Call center vs answering service: what’s the difference?

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Call centers and answering services are similar, with both providing customer service and messaging options. Call centers offer more services, such as order processing and event registration, while answering services are more limited. The choice depends on the level of customer service needed.

In many cases, there are few differences between a call center and an answering service. Many companies are both call center and answering service providers. In general, each of them claims to provide enhanced customer service by greeting callers with real-time response, rather than just voicemail service. Businesses choose between the two types of services for various reasons. A small business, for example, may not need the many offerings of a large call center and may instead opt for a small business answering service.

For the most part, a call center and answering service are capable of providing first-rate support to customers. Call center services are often available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is generally true for most answering services as well. Messages are usually delivered based on customer preferences. Some options include email, fax, paging or sending to a traditional voice mail for retrieval. Both of these types of phone services are usually available to handle calls at almost any time, including holidays.

Typically, both a call center and an answering service provide their customers with local phone numbers, toll-free numbers, and fax capabilities. Answering services, however, may be limited to certain features. These can include fetching messages, redirecting requests, and handling overflow calls. In some cases, and usually for an extra setup fee, they can also help dispatch emergency workers.

When considering a call center and answering service as options, a deciding factor is usually the level of customer service that can be provided. Business owners and executives may prefer a call center if they want the ability to monitor calls live or log calls for later evaluation. A common difference between a call center and answering service is that many call center employees are specially trained to handle inquiries from a specific company or industry.

Another difference between a call center and answering service is that call centers often engage in order processing. They can sell products and services over the phone or over the Internet and can usually be set up to process credit card payments. A call center can also act as a help desk, or an extension of it, to help others. An example of an additional function of a call center is that its employees can often help register customers for events.

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