer more automated services than call centers, as they don't rely solely on employees to mediate the conversation between the business and its clients. They can help an organization improve customer satisfaction by providing faster response times, and allow consumers to renew subscriptions or make purchases without speaking to a human or waiting for an individual to respond.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Working in a Call Center

Call center vs. contact center

Companies may decide to open a call center or a contact center based on their unique business and communication requirements. Providing adequate customer support begins with an assessment of clients' preferences and requirements. Businesses may consider variables such as call volume, wait times and the potential for automation of various services. Here are some of the key differences and similarities between these two offices and the services they provide:


One primary difference between call centers and contact centers is the technological tools they use. Call centers typically allow clients to contact customer service representatives over the phone, and professionals assist them using a combination of phone and computer technology. They use these tools to review the customer's information, help them troubleshoot their issues and explain these solutions over the phone. Alternatively, contact centers use various channels, including messaging, emails, texting and phone calls to communicate with customers and address their requests.


Verbal communication skills are an important aspect of customer service roles in both call centers and contact centers, since professionals may use these competencies to listen to callers and explain complicated directions in a way that's easy for customers to understand and follow.

However, professionals in a contact center may require more technical knowledge and an understanding of various client communication methods, including emails, live chat functions and various communication software. Written communication is also a valuable skill for contact center employees to possess, since many of their interactions with customers may not take place over the phone and instead via messaging platforms.

Related: 10 Types of Outbound Call Center Metrics (Plus Definition)

Response time and customer contact

Another fundamental difference between a call center and a contact center is the speed with which they respond to customers. Individuals trying to reach a representative at a call center may wait on hold until an employee becomes available. Alternatively, contact centers usually offer alternative modes of communication, such as a virtual live chat with a bot, to accommodate a client's requests quicker.

Customers who want to speak with an associate still have the option to do so, but they also have other faster modes of communication when they're interested in making a service request or placing an order. For this reason, large corporations may opt for a contact center rather than a more traditional call center model.

Overhead costs

Since contact centers typically rely on a variety of automation technology, companies can save money relying on these systems rather than employing a large number of professionals. For this same reason, contact centers may not require as large of a physical space to perform communication operations, allowing them to reduce their overhead costs. Companies that opt for a model with a blended approach to client interactions, which includes both automated responses and conversations with employees, may be able to save money and increase customer satisfaction rates.


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