Inbound Contact Center

Learn how to set up your inbound contact center, including the services and channels you need to consider, and how they differ from outbound contact centers.

Pradeep Vasudev
March 29, 2022
8 min read
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What is an inbound contact center?

An inbound contact center (also called an inbound call center) handles incoming calls and messages for a business. These real-time inbound calls or messages are placed by consumers who might want to know more about the company’s location, business hours, or offerings. Sometimes, calls are placed by potential customers, who may be scouting for particular products or services, or by existing customers looking for technical support.

Traditionally, contact centers have been designed primarily for handling outgoing and incoming calls. But to deliver an exceptional customer experience and meet the needs of today’s increasingly digital-first customers, inbound contact centers now need to establish an omnichannel presence across live chat, messaging apps, and social media as well.

Benefits of using an inbound contact center

Inbound contact centers can be highly beneficial for companies, establishing a dedicated team of agents that answer incoming customer queries around the clock,. This enhanced level of service helps companies improve their customer relationships, which helps improve customer satisfaction scores over time. In addition, inbound contact centers also help your company maintain a strong presence across all of your active support channels.

During periods of high call volume, having a dedicated contact center is also a highly effective strategy to route incoming calls in a way that ensures low response or resolution times and high customer satisfaction scores. This in turn also increases agent productivity and helps improve your ROI in the long run.

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Inbound contact centers vs. outbound contact centers: How do they differ?

Inbound contact centers focus on answering incoming queries, while outbound centers typically involve reaching out proactively or reactively to leads and customers. Although the core functions of inbound centers revolve around customer service and troubleshooting, outbound contact centers are more focused on lead generation and marketing, with a small portion of those activities dedicated to providing proactive care to customers.

With respect to the skills that are expected from agents of either of these contact centers, outbound agents should have strong persuasive skills and the ability to close deals, because they are primarily focused on sales and marketing. Inbound contact center agents, on the other hand, should possess good problem-solving abilities and listening skills, because they are expected to understand and resolve incoming queries efficiently.

Inbound contact center table

Inbound contact center services and critical elements

Most people who call inbound call centers are looking for customer support services, although there may be other reasons, including:

Product/technical support

Often, customers call contact centers to update account information, configure technical products, troubleshoot product usage issues, etc. Agents can route more advanced inquiries or issues to the appropriate teams and specialists to better address each customer’s needs.

Customer support

Apart from tech support, customers also seek help on issues pertaining to appointment booking, billing, delivery, returns, upgrades, renewals, and more. These requests can come via any of the traditional or modern channels that the organization uses, including SMS, calls, or emails.

Customer satisfaction and feedback

Customers might also call contact centers to give feedback on a previous experience with the company. Usually, when any interaction with a customer support team is completed, customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys are sent to the user to collect feedback on how useful the interaction was and how it can be improved. This feedback is then analyzed and used to improve or personalize future customer experiences.

Sales inquiries

Potential customers also contact businesses to learn more about their product offerings, pricing, and plans. Sometimes, existing customers will call to upgrade their plans or buy complementary products and services. Inbound call center agents receive these calls and route them to reps from the marketing and sales teams to ensure they close efficiently.

There are a few essential tools that contact center operations teams should establish to ensure a rigid workflow and maximize operational efficiency. Examples of such tools include:

1. Call recording:

Call recording is an important element in customer feedback collection implemented by most contact centers, which records customer interactions over the phone by default. This data is then processed using speech analytics software that extracts all performance-related data, such as caller sentiment, the nature and severity of the issue, and efficiency of the resolution.

2. Automation:

By implementing solutions with automation capabilities, you can reduce unnecessary agent interventions in your processes, giving them more time to focus on customer queries and improving satisfaction. Using technology like automated call distribution (ACD), predictive dialers, or AI-based tools like conversational chatbots and advanced call routing can help boost the productivity of your contact centers by eliminating the manual intervention needed for repetitive processes.

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What are the channels used by inbound contact centers?

Customers use a wide variety of modern channels to get in touch with the companies they do business with. Companies must adapt to this behavior by establishing an omnichannel strategy.

Some of the most common channels for inbound communication are:

  • Phone calls: Even as customers adopt multichannel support, phone calls remain an important touchpoint to seek customer service and company or product information.

  • Social channels: Social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, are becoming a favorite customer support channel among users due to their unmatched penetration and ease of use.

  • Messaging apps/platforms: Modern messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram enable businesses to establish one-to-one connections with their customers. As these platforms have a wide user base, companies can easily get customers to adopt them for their support needs.

  • Live chat: You can deploy a live chat app on your company's app or website, giving users an easy-to-use platform to voice their concerns or queries at any time.

When to consider inbound contact center software for your business

Now, let’s explore a few common use cases where investing in a robust contact center solution would benefit your inbound call center. If you answer yes to the questions below, you might want to consider changing or upgrading your software.

1. Is your in-house support team unable to handle the volume of incoming calls?

As your business grows, your help desk will receive more and more phone calls from existing and potential customers for a variety of reasons. Handling huge call volumes is not within the scope of the simple software solutions that are made for small businesses and teams. In this case, upgrading to a modern, cloud-based solution is the best option to improve the effectiveness of your inbound call center agents — and to optimize your customer experience.

Likewise, when you expand your target market or social media reach, your call center will get more traffic than ever before, leading to long queues and wait times for callers. A call center self-service solution with interactive voice response (IVR) can come in handy in this scenario. IVR deflects voice calls to less busy and cheaper channels like email and SMS for faster first contact resolution.

2. Are you running targeted campaigns that ask people to reach out to you?

Many businesses leverage TV ads that ask customers to call and place their orders to take advantage of special deals. An inbound contact center can play a pivotal role in growing your revenue with campaigns like this. If you have a strong online presence, you can run full-funnel cross-selling and upselling campaigns, too.

If your target audience is made up of people who are not as tech- or digital-savvy and still prefer to call in to place orders, then establishing an inbound contact center should be particularly high on your list of priorities.

3. Would automated workflows help your agents focus on providing more dedicated customer support?

Your contact centers can benefit from the power of automation and AI in a number of ways, including maintaining great customer relationships and improving the morale of your agents. If your teams are dealing with a lot of mundane tasks, or have to answer frequently asked queries over and over, adopting automation for these processes might be the best thing to do.

Along with reducing the time spent on these repetitive tasks, your agents can then focus on more in-depth responses to important or challenging customer queries. This improves customer satisfaction and also helps your agents improve their productivity by not wasting a lot of their time on repetitive or redundant work, resulting in improved operational efficiency.

4. Does your call center software offer integration with your CRM and API systems?

Integrations are critical for contact center software because there are a number of point solutions involved, including chat solutions, CRM, IVR, reporting, and escalation management software. Unless you’re using a unified contact center solution that eliminates the need for multiple solutions, you might have a difficult time setting up and streamlining your process with call center software that has limited or no integration capabilities.

New independent study finds customer service organizations can achieve up to 210% ROI with Sprinklr Service

Scale and streamline your inbound contact center services with Sprinklr’s call center software

Sprinklr Service offers a unified Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solution that helps bring all of your inbound contact center activity under one roof. With the help of an industry-leading AI engine, built on top of the world's only unified customer experience management (Unified-CXM) platform, Sprinklr Service helps you streamline your contact center operations and improve the quality of your overall customer experience. Here’s how:

  • Unifying disjointed customer communications across 30+ modern and traditional channels

  • Parameter-based and skill-based routing of cases to agents for quicker resolution and CSAT

  • Deflecting voice calls to cheaper channels like WhatsApp, SMS, and email to maximize ROI

  • Proactively and instantly gathering customer feedback via post-call surveys, insights, and analysis

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