- Job seekers should compare inbound vs. outbound call center opportunities to see what matches their skills and talents
- There’s a lot of overlap between the two types of calls
- Inbound calls require more personal flexibility
- Outbound calls work best for those with more sales aptitude
- Boomsourcing has a place for each type of call center worker!
If you’re relatively new to the world of call centers, you may feel a bit overwhelmed by a number of unfamiliar terms. Among the most important of these terms, you’ll need to understand the difference between inbound vs. outbound call center operations.
Many of the qualifications for the different types of jobs these two types of call centers involve are the same. You need to have good organizational and interpersonal skills, above all. In some contexts, though, you may progress faster if you focus on your sales skills. In others, you’ll do well if you’re resourceful and can solve problems on the fly.
Each of these types of skills can be useful in either type of call center, and sometimes, a single call center will have people doing both types of work. Make no mistake about it, though, they are different types of work, and they create situations that each call center agent will have to address in different ways.
Understanding Inbound vs. Outbound Call Center Work
Let’s take a separate look at each type of call center operation.
These are the types of call center tasks that most people are familiar with. Anytime you call a specific number for customer service, you’re most likely talking to someone working an inbound call center.
Inbound simply means that the call came to the call center from outside. Nobody in the call center dialed a number to initiate the call. Most often, it means that the person the agent is interacting with wanted to have the call.
This doesn’t mean that all inbound calls started out that way. Many times, a call center agent will receive an inbound call as a transfer because some other agent started that call by dialing out. This can happen at the same facility or in a completely different location. In that way, some calls that look to the agent like inbound calls are really outbound calls in disguise, and they should be treated as such. That changes the way the agent should speak with the customer, so watch out! It’s important for all agents and managers involved in these types of calls to have clear communication with each other and the customers, to make sure everyone’s on the same page and works toward the same goals.
The important thing about any kind of inbound calls, whether they come directly from the customer or are transferred outbound calls, is that whether it’s for customer service or sales, the agent handling it has less control. They receive calls as they come. They can’t on their own control the rate or number of calls they handle each day. Managers may be able to adjust some settings to change how fast calls get routed to each agent, but not always. Some days or hours will simply involve higher call volumes than others. Sometimes, there will be boring stretches with no work.
The key to being an inbound call center agent is to learn how to adapt to these changing conditions, and to use all of your time as productively as possible. moments of lower call volume are great opportunities to review your training and improve your skills.
Outbound call centers are more often associated with sales calls. They can also refer to political campaigns, fundraisers and charity drives, or even just opinion surveys. There are many other possibilities.
The defining characteristic of an outbound call is that they originate from the call center. The customer or prospect is not usually expecting to receive a call. This has important implications for the agent on the initiating end.
Agents doing outbound call work are more likely to get rude responses. People just don’t like unexpected interruptions. This is itself much more likely when calling individual consumers than with businesses. Business sales calls are seen by many prospects as a normal and expected part of their jobs, even if it’s more than they want to deal with.
When considering the differences between inbound vs. outbound call center work, it’s clear that outbound agents do have more control over their calls. There are variations to this, though. Some calling campaigns use autodialers that automatically make as many calls as possible, as fast as possible. In such cases, there will still be periods of greater and lesser activity, depending on the data being fed to the autodialer software.
Other campaigns still rely a great deal on manual dialing. These tend to be business-to-business (B2B) sales campaigns, and the agents making the calls are likely to have a title such as Sales Development Representative, or SDR.
These types of campaigns may not involve as many individual phone calls per day as the more automated ones, but they also do require greater sales and organizational skills for success.
Boomsourcing Call Centers
Boomsourcing agents do both types of work on behalf of our clients. Each of our facilities around the world handles a variety of conversation types. We provide individual virtual assistants for small businesses, and large customer service teams for bigger firms. For fundraising drives we provide both outbound dialers and inbound verifiers. If you’re looking to scale your organization, we provide the very best sales development teams!