Inbound vs. Outbound Call Centers: What’s the Difference?


April 5, 2021

Written by

Stephanie Walker


“Hello, I’m [Agent Name], your agent for today. How may I be of assistance?” 

This is the typical response you hear when call center agents answer inbound calls.

“Good Morning/Afternoon, [Customer], are you interested in buying a meat tenderizer?” Another typical response you would hear when call center agents make outbound calls.

These two types of contrasting methods of contacting customers are what make most businesses go round. Both generate sales, but the methods in doing so differ in several ways. Between the two outreach methods, the burning question now is this: which is better inbound or outbound call center?

Here’s a short history lesson to help you understand why knowing the difference between these each type of call center matters. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone, which, in turn, became the key component of every call center company in the world. The use of a phone to render services to customers and answer inquiries (now referred to as Inbound Calls or Inbound Support), soon became more apparent and BPOs began to flourish.

It was during the 1970s and 80s that companies began to recognize the power of call centers and adopted them as their front liners to sell products. It countered the traditional use of phone calls to assist customers and gave birth to the practice of outbound calls. 

Toll-free numbers were invented and flashed on the screens of TV-owning households until such time that the internet took over and introduced more advanced platforms for customer support in the form of email and live chat support. 

Despite all the innovations, a significant number of people still choose to contact companies, or raise inquiries and complaints through voice or call support.

Inbound Call Center vs Outbound Call Center: The Jekyll and Hyde of the BPO Industry

Inbound and outbound all centers are the crux of customer support. Say a person reaches out to their internet provider. The moment they dial the company’s contact info, they are immediately connected to an agent that will guide them in resolving the concern or issue they have relating to the service or the provider. On the other hand, when the business or company initiates contact with their target users, it is a reflection of the kind of bond they want to build with their audience.


Inbound Call Center: Customer is In-Charge

This is the typical service you hear of when you say call centers. The primary difference between outbound and inbound call centers is the former caters to incoming calls from customers. Most of these are about concerns and inquiries about your products from existing clients. Inbound is a great method for monitoring how well your product or service is doing for your end-users. The topic in these sessions are usually people who need customer support, tech support, as well as individuals in need of assistance while placing an order or choosing a product.

Your agents must be quick in responding and giving customers a solution with that tinge of efficacy for better clientele satisfaction. Before customers are linked to an agent, an interactive voice response (IVR) entertains the client and asks them to dial a specific number combination on the phone depending on the kind of assistance they need.

Outbound Call Center: You are In-Charge

Outbound centers focus on cold-calling clients harboring potential buying interest over the services and products offered by the business. The nature of communication under outbound support is more focused on sales rather than answering queries or providing assistance. Companies usually give their agents a contact list of leads.

They use customer relationship management (CRM) software to track and monitor the interactions they have with their clients. Another distinct difference between outbound call center vs inbound call center, is the target or the end-goal of the contact between the business and the customer. In a typical outbound call setting, representatives are given quotas that they must reach. They can do this through adamantly calling every single individual or business entity in their contact list.

Inbound vs Outbound Call Center: The Contrast

Since both are call centers, they are bound to have similarities in services that they offer despite their means of doing them being distinctly opposite. At the end of the day, both are used by business to establish rapport or connect with the demographic for whom their services are designed. Here are some of the key factors to look at to understand the relationship between the two:

1. Understanding Intent

Once again, the main distinction between outbound call center vs inbound call center boils down to their goals and how they conduct and execute steps to get to their individual objectives. Inbound is primarily focused on lending an open ear to the customer. Whatever they have to say, from doubts to complaints to suggestions, inbound agents are tasked to listen and give solutions promptly.

Meanwhile, outbound focuses on contacting the customer. The reason could range from sales to updates to offers and renewals. It is more challenging than accepting or waiting for calls from customers because people are not very welcoming with sales and cold-calling. Most customers find company-initiated calls inconvenient and thus have a lower success rate compared to its counterpart.

2. Dissecting the Method

When it comes to outbound vs inbound call center tech tools, it boils down to purpose. Since outbound is used towards the customers, they usually have dialers, customer relationship management (CRM) software, and outbound interactive voice response (IVR) to enhance the lead communication process.

For inbound, they use call monitoring, along with call controls like mute, hold, transfer, and barge-in. Additional features include ticketing integration that helps track which customer or individual is contacting the company, where they are located, and what their concerns are.

3. Rearing Erudites

The difference between inbound and outbound call center services in terms of how agents are trained comes with how they were taught to handle clients. Inbound instills a more understanding disposition and an open-minded attitude and tone. It is important that agents convey a caring nature through their voice and intonation alone, all while providing the caller with the information they seek. Support representatives must be naturally good listeners too, or must work towards developing good listening skills to deliver accurate assistance based on individual user concerns.

Contrastingly, outbound agents are trained to be assertive and thick-skinned. They are the literal embodiment of marketers who come knocking at your doorstep at 8 in the morning asking if you want to avail whatever products they are selling or services they are promoting. They have to exert confidence and command the interaction in a way that they demand time from you to listen to their pitch. In some instances, they may give updates on past products you have purchased from the company and try to coax you into availing the said upgrade. If you ever encounter or receive a sales call, pause, take a breather and try not take it against the agent. They are simply doing their job.

4. Bearing on Business

Outbound ranks higher in conversion rates while inbound excels in real-time resolution and higher customer satisfaction rates.

Try to observe and take a closer look at the effects that both call center arrangements have on your business. You essentially need both for your company to thrive. Strengthen your inbound assistance to gain customer trust and assurance. If you are expanding your services, then you need to establish contact with target buyers to inform them about your brand.

Inbound and Outbound Call Center: A Powerful Choice

Assess where your business stands to figure out whether you need to increase sales for now or focus on maintaining customer satisfaction. The customer is right for the most part because they have the power to pull your business to success or kick you mercilessly to the curb. Be smart in choosing or employing both inbound and outbound calls to your existing hotline operations. 

Call centers are a huge responsibility to maintain, regardless of the kind of business you have. New Media Services offers inbound call center services to help you increase your customer satisfaction rates and convert those leads into avid supporters.


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