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Why BPO is not a call centre

You want to outsource your areas of responsibility to a service provider and in your research you keep coming across the term "Business Process Outsourcing", also known as BPO. Many people think that call centres and BPO are synonymous. While they are similar, they have distinct differences. To improve the performance of your business, it is important to know the difference between the two.

In this article we explain what BPO means, go into the specific characteristics of BPO and call centre and describe the main differences between them.

What does BPO mean?

BPO is an outsourcing service that handles incoming and outgoing tasks for other companies. Although outsourced agents do not work directly for the company they work for, they still provide excellent customer support. BPO agents are extensively trained to understand their client's offering so that they always have the perfect answer to any questions.

Job responsibilities:

Inbound and outbound calls - BPO agents take customer calls and make outbound calls to increase brand awareness. In addition to calls, agents also generate leads that can be followed up by your internal team.

Market research - Agents reach out to existing or potential customers to gather information to improve products and services. BPO agents identify soft leads based on an ideal customer profile set by the company that hired them.

Telemarketing - BPOs can be talented members of the first line of sales and refer all leads to the company's sales team.

Helpdesk services - Many companies use helpdesk-support to assist customers with frequently asked questions.

Technical support - Some BPO agents have in-depth experience and knowledge of a product. These agents often handle more specific, technical customer questions.

Lead generation and sales tasks - BPO agents can act as a built-in sales team, saving your company time and increasing revenue.

While these activities sound similar to the tasks of call centre agents, call centre agents are fully integrated into a company, while BPO agents are completely outsourced.

Main characteristics of BPO and call centre

Three main types of BPO:

Onshore outsourcing

Onshore means that BPO agents are based in the country where your company operates.

Offshore outsourcing

Offshore means that BPO agents are located in a different country from your company.

Nearshore outsourcing

Nearshore is very similar to offshore outsourcing in that it involves working with a provider in a neighbouring country.

Three main types of call centre:

Inbound call centre

As the name suggests, inbound call centre take incoming calls - usually from existing or potential customers. Inbound call centre agents talk to customers who need help, support or instructions.

Outbound call centre

Outbound call centre agents make phone calls on behalf of your business. They are often a cost-effective solution to extend your company's reach. Outbound call centre agents sell to new customers or increase sales to existing customers.

Virtual call centre

In a virtual call centre, employees are not tied to a single workstation. The employees of a virtual call centre work remotely and can receive or make calls from anywhere.

BPO can be outbound, virtual, onshore, nearshore or offshore. To take full advantage of BPO, you should fully understand the type of work you want an outsourcing company to do for you.

Some important differences between a call centre and a BPO

The Cons of a Call Centre...

Service quality

Unfortunately, it is inevitable that occasionally there will be a bad experience with a call centre. The most common reasons for this include:

  • Transferring customers from one agent to another

  • Lack of empathy or rude behaviour

  • Slow response time

  • Excessive use of automation

  • Not enough expertise

Customer satisfaction

Hiring a call centre creates a new layer between customers and your business. Regardless of how good the call centre is, it may not be able to solve customer problems to the extent that you can. This can have a negative impact on customer satisfaction.


When you outsource your call centre services, you need to provide sensitive information to the provider. However, there are usually various legal agreements that protect the confidential information you share.

Conclusion - your optimal outsourcing partner

Although BPO and traditional call centre have similarities, there are key differences. Because BPO providers can outsource internal work, they are an effective way to save time. In addition, offshore and nearshore BPO centres can be more cost-effective options than building internal teams.

Prosupo can help you with a wide range of processes to save time and resources. We have extensive experience in delivering projects of all sizes and complexities and are confident that we can find a solution that best suits your needs.

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