A cartoon illustration of call center agents
A woman looking at the city skyline from a call center

An Introduction to the Types and Roles of Call CentersA woman with a headset taking calls in a call center

It’s not an oversimplification to classify the types and roles of call center agents inside the industry. A lot of these have operations performed by employees working in these buildings. You can categorize them in many different ways, usually it’s just a marketing tactic, or a way to help customers understand the fundamentals of call center jobs. Let me explain. Ultimately, it’s a person that sits next to a phone and computer. Though you might take advantage of various kinds of agents and specialties, that is the definition of a call center in a nutshell Hence, without belittling the job, this salient point is vital to remember these types and roles roles which call center agents perform in a call center.

What are the Types of Tasks for Call Center Agents?

  1. Taking Inbound Calls – These are calls from customers towards call center agents. These usually involve queries on product usage and perhaps website navigation for ecommerce. The call center agents then address these concerns in order to help maintain the operations of their employer such as their ecommerce website. This is the most common form of telecommunications in the different types of call centers.
  2. Making Outbound Calls – Agents are the ones who facilitate the calls themselves. Sales is the main interest in doing outbound calling.
  3. Performing Miscellaneous or Client Specific Tasks on a PC – Sometimes an agent performs chat support. The agent does this on the keyboard minus the use of voice. And even with voice support, there is still a need to learn some of the systems which go into consolidating the knowledge bases so the articles would check out.

Fundamentally, however an agent in a call center can do any one of or a combination of all three tasks.

A woman and her call center colleagues enthusiastically taking calls

3 Common Facets of Call Center Operations

a) Seat Leasing – This is the most basic, it’s a person in a room with a computer and a phone. You have full control over the employees, and you do all the management and tedious oversight work, which includes payroll, attendance, hiring, firing.

b) BPO – Business Process Outsourcing – Almost a black box, where you setup requirements, provide material, and the company get’s it done for you, with their internal processes, their own KPI’s, etc. They will then return you a product or service with their own metrics to show you the success rate. You will obviously have your own metrics to see what you put in, and what you put out.

The Pros and Cons of Using Traditional BPO’s

The client, rarely, if ever, talks to the employee. The positive of this is that you don’t worry about a thing.. especially the mundane HR tasks, but the negative is, that you don’t have as much control or power. So that ultimately is based on your needs. This model is also slow moving, since any changes need to be done through the company and their trainers, so, any strategic quick change, is quite difficult.

c) Managed Services, which have a wide range of possibilities all the way from basics mentioned in (a) all the way up to hands off mentioned in (b), it’s basically in between. It’s even been called a hybrid-call center (BPO), where the company provides the environment and support of the employee.

  • phones
  • technical support
  • office space
  • payroll
  • attendance
  • hiring
  • firing
  • tax paying
  • discipline
  • HR

Unlike a contact center however, the client can communicate directly with the employee therefore providing them real time work guidance, strategy and job improvements hence improving their skills.

These include resources such as the computers, phones, technical support, electric, office space, payroll, attendance, hiring, firing, tax paying, discipline, HR etc. But, the client still communicates directly with the employee, providing them with work guidance, strategy, job improvement, skills, etc.

Freelancing and Independent Staff

A few more dimensions would include a Freelancer. This is different from Seat leasing, because with this there isn’t even a desk. The freelancer could be a beach bum in Bali, with no structure, no guidance, just job oriented. This is usually – not always – left to young people who want to make a few $ while hanging out at the beach after a hangover, or someone working from home, wherever and whatever their home is.

Fundamentally, there is no one size fits all approach to categorizing call centers. It would depend on the needs of specific clients and services and how they cater to their customers.

I can talk about this all day.

Schedule me here or the site to discuss and answer any questions. I look forward to hearing from you!

A Team Leader smiling before her team of Call Center Agents