What is Your Idea of a Call Center, Contact Center & BPO?

Being inexperienced in the call center industry is not an excuse. If you say you have no idea what is a contact center, call center and BPO, then you're giving the interviewer a good reason not to like you, right from the start of the interview. And by all means, avoid that, if you really want the job.


In a nutshell, you want to show your interviewer that you took the time to research the job info, that you have an idea of what you're getting into. This shows you are interested in the job and serious about getting hired.

To answer these questions, let's first define call center, contact center and BPO first.


What is Your Idea of a Call Center, Contact Center and BPO?

What is a call center?

According to Wikipedia, a call center is a centralised office used for receiving or transmitting a large volume of requests by telephone. This means that the employees in a call center either make, or receive phone calls.

Call center is divided into two categories:


1. Inbound

In an inbound call center, the agents are receive calls from the customers. Customers call for assistance—questions about products and services and technical issues like fixing a computer. In a physical store scenario, it's equivalent to the customer going to the mall to shop.


If the customer have problems with his laptop, this is where he calls and asks for help. The Technical Service Representative's (or call center agent) job is to guide the customer over the phone on how to fix it.

If the company is an online shopping site, and the customer wants to return an item, then the Customer Service Representative's (call center agent) job is to check if the item is returnable. If it is, then she provides the returns instructions.

It's as simple as this: If customers have questions, they call, they ask you, and you answer. Done.

2. Outbound

Instead of the call center agents receiving the call, they are the ones making the call. It's like the salesman knocking door to door to sell products. Only, in the call center, he's doing it over the phone.

It could be because a product that the agent is selling (telemarketing), ask for donations (charitable or political donations), for debt collection, and political surveys.

What is a contact center?

"Contact center" and "call center" are interchangeably used, but here's the key difference: call center only handles calls from customers, while contact centers also communicates to the customers outside the telephone. How? Through emails, faxes, and chats.

So if you don't want to talk over the phone, you can apply for these positions.

What is BPO?

BPO stands for Business Process Outsourcing. Example, if a certain company in the US or another country outside Philippines, needs help with certain tasks, they hire another company outside US to do it for them. One of those countries is the Philippines. This process is called BPO.

Why would countries like US, Canada, Australia hire employees from another countries like Philippines to do some tasks for them?

It's because it's ridiculously cheap and cost-effective. I heard that one employee they hire from their own countries could already pay 3 to 4 employees in the Philippines. Big difference.

Difference between BPO and call center

As you can see from BPO definition above, call center is just a subdivision of BPO.

BPO offers a wide range of services, not just call center. This means they could perform back office tasks like accounting, data mining, digital marketing, voice transcription, medical billing, graphics and many more. But of course, call center jobs has the highest head counts.

Sample Answers:

I suggest that you begin with this statement:

As what I've researched online..."

"Before I decided to apply, I researched..."

"According to a friend who is a call center agent..."

Why? Because you want to emphasize that you took the time to research the job description and isn't just applying to get any job. Interviewers want to hear that you're applying because you specifically want to be a call center agent.  That's an extra point for you.

As what I've researched online, a call center is where call center agents either make or receive phone calls to answer customer's questions about products and services or to sell something and conducts surveys."

"Before I decided to apply, I researched the employees' job description in a contact center and I found out that a contact center is where you handle calls, emails and chats to answer customer's questions or sell products and conduct surveys."

"According to a friend who is a call center agent, a BPO is any type of tasks or services that are outsourced  usually from another countries to the Philippines. Examples are call center, which is the biggest so far, and back office tasks like accounting and another office tasks."

You don't need long and detailed answers

These answers are pretty short and basic. You don't need long and overly detailed ones. You're a call center virgin in the first place. The interviewer will understand that. S/he just needs to know whether you have a decent idea of what you're getting into. Of why you choose to apply in a call center.

What the interviewer cannot and will not understand is if you say, "No, sorry, I have no idea. I'm pretty new to this." If I were the interviewer, I'd show you the exit door right then and there.

That's it for now. I hope I've shed some light to these basic but most common questions.

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