What is a Call Center? Learn the Basics of Call Center Operations

What is a Call Center

Millions of companies around the world rely on a call center operation to answer customer calls or to sell to customers. Learn about what is a Call Center in this practical article and pick up some essential call center tips.

All professionals use the telephone as a way to communicate and engage with their customers, partners, colleagues and more so having good phone skills is everyone’s business.

Anyone that wants to be or is involved in Call Center setup or operations for their companies would benefit from this What is a call center article.

Inside sales, customer care professionals, call center agents and contact center team leaders, sales managers and individuals looking for a call center job should now what is a call center, what are the operations in it and also know some of the best practices related to it.

So let’s explore what is a call center.

What is a Call center and how does it differ from a contact center 

Call centers became a very popular way to serve customers especially with the development of the interactive voice response (IVR) systems – those automated prompts on the call that ask you to press 1 for this and 2 for that etc.. Call centers were initially designed to handle voice calls coming in or being made out of the center.  

However, as technology evolved, and people had more opportunities to interact with organizations, the call centers had to evolve too and address all customer interactions including email, social media, web chat and the like. These call centers became known as contact centers as they needed to account for all customer engagements.  

Since customers would be contacting the contact center through any channel, these centers need to have a complete view of the customer across the various touch points in what is called a 360-degree view of the customer.  

What are the Call types that take place in a contact center 

Contact centers have two main types of calls or interactions that take place in them: 

  1. Inbound calls: which are calls that come into the center by clients that have a problem or want to ask a question. These calls should be serviced as quickly and effectively as possible. Since they are originated by the client, they can provide a great opportunity to delight them with exceptional service. 
  2. Outbound calls: which are calls that are originated by the contact center staff either for sales, collections of money owed, customer service surveys or as a follow up to an inbound call request. Doing outbound calls can be very tricky since the call can take place at a random time that might not be convenient for the client.  

A lot of thought needs to go into the efficient handling of the calls so that organizations ensure that customers get the best possible experience.  

What are the Elements of an inbound call center call 

Call centers provide organizations with an effective and convenient way solve customer problems or address their needs. The basis of any call center operation is the calls that take place between the agent who answers the call and the customer or caller on the other line.  

There are 3 elements to an inbound call center call that agents would need to be trained on:  

  1. Opening the call: When a call arrives and the agent picks it up, they will greet the client and introduce themselves 
  2. The call body: The focus in the main part of the call is to listen well, understand the customer issue and address it appropriately. 
  3. Closing the call: Before closing the call with the client, a thank you farewell message is provided. Then the agent would need to wrap up the call and add any notes to the customer system. 

Related article: Telephone Etiquette – Tips for Better Phone Conversations

What is a Call Center Structure and Team Functions  

Contact centers are designed around key functions made up of teams. Here are the usual functions you would find in a contact center 

  • Contact Center Agent –Answering contacts that come from the customers or doing outbound calls 
  • Contact Center Team Leader – Handling Escalations from agents that they weren’t able to solve 
  • Workforce Management (WFM) Lead –Prepares staff schedules, holidays and leave bookings  
  • Quality Management Team –Monitoring Interactions, preparing scorecard, recommending agent training, recommending corrective actions    
  • Management Information Systems (MIS) Team –Responsible for preparing dashboards, prepare reports, daily, monthly and yearly performance report, call volume report, etc 
  • Contact Center Manager –Responsible for overall management of the contact center. 


Since we have learned about what is a call center, we can now move on to some call center tips to improve customer service.


Great Customer Service Words & Phrases 

When customers contact the customer service center, they are usually facing a problem, which means they are already starting the contact with you with a negative experience. Your aim is to turn that experience into a positive one and the words and phrases you use can make a great difference.  

Here are 5 great customer service words and phrases that you can use:  

  • It’s unfortunate that you are facing this problem 
  • Based on our experience this is the right course of action 
  • Replace the word “but” with “All I’m saying is”  
  • When things go out of hand, you can remind the client “I’m just doing my job” 
  • Definitely! is much more effective than yes 

These 5 terms can help improve your customer communication and turn the negative situation into a more positive one.  

Tips on how to handle an angry client 

Many of us face the occasional angry client – weather internal inside our company or external in dealing with buying customers. Some customers are rude and not reasonable, but in the vast majority of times, customers are reasonable. 

Here are 3 tips on how to handle an angry client and diffuse the situation 

  • Listen, Listen and Listen some more 
  • Don’t argue with the client, since you will never win 
  • Empathize with the client and let them know you understand their situation 

After understanding the problem and situation, if you can solve it that would be great, if not, then you need to make it clear that the problem is out of your hands and it’s unfortunate that they had that experience. Depending on the policies of the company, you might be able to offer them something to compensate them for their bad experience.  

Remember, not to take any negative customer contact person, you need to learn to separate your emotion from the job. 

Outcomes that should guide all Customer Service Engagements 

Customers are essential for all businesses, and taking care of these customers would help in increasing their loyalty to your organization. Solving customer problems, however, could be a very costly activity from a time and money perspective, so how can we ensure that we are not overdoing it? 

Here are 3 outcomes that should guide all your customer service engagements: 

  1. Customer Centric - always ensure that any process or activity has the customer at the center of it 
  2. Performance Driven - continuously measure and enhance the performance  
  3. Results Oriented - keep tracking how well you are doing in solving customer problems and how happy the customers are 

The above 3 outcomes help keep a balance to ensure that you are effectively addressing customers problems and being effective in how they are being addressed to ensure the highest level of customer satisfaction.  


We hope that you have learned about what is a call center and can apply the above tips to improve your customer service or sales skills.

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