Starting a call center can seem like a lot of work. However, if you know what to look for and plan accordingly, your job becomes more manageable. When planning to start a call center, it is essential to keep a few elements in mind. This post will go through the various steps of creating your contact center and the different factors to consider.
Steps to Start a Call Center
Consider these questions: Do you want a physical or remote set-up? What do you need to set up a physical call center? How can you organize and start a virtual call center? Read on to understand what steps are required to start a call center.
Step 1: Plan Out What Service You Want to Offer
First, you need to decide on the core purpose of your contact center. Do you want to offer lead generation, sales, or customer support services? What levels and areas of customer service do you want to provide? What industries and sectors do you want to cover? Do you want your call center to be inbound, outbound, or both?
An inbound call center is designed only to receive calls made by users or customers. These centers typically focus on customer service, provide support or sales, and help with billing or general queries. Customers can call regarding questions about your product or more information about your company or services you support. These centers also work as directories that people can call to find information about local or regional services or businesses. Starting an inbound call center will provide a new avenue for your customers to interact with you and your business.
Outbound call centers, on the other hand, make calls to potential leads and customers. These centers are typically run by lead generation and sales teams. They make cold calls to customers and provide information about a company’s products and services. Outbound call centers may also offer services such as collecting surveys and conducting market research.
Your call center can be strictly outbound or inbound or both. Deciding what services you want to offer and what industries you want to cover will help you determine the next steps.
Step 2: Decide on a Physical or Remote Call Center
Next, decide how and where you want to set up your call center. If you want a physical location, check local and state requirements to ensure you comply. File all the necessary paperwork and tax information.
Alternatively, for a virtual call center, you do not need a physical location or office supplies. Instead, you can simply start by creating a business plan and setting up phone lines. However, make sure to check your town’s zoning restrictions if you are starting a business from your home. Zoning restrictions determine whether or not you are allowed to start a business from your home.
Step 3. Write Out a Business Plan
Now, create a business plan to generate some idea of what to expect as you start your company. Develop a business plan including expenses, equipment cost, projected sales, marketing activities, and employee salaries and benefits. Thorough and detailed business plans can help you secure capital with agencies like Small Business Administration (SBA) and private investors.
Step 4. Prepare a Hiring Plan & Build Your Team
Hire employees to work as customer service agents or call center agents depending on your business’ size and demands. Calculate the number of agents needed for a given number of calls. Virtual centers can afford to hire more remote call center agents as they do not have to worry about office space. Prepare to offer training or access to call center training courses to help employees meet the standards you set for them. You may even help them gain access to webinars, training materials, and so on.
Step 5: Invest in Equipment & Technology
Now, based on your center’s location and the business plan, start investing in office equipment. How many desks and chairs do you need? What software programs would be resourceful to keep your work organized? Phones and headsets are a call center’s necessity. However, what type of phone lines or phone service would you benefit from the most? Determining the needs of your company will make sure you are better equipped to satisfy your customers.
Choose technology to match your call center’s needs. Some standard call center technology tools include:
1. Call center software: Give your business access to necessary call center tools. Get virtual call center software to manage your contact center through cloud communication solutions.
2. Remote call management tools: Help your remote business stay connected and communicate better. Common remote call management tools include call forwarding, call routing, outbound calling, etc.
3. Project management systems: Help managers and agents keep track of individual and team projects and tasks.
4. Customer Relationship Management (CRMs): Used for call center quality assurance. CRM tools study and analyze data to ensure that call centers are productive and time-efficient.
5. Customer service tools: Directed to offering better customer service.
6. On-premise equipment: Office supplies, chairs, computers, desk phones, headsets, etc.
7. Business phone service: What type of phone lines and call management features do you need? Will your center benefit from toll free or local phone numbers? Contact a toll free service provider or virtual phone service provider like Global Call Forwarding to understand what options are available.
Step 6: Get a Business Phone Number
A business phone number will establish your company as professional and ready for business. Any phone service provider can help you with a phone number for your business. However, investing in one that will provide you additional features to enrich customer service relations is productive. Phone service providers, like Global Call Forwarding, offer call forwarding, call transfer, call recording, unlimited extensions, simultaneous ringing, and more.
Virtual phone numbers enable businesses to reach customers without creating a physical presence. Virtual numbers are cost-effective and come with the added benefits of recording your call, forwarding it to employees in different time zones, customized voice greetings, and more. These ensure that no customer call goes unanswered. This mode of communication is useful for remote offices as well, allowing customers to reach you always. This way, customers will think of your company as a call center available in multiple time zones.
You can also invest in interactive voice response (IVR), which will provide your customers with a menu of options when they call. They can follow directions to resolve their queries — for example, Press 1 to review your charges. Press 2 to pay your bill. Pay 3 to cancel your plan, and so on. The IVR feature can also greet customers with a customized message. For instance, “Thank you for calling [your business]. Please stay on the line while we connect you to a representative.”
Step 7: Plan How to Measure Results
Next, decide how you would like to track and measure your call center’s performance and results. Measuring your center’s performance can help you identify areas of improvement. You can also determine areas your call center is performing well in and maintain those levels.
Common call center metrics to measure include:
- Average Time in the Queue
- Service Level or Response Time
- Percentage of Calls Blocked
- Average Speed of Answer
- Average Handle Time
- First Call Resolution
- Average Abandonment Rate
You also need to track and measure customer success metrics such as:
- Customer Churn Rate
- Average Revenue Per Account (ARPA)
- Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Customer Retention Cost (CRC)
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
Step 8: Market your Business
Finally, it is important to get the word out about your center. Marketing your business will ensure that potential customers and clients are aware of your services. Invest in a vanity or toll free number for marketing. These numbers come with patterns or letters for an easy-to-remember and recognizable number. For example, 866-898-8988 or 1-800-YOU-ROCK. Besides these, focus on marketing strategies to target your ideal customer groups. Maintain constant communication with customers and clients so that they think of you first when a service like yours is needed.
Start Finding Clients and Get Your Call Center Ringing
Virtual call centers mean that you do not need to restrict your services to only customers in your city or state. Go global with your business and tap new customer groups. Improve your customer service relations with Global Call Forwarding’s features. Forward, transfer, and record your calls and personalize your interactions and increase customer satisfaction. Taking advantage of the right telecommunications technology will get your call center on the right track, allowing you to focus on the aspects that need the most attention. Now that you are set up, it’s time to start finding clients!