Outsourced Call Centers Basic Glossary

happy with dictionariesphoto © 2008 hiroaki maeda | more info (via: Wylio)Trying to understand the outsourced call center industry can be more than a little challenging, especially if you’re with a company that’s wondering if you will soon need an outsourced customer service or technical support provider.Things may have just grown bit by bit in the past, but suddenly it’s time to start making bigger decisions, and getting a grasp on what needs to be done.

If that sounds like you, we’re here to start making things easier by offering our Outsourced Call Centers Basic Glossary. This is aimed specifically at anyone wanting to grasp the basics, and keeps things easy to digest. If you do want more detail, check out the call center Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) explained in our How To Choose A Call Center series, and also watch for future posts, where we’ll delve a bit deeper into more complex terms and concepts.

So for now, put on your most learned look, settle back, and absorb the fundamentals of call center industry, all laid out in an easy-to-read format in Tacamor’s Outsourced Call Centers Basic Glossary


Contact center:

The call center industry has extended far beyond calls to also include WebChats, emails, text messages, and social media monitoring and posting. Given that broad range of activity, many centers have been using the more accurate phrase of “contact center” to describe themselves. It makes sense to do so, but many companies searching for an outsourcing provider still search for a “call center,” even if they do want that larger range of services. Likewise, many companies were well established before the other services became more commonplace, and therefore chose to keep their existing names rather than change all their materials. Therefore, the terms “call center” and “contact center” are used somewhat interchangeably, and should not be used to guess the range of services offered by any center.

Outsourced call center:

A company that provides staff and facilities to deliver call center services on behalf of companies or organizations that hire it to care for their customers, employees, or other types of callers.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO):

While call center outsourcing is the area in which Tacamor specializes, it is of course just one of many processes that companies regularly entrust to outside service providers. Customer service and technical support call centers are considered to be front-office outsourcing, since they involve interacting directly with customers and the public. Back-office outsourcing on the other hand include such business processes as human resources, finance, and accounting.

Customer service call center:

A call center that handles inquiries about a caller’s account, billing, or services. This can include such things as creating, upgrading or canceling an account, changing an address, changing billing options, asking about a bill or charge, making payments, or much more. A customer service call center can be either in-house or outsourced.

Technical support call center:

A call center that helps callers with matters such as understanding and correcting problems they are having with a company’s product or service. Sometimes shortened to just “tech support” or “help desk.” A technical support call center can be either in-house or outsourced.

Help desk:

See “Technical support call center.”

Order-taking call center:

A call center that takes orders from callers, often handling credit card payments and advising on shipping and/or pick-up details. These are often inbound call centers, and order-taking functions are sometimes handled within the broad range of services offered by customer service call centers.

In-house call center:

A center staffed by a company’s own employees, usually working within its own facility.

Inbound call center:

A call center that accepts rather than makes calls. Such centers are typically used for customer service and technical support. In reality, the lines are often blurred between inbound and outbound. A center calling itself “inbound” will often call back customers to ensure they were happy with a new product, to seek feedback, or to follow up after service to ensure everything was performed satisfactorily. Even in such cases though, the great majority of an inbound center’s calls will certainly indeed be incoming.

Outbound call center:

A call center that makes outgoing calls rather than receives incoming calls. Such centers are typically used to support a marketing or sales campaign or survey. Again, as with inbound customer-service call centers, there will often be both kinds of calls. An “outbound” call center may receive callback from customers where they left messages, or as part of an outbound campaign from time to time.

Nearshore call center:

A call center operating from a country that is adjacent or very near the people it serves. While North America centers are often referred to as “nearshore call centers,” this may not always be accurate. For example, while Canadian call centers will indeed be nearshore if the callers are in the United States, Irish call centers will be nearshore if those callers are in Great Britain, and Indian call centers will be nearshore if the callers are in Sri Lanka.

Offshore call center:

A call center that is located in a distant country and usually on another continent. Generally, offshore operations are used to reduce costs, but may also be used if they provide specialized services or expertise not available locally. Some companies employ a mix, such as using an offshore call center for more routine calls, but turning to an in-house or nearshore solution for more sensitive or high-priority calls.

Dedicated call center agents:

Dedicated agents are assigned to handle calls or contacts for one company only, even though the call center that hires them may provide service to many different companies. Dedicated agents can generally provide more in-depth knowledge of a company, its products, and its callers, since they focus on that company day after day after day.

Shared call center agents:

Shared agents are assigned to handle calls or contacts for more than one client company. As such they generally work for an outsourced call center, although in larger companies with several brands, an agent handling several of them might be considered to be shared. In an outsourced call center, shared agents will often be available at a lower cost per call, since their time is split among two more more companies, but their product knowledge may be less in-depth as a result. Smaller companies often find a shared arrangement to be a convenient lower-cost way to first secure the services of an outsourced call center.


Again, we know that there’s a lot more to be covered, so check back regularly for our next installment. Until then, give us your input by adding your comment below. What do you want to see us explain? And of course, if you’re looking for an exceptional outsourced call center, please let us know!

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