Call center setup for your business involves much more these days. So simply allocating a room full of phones and agents to answer them is simply not enough. An effective call center that contributes to your company’s bottom line. It will require a blend of many important components. Building a call center needs research, thorough planning, technology, execution, and measurement. All of that is an investment of both time, money, and resources.
Below is a 10-step guide on how to start a call center from scratch. Therefore, to ensure it remains efficient, easily managed, and cost-effective for your organization.
The first and the most critical step to a successful call center setup process is defining the goals, objectives, and the purpose of your call center. Those are going to dictate the major focus and the kind of operations you will handle. For instance; inbound/outbound or both. Moreover, the number of employees you will need to hire for your team, the processes you will implement, the costs and expenses you will incur. Or how you will measure success.
Decide if you opt for a physical call center with in-house agents or a virtual call center with remote agents.
A physical call center will operate on-site. Meaning, from a central location with all the needed resources. Such as; infrastructure, software, and employees in one place. It is often a structure within the business premises.
In a virtual, or remote call center, hardware and infrastructure is the responsibility of a service provider. The agents will be operating remotely. This means most likely from their own homes, or any other place.
Set the budget that is aligned with your business goals and establish parameters regarding the minimum and the maximum expenses. The budget at your disposal will eventually determine what kind of facility and technology will be used, as well as the manpower involved. Differentiate between your initial investment to build a call center and ongoing operating costs to keep it running. You should also be able to define the staffing requirements. These are based on predictions, call volume forecasting, taking into account all shifts, staff absenteeism, and days off.
There are four types of call center software solutions (on-premises, hosted, cloud-based and browser-based) that differ in terms of cost, deployment model, maintenance, scalability, and robustness. It is essential to first identify the most suitable type of call center software for your business before shortlisting potential providers.
In addition to the rapid deployment time, cloud-based and browser-based call center software solutions are generally more cost-effective. The reason is that they require minimal upfront investment. Plus it is easier to implement and scale, unlike their on-premises and hosted counterparts.
Since there are numerous call center software providers on the market, selecting the right solution that will best fit your organization’s needs might be challenging. Create the list of ‘must-have’ features that you definitely want. Thus, your team can work at their optimal levels. Another section on your list should be ‘nice-to-have’ features that are desirable but not critical. When researching the options, apart from the feature set, take into account ease of deployment, use, scalability, security, integration options, tech support, and pricing.
Once you’ve selected the right call center software tool, customize it according to your team’s needs and requirements. Make sure all the features are configured optimally from both; an agent’s and a caller’s standpoint. Your team should be able to use the software smoothly and efficiently in their workflow. When it comes to inbound calls, create an easy-to-navigate IVR menu. It should include greetings and messages that are appropriate to provide a seamless experience for callers.
Your call center team should consist of agents who are specialized in product support, technical support, or other components of customer service. Having a call center manager who will oversee all call center operations, ensures agents adhere to internal policies and procedures.
Depending on your needs and the size of your team, other roles could include a team leader/ supervisor, a call center analyst, a call center trainer, etc. Regardless of a position, all call center employees that you hire should possess certain skills/abilities. Such as; excellent communication skills, display patience, empathy, and problem-solving abilities.
On-premises call centers require all the hardware and entire infrastructure including servers and call center phone systems to be set up at your location. However, with a cloud-based call center software, hosted or browser-based solutions, your call center equipment list basically comes down to computers, USB headsets, a high-speed internet connection, call center desks, and ergonomic chairs for the comfort of your team.
To ensure your call center setup operates seamlessly and efficiently, design and create well-thought-out processes for your team to follow. Those should be comprised of the internal procedures and practices. Thus the agents can easily refer to their day-to-day activities.
In general, call center processes define; how the agents answer calls, how they escalate an issue if they can’t answer a question, how they track customer inquiries, what happens after a call is complete, etc.
To reduce wait times, you should also build comprehensive call center scripts that agents can use when interacting with customers.
Since customers naturally expect uninterrupted service, draw up robust disaster recovery and backup plans that can keep the business up and running at all times on the final stage of a call center setup. It ensures you are prepared for any potential risks and helps to minimize the impact of disruptions on the network and call center operations. It’s essential to document and periodically test the recovery plan as well as train agents on the steps that should be taken in case of any unplanned disruptions.
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