Contact Center

A contact center (or call center) is the place where customer service representatives (CSRs) answer customer communications. Such communications may be via traditional phone calls, or through modern technologies such as online chatting. The aim of the contact center is to provide the customer with the answers or support that she or he is seeking and to do so in a timely manner, such that the customer is satisfied with her or his inquiry. A good contact center is key to the success of a business, as it helps the business obtain and retain customers. In some cases, contact centers are also setup by businesses to proactively contact customers (e.g., to offer new products, or perform surveys).

Modern contact centers rely on technologies that help a business provide quality service to the customer. Such technologies include interactive voice response (IVR), predictive dialing, and automatic call distribution (i.e., to automatically route incoming calls to available agents). In addition, call logging and recording is also performed, and this information is linked to a customer’s record, such that it is possible for a CSR to review past inquiries by the customer to help address future inquiries while avoiding repetitive answers. In some cases, calls are also saved for CSR training purposes, as long as the customer agrees to this.

Software tools also play a key role in modern contact centers. Such tools include Knowledge-Management software1 to help CSRs provide superior service to a customer. This software is a database of knowledge that is collected by CSRs while addressing customer inquiries. This database helps CSRs quickly retrieve information to handle future inquiries as well as provide consistent answers to customers. This reduces the average time that CSRs spend servicing customer inquiries, and helps provide better answers to customers. In addition, advanced software tools such as emotion-detection software can detect a customer’s change in emotion during a call and report the occurrence to the CSR or to a supervisor, to reduce the chances of loosing an unsatisfied customer. While the effectiveness of such software is still being analyzed2, understanding a customer’s emotion, either through this software or some other technique, is important for successful customer support.

A contact center need not necessarily be in one geographic location. Advancements in networking technologies have led to the spreading of contact centers across large distances, in some cases driven by economic factors (e.g., contact centers in countries where CSR salaries are lower), and in others driven by the need for a business to provide contact centers within the different regions where it operates (e.g., due to language differences).

1 Further information on Knowledge Management Software can be found in