Despite the fact that call centers exist in numerous industries beyond telemarketing, the average person is not as familiar with them in these other contexts, even though they have likely had numerous interactions with the agents who staff them. Answering services, on the other hand, are something that most people have heard of and encountered. But are they actually the same thing? Here, we are breaking down the difference between an answering service and a call center.

In short, answering services are technically call centers but not all call centers are answering services. That’s because the scope of tasks handled by an answering service is much narrower than that of a standard call center. An answering service, while it is used to outsource certain tasks, tends to have a much closer relationship with the business that is using the answering service. That means that it doesn’t matter if you speak to someone on staff at the business or someone who works for the answering service—you should get the same answers to your questions. For example, many doctor’s offices will use answering services to answer calls that come in outside of normal business hours. If the office usually has nurses answering the phone during the workday, the answering service will have nurses on the phones as well who are equally qualified to answer questions. Answering services also frequently act as “virtual receptionists,” meaning they may handle tasks including taking messages, scheduling appointments and offering basic information about the business.

A call center, on the other hand, is staffed with people who are trained to handle a wider array of customer inquiries. For this reason, they are typically working from a script so that they can do anything from taking customer complaints to processing orders to answering questions. When they are on a call, a call center agent’s only job is to deal with the person on the other end of the line to the best of their ability—they are not necessarily concerned with how that person or that call fit into the greater scope of the business. Indeed, while answering services are typically taking calls on behalf of the business and acting as an intermediary, relaying messages or making recommendations accordingly, call centers exist more as their own entities. That means they usually (or hopefully) have the tools and the capacity to process the requests they receive and resolve them in one go, which is why first call resolution is so important to call centers. When customers speak with an answering service, they don’t necessarily expect all their questions to be answered or their issues to be entirely resolved. Instead, they are expecting someone who can guide them one step closer to reaching a solution, even if that requires making another call to the business the following day.

Regardless of whether you are running or staffing an answering service or a call center, you are going to need a top-notch call center platform for your agents to use—and CallShaper fits the bill. To learn more, contact us today.