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What types of UK call centres could businesses set up?

Published on 14/12/2023 by David Jani

Call centres are a favourite solution for sales and customer service-focused businesses, which offer an immediate point of contact to support consumers. However, the type of UK call centre a business may choose to set up can vary considerably. What possible options does this offer decision-makers?

UK call centre workers organise themselves on a giant ear 

Setting up a call management centre is a worthwhile step for businesses to improve their customer service or sales model. Providing a call centre in the UK for consumers to contact can provide localised and tailored customer support when they need help the most. They can also help businesses create a streamlined operation where sales agents can quickly contact potential leads.

Yet setting up and running a call centre is not necessarily a straightforward exercise. Creating the experience necessary may require specific technological solutions, industry expertise and managers to implement suitable call centre software.

This article considers some of the ways that these operations can be set up and managed to get the most effective results for a business. It looks at the different types of call centres a company in the UK may operate or contract and how it can support its operational model. 

What role do call centres play in the UK?

Call centres are a major part of business operations in the United Kingdom. They are used across a diverse mix of business sectors and assist in improving client-company communication and satisfaction. 

Additionally, call centres represent a major sector of their own within the UK. Call centre businesses employ nearly 50,000 people across the country and generate more than £3 billion in revenue per year collectively. 

Choosing between different types of UK call centres

The options available for businesses in terms of call centre options depend highly on the type of calls being made or received. However, there are many choices to make to ensure that a call centre fits around a business and its functions. In the sections below we look at the main options. 

Outbound call centres 

An outbound call centre is an operation where agents reach out to customers by phone. As the name suggests, their focus is primarily on outbound calls, which are usually made to sales leads or to respond to requests for information. 

In most cases, sales-focused telemarketing businesses will utilise outbound call centres. Yet, they can also prove popular with businesses operating in the fundraising and market research sectors as well.

Inbound call centres 

An inbound call centre is most commonly used by customer service-focused businesses or departments and deals with incoming calls. Inbound contact centres might be used to provide customer helpdesk support, help with consumer queries or allow people to call in to make payments and sign up for services.

Virtual call centres 

Virtual call centres can operate as inbound or outbound focused sites. However, what makes them distinct is their use of VoIP technology to make or receive calls. This allows operatives to potentially work from different locations rather than in one office as calls are made over the internet rather than on a fixed landline.

Blended call centre

A blended call centre allows businesses to handle inbound and outbound calls from a single operation. Having both types of calls under one roof can give companies the chance to enjoy the best of both worlds and can prove especially practical for larger organisations with more complex requirements. 

Automated call centre

An automated call centre utilises artificial intelligence (AI) to automate repetitive tasks, reducing human effort. Rather than replacing the workforce with chatbots as the name may suggest, it instead uses automated technology to assist with employee scheduling for calls, using technology such as voice recognition to understand and allocate customers to agents with appropriate expertise. 

Additionally, AI can be used in automated call centres to gather data and provide analytics to managers overseeing operations. This information can then be used to forecast the busiest times for call centre agents or to understand caller needs better.  

Local or outsourced?

A big question companies might consider when setting up any kind of call centre type is whether it should be local or outsourced. An outsourced solution usually involves contracting call centre workers and centres overseas, commonly in a country where English is widely spoken as a first or second language; for example, India or the Philippines.

However, whilst outsourcing call centres can prove cheaper, it is not always popular with customers. This has been demonstrated by big companies such as the BT Group, Vodafone, and Santander switching back to UK-based call centres following poor customer feedback of overseas support.  

What software do businesses use in call centres?

Call centre software that UK businesses can put in place doesn’t always come as an all-encompassing tool. Instead, it is a family of technologies that can assist stakeholders in providing effective workforce management in a call centre. Some examples are considered below:

  • Call accounting software - run by organisations to scrutinise and manage the costs associated with telephone usage. 
  • Call recording software - used by call centres for quality control purposes to monitor how agents conduct themselves in customer interactions and to create accessible records for employee feedback and performance reviews.
  • Call tracking software - platforms used by marketing organisations to assess the effectiveness of marketing campaigns on driving inbound calls.
  • VoIP software - internet calling tools that allow businesses to make inbound and outbound calls using an Internet connection rather than conventional phone cables.

How to choose call centre software for UK businesses

Different software is usually required by different types of call centres. This makes the choice of platform or tool to use all the more specific. Picking a suitable call centre software platform may be driven by a variety of factors depending on the company’s mission and goals for setting up a call centre in the first place.

Some important considerations businesses could make to choose the right software include the following points:

  • Company needs: does the firm need an inbound or outbound operation and do the tools have the functionalities required to support the chosen model?
  • Cost: as always, companies need to have a good idea of their budget requirements for the ongoing running of a call centre operation when choosing a platform.
  • Team size: how many operators will be needed for this program? This is especially important when selecting technology solutions as some providers charge per user and this may affect the overall budget.
  • Technology requirements: will the business use VoIP or conventional landline phone lines for calls? Having tools to better facilitate call management using your chosen technology should take these needs into account. 
  • Training requirements: last but not least, it is important to consider what training may be required to onboard and run a platform when choosing software for call centres. 

Given that choosing call centre software is a big decision it is vital to plan the implementation carefully, taking into account all these points. This can help map out the companies’ readiness to set up software correctly so that all the needs and variables are properly understood and the option that best fits the project can be selected. 

Looking for call centre software? Check out our catalogue.

This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.

About the author

David is a Content Analyst for the UK, providing key insights into tech, software and business trends for SMEs. Cardiff University graduate. He loves traveling, cooking and F1.

David is a Content Analyst for the UK, providing key insights into tech, software and business trends for SMEs. Cardiff University graduate. He loves traveling, cooking and F1.