What is the Difference between Call Centers and BPOs?
To many people, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and call centers are the same. There are emerging outsourcing destinations like Albania, where the industry started with call centers. Therefore, when you ask people about BPO they would ask, yes we have hundreds of call centers in the country.
Yet, BPO is about much more than just call center outsourcing. It stands for the growing industry of businesses located all over the world that help other industries to perform non-core tasks such as accounting, legal services, manufacturing, bookkeeping, payroll, data entry, customer support, etc.
Call center outsourcing focuses on performing a set of tasks that can be handled through phone calls such as customer service, lead generation, appointment setting, sales, emergencies, travel, etc.
Call centers are considered a subcategory of BPOs. BPO consists of back office and front office services. The first includes internal business functions like HR related functions, accounting, bookkeeping, etc. Front office outsourcing is about functions that are customer related.
The BPO industry during its early days has been associated with the manufacturing industry. Major companies started to outsource numerous processes related to manufacturing and logistics operations such as warehousing, transportation, etc. Those tasks didn’t require a highly-qualified workforce thus, they were also cost driven given that most of the vendors were located overseas.
In the meantime, technology progress and the internet helped sophisticate the industry and grow it further. Compared to the early days, BPO now is the strategy to get a high level of expertise and talent from all over the world. Therefore, BPO requires highly skilled and knowledgeable experts.
The call center industry flourished the same way as BPO. The first call centers took advantage of the existing technology and established business models based on phone calls, telemarketing or telesales, appointment booking and much more. Despite the profitable solution, business people started to think about less expensive ways of handling their customer base. Once again they considered process outsourcing as the best option available. There were many companies in other countries that could provide the necessary systems and workforce. Call centers required basic computer knowledge and foreign language fluency.
Call centers are no longer only about foreign language skills. The industry is trying to evolve out of the under-performing situation. Companies are investing in human resources and technology in order to improve job prospects for call center agents and create a win-win situation both for the customers and employees.