What is the difference between a Business Process Outsourcing Company (BPO Company) and a Call Center?

We often hear the words “BPO” and “Call Center” in today’s society, but up until now, many people tend to interchange the definition of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company and Call Center. Since most Call Center agents usually claim that they are working for a BPO company rather than working for a Call Center. Basically this is politically correct, and can also be incorrect.

In this article we will determine if Call Center and BPO has the same purpose, or is there a major difference between the two.

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General Terms

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Company is a firm which offshores operations and responsibilities to a third-party service contractor. BPO services can range from manufacturing products, providing back office workforce, or can be providing customer service support for companies. As mentioned, a BPO company processes different tasks regardless on how big or small based on the need of its clients, meaning there are no limitations on what work can be outsourced to a BPO company.

A BPO company can provide offshoring services for the following industries:

  1. Finance & Accounting – Accountant, Bookkeepers, Collections, Debt Recovery.
  2. Marketing Support – Digital Marketing, Social Media, Copywriters, Video Editors, Website Developer / Graphic Artist.
  3. Call Center – Customer Support, Telemarketers, Email support/Chat, Lead Generators, Collections.
  4. Back office support – Human Resources staff, Encoders, Virtual Assistants, Data Entry, Account Management. .
  5. IT Professionals – Software Engineers & Development, Network Engineer.

A Call Center is a subset of a BPO that mainly focuses on phone-based processes and in most cases, uses autodialing. By definition, call centre is a centralised office used for receiving/sending large volumes of calls through a handset (telephone). While BPO can be used by almost all businesses that have processes and back office tasks. Call Centres on the other hand; focuses mainly on providing support for the company through outbound calling, resolving queries as well as process customer requests sent through phone and email.

A Call center can provide the following services:

  1. Billing and Collections –  collections, billing specialist, etc.
  2. Lead Generation – survey generation, appointment setting, order takers.
  3. Customer Service – email support, customer care,
  4. Technical Support – system engineers, network engineers,

Related Article:  Outsourcing Companies From An Employee’s Perspective

Skills Required

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The basic skill requirement for a Call center job is excellent communication skills, good negotiating skills,  and basic computer knowledge. Whilst in BPO company, it may require excellent communication skills, advanced computer knowledge, a degree in a specific field, high education level and other required skills based on the task. (example: a social media executive needs to be knowledgeable in SEO, or Social Media Management, have a BoS in Marketing or similar field, plus the basic requirements).

The good thing about working for a Call Center is, the fact that they are willing to train people just to complete the job, whereas a BPO generally employs skilled people. Call Center training usually consist of basic computer operations, product training as well as language training to arm the employee with necessary skills to complete the job. In BPO offices, similar training can be provided, but additional training will be given depending on the skills needed to complete the outsourced tasks required.

Workforce

Call Center is within the umbrella of BPO operations, it means  BPO workforce can be equal, less than or greater than a Call Center. The difference can vary depending on situations and client requirements. In a typical Call Center setting, the Call Center can hire up to thousands of employees per location. In contrast, in a BPO company, it can have outsourced staff ranging from hundreds to thousands of employees. In most cases, a Call center has higher workforce because most of its clients requires many people working for a single client.

To understand the difference between BPO and a Call Center we provided the following:

Call Center = 1 task  needs many employees working on a single client. (example: Dell customer support requirements is 100 customer service)

BPO = Employee works as an extension of the business partner. Example: A marketing company employs an offshore Social Media Executive.

Related Article: Virtual Assistants – What are they?

Salaries

BPO companies offer higher salary packages compared with Call Centers. It fluctuates from company to company based on the experience and previous salary of the employee, on the other hand, in a Call Center, employees with similar positions basically have the same salary regardless of their years of experience the employee has or how high or low his/her salary was prior to his present work.

Employee’s Perspective

BPO and Call center. It may appear that these terms may sound relatively similar but there are significant differences between BPO company and a Call Center company. Working in a BPO company means you are working as an extension of the client’s business as part of their team. BPO Companies offer specialized roles where certain skills are required in order to match the client’s needs. Outsourcing Services come in various roles that includes Virtual Assistant, Lead Generator, Social Media Executive, Appointment Setter, Account Managers, Website Developers, just to name a few. From the training process up to contributing input and being part of the decision-making process, employees in BPO companies will be involved in the company’s projects. On the other hand, working in a Call Center will only require having excellent communication and negotiation skills and you do not have any input into developing the company. Call Centers work on volume phone calls using auto dialing and it’s none stop. Employees in Call Center are tasked to interact with customers, answer their queries and assist them with their needs through phone conversation.

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Summary

Call Center is mainly focused on resolving customer’s queries, it is a subset of a BPO company and usually involves only phone work. BPO on the other hand, includes Call Center in its services and other outsourced back-office tasks.  

It is recommended for business owners to hire a BPO company if the required process to be outsourced requires technical or professional skills with a degree. In contrast, Call Center is the logical option when looking for affordable solution for customer service needs.

The differences of working in a BPO company and Call Center are the following: to be employed in a BPO Company will require you to have certain set of skills to align with the tasks of the client that arise from a needs-basis, while to be employed in a Call Center only requires you to have excellent communication and negotiation skills to address the customers needs properly. In a BPO company, you will have a different working experience because employees will have the opportunity of being involved in a big company unlike working in a Call Center where only team leaders are given this kind of opportunity. Working in a BPO company also provides the opportunity to develop a stable career working for an overseas company.

Marc Mangubat

Written by: Marc Mangubat

Co edited by: Tony Godbehere