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Telephone Answering Service vs. Call Center

Answering Service
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To accurately differentiate between a call center and a telephone answering service, let’s first define the terms that will be used in this article:

Call Center

A call center is an office set up to handle large volumes of telephone calls, especially for taking orders and telemarketing. They compile several orders and send the information to the client in the form of a blast; that is sending all the information at once.

Telephone Answering Service

A telephone answering service or simply an answering service, serves specific market segments.  These segments include: doctors, lawyers, funeral homes, health care facilities and other service industries. While call centers are focused on information blast, an answering service is more personal and focuses on individual calls.

Long before 800 numbers existed, telephone answering services made great strides by simply performing the role of a receptionist. Even today, it is quite common for answering services to be marketed as ‘offsite receptionists’ (or the more commonly used equivalent “virtual receptionist”). Answering services can fulfill such intimate tasks because of its personal and friendly roots.

Call center clients are usually large retail companies that outsource their order taking, sales or customer service. Aside from the obvious difference in the types of client serviced, here are a few other differences between an answering service and a call center.

Answering Service

Call Center

  • Relays each message individually and immediately – unless instructed otherwise
  • Often used as a receptionist, to connect or transfer calls.
  • Used to take messages or provide basic information about a company
  • Tends to be smaller and as a result the agent-caller ratio is closer: that is the likelihood of a caller speaking to the same person each time the call is higher than a call center
  • Collects information or orders and stores it in the form of a data base to be sent as a bulk
  • Due to the high volume of calls, cannot perform clerical duties
  • Used to sell and or order products. Call center representatives sometimes handle customer complaints.
  • Call centers are large offices, staffed with many representatives to effectively handle high call volume, because of this callers are more likely to speak with a different person each time they call.

There is an obvious difference between a call center and a telephone answering service. An answering service can provide the intimate and personal experience that your company needs. There are also several benefits of having an answering service, such as:

Extending office hours

  • Ridding your office of menial tasks
  • Elevating internal work load
  • And reducing the number of calls missed by your business
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