In today’s professional world, call centres have become a necessity for businesses that are looking to deliver a timely response and quick results to their customers. Multi-channel contact centres (the modern version of the call centre that is equipped for phone, web chat, email, mobile and IVR support) have become the need of the hour for the following reasons:
- To increase customer satisfaction
- To build customer relationships
- To add to the value of the product or service
- To provide international support to customers
- To leverage social media
- To leverage cost-efficient digital channels
- To provide a human touch for modern online marketplaces
(Read more about ‘Why a Multi-Channel Contact Center is Essential for Business’)
However, the business of establishing an in-house call center is extremely capital-intensive in nature. It is a foray that demands diligent planning, preparedness and effective results on an on-going basis. It, thus, becomes very important to have the required infrastructure, paperwork, robust core team and efficient staff to begin with. And of course, a very clear set of business goals to propel the business.
Below are a few points that explain how to set up a call center for a business:
Table of Contents
- 1 Below are a few points that explain how to set up a call center for a business:
- 1.1 1. Set Business Objectives:
- 1.2 2. Set a budget:
- 1.3 3. Decide the Type of Call Center:
- 1.4 4. Analyze Operational Feasibility and Constraints:
- 1.5 5. Choose the Right Technology Platform:
- 1.6 6. Check Connectivity Factor
- 1.7 7. Invest in a Smart Staff:
- 1.8 8. Design Metrics for Analysis:
- 1.9 9. Finalize a Disaster Recovery Plan:
1. Set Business Objectives:
- Provide a clear direction for the call center so that it achieves the business results with ease. There should be a neat framework that answers all the ‘what’s’ and ‘how’s’, giving importance to strengthening and lengthening relationships with customers but also leaving room to innovate. Keep in mind that a call center is an extension of the business, so every goal should finally lead up to the big picture of the business. Besides improving sales, a few examples of call centre objectives are collecting data (like emails, phone numbers, etc.); offering personalized recommendations (based on history); improving customer satisfaction ratings, etc.
2. Set a budget:
- Be financially ready from the start. Assess the business’ financial strength and set parameters of the minimum and maximum money that can be spent. The budget will eventually decide the number of resources that can be hired, what kind of facility the call center will have, nature of equipment, and what telephony solutions can be provided.
3. Decide the Type of Call Center:
- One can either have a physical call center or a virtual one. In a virtual call center, the organization’s resources are hosted on the cloud as opposed to being physically located in one building. While a physical call center can offer many advantages, especially in terms of training and process upgrade, a physical set up is always vulnerable to accidents and calamities, and involves rent/ lease. Thus, a call should be taken after weighing the pros and cons. If one opts for a physical call center, then care should be taken about its location. The call center should not be located in a noisy neighborhood lest it should disturb the conversations with customers. It should be in a safe locality, where resources can work 24/7. Proximity to rescue/emergency services, transport, and so on, are a few other parameters to look for. For a virtual call center, the right software solution will have to be selected.
4. Analyze Operational Feasibility and Constraints:
- Check with local, regional and state bodies to ensure all paperwork is complete and is compliant with regulations. Thereafter, check the existing infrastructure to note if any upgrades are required. For example, can existing phone lines be integrated with the plan? One needs to also assess the network topology (star, mesh, etc.), depending upon the available real estate and number of seats to be allocated.
5. Choose the Right Technology Platform:
- Call quality should be the priority of any call center. With this as a backdrop, call centers should choose the right technology that is aligned to their business goals and capabilities. There are two types of technologies to choose from: server based and the conventional EPABX based. Server-based technology is more popular now due to its cost-effectiveness and ability to integrate with web-based platforms; however, the traditional EPABX is also a preferred choice for many for distributing calls among the common line, predictive dialers, getting multiple lines to the agent desks, computer telephony integration and interactive voice recognition, besides many others.
6. Check Connectivity Factor
- – Next comes connectivity. Depending on the size of operations, one can choose from the below telephone line connectivity:
VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol):
As the name suggests, voice call is converted to digital signals and transmitted over the internet network. Significant thing to note though is that VOIP call routing is not allowed in few countries. For India, VOIP calls cannot terminate to mobile and landline networks.
ISDN PRI lines:
ISDN is Integrated Services Digital Network. ISDN PRI is a primary interface that connects the server to the telephone exchange. Single PRI is capable of handling 30 calls simultaneously on a single telephone number. Advanced software can be used for IVR, call routing and distribution, call logging and reporting.
DID (direct inward dialling) and DOD (direct outward dialling) PRI lines:
These are also standard telephone connections that can serve 30 lines per PRI, but the connection is not routed through a computer server. Advanced options as in ISDN PRI lines cannot be used here.
7. Invest in a Smart Staff:
- Hire smart, intelligent and professional staff who can be good brand ambassadors for the organization. If generating more sales is the motive, then hire a good sales team. If the call center should solve customer queries, then representatives should be well versed with customer service know-hows and etiquette. It is very important that the staff should be fluent in the language spoken by majority of customers, since any miscommunication can lead to complications in service. Similarly, periodic trainings and presentations should be provided and audits should be done so that the service quality of the call center remains unadulterated.
8. Design Metrics for Analysis:
- After setting up the contact center, it will be important to analyse its operations from time to time. Certain Key Performance Indicators, such as First Call Resolution, Average Handling Time and Abandoned Call Rate, enable the evaluation of the customer service process that is being delivered by the business and whether it solves the requirement of customers and the organization.
9. Finalize a Disaster Recovery Plan:
- Be prepared for risks and contingencies. This is like an insurance that helps to cope in times of disruption (which can be as small as an outage or big like a natural disaster). Customers expect uninterrupted service, so it becomes imperative for one’s business to have a robust disaster recovery plan that can keep the business up and running at all times. A good disaster recovery plan should incorporate the various types of disasters, financial feasibility and time required to build reinforcements against them.
In an age when competition is stiff in most industries, having a contact center or call center is one of the most essential components of a successful business strategy. Outsourcing to a specialist call center service provider is one way in which businesses are ensuring that the customer service that they deliver is of the best quality, and saves them from the cost of training and technology upgrades in the long run.
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