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A call center is an office where a company's inbound calls are received or outbound calls are made. Call centers are increasingly popular in modern society, in which many companies have centralized customer service and support functions. Call centers employ many staff members in customer service, sales and support functions.
Call centers are often large offices staffed with representatives who either make or receive phone calls. Depending on the size of the call center, a single office could have less than a dozen representatives ore more than 100 staff members. Some call centers focus on answering inbound calls, such as a call center for a bank that gives out a toll-free number for customers who need assistance. In this example, representatives can provide services such as giving account balances, answering questions about transactions or taking loan applications over the phone. Other call centers focus on outbound calls, such as those for survey companies whose representatives make calls to ask people survey questions.
Call centers can provide various advantages to companies. By centralizing telephone-based service and support in one location, companies can easily adjust their staffing to match the call volume. Call centers can be located almost anywhere, allowing companies to take advantage of time zones and cheaper labor rates in different regions and countries. They also centralize the technological needs of companies, allowing major telecommunications setups to be installed in a limited number of call centers instead of a in many smaller offices. This helps make maintenance, upgrades and training easier.
Many call centers use various technologies to help improve performance and customer experience. Inbound call centers often use automatic call distribution, in which incoming calls are assigned to representatives in the order in which they are received. Other call centers utilize call monitoring, in which customer calls are randomly monitored by quality assurance staff members to ensure that phone representatives meet the customers' needs. Call center technology evolves constantly, helping call center staff members assist customers more efficiently and effectively.
Call centers have become increasingly popular as outsourcing has increased. In outsourcing, a company contracts out some jobs to be handled by other companies. Maintaining call center equipment and staffing can be expensive, so some companies choose to outsource their telephone functions to an external call center. In this case, external call center staff members can be trained to answer phone calls on behalf of multiple companies.