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Call Centre vs. Contact Centre


Well the voting is in.

We had an amazing response to this question – 735 votes.  It really seems to have piqued your interest.

So which term won out Contact Centre or Call Centre?

Well, the winner was Contact Centre, but only just.

Contact Centre scored 53% of the vote compared to Call Centre with 47%.

Poll results - call centre vs contact centre

What’s the difference? – People are confused.

There seems to be quite widespread confusion about what a contact centre is.  Responses indicate that a contact centre is a call centre that deals with emails or post, or even deals with a combination of inbound or outbound calls.

Contact Centre is seen as being more professional?

Contact centre seems to have been adopted to help address the poor image of call centres. The call centre is seen as the grubby end of the market, the type that no one likes, as opposed to the up-market contact centre, conveyed as being much more professional.

Call Centre is the most common keyword

Looking at the Google search stats we see that ten times as many people use the term “Call Centre” as opposed to “Contact Centre”.

Our readers’ statistics are even more skewed.  In October 8,600 people found us using the key word “Call Centre”.  In comparison only 880 people used the keyword “Contact Centre”.

Is a contact centre a place you go looking for a date?

One reader thought that contact centre could imply some form of dating agency.

Time to just call it Customer Services?

It looks as though some companies are no longer using either term and instead have gone back to calling their centre “Customer Services”

What do you think?  What do you call your centre?

Jonty Pearce, Editor

Published On: 12th Nov 2008 - Last modified: 9th May 2018
Read more about - Call Centre Life


24 Comments
  1. For me it has to be the term Call Centre. It is the term that people most easily recognise with.

    Telephone calls also amount to around 90%+ of all contact with most companies (apart from the branch network).

    I’ve never really liked the term Contact Centre as it seems like one of those made up terms that the vndors like to play with – like “Customer Interaction Solutions”.

    Does anyone have any idea where these terms originated from and when they were first used?

    jamesportcullis 4 Sep at 6:36 am
  2. In my country (Denmark) we use the word CustomerCenter og Customer Service Center instead of Contact Center or Call Center. If we were to use the term “contact center” people might mistake us for da dating-agency…and Call center sounds somehow “factory like”.

    annette goebel 4 Sep at 11:16 am
  3. James

    The first time that I came across the term Call Center was when Aspect in around 1987 called their ACD system the “Aspect Call Center”.

    I’m not sure if this was a term that they came up with, or if they were simply using a term that already existed.

    In terms of Contact Centre it seems that it was in regular use by 1998, although it could be earlier than that.

    I’m not sure if anyone can find an ealier dating of these?

    Jonty Pearce 4 Sep at 11:33 am
  4. I thought call centres were outbound and contact centres were inbound…………….

    tamsin vibert 4 Sep at 11:05 am
  5. Really helpful article. Just want to ask the centres who do back office work – are they a Contact Centre? Or call centre!

    thank you

    Nagif Salvah 4 Sep at 12:09 pm
  6. We are a contact centre as we handle a range of customer communications, including inbound and outbound calls, emails, SMS and mail. I think that the words ‘contact centre’ generally sound more positive than ‘call centre’.

    Bradley 4 Sep at 11:26 am
  7. I think much of the difference is in the mindset of the centre itself.
    We call ourselves a contact centre as we do more than phone calls for our customers including email and leaflet fulfilment.
    I have to agree with Bradley too – “Contact Centre” does sound more positive but I think this is due to irresponsible organisations like Swift Cover and their offensive “Chicken” adverts.

    Ian Harvey 4 Sep at 11:32 am
  8. I completely agree with Ian Harvey, who is a colleague. Here, we do so much more for our callers and take pride in being called ‘contact centre’ It is sad that ‘call centre’ conjurs up such a poor image in many people’s minds. Enough of the bad press!! Come and see how great a contact centre can be!!

    Chrissie Lester 4 Sep at 2:52 pm
  9. As English is for me a foreign language, I am not in a good position to judge the proper choice call or contact, I try a w. I feel that the word contact has a broad meaning than the word call and it enlarges the services that the centre want to give to their customers. The word call centre refers to a place that services are provided mainly by telephones. A contact centre utilize to provide their services all types of media communication.
    The service centre that I opened this week was suppose to be a call centre. After I read your contest I called it ABCC International. First C is for contact, other C is for centre.
    Best regards to all the readers from Alex, a new entry in the c centre sector.

    Alessandro Limata 4 Sep at 9:03 pm
  10. We are a contact centre. We handle incoming and outbound calls, email, mail and contact made with the customer at events, so pretty much everything! We also do “fill-in” work, processing contact made with customers on behalf of other departments. So as we have so much contact with the customer in any form – we went down the contact centre route. However, the team is returning to good old Customer Services! I suppose everything goes full circle but working as a contact centre allows us to do it better.

    Donna 5 Sep at 1:21 pm
  11. I’ve also always thought “Call Centre” was just that – handles just calls whether inbound or outbound. “Contact Centre” handles calls BUT also e mail, post, faxes etc.

    I agree with a couple of the other readers – Call Centres have got a very bad name over the last few years….sadly so, and indeed the adverts on telly don’t help the image!! So, lets start a trend of talking them up!!
    Kind Regards
    Janet Clapham

    Janet Clapham 9 Sep at 11:59 am
  12. Changing the name doesn’t alter the image that the UK media like to project of poor levels of customer service on the telephone, by email or using any other contact method – we all need to work hard to improve our industry PR and not simply hope that a change of name will do the trick!

    ann-marie stagg 13 Nov at 12:07 pm
  13. From an outsourcing perspective, Life would be so much easier for potential customers of call and contact centres if there was some definite consensus on the terminology. As a user and a client of outsourced suppliers I saw the division as Call Centres making predominantly outbound calls and Contact Centres handling inbound calls, white and email and other non verbal forms of customer contact. Therefore if I was looking for inbound services I would look for a company calling itself a contact centre and for outbound sales services I would look at companies calling themselves call centres. Ultimately ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ and no one makes or should make a decision to place work on what their supplier decides to call itself. However, it can affect the selection process in terms of who is invited to tender who someone selects to review if not going through a formal tender process. Just a thought….

    Janette Coulthard 13 Nov at 3:43 pm
  14. in my view call center is also contact center.bcoz we can also get same support from call center that we can also get over phone.

    rafian 13 Nov at 4:24 pm
  15. I used to like “contact centre” as the word ‘contact’ is translated “epafi” in greek which can can represent the words ‘intercourse’ or even better the word ‘communication’.

    “Contact Centre” is difficult for customers to understand though and also difficult for the company’s employees to use. Many people still call it “call centre” even though the department was named “customer service”.

    The last couple of years we have approached this in a different way emphasizing on “customer care” instead of “customer service”. The department mainly handles calls (in/out) but also communicates with customer via email and fax.

    Kypros Ioannou 15 Nov at 10:00 am
  16. Customer Service Centre is better.

    Talking about Contact Centre gives the overall impression that the centre handles all kind of contacts – calls, emails and faxes.

    Calling it Call Centre is likened to only a centre receiving calls.

    Customer Service Centre sounds professional and handles all kind of customer queries in all medium.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Carson Ding 17 Nov at 7:31 am
  17. I think it’s an AGE thing. People who have been in the business for a long time (oldies, like me) say “Call” Centre. People newer to the business say “Contact” Centre.

    oldie 17 Nov at 7:33 pm
  18. Call Centres are for making calls and Contact Centres for receiving. Yo Tam, Its Ali,I agree with you on this matey!

    Ali Sheikh 13 Apr at 10:25 am
  19. I believe call centre is part of Contact centre.Just like we have marketing and advertising.To a layman,call centre is inside contact centre.Contact centre includes helpdesk,call centre,telemarketing, etc.

    Lekan Badejo 16 Apr at 1:44 pm
  20. I believe the term “Contact Centre” gives a more positive perception than call centre!

    Name 8 Dec at 9:40 pm
  21. I live in Russia. For me, still a big question as accurately be called.
    Contact center more professional I think, although people are more aware of the phrase call-center.

    Mahmud 19 Jun at 7:57 am
  22. Though a call center and a contact center are distinguished from one another, it has been an impression that a contact center has everything. It’s taking and receiving calls, handling emails, live chat, etc. And I would agree that contact center connotes a positive apprehension to people

    Anon 6 Apr at 8:00 pm
  23. On my own perspective the call center and contact centre are just synonymous. Both words are the same.

    James Stagger 3 Jul at 8:13 pm
  24. If its more than one way of communication its appropriate to call as a Contact Center rather than a Call center.Call center is where you communicate only through the Telephone.But contact centers are using Telephones/Emails/Fax,Skype etc..

    Srikanth 30 Aug at 4:39 am
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