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What is a call center?

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A call centre is a centralised office used for the purpose of receiving and transmitting a large volume of requests by telephone.

This is slightly different from contact centres which are characterized by the collective handling of letters, faxes, live chat, and e-mails in one location.

Call centre agent or telephone operator are terms used to describe call centre employees. These agents can operate in either inbound or out bound call centres.
Inbound call centres primarily receive calls from clients and consumers. Large stores and businesses often have inbound call centres dedicated to addressing the needs of their clientele.

In these call centres, agents will generally be expected to handle customer queries and complaints. There is a strong emphasis on providing customer care and problem solving. Agents need to be sensitive and knowledgeable about business products and services in order to effectively assist customers.

In outbound call centres the emphasis is on making calls. The purpose of the business can range from telemarketing and the selling of products and services to debt collection. Agents who operate in outbound call centres are more aggressive in their telephonic communications.

Call centres are popular in places like South Africa, India and the Philippines, where there are large volumes of educated english speaking labourers.

South Africa is ideally positioned for call centre activity because of its world class infrastructure, stable investment environment, large talent pool and time zone.

Non-profit agency BPeSa Western Cape formerly known as Calling the Cape is dedicated to the development of the contact centre and business process outsourcing industry in Cape Town. This is of many local initiatives created to promote the growth and development of the contact centre, BPO and IT-enabled services sector in South Africa.

Other industry associations include South African Contact Centre Community (SACCCOM)the professional body for the call centre and BPO industry in South Africa.

Visit Outsourcing to South Africa to view some of the top call centres in South Africa

By Cindy Payle - Skills Portal Journalist

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