If you are considering outsourcing some of your business functions, you may already be familiar with the concept of a call center. You may or may not have heard the phrase “business process outsourcing,” too. While these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not synonyms.
It’s important to understand what each of these terms means and how they differ. With a thorough understanding of these two services, you can determine how they may benefit the unique business needs of your company. As your business grows, outsourcing some functionality can free up in-house resources and increase your overall effectiveness.
What Is a Call Center?
A call center is a department or organization that receives and routes client phone calls. Calls may be incoming or outgoing, and clients may be existing or prospective. A call center can either be staffed with in-house personnel or outsourced to a third-party company.
Call centers typically provide telemarketing, debt collection, customer service, technical support, and billing services. A call center is generally one of two types:
- Inbound — This type of call center receives calls and typically handles areas such as problem-solving or providing instructions to clients, including customer service or technical support
- Outbound — This type of call center makes calls that may relate to lead generation, customer notifications, phone surveys, or verification services
A call center generally handles a high volume of phone calls each day. The personnel may be co-located in the same building. It could also be that the personnel are physically in different remote locations.
It may already be clear that you need additional bandwidth to support your team. Whether this is due to an already overloaded staff or projected workload increases, offshore virtual assistants can help lighten the load.
What Is Business Process Outsourcing?
Business process outsourcing (BPO) refers to delegating certain business functions to a third-party company instead of keeping these services in-house. BPO essentially allows a business to pay for the services it needs when it needs them.
The services that may be performed by business process outsourcing include:
- Back office support, such as data entry, accounting, and payroll
- Customer service
- Technical support
- Web design
- Appointment setting
- Data entry
Outsourcing such functions provide tangible benefits to a business. These can include:
- Reducing costs
- Minimizing risk
- Increasing scalability
- Increasing focus on core business functions
- Increasing productivity
- Providing access to the latest technology
BPO is an option that can help growing companies achieve their goals. This can be particularly helpful for startups as they expand rapidly.
Differences Between Call Centers and Business Process Outsourcing
In the simplest terms, a call center is a type of business process outsourcing. However, the inverse is not valid. Business process outsourcing is not a type of call center. BPO services can include both front-office and back-office support. In contrast, call centers only provide front office processes.
Call centers and BPOs are different in the functionality they provide. Call centers are focused on receiving and making phone calls and processing client communication. BPO covers a much wider area of functionality. The services that BPO can provide are not only communication-based and do not necessarily involve phone calls to or from clients.
Call centers and BPOs also differ in what they require of the personnel that provides these services. Staff in both situations need to have a certain level of proficiency in computer skills and language fluency. However, BPO requires a greater depth of knowledge and ability than a call center.
Similarities Between Call Centers and Business Process Outsourcing
It is true that both call centers and BPOs may be virtual in nature. This means that the personnel in either situation do not necessarily have to be physically in the same location. Call centers and BPOs can both involve personnel that are based in the U.S. or who are based offshore.
Both BPOs and call centers can provide tangible benefits to your company. This can create a competitive advantage, as you and your team can spend most of your time executing your business strategy.
Another similarity is that call centers and BPOs can both provide 24/7 availability. This means that you are not limited by the core working hours of your stateside in-house team.