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.

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