Here is a complete list of the different types of call centers and the various kinds of jobs that call center agents do.
Inbound call centers:
These type of call centers have agents who receive incoming calls from people. A very common example of this is the calls related to customer service, where customers call on a toll-free number and speak to an agent to get their complaints solved.
The number of calls that inbound call center agents receive is not fixed. The number can vary a lot and it depends on the inflow of calls i.e. how many customers are calling up the call center. On certain days the inflow of calls can be very high, and on other days it could be less.
Outbound call centers:
The job of call center agents in oubound call centers is to make outgoing calls to a list of people. People wrongly assume that this is always a telemarketing or sales job. That may not be always the case.
e.g. Companies very often require to make outgoing calls to existing customers as well. New customers are typically outcalled and informed about the details of the company's product or service. This is known as a 'Welcome Call'.
Other examples of non-sales outbound calls, are service related calls made for resolving earlier complaints lodged by the customers, or bill explanation calls, or collection-related calls to remind customers of due dates and pending payments.
Domestic call centers:
These types of call centers make and receive calls from people from within the same country. This means that at a domestic call center in India, the agents will make or receive calls from people in India only.
In a diverse country such as India, there is always a need for agents who can speak varied languages, based on states and regions. So, even people who don't know English very well, can find jobs at domestic call centers, and can make and receive calls in their mother-tongues, be it any language such as Hindi, Marathi, Tamil or Bengali.
International call centers:
These call centers have international companies as their clients. So if a call center based in India, makes or receives international calls on behalf of an overseas client, then it is known as an international call center.
Apart from the usual process training, these kind of international call centers also usually provide accent and culture training to their agents, so that they can understand and speak effectively with people from other countries.
Classification of call centers based on who owns them:
There are two main types in this.
In-house call centers:
These are owned and operated by the company. The purpose can be to provide service to existing customers, or for making telemarketing calls to acquire new customers.
The advantage of this kind of call center is its physical proximity to the core business. This allows for better rapport between the call center staff and the people who run the other business operations. Because of this issues can be discussed and sorted out very quickly and amicably.
Outsourced call centers:
This is the cheaper option used by many companies, who do not want to run their call-center inhouse. So they outsource the calling activities to a professional call center company. The advantage is that the company does not need to hire the agents themselves and spend time and money on training them, also office space and call center setup cost is saved.
The outsourced call center can be located within the same country, or it can be situated overseas. e.g. If a company located in Europe or America outsourced their call center activity to a call center located in some other country such as India or Phillipines, then it would be an outsourced overseas call center operation for them.
Classification based on size and magnitude of operations:
Home-based or Virtual call centers:
This type of call center is typically operated by a single person who works from home. This is not a business, but rather a work-from-home kind of job. It usually involves making outgoing calls to a list of people provided by the company, for the purpose of making service-related calls on behalf of the company or for making telemarketing calls with the intention of selling products and services.
The advantage of such a home-based operation for the call center agents, is that they can work from the comforts of their home, while for the company the benefit is reduction in costs incurred on outcalling activities, as they do not have to spend money on hiring a office space and can also avoid employee overheads such as for food and travelling costs.
Small, Medium and Large call centers:
Call centers are also categorized as small, medium or large based on the number of call center agents that it has for making or receiving calls. The size is typically measured and judged based on the number of seats, which is how many agents can make simultaneous calls at a single point in time.
The small call centers are typically those which have just about 5 to 10 agents, while medium sized companies have a capacity of around 30 to 50 seats.
There are also larger call centers that cater to several clients, working on several processes at a time, and can also have diversified operations such as handling domestic and international calls. There are such very large call centers that work 24 hours a day, and employ more than 500 agents working in day and night shifts.
The medium sized and large call centers, generally make use of specialized softwares such as predictive dialers or power dialers for their outbound activities, and ACD's for their inbound calls. Other than call center agents, there are several other kinds of jobs that people in these companies do. e.g. There are network and hardware engineers for technical support and maintainence, Language and Skills trainers for providing training to the existing agents as well the new recruits, as well as supervisors, team leaders, and call center project managers.
Classification based on Method of Communication:
Web-enabled and Telephonic calls
A call center usually means a place where agents make or receive telephonic calls. But in these days of the internet, not all communication is on calls. It can also happen online, in the form of real-time chats on the company's website, or in the form of email communications.
That is the reason, most call centers are nowadays called 'Contact centers', because 'Contact' is a much more generalized term that can represent any mode of communication.
Call centers that are equipped with providing support over the internet are known as 'Web-enabled call centers', while their counterparts who only speak on the telephone lines are known as 'Telephonic call centers'.
So, this was all about the different types of call centers. If you found this article useful, you may also want to take a look at the other posts listed towards the end of this page, that provide more information related to various aspects of call center activities.