Oh the joys of entrepreneurship! The hard work paid off and you’ve created a very successful business.
However, the success is bittersweet: the business grew so much that you are having trouble caring for all the customers that you’ve worked so hard to get. In fact, you’re even losing some of them. Let me tell you this big problem has a really easy solution: set up a call center to manage your customers.
Setting up a call center can be a daunting task. Where to start, what needs to be done, where’s the perceived value? Making room for a few people answering phones is far from what 21st century customers need. You need a call center to engage with your customers and improve your business’ customer experience (CX).
How to start a call center.
No doubt that setting up a call center is a very important decision, but it doesn’t have to be a complex one that keeps you awake at night. We’ve broken down the process into a few simple steps, so you’ll be up and running in no time.
1. Set the main goals of your call center.
First things first. Before anything else, you must define the goals and business objectives of the call center. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you looking to help customers, generate leads, sell a product or service, provide support, or a combination of these?
A call center is usually the customer’s first—and sometimes the only—interface with your business. Setting up a call center definitely helps to solve customer experience issues, build a brand reputation, and contribute to the financial success of any business.
Moreover, call centers are a goldmine of customer data that can be used to gather insights that allow you to make informed decisions.
2. Define call center metrics.
The call center metrics are also a big factor when setting up a call center. They serve as KPIs to measure the success of your call center operation. A few of the most common call center metrics are:
- Average handle time (AHT). The average duration of an interaction between a customer service agent and customer.
- Average speed of answer (ASA). The average number of seconds it takes for a call to be answered.
- Average abandonment rate. The average length of time that a caller will stay in a queue before they hanging up the call.
- First call resolution (FCR). Number of calls where the customer problem, question, or need was resolved the first time they called.
- Service level agreement (SLA). The expected level of service. Measures the performance of a system. Certain goals are defined and the service level gives the percentage to which those goals were achieved.
2021 Talkdesk global contact center KPI benchmarking report
3. Consider the budget for your call center.
Next comes the not so funny part: call center budget. And you must be really careful with that, because when setting up a call center, expenses add up pretty quick. The budget is connected to the kind of operation you’ll run, so consider the following:
- Number of call center employees.
- Cost of call center tools and technology.
- Expenses with infrastructure, such as size and location of facilities.
4. Decide on the call center type.
The type of call center is related to your business objectives and budget. There are a few things that you need to consider about the call center type:
On-premise vs. cloud. On-premise implementations require a big initial capital investment and are tied to lengthy and costly monthly contracts. Cloud-based contact center technology highly reduces the required hardware and all the infrastructure is lodge on the cloud.
Onsite vs. virtual. Again, you need to consider several factors to make this decision, such as budget, business goals, and resources. Onsite call centers gather the team and equipment in a physical location while virtual contact centers are cloud-based—everyone works remotely and can work from anywhere in the world requiring only an internet connection.
Inbound vs. outbound. What will your contact center do? Will it handle calls from customers (inbound) seeking answers to issues and let agents provide the best customer service? Or it will make calls to prospects and customers (outbound) for lead generation, telemarketing, sales, or market research purposes? The required call center technology depends, to a certain point, of this distinction. For example, if you’re doing inbound calls, you do not need outbound specific features, such as a call dialer.
5. Build your call center team.
After making a series of important decisions on setting up a call center it’s now time to tackle the fun, but not less important, ones that are related to setting up the team. You’ve defined the call center setting, purchased the software, built amazing scripts to engage with customers, but who will talk to them?
The staff depend on the size of your operation. Below are some of the most common roles at call centers:
- Agents. Must be great communicators able to handle different types of people during phone conversations.
- Supervisors/team leaders. Act as coaches, showing the best practices to handle calls and motivate the team to reach business goals.
- Managers. Control the daily operations and are responsible for defining the call center goals.
6. Train your employees.
Call center staff are the interface between your business and customers. They need to be polite, educated, and empathetic. Ensure that you properly train staff when setting up the call center.
Train agents to use the hardware, such as phone systems and headsets used at the call center, regardless of whether they’re on site or on a remote workspace. Additionally, train agents on call center etiquette and best practices using the following:
- Role playing. Make a few fake calls to see how agents will behave in real-life situations.
- Mentoring culture. Foster a culture of mentoring where more experienced agents are mentors to newcomers.
- Consistency. Ensure that training procedures and best practices are followed to help newer employees and keep a consistent brand experience.
7. Maintain a supportive call center culture.
The task of setting up a call center from scratch does not end when agents start answering calls. The call center environment can be overwhelming, hence the reason why mentoring, motivating, and supporting agents is so important.
Create a team spirit culture where your agents feel appreciated and supported. For example:
- Ask agents for regular feedback. They’re the point of contact with your customers and certainly have valuable insights on improvement ideas.
- Create an open, welcoming, and caring environment.
- Reward agents with additional perks to the payments and commissions they already get.
8. Consider a BPO call center solution.
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) allows a third party provider to carry on the call center operations for your business. If you decide on a BPO, you don’t have to worry about the process of setting up a call center because the BPO provides hardware, software, and staff. A BPO ensures that emerging business needs are met almost in real time as you don’t have to train staff, worry about call center technology licenses, etc.
Setting up a call center does not have to be an intimidating and grueling process. Think about your business needs and then start tackling the steps, one at a time. Choose the right provider to partner with you in this endeavour and you’ll be up and running in no time.