Setting up a call center for your business today involves much more than simply allocating a room full of phones and agents to answer them. An effective call center that contributes to your company’s bottom line will require a blend of many important components while building it 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 build a call center from scratch to ensure it remains efficient, easily managed and cost-effective for your organization.
How to Set up a Call Center in 10 Steps
1. Establish the Goals and Objectives of Your Call Center
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 (inbound/outbound or both), the number of employees you will need to hire for your team, the processes you will implement, the costs and expenses you will incur and how you will measure success.
2. Determine the Setup Type (On-site Vs. Virtual)
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 from a central location and have all the needed resources (infrastructure, software, employees) in one place, often a structure within the business premises. In a virtual, or remote call center, hardware and infrastructure is the responsibility of a service provider, and the agents will be operating remotely, most likely from their own homes, or any other place.
3. Estimate the Budget and Staffing Requirements
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 based on predictions and call volume forecasting, taking into account all shifts, staff absenteeism and days off.
4. Decide on the Type of Call Center Software
With 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’s 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 as they require a minimal upfront investment, and are also easier to implement and scale unlike their on-premises and hosted counterparts.
5. Choose the Software Provider Based on Your Requirements
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 to have for your team to work at their optimal levels, and ‘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 and use, scalability, security, integration options, tech support, and pricing.
6. Configure Your Call Center Software Optimally
Once you’ve selected the right call center software tool, customize it according to your team’s needs and requirements, and 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 with greetings and messages that are appropriate for each IVR prompt to provide a seamless experience for callers.
7. Staff Your Call Center Team
At the least, your call center team will consist of agents who can be specialized in product support, technical support, or other components of customer service, and a call center manager who will oversee all call center operations and ensure 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 position, all call center employees that you hire should possess excellent communication skills, display patience, empathy, and problem-solving abilities.
8. Obtain Appropriate Call Center Equipment
Unlike on-premises call centers that require all the hardware and entire infrastructure including servers and call center phone systems to be set up at your location - with 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.
9. Organize Your Call Center Processes
To ensure your call center 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 that the agents can easily refer to in 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.
10. Create a Robust Disaster Recovery Plan
Since customers naturally expect uninterrupted service, draw up robust disaster recovery and backup plan that can keep the business up and running at all times on the final stage of setting up your call center. It ensures you are prepared for any potential risks and helps to minimize the impact of disruptions to 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.