Checklist: 10 Steps for Building a Successful Call Center

Updated: April 30, 2009

Building a call center can seem like a daunting proposition, but it can be much less difficult if you break it down into smaller, more specific tasks. Here's a list of essential steps you can take to create a successful call center.

  1. Define your objective. What do you want the call center to do for you? It can act as an efficient secretarial service that makes appointments and takes messages. It can be a source of technical assistance. Perhaps you want to help potential customers explore your product line and contact sales personnel. Whatever the case, you cannot proceed until you know what type of call center you are creating.
  2. Calculate your budget. Use your company's metrics to define the optimal cost for your call center. Remember that the call center may take a year or two to prove its worth.
  3. Find an expert. Make your task easier by finding an existing employee — or hiring a new one — who has experience creating a call center. It will be invaluable to have someone who knows the ropes, what questions to ask and, most importantly, what can go wrong. This person will save money and help you avoid pitfalls, as well as get the call center up and running in a reasonable amount of time and within your budget.
  4. Hire employees. You may be able to deploy existing employees to the new task of handling calls, which will be an advantage because they are already familiar with your products. Chances are, you will need to do some hiring as well. Call center experience counts, and people who have worked in customer service will be of benefit to you. Determine if you need to use vendors . If your business is cyclic, then hiring vendors for peak periods is a good way to manage work load.
  5. Train employees. Adding a call center to your business represents a big change for existing employees. To ensure buy-in and employee satisfaction, sufficient training on the purpose and use of the call center is essential. Different training programs may fill the needs of different employees, such as product experts who provide technical support or experienced sales teams that generate new business. Training should be ongoing as the call center software is updated or your business changes.
  6. Determine your software and ISP needs. Database, spreadsheet and accounting programs are examples of different types of software that you might need. As you define the call center's purpose, you can add appropriate software. Most software vendors will help to design the software package that fits your needs.
  7. Beef up your phone services. You'll probably need to add new phone lines and the capability to route calls to the appropriate personnel. Your telephone provider can help you determine and implement your infrastructure improvements.
  8. Take stock of current resources. If your current facility is large enough to house a call center, determine how you can use the space at hand. It is likely that you'll have to buy additional furnishings and equipment. Possibly, you'll need to buy or lease additional space.
  9. Plan for outages and overflows. Outages can result from natural disasters or technical difficulties, or you may experience unexpectedly heavy call volume. Either way, you must ensure that customers can get through. If your business has national or international offices, they can be set up to handle calls temporarily. If not, consider partnering with a vendor service or business affiliate.
  10. Include all employees. Make sure non-call center personnel are also familiar with the center's purpose . If sales personnel need to use the center to receive leads or to update customer information, make sure they have immediate access and training.

Employees in your enterprise may need additional training to ensure that everyone properly leverages your call center's capabilities. Following these steps will help establish employee as well as customer satisfaction and will improve customer relationships and profitability.

Featured Research
  • 15 Ways to Optimize Your Contact Center

    We live in a time where customer experience is seen as an important competitive differentiator. Given this, wouldn't you like to make sure that your contact center is fully optimized to meet your business needs? Deciding to upgrade and optimize your contact center is a big step, and one that shouldn't be done without due diligence and plenty of research. more

  • Benchmarking Your Contact Center

    Are you aware of how your contact center stacks up in comparison to your competitors? In an era where customer service is viewed as a key competitive differentiator, it is absolutely essential for you to utilize benchmarking in order to ensure that your contact center is helping and not hindering your bottom line. more

  • Contact Centers vs. Call Center

    Believe it or not, contact centers and call centers are not the same thing. Both of them serve the same purpose in ensuring that your business provides the best possible customer service, however, there are distinct differences between the two. more

  • The Social Side of Service

    Did you know that 83% of Twitter users who tweeted a complaint said they loved receiving a response from the brand? In order to provide the best possible service to your customers, you MUST provide service on the channels that they are utilizing. Social customer service might seem scary and undefined, but can be much more effective and less expensive than traditional channels. more

  • Top 10 Contact Center Tools for an Unforgettable Customer Experience

    It should come as no surprise that consumers have only increasingly become less and less brand loyal in the modern age. In fact, 89% of them have switched brands within the last year due to a poor customer experience. One of the major steps to preventing this customer churn is to invest and invest heavily into improving your customers' experience. Now the major question to ask yourself is, "of all the contact center tools available, what are the ones that I should be utilizing for my business?" more