What is an inbound call?

An inbound call is typically initiated by a customer to a call center or contact center. A contact center might handle either inbound or outbound calls exclusively or a combination of both.

Inbound contact center agent performance is measured according to several metrics, including first call resolution, average handle time and time in queue. Inbound contact centers sometimes stipulate service goals the center works toward in a service-level agreement.

Today's inbound contact center agents often communicate with customers through email and chat, as well as phone calls.

Chart comparing call centers and contact centers across channels, data, customer self-service, agent skills and responsibilities, and technologies and applications.
Despite various similarities between call and contact centers, differences also exist.

Inbound vs. outbound contact centers

An inbound contact center receives incoming calls to the contact center from existing customers. Customer service agents and support teams are responsible for monitoring and attending caller requests. One of the primary services of an inbound contact center is to handle customer calls and provide tech support.

Bulleted list of 8 contact center technologies.
Some of the most common tools and technologies found in call centers.

An outbound contact center makes outgoing calls to potential customers. The sales team makes cold calls to grow the company's customer base. Companies rely on market research and lead generation to gather details about potential customers.

Strategies for inbound call management

A wide range of strategies can be used to maximize customer satisfaction. Companies can either set up internal customer support or outsource the business process.

The following are some strategies inbound contact centers can use to improve the customer experience:

  • Focus on integration of contact center software and customer relationship management tools to help the customer service team see a customer's history at a glance.
  • Implement a call routing system whereby the customer is immediately connected to the right department.
  • Experiment with interactive voice response (IVR) to find the one with the lowest call abandon rate. High call volume also makes IVR a safe option.
  • Train staff regularly to keep them up to date with the customer service policy.

Editor's note: This article was updated in July 2024 to improve the reader experience.

This was last updated in July 2024

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