Individuals often make the mistake of placing inbound and outbound call centre roles into the same category. In reality, however, they are actually quite different and specific skill sets are required to be successful in each role.

A staff member employed in either position must be comfortable with communicating with clients over the telephone and increasingly by email and social media.  The latter two are already beginning to make a significant impact. This article will explain the differences between inbound and outbound advisor roles and describe the skills that are required for each.

Individuals who are looking to further their careers in call centre positions are strongly advised to register with an employment agency that provides specialist contact centre solutions information. 

Inbound and outbound: the key differences.

Outbound customer service jobs involve advisors directly reaching out to customers and potential customers, without any prior solicitation. This technique is often used for telemarketing purposes, to offer advice to existing customers or to carry out satisfaction surveys.

An inbound call centre agent, on the other hand, is responsible for answering calls that customers and potential customers make to the company. This type of call is often made when the customer has already decided to buy or is at least interested in purchasing the company's products or services.

The subtle, but important, difference between the two roles is that, in inbound situations, the customer has directly instigated the call, whereas in outbound situations, they have not. This changes the dynamics of interaction, because inbound sales agents are dealing with customers who are ready and willing to talk about a specific subject and who already have the motivation to pick up the phone and speak about the products or services being offered.

As a result, outbound advisors often need to adopt a slightly more forceful and persuasive approach, as they are encroaching on the customer's time and have the added task of persuading him or her to hear them out; that is before they can even begin selling or asking for more of the customer's time.

It is therefore clear that inbound selling, in particular, is often a more relaxed affair, as the customer feels in control of the interaction. Outbound work and especially selling, is usually a tougher proposition for which specific sales techniques and skills are required.

The attributes required by inbound and outbound advisors.

While some call centre advisors handle both inbound and outbound calls, many companies deliberately separate the two roles. Only around 4% of call centres focus solely on outbound calls, 63% deal with inbound calls only and the remaining 33% have both.

Employers typically look for people with a persuasive and focused ability to drive and close a sale when employing outbound customer service advisors; whereas inbound advisors tend to be more successful if they are friendlier and allow the customer to drive the interaction.

Outbound workers must have the ability to remain polite, even though there will inevitably be times when they have to deal with people who are rude or hostile to their calls. As a result, outbound advisors will typically receive a higher level of commission for each sale, reflecting the increased challenges they face.

Inbound work can be just as difficult, however, especially when customers are unhappy with the service they have received or decide against making a purchase.