A call center is a voice-centric, public switched telephony network-based center where agents handle service calls from customers, business partners, internal company associates and/or anyone else.
A contact center generally refers to a center where agents handle additional types of customer, partner and/or associate contacts. Those contacts could come through email, public switched calls, Web-based calls (a.k.a. Voice over Internet Protocol), fax, Web chat or any other channel of communication. A contact center could handle one, all or any combination of those channels. The contact center software routes, queues and otherwise manages each of these contact channels very much like call center software routes calls.
So in everyday conversation, call center and contact center normally refer to different things. Technically, however, a call center is one type of contact center.
Contact centers go by many names. Probably the most common is e-contact center. Other fairly common ones you may hear are Web-enabled call center and customer interaction center.
For more information, check out searchCRM's Call Center/Customer Interaction Center Best Web Links.
This was first published in July 2001