Inbound vs. Outbound Call Center: Which One Do You Need?

May 7, 2024 9 min read

Alex Doan

Alex Doan


In a call center, taking inbound calls is very different from placing outbound calls. And we’re not just talking about the surface-level call scripts. You’ve got to think about the back-end logistics like dialing capacity, call routing, caller ID, compliance, workforce management, and, of course, legal requirements. 

Contact center operators should set up their call centers to handle both call directions. Proper planning now will save you a lot of time and work later when you need to scale sales or customer support workflows — or both at the same time.

What Are Inbound Call Centers?

Inbound call centers receive incoming calls from current customers. Agents respond to these calls and resolve customer issues when they come in , making the call center teams reactive. 

These teams strive to serve customers and support them when they’re struggling to solve issues independently, even after trying self-serve options in many cases. 

Calling a company for support is still the most popular inbound contact method today. According to CFI Group, 76% of consumers still prefer using a phone for customer service:

Phone calls still dominate as the customer’s channel of choice

You need empathetic and well-trained staff to ensure customers feel heard and valued.  This is key to satisfying customers and retaining them. 

Leaders usually use a few call center metrics to optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of inbound teams. 

Inbound Call Center Success KPIsHow to Calculate
Customer satisfaction score(Number of positive responses ÷ total number of responses) × 100 
Customer dissatisfaction score (Number of negative responses ÷ total number of responses) × 100
Net Promoter Score[(Number of promoters − number of detractors) ÷ total number of responses] × 100
First contact resolution rate(Number of issues resolved in first contact ÷ total number of issues) × 100

Inbound call center software makes it easier to track these metrics and streamline operations. A few notable processes come in handy for inbound call centers dealing with customers at scale:

Inbound call center benefits

Below are some notable benefits of adding an inbound call center to your business. 

Customer loyalty

People may forget what you say, but they remember how you make them feel. Treating your customers well when they contact you and quickly resolving their issues makes them feel valued. 

This feeling translates into loyalty, which is reflected in your business’s repeat, upsell, or cross-sell revenue. A personalized query resolution experience on the phone goes a long way to adding such revenue. 

Customers who receive excellent service via your inbound call center will remain loyal to your brand and think of you when they’re ready to purchase again. On the contrary, customers with not-so-excellent customer service experiences with your inbound call center team will likely switch brands. Poor phone-based interactions frustrate around 76% of customers


Inbound calls are reliable channels for understanding customers’ general pains, needs, and preferences. Use customer feedback to improve your product and service, creating a more satisfactory customer experience. 

Feedback helps you continuously improve and build a better product for people who use and purchase it. Inbound call center teams review customer feedback and turn them into action items for their teams. 

Customer retention

A personalized support experience encourages customers to contact you with any issue they have. When you deliver consistently high-quality technical support during every customer interaction, customers know you value them every time they contact you. 

As a result, customers feel special and are more likely to remain loyal to your company for an extended period of time.  


What Are Outbound Call Centers?

Outbound call centers take a more proactive approach than inbound call centers. Agents call new and existing customers to generate leads or conduct market research. Outbound call center agents need to be persuasive and skilled at handling objections while conducting daily cold calls, sales calls, and follow-ups. 

There are some similarities between inbound and outbound call center setups. For example, outbound call centers also use call recordings to train agents and improve the quality of cold calls or pitches. Similarly, integrations with CRM software, websites, and other business systems let agents and salespeople use data from any channel to improve the contextual relevance of their calls and boost conversions. 

To maximize the success of your outbound call center, regularly monitor agent performance against these standard metrics. 

Outbound Call Center Success KPIsHow to Calculate
Answer success rate (Number of calls answered ÷ total number of calls made) × 100
Lead conversion rate(Number of successful outcomes ÷ total number of calls made) × 100
Average handle time[(Total talk time + hold time + after-call work time) ÷ total number of calls made] × 100
Cost per callTotal operational cost ÷ total calls made
Cost per acquisitionTotal cost of call campaign ÷ number of new customers acquired

Sometimes, your metrics suffer if customers block or avoid picking up your calls, considering them spam.

 Implement the following strategies when building your outbound call center to minimize the rate of rejected calls.

Outbound call center benefits

Due to their proactive approach, outbound call centers have several benefits for your business.

Boosts lead generation and sales 

According to HubSpot, 15% of marketers struggle to generate leads. Outbound call agents relieve the pressure on the marketing and inbound sales teams by skillfully identifying prospects who are likely to turn into customers.

They access customer data to target pain points and persuade customers to move forward in the sales funnel. A personalized interaction opens upselling or cross-selling opportunities.

Increases brand awareness 

Businesses can tailor brand communications to the interests of their target market through outgoing calls. Since customers value human interaction, they’ll notice your brand more when engaging in meaningful conversation. 

Reps can proactively inform customers about your product offerings or service quality and build good relationships. When it is time to purchase, these callers are more likely to remember your brand.

Helps conduct market research 

You can learn what customers want through outbound call centers. By directly engaging with your buyers, you uncover valuable information about their needs, preferences, motivations, trends, etc. This concrete market research lets you invest more confidently in updating your services and developing your products.

Choosing the Right Call Center for Your Business

Inbound and outbound call centers fulfill different purposes and customer expectations. 

For example, service-oriented businesses, like those in healthcare or banking, benefit from having an inbound call center to resolve customer concerns. Conversely, businesses focused on acquiring new customers and demographics, like those in the retail sector, need an outbound call center.

The choice depends on how you operate and in which industry. 

Let’s identify the right match for your business needs.

Consider your business goals

Align your strategy with your short- and long-term business goals. Are you looking for scalability? Do your short-term goals involve introducing new products, entering new markets, capturing more leads, etc.? In this case, a strong outbound call center team can help. 

However, you need an inbound call center strategy if you already have a solid customer base and want to increase customer satisfaction and retention. 

If you are struggling to decide, you can check in with your team to see where they are struggling and choose your type of call center accordingly.

Analyze your customer base

Evaluate your customer’s expectations. If your customers value after-sales service and customer support as much as product quality, then inbound call centers contribute to a unified customer experience

The contact center solution from Nextiva covers every social media, messaging, and business communication channel. It helps sales and support teams communicate with customers. 

For example, if you have numerous leads stuck in the sales funnel who need a little nudge, or you need to increase brand awareness among prospects, outbound phone calls can be more successful. When your team works from one platform, it helps everyone perform better instead of using several different tools. 

Evaluate resources

Consider the agents on your team and their training needs. Inbound calls can be complex, requiring agents who know your product and can handle customer service calls politely, professionally, and empathetically. 

Outbound call agents, however, typically work with scripts and dialing lists. Sales-oriented staff with good communication and persuasion skills are best suited for this role.

Blended Call Centers: The Best of Both Worlds

If you can’t decide between inbound vs. outbound call centers, there is a secret option C — blended call centers. Most organizations require the benefits of inbound and outbound call centers, so they centralize their customer communications in one call center team.


This approach brings together the best of both worlds by:

  • Increasing efficiency: Since call center agents handle both inbound and outbound calls, the calling software directs customer calls to any available agent, reducing idle time among the team and waiting time for the customer.
  • Improving customer satisfaction: With one team handling proactive outreach and customer support, callers don’t have to jump on multiple calls to get what they need. This approach increases customer satisfaction rates.
  • Capturing sales and leads: You can train agents to convert interest or generate new sales from inbound calls through personalized interactions. Potential customers feel comfortable taking action or moving through the sales process when they have built a connection with an agent.
  • Adding flexibility: A centralized communications system gives agents a holistic view of customer profiles and past interactions. Agents can quickly switch between inbound and outbound calls when tackling high call volumes, as all data is available in one place.

Considerations when choosing a blended call center

A blended team has many benefits, but you might also encounter challenges. Awareness of these issues helps you take proactive or preventive steps and keep your team running smoothly.

  • Training: Training agents to hone diverse skills and handle both call types requires time and effort. Specialized training is needed to help them address complex issues, different temperaments, and high call volumes. But this effort will pay off in the long run.
  • Technology: Blended call software can be complex and costly, and it can take a while for your team to get the hang of it. However, there are many reasonably priced cloud call center software applications that blend inbound and outbound call center services. You should conduct thorough research to find an intuitive tool at a suitable cost. 
  • Call patterns: It is important to strike the right balance between inbound and outbound call patterns. If your agents are more focused on outbound calls, you risk being less available for incoming callers. 

Nextiva’s Blended Call Center Platform

When you consider the above pointers and plan accordingly, a flexible call center platform adds substantial value to your business. It gives your customers a consistent communication experience regardless of whether they’re dealing with your sales or support team. 

Call center software by Nextiva has been a valuable choice for many companies dealing with inbound and outbound calls. It helps your business satisfy customer needs while turning call centers into lead-generation engines. 

Optimize your call center operation.

Maximize your team’s productivity effortlessly and see why top brands use Nextiva to handle calls at scale.

Alex Doan


Alex Doan

Alex Doan is an experienced senior marketing professional specializing in propelling growth for both B2B and B2C companies. Proficient in streamlining marketing operations for seamless sales transitions, utilizing analytics and consumer insights to achieve measurable outcomes. Committed to enhancing lead and customer experiences through effective journey mapping.

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